It’s Billy again, time for the rundown on the spectacular road trip we just got back from…
Vassar College, Poughkeepsie, NY: After a fourteen hour drive from Chicago (with an overnight stop in Ohio), we set up to play in The Mug, a “bar” in the basement of the student center. Walking into what looked like a student youth organization abandoned during the Clinton administration, I was sure it was gonna suck. Then our man Toby (next year’s VICE president) took us to our sleeping quarters – in student housing with these super-cool kids who knew everything about cost-efficient environmental preservation and gave us home-brewed beer and of course, things started to look up. After we get back to the Mug, these two girls are all like, “Start playing already”, so we do. And then, like magic, this endless stream of shoeless co-eds shimmys down the stairs in Polos, neon, and pastels and dance NON-STOP through the whole set. It was like we’d slipped through some portal into a Vampire Weekend (or Haircut 100) video. Definitely the best dancers of the tour; special props to Mac (best dancer), Ricky (best dressed), and Gretchen (poorest attendence). I can’t wait to go back to Vassar, AKA upstate Williamsburg.
Monkey House, Winooski, VT: The drive through upstate New York and into Vermont was F’ing gorgeous, 70 degrees and sunny and we’re rolling through green mountain valleys. Listened to Eric B & Rakim’s “Follow the Leader” twice. Mr. Greenweedz regaled us with endless tales of strange celebrity encounters and rants about the Three Stooges and Hall & Oates. We arrived in Burlington just in time for an awesome post-hippie backyard BBQ, with all these kids and dogs running around. We rolled up to folks chilling on a sod sofa and they said the axe-throwing contest was just about to start. The winner was a guy with a baby in one hand and an axe in the other. We need to get out of the city more! I think I love Vermont, the people there are the most progressive, sound thinkers in the US. They live in cool wooded homes like Michael Caine in “Children of Men”. The show at the Monkey House was cool mainly because people seemed to really like us, but especially on account of this one girl who wouldn’t give me the time of day. But we signed autographs and then we all danced to Hall & Oates on this kid’s iPod, so the day came full circle. I’ve also heard they have good weed there.
Q Division Studios, Somerville, MA: For the Boston area, we played a (secret?) show at the recording home of Mission of Burma, The Right Ons, and Eli “Paperboy” Reed. It was a super sweet show and they recorded the whole thing, audio and video. They treated us great, with a BBQ buffet from Red Bones and plenty of cold Narragansett tallboys. Good sound, cool BBQ, and sweet gear. I played with a Mutron phasor pedal. Then Ben takes us to the Lizard Lounge in Cambridge for a late night set by Club D’Elf, which blew all of our minds. If you live in Beantown and you don’t know them, you’re fucking blowing it, the greatest intergalactic dub jazz ensemble ever. Stayed at Scott Craggs’ loft in South Boston, went for a run through Southie in the morning, jammed with our host, and then pulled out for Brooklyn. VIDEOS TO COME! I found a copy of “De La Soul Is Dead” at the Good Will but left it in the loft. Guess we’ll have to return to Boston.
Southpaw, Brooklyn, NY: A funny thing happened on the way to the city…. We learned that Wilco had posted our video for “I Am Trying To Break Your Heart” on their Facebook page, and Boing Boing was covering it, and then like 30,000 people saw it. So we were crazy psyched, I personally love Wilco and having talked to Jeff and Pat and knowing that they thought it was cool version made my year in 2009. But I never thought they’d share it with their legions of fans; I’ve loved that band since the 90’s and now I’m a fan for life. Southpaw in Park Slope is always a blast because all of our friends come out. The girls in Brooklyn are the most beautiful girls in the world. They are also kind and good dancers. We love Brooklyn; it’s our second home as far as I’m concerned.
North Star, Philadelphia, PA: Speaking of home… our favorite moment of the tour came at North Star in North Philly. JC’s mom and whole family were there and we played one of my favorite shows. Everyone was really on it, especially the crowd. At the end of the set JC says a few words about Mother’s Day leading into “Here Comes the Fall”, which has been gone from our set for at least a year. As the song builds to a JC-led crescendo, the big man throws a mic to Mama Brooks in the first row and she sings out the end of the song with him. It was one of those rare moments that had strangers hugging one another, an excellent reminder as to why I play behind this kid, he creates magic. “Are there videos on YouTube of it?” you ask? C’mon, it’s 2010, there’s YouTube of everything in the goddamn world, buddy.
Shadow Lounge, Pittsburgh, PA: I hate it when things wind down, we were just revving up. A two-set show at the Shadow Lounge, preceded by great Ethiopian food and the bitchin’ sounds of the Title Town DJ’s, Jay Malls and Gordy. One problem with this gig: I was not ready to get off the road yet. The only thing that sucks about touring is heading home. They say you can never go home again well, (dramatic pause)… that’s bullshit! You can. I do it all the time. And I LOVE Chicago. But it’s a little tough when you know you have more work to do out on the road. Luckily we found out that we’re opening for one of my favorite singers, Naomi Shelton, at the Empty Bottle in July, then we’re playing f’ing Ravinia in August, and the METRO next weekend (May 21st – Go to this show!!!). So we’ll stay busy, but as far as the road goes, we’ve still got unfinished business out there and we’ll be back soon.