Story by Bryan Rolli
Photo by Jane Claire Hervey
I’m starting this post on Friday afternoon in a note on my iPhone, sitting in the backseat of our van on the way from Fayetteville, Arkansas to Lawton, Oklahoma. Free time has ceased to be a thing by this point.
The first week of this tour has been a whirlwind, to say the least. Then again, I should have expected that after things nearly crashed and burned the very first night. After a maddeningly dull, 10-hour drive to Detroit last Wednesday, we were stoked to play the Ritz on Thursday, a charming dive bar that guaranteed us $100 and free pizza. We were antsy, ready to blow the doors off the place and thrilled about making enough gas money to get us to the next few venues.
And so, you can imagine our dismay upon arriving at the Ritz at 6 p.m. on Thursday only to find out that nobody was aware of a show that night and we weren’t playing.
Fury. Cold fury. I needed to restrain the blood that was bubbling into my cheeks at an alarming rate. Desperately in need of some thinking music, I put on Every Time I Die’s “The Great Secret” to clear my head. Something about Keith Buckley screaming “BLOW YOUR FUCKING BRAINS OUT” was highly therapeutic in times of distress.
Wait a minute. I had read earlier that Cadaver Dogs, a sleazy two-piece rock n’ roll outfit from Columbus, OH whom I had seen a couple years earlier, were also kicking off their tour in Ferndale, MI that night at the Loving Touch. The venue was only 15 minutes down the road from us, so in a frantic act of desperation, I suggested we drop in, explain our situation and politely beg to open the show.
Here’s the thing: IT WORKED. Anthony, the stage manager, was apparently so impressed by our politeness (and the fact that we were a Philly band) that he decided to give us the first slot on the bill. Quivering with excitement, we took the stage and did our best to set a proverbial fire to the Loving Touch.
The crowd was predictably lackadaisical for the most part, but Anthony, along with Lex and Matt of Cadaver Dogs, thoroughly enjoyed our brand of dirty metal. After hawking merchandise to a few beautiful women and a frightening bald man who seemed to be wearing blue lipstick, we packed up the van and drove to a tiny “after party.” As cosmic coincidence would have it, a few members of Wilson, another down-and-dirty metal band from Detroit whose debut album is collectively one of our band’s favorites, were at the party too. Hearing from their drummer that I am a “phenomenal guitarist” gave me that warm, fluttery feeling in my stomach that I haven’t felt since my last junior high dance. After exchanging some phone numbers and pleasantries, we hopped into the van and put a cap on the first night of our tour, a rousing success against all odds.
The next day, we made the trek across MI to St. Joseph, playing a stacked metal show at Mickey’s Pub. Coincidentally, Cadaver Dogs had a show dropped that day, so we returned their previous favor by getting them on the bill with us for another night of madness.
If we shook things up at the Loving Touch, we caused an avalanche at Mickey’s. We headlined the show and made damn sure everybody was still awake at 1 a.m. With day two down, we called it a night and prepped for the drive to Chicago, where we spent our day off with the Dogs at their third consecutive show.
After a blitzkrieg weekend with our new soulmates, we finally parted ways with Matt and Lex and got ready for our own show on Sunday at Chicago’s Live Wire Lounge. Interestingly enough, that’s when things went to total shit. While we were exploring the Windy City, somebody smashed our passenger window and stole, of all things, two of our backpacks. Unfortunately, my backpack had $3,000 worth of personal belongings, including my prescription glasses.
WHAT KIND OF POND SCUM STEALS PRESCRIPTION GLASSES.
Cold fury again. Plus the dismay that I would essentially be blind until August. And worst of all, the horrible sinking feeling that maybe we should have never left home in the first place. Coupled with a miserable performance to an audience of four (including three men who offered us a myriad of sexual favors), we left the Live Wire sullen, downtrodden and determined to never visit Chicago again.
Still, as Freddie Mercury once said: fat bottomed girls, you make the rockin’ world go round.
Also, the show must go on. And so it did, all the way through Indiana, Missouri, Arkansas and stopping in Lawton, Oklahoma tonight. Let me tell you, these Midwesterners must not see much action, because three out of four shows this week they’ve been out in full force! It does my heart good to see people spending their free time the right way. All I need is one person head banging and shouting along with me at the foot of the stage to make the night worthwhile.
Twelve hours later, at nearly 3 a.m. on Saturday, I’m finishing this post after an electrifying show at Lawton’s Railhead Saloon. As a born-again Austinite, it took all of my willpower to suspend my bias against these Sooners, but truth be told, this was hands-down the best stop of the entire tour so far. Outlaw Country certainly lived up to its name tonight!
We’ll be storming our way through Fort Worth and Austin on Saturday and Sunday, respectively. Lawton set the bar tonight, and my fellow Texans better not disappoint. After being away from Austin for two-and-a-half months, I can think of no better homecoming than laying waste to the Red Eyed Fly and devouring some Salt Lick barbecue with my best friends.
Sorry for the long-windedness. If you’ve made it this far, I applaud you. I guess I had a lot more to say about this adventure than I had initially thought. All I know is we’re barely a third of the way through our trek, and we add plenty of stories to our collection every night. The Last Remark train has been gathering steam all week, and now we’re barreling down the tracks at full speed. Get ready, Austin, you’re in our sights.