Tour usually creates a strong brew of anxiety and excitement before hand. It’s a constant combination of struggle and success divided by long stretches of forced stillness in a vehicle. Its similar to baseball in that way, long stretches of nothing punctuated with extreme moments of demand in physical effort and performance. So all this combined with the concept of doing a tour where we bring out own PA, bar, extensive merch, projector/screen, debut a new album and do it all in places that may not be appropriately prepared for a such a setup definitely brings forward those feelings of anxiety/excitement. -Zac
THE B L A C K I E EXPERIENCE
It had been at least a few months since I saw B L A C K I E last and it was prior to his release of Gen (his latest, and primarily acoustic album) Michael slowly and methodically set up his ever changing tower of speakers before turning the background music off and stooping over his microphone in silence. As he bent over the mic with his back turned to the audience it was a similar atmosphere as to when the teacher just stops talking and the students begin to slowly realize something is amiss. One of the best moments of any B L A C K I E set is the initial deafening blast of music , when he turns around and stares through everyone. Its at this moment that he begins the division of the crowd, you see fear and shock and happiness and anticipation and excitement spread through the people. New faces quickly replace the faint of heart who initially flee the room in shock.
After the second song B L A C K I E declared, “what is this a fucking Macy’s, are y’all fucking mannequins.” He quickly beckoned more people to move closer then immediately created a vibe by declaring the next song was about a homophobic hate crime. The first 1/3 of his set was primarily songs from his last ep, then the meat of the sandwich is held up by material from Gen. Once the middle of the set arrives you either are fully invested in the passion of B L A C K I E or you have left the room. As he split the crowd and bounced off tables and ran to the back of the room doing most of a verse into a trash can, the tension and mood in the air was palpable. People watched intently as the set crossed the line into performance art while B L A C K I E grinded the mic across his exposed chest, gyrated his hips into the floor and at one point choked a member of ghost police, slamming his body into the wall. There is an element of violence that isn’t necessarily violent but rather passionately aggressive. The set closed with more material from the previous ep and at this point small bubbles of chaos broke out across the room. It felt important and very real. B L A C K I E is just pouring it out there onto the floor. -Zac
RUNNING MERCH/SELLING BOOZE/HELPING US EAT
This was the first time we experimented with running our own donation based bar, and boy did it work well. By buying a drink for any price, you automatically got some piece of merch, so it was a win/win for us (the merchant) and human (the customer). For example, if you spent $1 on a drink, you automatically get a button, $2 gets you a sticker. If you bought an album, you automatically could get a side project for $3. Each side project hangs out in its own individualized spraypainted cardstock case and within each case a different side project, so it was like a fun mystery box! All these little doohickeys sold eventually added up and we were able to eat well during the course of the tour.-Sam
It was refreshing to see an experimental DIY model really be sustainable. -Zac
MATT AND THE DOCTORS OFFICE
This is our new friend Matt. He ran a venue across the street from House of Creeps in Houston that used to be a doctors office. He slept in this ball pit in the old reception room for 3 years. During parties it would double as the bar, so people would crowd around the keg and get the pit super filthy. He showed us his circuit bending lab and gave us a toy keyboard as a parting gift. He ruled. -Zac
Scott (our visual artists/projectionist) took a picture of me and then posted it onto the dating website Tinder. The way it works is; wherever you are in the US, the girls who are on Tinder and are close by in proximity to you, pop up. You have to either, press the heart button or the x button. For fun, we just hit all the heart buttons to see who would respond. Eventually, one girl responded with “hey cutey”, then she immediately followed it up with, “what are you up to?”, I responded with “Im on a lot of speed… a looootttt of speeed… jk” She says “where do I know you from?” I says “I’m really into Phish ~ we met at the Phish concert.” At this point, she starts repeating herself a lot which is when we all realized she was a BOTTTTTTT. -Sam
We always have so much fun here, the guys who host us are really swell doods… shoutouts to J~murph, Nathan, Vernon (who we credit as the inventor of: what’s worse than 911? 311), Jesse and Tyler! The funniest Mississippians we know!-Sam
R THOMAS DELUXE GRILL AND THE IMPORTANCE OF LATE NIGHT HEALTH FOOD
Scott Gelber (projectionist/tour companion)
Best Food: R. ThomasDeluxe Grille, Atlanta GA
The tour spoiled me, all* of the food was delicious.
R.Thomas’ food was the most delicious, healthy, original. I recommend the Thai Express.
worth mentioning: black-light posters & tropical birds.
honorable mentions: Camellia Grille, NOLA, Oak St. Café, NOLA, Qariah, Dallas, 888 Austin, TX
*Worst Food: FOX News Rest-Stop Quiznos, Dale’s outside Graceland
Bad Vibes all around. When I told our waitress I was a vegetarian she almost seemed angry. The only part of Dale’s I can recommend is the bathroom, which I guess is their way of saying “sorry– we know.” -Scott
SCOTTS WORST SLEEPING AND EATING EXPERIENCE
“Best Sleep: NOLA Mansion, Texarkana Couch
Worst Sleep: Passenger Side of Van, Illegally parked in Heartbreak Hotel RV Park, Graceland
Tense Van Moment: when I vetoed listening to AC/DC
Most Important Lesson Learned: “Always remember your towel” -Scott
I drove most of the night after last minute decision that we would go to Graceland in the morning before getting to Texarkana. After driving around the suburbs of Memphis to look for a nice park or lake to park the van at for a few hours of rest I decided to just continue driving and in my head thought I could just park the van at Elvis’s house. This was not the case. At 6am I pulled into the RV/Campground site “Heartbreak Hotel” and a security guard started to approach the van at the gates. I gave her a quick smile and wave and scooted by like we belonged there. We found a nice little forest zone and parked the van in a slightly hidden area. After only a few hours of light rest we woke up and drove over to Elvis’s. It cost $10 to park in the lot across the street and we only made it as far as the gift shop before learning how much it cost to get in. We laughed at the novelty goods, looked at the picture book of his house and then left. It was ok. -Zac
SAM CHOWNS TOUR FOOD BREAKDOWN AND YELP CRITIQUE
“The best food we had was at Qariah (Lebanese food in Dallas across the street from Good Records). It only has a 3.5/5 on Yelp, which is a far cry from the truth considering that the worst food was Dale’s, which has a 4/5 rating. In reality Qariah was a 5/5 for a $$ price point and Dale’s was a 2.5/5. Dale’s was located at the border of Mississippi/Tennessee/Arkansas, down the street from Graceland. -Sam ”
THE GATOR EXPERIENCE
“gator” time ~ We’re about to perform at the Cottage in Texarkana, Arkansas, a very different situation than Texarkana, Texas, which is not only the rival to AK but is also a dry county. We meet a bowling pin cross genetically combined with a pear-man. A man who recommends we listen to ‘Rock n Roll Over’, a 1976 record by Kiss, nothing wrong with that I suppose. A man who claims that there is actually a living, breathing woman somewhere in the Cottage, a place Gator refers to as the “redneck CBGB’s”, who is willing to have sexual intercouse with him. Gator is drunk out of his mind, apparently 50% of his waking life, according to primary sources. Gator scans Zac and I and makes a quip about how we’re players and get the pussy any slimy, dirty way we know how to get it. And would slip it in the butt whenever we felt like it. Did anyone say projection? He took a look at Scott and claimed that he would only go for the pussy like a gentleman. And would only consciously switch holes aka do so by female knowledge and consent.
The conversation ended with 3 pieces of advice via Teen wolf. 1.) Never get less than 12 hours of sleep 2.) never play cards with someone who has the first name of a city 3.) never get involved with a woman with a dagger tattoo on her body. By the way, while there was a “real” woman inside the bar, waiting for this drunk wonder to take her home and put it her butt, he was chasing other tail. If there’s anything that Gator does have, it’s ‘chutzpah.’ -Sam
This Austin show we experimented with the whole layout and it really payed off. We set up the projection screen in the middle of the crowd and right above our heads, where we were playing. The crowd circled around us and our amps were placed in various spot in the big room, as well as 6 to 8 lasers set up in different places. It made for a psychedelic, panoramic, planetarium zorch experience! -Sam
BEST BOYBAND GREATEST HITS ALBUM
“Best Boyband greatest hits album…i mean, c’mon, how is it going to be anything but Backstreet Boys’ Greatest Hits? I actually just watched the B Boys’ behind the music. It turns out the first time AJ tried coke was on the set of the video for their hit single ‘the Call.’ Things went downhill from there, including his exploration into his badboy alter ego, Johnny No-name.”
“Best Boyband greatest hits album: Beyonce
I had never listened to a Beyonce album before, I was shocked by how much I enjoyed it. I wonder what all the boys in Beyonce are up to now?”
Adult Contemporary music has a place ~ I realized that while driving late at night after a show. When we are all tired, I personally don’t want to listen to anything that will exhaust me further. No Steve Albini albums, no metal, nothing noisy or piercing. Likewise, I don’t want anything that will put us further into a coma, ie. Brian Eno ambient zounds, nothing meditative or contemplative like Terry Riley either. I want something middle of the road, inoffensive, round, pleasant to the ears and IMMEDIATE. Backstreet Boys, George MIchael, John Mayer & K.d. Lang were the teachers of this valuable life lesson that windy night driving from Hattiesburg, MS to Tuscalossa, AL where we eventually slept at a lovely La Quinta Inn. The only time, by the way, that we paid for a hotel on the tour. -Sam