Raise New Hell, Part I

Posted on November 6, 2010


Tour blogging is the delicate art of telling just enough of the truth to keep everyone interested but not enough of the truth to piss anyone off. It’s an art I’m not sure that I’ve mastered, so I’ll probably wind up talking about funny things that happen to us on the road rather than the shows themselves.

Today’s amazing moment, brought to you by toll booth workers:

The story begins with us cruising down the Jersey Turnpike in our vessel. First, a word on the van, which I have dubbed the USS Dan Marino due to its turquoise upholstery and let’s say…venerability (Will’s dad, upon being told the year of the van: You guys know that was fifteen years ago, right?). I will be sure to talk about the Marino more in the future (built in VHS, faux-velvet curtains, wood paneling, leaks in the rain), but for now just imagine us in a big van with so much rust on it that the rust and turquoise combine into an uncanny imitation of the colors of the 1993 Miami Dolphins football team.

Anyway, Nick, who’s subbing on bass for us for a few days, is in the captains chair, and he’s thrown out the statistic that toll booth workers have the 3rd highest suicide rate of any occupation, alongside lawyers and dentists. I point out that you don’t see rock musician on that list, trying to bring a little levity to the aftermath of one of those ultra-bleak future of music conversations anyone in a band not doing Converse ads has to have every few weeks. Nick: This is about professionals. Zing.

Just at this moment we pull up to a toll booth at which there is a small, red-faced man with huge glasses.
Nick (handing over money): Hey, how you doing?
Toll Booth Dude: Great!
Nick: Great? That’s good to hear.
TBD: I’m always great! I smoke a lotta dope, too.

At which point we pull away while he beams at us like a contented turtle. There is one toll booth attendant who is not going to off himself. Score one for pot.


I guess I should mention the show as well, eh? The Velvet Lounge turns out to be the place where, in early 2008, I played with my roommate and was so flu-delirious I could barely even stand up. I remember people laughing at my banter a lot more than usual, and apparently I spent the last band’s set huddled in a corner shivering.

2010 was a rather substantial improvement. Andrew of the VL kindly delivered our brand new T-SHIRTS to us (they look great, photos soon!). We ate an amazing meal at DC Noodles (hello, drunken squid ink noodles) with our kind hostess Jillian. We shot the shit about Iowa City with the dudes from Seas, who were great. The place was packed to the gills (the bar, downstairs, was also packed, with a totally different clientele. I walked down there to get a whiskey at some point and it was like I stepped into a bacardi commercial). All the bands sounded fantastic. The Loom got there in time to see all of Seas and most of our set and were total sweethearts, played their hearts out even exhausted at 1 AM. Nick and Peter, both playing their first show ever in BWG, hit it so hard that I actually didn’t remember it was their first show until about an hour after the set. This is where tour blogging starts to sound like an award acceptance speech, so I’ll leave off, except to say that if every show on the tour is like this I will consider myself blessed.

Your most obliged & humble servant

P.S. I should also mention, because it is hilarious, that during “Of Cowboys,” when I sang the line “if I was a beautiful man I wouldn’t worry about love” someone in the audience actually said “aw, you are a beautiful man.”

Posted in: tour!