So here we are. Our first national tour wrapped up a couple of weeks ago and I'm here to tell you that this is a big, strange land that we live in. Our interstate highway system is an amazing thing. In the time it would take to catch up on Game of Thrones, you could be in a different time zone, a different climate, a different world, with different plants, animals and geography, and different people with different social scripts. Here are an assortment of observations and anecdotes I collected over the course of passing through so many odd and wonderful places.
In Scranton, PA, people shout at each other across the street and flag down strangers on the sidewalk to park their vans. Brian did a pretty good job. We were booked to play with four metal bands and for a moment we were worried about how our little stringband would go over, but then we remembered that metalheads are the coolest and the show was great.
Driving from the mid-atlantic into the midwest, you start to see more and more billboards for porno stores. At some point you start seeing ads for Lion's Den Adult Superstores, and by the time you cross the Mississippi, Lion's Dens are all there is. Lion's Den's territory is massive.
We played a show in Kansas City, MO, at the Hive, which was like the Studio 54 of house venues. The performers were all incredibly talented and the bar was stocked with fine liquors.
As you go west everything just gets bigger and bigger. The roads are bigger and you can drive faster, and people actually keep right on the highway except to pass most of the time. It's fucked up.
We were all paranoid about driving through Kansas in our dirty minivan with Massachusetts plates because we'd heard about Kansas state police using civil forfeiture to rip people off, but I guess that's mostly people coming out of Colorado. Also it's fucking Kansas. It was fine.
Altitude makes you lightheaded, which is kind of cool. And it makes your brakes squeak in the morning, which is kind of existentially horrifying when you're driving through the mountains.
We drove from Boulder CO, through Wyoming, into South Dakota, and from there we went through Montana, Idaho and into Washington, and during that whole time I didn't see a single cop. I'm not sure what that means. I'm sure that part of the country has it's own problems, but I like the way people give each other space. I guess that's easy when there's so much of it.
I also have to talk about Lead, SD. It's a town in the Black Hills, it's like the 1880s picked a few cool things about the future and passed on everything else. We played in a bar called Moonshine Gulch with an amazing songwriter named Steve Thorpe, who also let us stay at his cabin on the side of a mountain. This guy is the real deal.
Before we left I made a conscious decision to try to stop comparing everywhere we go to the Northeast. That didn't really work. So like, I'm gonna die in the Northeast, but I totally get the west coast thing now. Like, what are you so worked up about? We're alive for some amount of time and nothing that happens has any significance, just chill. Also people treat weed like tea. "So this is my house, here's the kitchen, the living room, make yourself at home, I've got coffee, water, weed, snacks, whatever you want."
It was 120 degrees in Phoenix. The most fucked thing about that: the breeze is hotter than the still air. It's like standing in a campfire. The punk kids at the show hated their hometown more than any punk kids I've met before.
In Texas the people who work at gas stations call you sir or ma'am. Much like the West Coast chillness, I was surprised at how much southern politeness doesn't bother me and I actually kind of like it, but the sir thing is a bridge too far.
I got to see someone who I hadn't seen in a while who is very important to me and whom I love very much in New Orleans.
We played a show in Tennessee...
So yeah, that was my vacation slideshow. If you're still reading at this point, uh, thanks, I guess. I'm here if you need to talk.