On The Road With Dischordia: Part 3
No, we’re not still on tour. I’m just awful at doing things in a timely manner. I’m a band director in the real world, and had to jump straight into teaching morning to evening the day after we got home from tour. So sink back with me into tales of the road, where I can escape from awkward and sweaty teenagers who suck at their instruments, and where you can learn of our Northeast adventures and the journey home. We laughed, loved, farted, drank beer, met friends old and new, farted, drank more beer, and I guess maybe played a show or two.
Day Off – July 15th
Taking Fridays off is dumb, and we never do it if we can help it. You may remember from my earlier entry that we had some booking troubles in the Northeast, and this date unfortunately never came together. Our next show was Boston on Saturday where we had a place to crash for multiple nights, so we made our way on over. Luckily for us, the little town of Monson, Massachusetts was (kinda) on the way, and that humble hamlet is home to Tree House Brewing Company. If you’re a hustler in the craft beer world, you may know that the IPA game has been upended the past few years by breweries in the Northeast United States making hazy, intensely aromatic IPAs loaded with citrus flavors and backed by a balanced—yet complex!—mouthfeel. You may also know that beers from those heavy-hitting NE breweries are notoriously hard to come by, and Tree House is only obtainable from the brewery, select stores in the immediate area, or through trading. Needless to say, I was hyped to make this pit stop.
Well I’m glad I was hyped, because that pit stop turned into an hours-long ordeal. The hype carried us through, however, because we stuck out that massive line and made it to Boston with some truly amazing brews. We had four different beers (Alter Ego, Bright, Julius, and Green), and every one of them was absolutely world class. My personal favorite was Green, and I don’t think I can ever drink another IPA or even orange juice without sighing, looking plaintively into the distance, and remembering what once was (guys, I promise we’re not alcoholics). Anyway, we eventually made our way to our buddy’s place in Boston to drink beer and watch Trailer Park Boys. Said buddy is a certifiable genius, who holds two bachelors degrees from MIT (math and physics, no big deal) and a PhD from Carnegie Mellon. I mention this because our night ended with all of us being pleasantly buzzed, and him telling me things about the speed of light and quantifiable science in general that pretty well convinced me that nothing means anything, but everything definitely means something, or not, I think, maybe. He was slightly more eloquent on the subject.
Boston, MA – July 16th
We played Boston for the first time on last summer’s tour, and it absolutely killed. It was one of our big motivations for touring the East Coast again this year, so we were hyped well ahead of time for this one. When booking first started for this show, I immediately solidified Brain Famine on the lineup, because hot dang I heckin’ love that band (you may remember the interview their guitarist was kind enough to grant me). Next, I immediately solidified Hadean, because that band is mind bogglingly good, their guitarist is a rad dude, and they’re well liked around the Toilet. We rounded it off with Bacterial Husk, a newly formed band of some serious veterans of the Boston metal scene. Sadly, Brain Famine had to drop, but they were replaced by Spitting Black, the other band of Brain Famine’s vocalist.
The show was at O’Brien’s Pub, the same venue as last year, and it absolutely ruled. It was Bacterial Husk’s first show, but as I mentioned before, the dudes are pros. They breezed through their intricate, nasty thrash/death with all the tightness and energy you’d expect from a band on their 20th tour. Spitting Black stepped up next and ruled with their unique blend of tuneful metal and pissed off punk. That label isn’t really accurate, but it’s hard to describe that sense of melodicism and the way it blends with their smart pacing and furious aggression. Either way, they absolutely owned every inch of their instruments and played an excellent set. Needless to say, these two bands did not make it easy to go next.
Luckily our set was solid, and we got a great response from the crowd. The new material had been getting really great feedback all tour, and we were really happy to hear that it clicked well with the Boston crowd. Chris Leamy, the gentleman from Brain Famine who answered my interview questions, came out to the show and gave us some seriously high praise. It’s awesome to get compliments from fellow musicians you really admire, and I can’t wait to get back to Boston to play a show with those guys someday. Speaking of getting compliments from musicians you admire, ex-Revocation drummer Phil Dubois was at the show, and he was very kind to us as we hung out with him afterwards. It only seemed fitting, after Dave Davidson was at our Boston show last year. Seriously guys, Boston rules.
To finish off a night of Boston ruling, Hadean took the stage and expanded the collective consciousness of all in attendance. If you haven’t heard their 2015 album On Fading, you better dig back through the Toilet and sort yourself out. They were unfortunately short their keyboard player due to wrist issues, and they had a different drummer filling in. Mega props to that guy, because he killed it. Despite missing some of their atmospheric element with the absent keyboardist, Hadean nailed it and rounded off the show perfectly. All the bands made money that night, we sold a good amount of merch, and had an absolutely fantastic time. Seriously guys, Boston rules.
But wait, it’s scary story time! Parking in urban areas sucks, so I had to go get our van a few blocks away so we could pack up after the show. Our mega smart Boston buddy went with me, and as soon as we turned off the main road to a darker side street, we came upon four dudes who were huddled close and passing something around. They immediately stopped what they were doing and started walking the same direction as us, but 15 or so feet ahead. We didn’t care one bit what they were doing, and kept minding our own business and chatting. Before long, the guys ahead said a few things to each other in Spanish, then purposefully slowed. Two guys drifted apart, one slowed a little more dramatically, and the fourth kept his pace to be in front. In an effort to stay nonchalant, we just kept walking, but quickly found ourselves surrounded by these guys on a dark street who obviously arranged this purposefully. There was a super tense 10 seconds where my thoughts were “Well, at least I went out with a great show tonight, I hope getting stabbed isn’t as awful as I definitely know it is,” but we eventually passed the guy in front and our small groups went their separate ways. For all I know, when they spoke Spanish to each other they said “Hey, let’s freak out these nerds.” It was an interesting study on my own nerves and bladder control in potentially rough situations. We eventually made it back to our buddy’s place and crashed for the night.
Day Off – July 17th
Yet another date that never materialized while booking. We love the East Coast, but man, it gave us some serious booking trouble this time around. We were at least happy that we still had a place to sleep and hang out. Our mega smart friend went to pick up his mega smart girlfriend from the airport (she had just gotten back from a mega smart conference in Europe), and then we all went out for some good hangout time. I should add that our guitarist and drummer go way back to childhood in Oklahoma with smart Boston guy, and I’ve hung out with him many times over the six years of Dischordia. Additionally, we’ve all known his mega smart girlfriend for many years, so this day off was an excellent time to hang with old friends and drink a tower of beer. Seriously, we drank a tower of beer.
After the tower of beer, we went for a quick evening hike in some of the forestry surrounding the city. Despite the dense, urban sprawl of Boston, you really don’t have to go far to be totally isolated in thick, towering forest. We had a truly awesome time getting some much-needed exercise. If you ever find yourself on tour, I’ve found that hiking is legitimately one of the best activities for recharging on the road. Our first East Coast tour was three years ago, and the thing I remember most from it was a hike we went on in Georgia. Get outdoors, fools.
Day Off, AGAIN – July 18th
Well, we at least knew this one was going to happen from the get go. We typically don’t book Mondays since they’re pretty much always a bust. We’ve got a couple longtime buddies in Black Crown Initiate, and they offered to let us crash at their place in Delaware even though they were on tour at the time. Their spot was a good halfway point between Boston and our show the next day in Charlotte. We said goodbye to our mega smart friends and hit the road. We knew the drive from Boston to Delaware was going to suck due to the cities we had to drive through, but we were still not prepared for how much it actually sucked. Road closures/construction, accidents, heavy rain, and general horrible city traffic around Washington DC turned it into a nightmare of a drive. We finally made it that evening, took in some beer and Trailer Park Boys, and got some sleep.
Charlotte, NC – July 19th
We hit the road for another day of truck stop bathrooms, gas station coffee, and presumably some death metal. We made it to the venue in Charlotte, where I was able to once again gaze upon the lovely visage of the dear Randall Thor. I hailed the mighty warrior from afar, calling the names of the posers I had slain that day, that we may guffaw heartily and drink flagons of ale. He was looking down and didn’t respond, which I thought to be odd. I was pretty far away, maybe I just needed to be closer. I moved to well within earshot, and called again: “RANDALL, THE BLOOD OF 19 POSERS AND WIMPS DRIPS FRESH FROM MY HAND ON THIS DAY, LET US HOIST A FLAGON OF ALE TOGETHER!” Huh. Still nothing. He kept looking down for some—WOW HE WAS PLAYING POKEMON GO. Before I knew it, hours had slipped by and he hadn’t said a word to anyone. He somehow did his entire set with Baasthyrian and never stopped playing Pokemon Go/drooling.
But seriously, hanging with Randall again was rad. We came through Charlotte to play the World Famous Milestone on our last tour, and had an excellent time. This time, however, blew last summer out of the water. There were a ton of people, the vibe was great, and we had a solid mosh pit during key points of our set. Randall learned the bass part for our cover of Thrice’s “All The World Is Mad,” and we had an awesome time with him on stage with us. Baasthyrian closed the night out in style to a crowd that stuck around until the brutal end. We got paid what we needed, sold some merch, made a bunch of fans, and had a fantastic time. Oh yeah, and this was all on a Tuesday! Charlotte knows how to do their Tuesday nights, apparently. We then headed back to Randall’s to crash for the night with his excellent cat, Albus. Here’s the best part: Randall had read our previous tour diaries and was ready to make us spaghetti after the show. Well, he had never made spaghetti, so it was a group effort. But, SPAGHETTI!
ANOTHER DAY OFF BECAUSE LOLWHYNOT – July 20th
The Eastern US was out to get us this tour. We had a date booked at a venue in Chattanooga, TN, but absolutely could night find any bands to play with us. We came across two good, reputable bands online, but neither one could do the show. We also messaged over a dozen other bands, and none of them got back to us at all. Seeing the “Seen at (insert time)” tag on a Facebook message without so much as a “nope sorry” is absolutely infuriating. Bands, don’t do this. Also, the “promoter” for the show stopped responding to any communication after the initial booking. We even checked in a few days out to confirm that it’s a no-go, and never heard back. Figure your metal scene out, Chattanooga.
That left us with an extra day to kick it with Randall (who made us an excellent breakfast) and Albus (who meowed a bunch), and so we got some laundry done, ate some more spaghetti, and drank beer. Oh, I forgot to mention that while we were in Boston, we stopped by the highly, highly regarded Trillium Brewing Company and restocked on world-class beer. We also went to a nearby Total Wine and picked up some stuff from Wicked Weed and Paradox breweries, which both brew some next-level sour ales.
Now, some of you have already seen the truly groundbreaking work of art that we achieved that evening with Randall (nothing sexual). And you may be thinking that, what with all the beer talk, we were clearly hammered when we made it. Let me put such notions to rest: once does not craft the 21st century’s undisputed cinematic masterpiece in the frenzied grip of Dionysus. We were playing a round of Exploding Kittens when suddenly the sweet song of the muses drifted down around us, and we knew what had to be done. After our glorious achievement, we got some sleep to get an early start the next day.
Murfreesboro, TN – July 21st
Heading back West felt good; we knew we were on the trek home. All three of us in the band had lady friends and kids waiting for us back in OK. This was our drummer’s and my first tour away from our little ones, and it was not easy. Our guitarist had done three or four tours away from his kid by the point, and he reassured us by saying it definitely doesn’t get easier. Neat! This particular drive west took us right through the Smoky Mountains in eastern Tennessee, and we got an early start specifically to make a stop in Gatlinburg for a few hours of tourism. It was a few dozen miles out of the way, which wasn’t bad at all, but the route we took to get there was simultaneously beautiful and terrifying. We went through a couple of tiny little towns nestled in the mountains with picturesque cottages and breathtaking scenery, but also extremely narrow roads and the distinct possibility of a Deliverance-style demise. We had to pass other vehicles a couple times, which involved either edging off the road (and hoping we didn’t end up in the ditch that ran beside it) or one of us having to back up and wait.
We finally made it to a great spot to get outdoors, and had an awesome 2.6-mile hike. The halfway/turnaround point was a gorgeous little waterfall that went over a rock outcropping, allowing you to walk behind it and all around the pool it fell into. The longer trail itself was called the Trillium Gap trail, so naturally we brought along a bottle of an excellent Trillium stout we picked up in Boston to enjoy at the waterfall. We got some priceless looks from other people there as we passed it around, and one mom pulled her kid away with a scowl as he was sitting on a nearby rock looking at us. Dischordia bringing the edge.
We got back on the road to finish the drive, and pulled into the venue at load-in time. We had a good time at this show despite the low turnout, and we sold enough merch to have some solid gas money. Obelisk, the band we usually play with in Murfreesboro, couldn’t play that night but a few of the dudes came out to see the show. One of them put us up with some killer accommodations that night, and we were able to get some great sleep and omelets the next morning.
Memphis, TN – July 22nd
Our first order of business when pulling into Memphis was to get some good barbecue. We revisited a place called The Bar-B-Q Shop, where we had eaten on a previous tour, and crammed our greasy faces full of excellent, excellent food. We waddled back to the van, regretting our decision ever so slightly due to the intense, oppressive heat. We’ve experienced intense heat in both dry and humid climates, and I think I can say with certainty that humidity sucks way worse, even if the number on the thermometer is slightly lower. We waddled back to the van, drove to the venue, and passed out in the parking lot with the van running since we were a few hours ahead of the doors opening. Our van made a valiant effort, but it could barely keep up with the heat and we were still sweating. We fought our way through the haze of a barbecue coma to unload our van, pausing every 4 seconds to whine miserably about the sweat we were all drenched in.
It was a five-band bill that night, and the show was set up by St. Louis’s Quaere Verum, our brothers from another metal mother. Those guys absolutely wreck it live, and we’ve had great times kicking it with them on previous tours. The really interesting part, however, was the other bands. It was like opening three different time capsules from embarrassing moments in recent metal history. We beheld the wonder of 2005’s watered-down Lamb of God-core, the magic of late 90s cringe-inducing southern rap metal, and 2010’s all-too-familiar breakdowncore that refuses to stay buried in its grave. I’m probably being overly harsh, but these bands didn’t help their case by taking absolutely forever in getting on and off stage. We were glad to have Quaere Verum on the show with us, and they kept a good crowd around to close the show. Despite not being from Memphis either, they had a place for us to crash already set up. We chilled long into the night with good beer, the awesome dogs that lived there, and good company.
Ft. Smith, AR – July 23rd
Last show of the tour! Western Arkansas is a good place geographically for our last on the way home, but we, uh, usually don’t put much hope in a great show there. We played Ft. Smith at the end of last year’s tour, and discovered that, oddly enough, people who go to bars to listen to country on the jukebox and play pool are fairly startled by the sudden appearance of a death metal band. This was a pretty similar experience, but we made money from the bar and sold some merch. The guy that books us there is a friend of ours, and catching up with him was cool as well. But more importantly, it was time to get home, see our little boys, and get it on with our ladyfriends (separately). It was less than three hours back home, where we unloaded the van one last time, gave each other a goodbye fart, and went our separate ways.
So there you have it. 23 days, thousands of miles, and many gallons of beer sometimes flew by and sometimes crawled by. This was easily our most successful tour, even including our van and booking troubles. Despite missing home and putting out a lot of money from our own pockets, we know that getting to do this is a serious privilege that we try not to take for granted. We can’t wait for our new album to get released, and to get back out on the road to support it. Keep your eyes open for another tour from us in March!