Leaving New Orleans to tour, two days after Mardi Gras, as the inevitable shame and depression set in, seemed like a great idea. Driving around the Northeast and Midwest in mid-February was a little more questionable.
It was 78 degrees loading the van. Sweating in a t-shirt, I realized in three days we’d be freezing in arctic tundra. But everyone was excited to see our friends, play shows, and get out of town.
Shelby drove first, I navigated and played DJ, and Michael relaxed. I put on Wax Museums’ Eye Times since none of us had heard it before. It was just getting good when we hit stand still traffic. I was sending memes to my boyfriend when the car behind us smashed into the back of the van so hard we were pushed far as fuck away from where we’d been stopped.
Shelby had to cut the wheel hard to get us safely to the side. My phone, as always, had been glued to my face when the two collided, so my front teeth took the hit. In the second it took me to realize what happened, I managed to get out, “My teeth are broken,” before noticing Shelby calmly screaming, “Eat the weed!” We got out of the car, saw that it was fucked, made sure we weren’t injured, and checked out the wreckage behind us.
Two cars—attached and on fire—smoked in front of us. Michael and I ran over and saw one of the drivers was trapped in his car and screaming for help. Michael pulled the guy’s door open and got him out. We ran roadside as both cars were engulfed in flames.
I went back to the van and filed the edges of my teeth. Chipping them doesn’t hurt, but it’s fucking annoying. I hadn’t seen Shelby since before the whole burning-car-Michael-saved-a-dude’s-life ordeal, but he came back and told us he hid the weed. Great job! We cancelled Birmingham and discussed cancelling tour. It was decided we would all commit ritual suicide if we had to go back to work.
We were towed to Meridian. Meridian Enterprise employees are shells of human beings who appear in your nightmares to say strange non-sequiturs, tipping you off so you realize you’re dreaming. Only you’re not—you’re in Meridian. Dicks wouldn’t rent us a van, so we got a smoking room at the Super 8.
Shelby’s van was totaled. We loitered there until they rented us a van for $9.50 a day. It was a fifteen seat church van and loading took a three-person assembly line. Fuck that van, but it got us to our first show in Savannah.
Friday, 2/12: Savannah, GA at The Sentient Bean with Wet Socks, COEDS
We were really late—so late that we were pissing on the side of the road to save time and we missed the opening bands. Sorry dudes.
A guy wearing a Total Punk patch (immediate “friend” signifier) introduced himself as Josh from Crazy Bag Lady. He took us to the American Legion. There was no swearing and the door guy made Shelby and Michael stand outside to “air out.” Shelby almost got kicked out for screaming, “Fuck Myst!” during a conversation about old PC games but a friend talked his way out of it. We went back to Josh’s and listened to Rick James. I fell asleep in his horror movie themed spare bedroom.
The next day, on the way into Richmond we saw a cool cigarette obelisk on the interstate. It was now 12°.
Saturday: Richmond, VA at Bellytimber Tavern with Cherry Pits, Sports Bar
Bellytimber is a pizza place with craft beer. I was worried about how this show was going to go, whether we’d end up banned over Michael breaking something. Our buddies Kyle, Liza, and Chaz (who made up the killer, now defunct Nervous Ticks) showed up. Everybody played. Everything was good. The door guy was a giant named Ox who wore a knife on his belt. He kept me company while I smoked and died of hypothermia. After the show, we went to Kyle’s and watched Weird Al music videos while the boys got stoned. Drew from Sick Thoughts heard we were there and texted to ask if the sheets had been changed since he pissed them. I used my sleeping bag that night.
Sunday: Brooklyn, NY at Pet Rescue with Mad Doctors, Coach n Commando, The Rizzos
Stopped by my mom’s in Jersey before our Brooklyn show. The venue was a warehouse apartment. You had to look for signs in Chinese and load into a freight elevator. My mom came to the show. She got kicked in the head by a crowd surfer while trying to take pictures. Mad Doctors are forever homies. They always take care of us in Brooklyn.
Went back to my friend Eddie’s apartment where he let us smoke inside and play with his dog. Then, I drove back to my mom’s in NJ and went to sleep. While I slept, Shelby and Michael got wasted in the basement and took dumbass pictures with a 6” cardboard cutout of me from my high school graduation. Fuck you, Michael and Shelby. (Fuck you, too, Sam – Michael)
We had the next day off. Michael and Shelby spent most of it playing in the snow while I got my teeth looked at.
Tuesday: Cleveland, OH at Now That’s Class with Kill the Hippies, Tonawandas
The drive to Cleveland from NJ is one of the craziest February drives you can do. I was convinced we were going to die. Michael put his seatbelt on in the back seat for the first time ever. Michael dubbed it a big-rig graveyard. We saw about 10 gnarly wrecks.
I’d never been to Now That’s Class, and now it’s my favorite venue. The stage is tiny and in the middle of everything. I had no idea I would love Cleveland so much. Tonawandas opened. Bim (Obnox) was the hype man all the bands needed, and Kill the Hippies ruled.
Paul Class was in Puerto Rico, but he sent friends and made sure we had a place to stay with this guy Mike in the coolest house we’ve ever slept. He had a good record collection, a cool recording spot, and we could smoke inside there too. His toilet had a King Diamond sticker on the inside of the lid, and his cats were agreeable. Michael got the spins and puked pretty hard this night, as King Diamond stared disapprovingly.
Wednesday: Madison, WI at High Noon Saloon with The Hussy, Proud Parents, No Hoax
Bobby made sure our Madison show was a blast, and it was Heather’s birthday. The Hussy killed. There were cupcakes/balloons for Heather. It was a great first time. Alex, from Fire Retarded put us up and in the morning we had breakfast and visited his mom at her second-hand shop. By the way, Michael insists Thompson’s Premium Trash Whiskey tastes better than it sounds. Puts out the fire, leaves in the warmth.
Thursday: Milwaukee, WI at Quarter’s with Platinum Boys, The Pukes
Eric (Holy Shit!) consistently books the best shows we play all tour. Friends were already there and had ordered a pizza when we got to Quarter’s. Michael passed the bag of parmesan cheese off as something else to Shelby, who almost snorted it before yelling, “This is fuckin’ cheese, man!” By the first band most of our friends had arrived. Everyone is rad and people we see once a year are instant best friends. Platinum Boys were excellent. We convinced Eric to come to High Dive afterward despite having work at 8 AM (hope that wasn’t too bad, dude). We learned Shelby can fall asleep 5 seconds after railing one, but it was probably cheese, so whatever.
Friday: Chicago, IL at The Observatory with The Sueves, MAMA, The Voluptuals
We got to The Observatory, in Chicago, where Matt (Voluptuals) lives and where we’d be playing and sleeping. The Observatory is amazing: there are bedrooms and common areas, but there’s also a bar with a stage and a recording studio. Everyone who lives there puts effort into keeping the place going and it shows.
The bands were phenomenal. It was a balmy 60° February Friday in Chicago. Everyone was feelin’ it. Chris (from Mama) came up and sang “Chinese Rocks” with us, one of my favorite moments from the tour. Next day, he jumped in the van with us.
Saturday: Memphis, TN at Murphy’s with NOTS, Aquarian Blood
We used to play Memphis first on tours. That was a mistake. Going to Memphis is like going to a different home. Now it gets saved for last.
The drive took 10 hours. Listened to some Zappa. We got a room at Motel 6. Someone mentioned Gonerfest. The lady behind the counter groaned, “That’s this weekend?” I calmed her down, assuring her that we would be the only punk rock scumbags invading her workplace.
Aquarian Blood is one of my favorite bands, and getting to see Nots is always the shit. Both bands played new material. Seth (Useless Eaters) and Lise DJ’d. New Orleans spoils you by having a DJ on almost every show. When we first toured, I was surprised isn’t like that everywhere.
It’s a Memphis tradition to “Liquor Bucket” Shelby (fill ice bucket with liquor, make Shelby drink it). Everyone blacked out. The next morning was a little hazy. Chris, still drunk, searching for Dot, woke up Michael tryna’ pull him in tight to start the day out right. But Michael was all, “No dice.” We went to Gus’s then Goner to get records and say goodbye to our Memphis buds.
Initial disaster aside, tour ruled! The wreck was fucked up and it almost fucked everything. It’s important for us to get out of town and see of all the awesome people in great bands we’ve become friends with. All these crazy fucks make the best music around. The best part of being in this band is getting to drive cross-country to hang with them. We sold all our records, we didn’t get banned or kicked out anywhere this time (this is a tour first), and we still haven’t killed each other.