D.C.'s America Hearts recalls the magnetic charm of Beat Happening and Silver Jews thanks to singer Jess Matthews straightforward cadence and jangly pop-centric instrumentals. The four-piece recently underwent a two-week tour in honor of their Be My Jones EP (Yeah Gates Records). Matthews penned a tour recap capturing the unique experiences that arise when cramming four people, a bevvy of instruments, and a fancy trivia device into one small van.
Touring is a passionate affair. One minute you can’t keep your hands off the final chord of the set and every cell in your body is in tune with the universe. The next involves you trying to sleep in a smoky basement with a cat. Just another piece of carbon marked for death. Sharing a van and a single daily goal is the kind of commitment that creates a feeling of permanency in the band. Add in the price of gas and the difficulty of converting records into profit makes the transience of the experience all the more obvious.
In the Van
Sammy [drums] and Kristina [guitar] have these new devices that forced them to look up directions or resolve trivia disputes every 10-15 minutes, so they didn’t relax much. To settle a bet involving a line from “Point Break,” Kristina downloaded the full script and gave us a 25-minute rendition of the entire movie over burritos in Boston. Our “Point Break” obsession became more intense as the miles on the van increased and soon we were working out the plot of “Point Break II: Point Broken.” (I can’t give it away because the screenplay is still in progress, but it turns out that Tyler was already pregnant with Bodhi’s baby when she met Johnny Utah.)
We played houses, bars, radio stations, strip malls, and even New Jersey. The Boneyard in Atlantic City is filled with everything expected for a local NJ Venue: Coors Light on tap, the Boss playing through the PA, and surf boards on the ceiling. A flier for the show after ours was for a Hip Hop Knife Battle. We were a little offended to play in a house in Durham that was nicer than most family homes in Mount Pleasant [a well-to-do D.C. neighborhood]. Justin [bass] spit a mouthful of water on Kristina in the middle of the set because “She was playing too well and the place was too clean.”
One of my favorite shows at a Gallery in Boston called Yes.Oui.Si
[“Yes We See”] where we played with The Sneaky Mister
and Cotton Candy
. The Sneaky Mister’s voice is like a laser that projects a light show of awkwardness, loneliness, and tenderness. Cotton Candy wowed the audience of young painters with their sickeningly sweet, deadly accurate advertising jingles. We can’t wait for our split 7” with them to come out.
Winston’s Café is a skinny bar in a Chesapeake, VA strip mall snug between a Ruby Tuesday’s and Vitamin Store. The microphone was shocking me and someone passing by knocked it into my face. The crowd was enthusiastic and someone yelled out, “I can’t believe you all are playing here.” Neither could we. It was one of our best shows. We loaded out in the back between two dumpsters.
After the show
Walking off stage from our late late show with the enjoyable Coupleskate
at Chicago’s Beat Kitchen
, a good-looking, feather-haired man approached me saying he liked the set, particularly the song “I Got A Job.” We chatted for a minute about playing good and bad shows and I asked if he was in a band. He paused and then said he played in a band called Wilco. It was Pat Sansone. I gave him a 7” and walked away a little embarrassed, like a little girl.
We stayed with our friend Zespy in the former home of Southern Records. Zespy has converted the label’s space into a record store called Logan Hardware
. In the front it is well kept record store and the back is a classic arcade that is free with the purchase of a record. Basically we got to stay in a little dream world.
Catch America Hearts next on June 16th at D.C.'s Black Cat