Last time we gathered ‘round the campfire, I told you tales that took us from our home state of Oklahoma to the exotic, faraway lands of Iowa. Hear me well, say thankya, as we palaver again and I tell you of the friends, enemies, dogs, farts, and shows of our travels.
Minneapolis, MN – July 8th
Ah, yes. The day we get to leave Iowa. There was actually a stop I demanded we take on the way out, however, and that was Toppling Goliath brewery in Decorah, IA. There are quite a few truly world-class breweries smattered across the US, and a lot of them deal with insane lines and a feverish demand on a daily basis (check out the next tour installment for more on that). Toppling Goliath is a world-class brewery, best known for their insanely rare Kentucky Brunch Brand Stout. Their taproom, however, could be mistaken for any other small and unassuming Midwest tavern, where the bartenders know all the locals by name and drink order. The most notable difference is the constant line off to the side to pick up bombers and growlers of their beer. I also jumped in that line and blew a bunch of money on awesome, awesome beer to take home.
We got back on the road and finished the drive into Minneapolis. The venue was a really cool place called Reverie Bar and Cafe where you could hang out during the day with good food and coffee before catching a show with good food and beer at night. I like crusty DIY places as much as the next dude, but I also really appreciate a good, clean space like this one. Once we started loading in, the magnificent call of the Toilet beckoned the crew one by one. A magnificent Pumpkin Baby, the one called HessianHunter, descended from the rafters of the venue like a gleaming orange ball of hope with very standard sized hands. Shortly thereafter, a glorious Boone appeared, a wild lurker of the Toilet that cannot be tamed by our futile efforts. As if my heart were not already full to bursting, a stately Edward galloped down the street, while all commoners hurried out of the way and bowed. The magnetism was strong by this point, and a nimble EsusMoose pranced from the woods and into our hearts. Finally, the shining, mighty, and deadly Spear rocketed in the door of the venue and killed all of us with his might (in a good way). The circle was complete. Time for metal.
This was definitely the best lineup thus far on the tour. Vernon Wayne, an off-kilter bunch of proggy metal(ish) weirdos, opened the show in style. Sunless then took the stage to absolutely level everyone with a finely tuned Gorgutsian cannon assault. The venue was pretty packed at this point, and the vibe of the place was fantastic. We played a solid set, sold some merch, and then Grogus (featuring the glorious Boone) flattened anyone else left standing with a mix of sludge, hardcore, and violent noise. We crashed with the Grogus dudes later, who have an awesome house and an awesome dog. We hung out, ate pizza, and listened to great stories from the 1,000 other bands they’re in.
Duluth, MN – July 9th
On our way out of Minneapolis, we swung by a big, rad marketplace housing a place called Taco Cat. The heavenly employee working the register was none other than HessianHunter himself, and he hooked us up with an employee discount for one of the best burritos I’ve ever had. Big thanks to the tiny pumpkin one. The market also had a shop featuring handmade goods from Africa, and, since I’m an irresponsible manchild, I walked out with a kalimba made in Ghana. Take that, prudent adulthood! Then, a little ways outside the city, we made another stop at Hammerheart Brewing Company, the brewery owned and operated by Austin Lunn of Panopticon. He unfortunately wasn’t there at the time, but Tanner of Obsequiae was working the taproom. He was an awesome dude, and we swapped CDs after chatting for a bit. The beers brewed at Hammerheart were unbelievably good, and are all made in a style truly befitting of the North. Almost everything was smoked, roasted, malty, and delicious. Any one of those beers would keep you warm in a shrieking storm on the side of a hulking mountain. Ahh, I miss Hammerheart.
The drive into Duluth was actually pretty scenic, as it was a big and sudden slope into Lake Superior. We made our way toward the venue (house), got to the place (a house), and unloaded (into the house). We love the idea of house shows, and this one seemed like it would be plenty of fun. It was basically a party, complete with a keg and underage kids smoking weed and getting drunk. Before the show, we communicated with a dude in another band about lineup, and he was woefully unaware of how things work: when a touring band is playing a 4-band lineup, the touring band goes third. Especially on a house show, where money is going to be LOL. Touring bands rely heavily on merch sales, which depend on exposure, and the third slot on a four-band lineup always has the biggest audience. The douche nozzle in the other band, however, insisted that they should go third because they “set up the show.” We stopped fighting it, and agreed to play last. Luckily, our woes were tempered by the arrival of the Toileteer Fine Sexy Ladies himself. His soothing bass voice and patience for a drunk guy teaching him the Wu Tang handshake made everything instantly better.
The show got going, and a punk band kicked things off and played to a packed basement. They were pretty fun, but left right after they were done playing (thanks guys). Then two very interchangeable stoner bands played, also to a big and enthusiastic crowd, giving us some hope that we might have something of an audience when we got going. We switched out gear as quickly as possible in an effort to keep the crowd, but quickly lost that fight to the haze of drunkenness, weed smoke, and apathy (our sound guy was also drunk and stoned out of his mind). We played most of our set to five or so people and one Fine Sexy Ladies. After we were done, the idiot that fought us on the show order stumbled in, looked at my flute (nothing sexual), and said “Oh, dude, you play flute?” “Yep,” I responded. “Did you already play it?” “Yep.” “Oh, you guys are done?” “Yep.” “Oh man, I must have missed it.” “You sure did.” He then went on to apologize for the lack of remaining crowd, to which I replied “Yeah, that’s why we asked to go third, because that’s what you do with a touring band on the bill.” He was awkwardly and overly friendly for the rest of the night, and it took everything in me not to uppercut his stupid face. Look, we have no problem playing to a tiny crowd and giving it everything we have. We did that in Farmington and Des Moines with a smile on our faces, because that’s sometimes what happens when you’re on the road. But when there’s a clear opportunity to play to a good crowd to get some merch sold, but we’re denied that opportunity by a stubborn idiot who doesn’t know how things work (and who got stoned and drunk outside instead of watching our set), it’s easy to get mad. Enough whining though, we crashed with Fine Sexy Ladies that night, and he made us spaghetti! He also had a mega cute dog that wanted nothing more than to be everywhere at the same time. He wrassled with our guitarist for a bit, then slept right next to me all night. In the morning, good ol’ FSL made us an excellent breakfast, a butt ton of sandwiches to take on the road, and gave us the best memento we could have asked for. Thanks for redeeming Duluth, Fine Sexy Ladies.
Chicago, IL – July 10th and 11th
We were originally shooting for a Green Bay show on the 10th, but it never materialized and we settled on two days off in Chicago. Our guitarist’s sister lives in the heart of the city, so we worked out a slightly awkward parking situation (city parking is the absolute worse) and got set for a couple days of healthy and responsible dietary habits sitting around and drinking a ton of beer. Not a lot happened, except we did go to Kuma’s Too for the obligatory metal burger. If you aren’t familiar with Kuma’s Corner and Kuma’s Too, they’re fantastically good burger joints that name all of their burgers after metal bands. Their burger of the month, which I got and inhaled with slovenly glee, was Weekend Nachos. The burger was obscenely good, and of course we jammed some Weekend Nachos shortly after. For whatever reason, I started a habit thereafter of rolling down the van window and yelling “WEEKEND NACHOOOOOS” at strangers on the sidewalk. Social norms sorta get lost in the dank vortex of tour. Oh, another thing that happened was the promoter from the Pittsburgh show on the 13th called and said the show was canceled due to a band dropping and some other competing show. NEAT.
Buffalo, NY – July 12th
You may recall in the first installment that we had two New York shows fall through right before we left for tour. Luckily, through consistent nagging and a million Facebook messages, we scored a spot on a black metal show in Buffalo for the 12th. I won’t say we fit in really well, but we were very thankful for the show. Days off on tour are neat, but no matter how much we tell ourselves we won’t buy beer, we always buy beer. I feel like I should add that we’re not alcoholics, we just really enjoy craft beer, especially local and regional options. Anyway, the show itself featured some cool local black metal bands, the highlight definitely being Hubris. Those guys nailed it with some good, tried-and-trve US black metal done very well (check it out below). We had enough to scrape out a hotel room that night, so we got in, played a card game called Exploding Kittens, and called it a night.
Unexpected Day Off – July 13th
Well, here we are on the date of the canceled Pittsburgh show. This had never happened to us so much on tour; we can usually get through a two to three week run with very little planning difficulties. With an extra day off, we did the correct thing to do in Buffalo and went to Niagara Falls. It had been ten years since I had gone and the other dudes had never been there, so we were all looking forward to it. Turns out, the falls got canceled too due to the promoter not getting the word out. No but seriously, the falls were fantastic. We may or may not have put some whiskey in gas station coffee cups as we took in their majesty, but who’s to say. I should point out again that we’re not alcoholics, we just enjoy local and regional whiskey in local and regional used gas station coffee cups. We had an excellent time taking in the free view and the intense wind coming off the falls, then headed back to the hotel room. We didn’t want to spend any extra money, so we made dinner in the hotel room and made a drinking version out of Exploding Kittens. Seriously, we’re not alcoholics.
Syracuse, NY – July 14th
This was another date that we were able to throw together at the last minute after originally getting canceled. The show got picked up by an awesome space called The Vault, which is a combination art gallery, fashion show venue, music venue, and pretty much whatever cool things you want. I chatted with the owner and he was really dedicated to making it a great cultural spot, and it seems like it’s well on the way to that. If you’re in the Syracuse area, make that a regular hang for you. Before we got there, however, we hit up Middle Ages Brewery, then spent some time kicking around a soccer ball in a park and making stupid Instagram videos on the playground equipment. It felt good to get some exercise and fresh air, and also to act like a giant idiot without fear of running into someone you know.
As luck would have it, the mighty Rusty Shackleford from the Toilet is a Syracuse homeboy. He came out to the show and we had an excellent time talking about his insane overseas travels, and he bought some of that sweet, sweet Dischordia merch. He was already doing well though, as he was sporting that sweet, sweet Toilet ov Hell shirt. The show started well with a noise/soundscape dude named Sam kicking it off as the crowd mingled a bit and the owner walked around with cookie samples. There was also a Mortal Kombat II machine that was free to play, and I repeatedly got stomped by the very first opponent every single time. The rad dudes in Neglected Foot (coolest band name of the tour) and Spire kept it rolling, and there were great vibes all around. We had a decent sized crowd, especially considering the last minute nature of the show, and we sold a ton in merch. Overall it was a great night, and we capped it off by crashing with the promoter, who happens to be the vocalist in NilExistence, a killer band you’ll be hearing more about from me. He even took us out for burritos! Check them out and watch their Facebook page, since they get on the road a good amount.
That’s all for now, friends. Check back soon for tales of the East!