Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Velocirap-Tour 2010 --- Week Two

Friday 7/16
We got up early enough to make the five hour drive to Chicago and allow for some sight seeing once we got into town. The trip was pretty uneventful. Any stereotype you’ve ever heard about Illinois being nothing but flat cornfields is true. The only thing that broke up the scenery at all was a wind farm with huge white windmills like you see on TV. We don’t have those in FL so it was interesting to us. As is often the case, our best laid plans went out the window when we hit bumper to bumper traffic about 30 miles outside of downtown Chicago. Our five hour drive became six and a half real quick. It’s frustrating to try to get a picture of the Chicago skyline from the car that does it justice. It’s just too big to fit in one picture and give a sense of the scale. We finally pulled into downtown and drove along Lakeshore Drive. The traffic was still horrendous so we saw Lake Michigan, the Natural History Museum and the Navy Pier from the car. We decided to head inland to find parking so we could go to Willis Tower and take some sweet pics. One incredibly stressful hour later we gave up on trying to park a trailer in downtown Chicago. We headed for the venue to park and find some Chicago style pizza, which we assumed would be plentiful, on foot. Two hot hours later we gave up on that and ate fast food at one of the places you only see in big cities that has everything from burgers to gyros to tacos at the same place. We did get some good pics from the car, but we’d classify our Chicago tourist experience as a failure. It’s just too much to take in over the course of an afternoon. The Metal Shaker is the first venue that we can’t recommend to potential touring bands. Avoid this place like the plague. A list of issues: the PA sucks, the sound guy appeared to be a crackhead hired off the street with ABSOLUTELY no knowledge of sound (Alex and I are professional engineers so we are qualified to make this statement), equipment is loaded into a filthy basement and has to brought up and down a dangerous staircase, the neighborhood is dangerous (we witnessed domestic violence in the apartment above the venue and the drummer of one of the local bands was physically assaulted right in front of us), the bartender was incredibly rude and quite probably coked up, there were drug deals witnessed inside the venue (real drugs, not pot), the venue changed their payment policy one week prior to our playing there (we had arranged a $7 cover, which they changed to an optional $5 donation which obviously hurt us financially), the stage manager was completely inept and changed the lineup four times before the show even started, seemingly at random, etc…In short, never book or attend a show here if you value your safety and property. The local bands (especially the now defunct Erjony) were talented and brought a handful of people, but we never really hit it off personally. I would attribute that to the misery the venue inflicted on all of us. On the plus side, we did have several friends come out that supported us emotionally through the ordeal and bought some merch. We were fortunate to be offered a place to crash and proceeded to drown our sorrows in 60 cans of the champagne of beers with our gracious host.Saturday 7/17
It’s about five hours from Chicago to Detroit so we got up way too early considering the sun was already up when we went to sleep. We passed through a little slice of Indiana and made our way into Michigan. Western Michigan is very nice with rolling hills, vineyards, and abundant farms and trees. I imagine most of Michigan is this way and the whole state just gets a bad rap because of Detroit. There was no time (or desire) for sightseeing so we drove straight to the venue. We didn’t really take any pics in Detroit. As you might suspect, it’s not the most photogenic city in America. We did see this hilarious road sign on the way…The Belmont is a nice little gem in an otherwise beaten down neighborhood. We had two local bands drop off (we found out second hand…thanks douche bags!) of this show in the week leading up to it, so we had low expectations for turnout and money. However, one local band did not screw us over. Teratoma brought a decent amount of people and showed us a really good time. We knew this up front, but the venue requires a 30 person draw before the bands get paid. When we had three locals lined up we weren’t really concerned, but when two bands dropped off without notice this stipulation became impossible. We ended up selling one CD for our worst financial performance to date. We did meet someone who randomly discovered us on Myspace and came out to the show as a result so that was pretty cool. After two bad shows in a row we were in a hurry to get the hell out of Detroit, so we drove most of the way to Toledo and got a hotel room and some much needed rest.

Sunday 7/18
We woke up at a leisurely hour and grabbed breakfast at a Bob’s Big Boy near the hotel. As we were checking out the guy at the register was like “Are you guys in a metal band?” So we said yeah expecting something along the lines of “Oh, my nephew plays in a band and they are really heavy like Linkin Park, but with a positive Christian message.” We get that a lot on the road. Instead he says “Yeah, my son is the singer for Enfold Darkness.” So of course we were like “Next time you see him tell him Quarter The Villain said his ‘stache is epic.” We were disappointed to find out that the ‘stache had been shaved two days prior. He seemed genuinely interested so we left a sticker to hand off to his son next time he’s in town. We then sat in a Starbucks in Toledo for like five hours using the internet to catch up on some much neglected promotional stuff. The Revolution is a house in Toledo where they throw donations only house shows. We’d recommend it if you’re in the neighborhood and feel like you can sell some merch (we did alright). The donations totaled to be $11 for both of us touring bands to split so don’t count on a lot of door money. Danny and Zooey were very helpful and we appreciated it. They also let bands crash there and that can be a total life saver. We definitely took advantage of that. The show was fun and everyone in Toledo was exceptionally nice, all told a pretty decent show. We partied with Melora all night. Pan-fuckin-tera!Monday 7/19
We had to leave the Revolution by 8AM so we decided to make our way to Pittsburgh early enough to get in some sightseeing. Since we were so close to Canada, we decided to grab breakfast at a Tim Horton’s because you don’t see those every day. Apparently, Canucks love this place. It’s like a Dunkin Donuts with a little more variety. In an attempt to spread Canadian culture there were pictures of Sidney Crosby on the wall, which made me want to burn the place down. At least the hash browns were fucking delicious. We then made the impressively scenic drive to Pittsburgh and got there about 6 hours before the show, as usual. The venue was on Carson St. and if you don’t know the area well, Carson St. is block after block of bars, eateries, and cool little shops. We spent some time looking around before heading back to the Smiling Moose. It’s a pretty cool place with the downstairs dedicated to drinking and projecting movies and the upstairs dedicated to drinking and listening to bands. Our original drummer Santino lives in the ‘Burgh and he met us out there and hung out all night, which was a whole lotta fun. The show wound up starting about an hour and a half late for some reason and the crowd consisted of a few of our friends and the local bands girlfriends. It kinda sucked. We tried to make the best of it though, mostly by drinking. Afterwards, we and Melora all stayed at the guitar player from the Sarlacc’s house. Pan-fuckin’-tera Part-fuckin’-two!Tuesday 7/20
Today was an off-day so we decided to get up early and drive up to Niagra Falls. On the way we stopped at a beach in a town called North East, PA on Lake Erie. Why isn’t it called North West? Look it up on the map, this makes no sense. The beach was covered in large rocks and boulders and the water was murky. Like the fish we found on the beach says, “Remember kids, smoking kills”. Niagra Falls is simply beautiful. We’ll let the picture do the talking. We didn’t get to go over to the Canadian side since we don’t have our passports, but even so it was a highlight of the trip. We spent a few hours there, took a tour and then decided to make our way to Rochester and grab a hotel since it was only about an hour and a half away.

Wednesday 7/21

Rochester weather is awesome in the summer! We woke up to cloudy skies and cool temperatures. By mid afternoon there was a light drizzle and the daytime high reached a comfortable 69 degrees. Too bad the winters are so brutal…We made our way to downtown where the venue is located and did some sight seeing, then took the 15 minute drive to Lake Ontario. Kodak is based in Rochester and the story is that you can develop pictures in Lake Ontario lake water. Maybe it’s just an urban myth because the water was clear and there was no smell. I did find a volcanic rock on the shore, a piece of pumice, which seemed strange given the geologic history of upstate NY. We got to the venue way early and hung out. The Bug Jar is a very nice place with interesting art and sculptures, decent sound, and a nice bar. We had booked one local band for this show and at 10PM we gave up on them showing up and just started the show. We still haven’t heard a peep from them. Thanks for the heads up douche bags! Another bad show, we played in front of four people that weren’t in Melora. However, they were four really cool people. One guy was from Montreal, so he knew his tech metal and we had some good conversations with him. He found us in the local entertainment paper. We posted EVERY show of the tour in no less than two, but as many as four local entertainment papers. As far as we know this is the only person to show up as a result of that work. The owner of the bar was very apologetic for Rochester’s showing, to the point of buying us a round of drinks. He strongly suggested we come back soon and let him handle the band booking so we don’t get screwed over again. We definitely recommend the Bug Jar if you have a chance to play in Rochester. We spent the night with a friend and got to witness yarn being spun from freshly harvested Angora rabbit fur.

Thursday 7/22
Staten Island sucks and is a black hole from which we were lucky to escape. Worst city of the tour. We will gladly never return here again. Congratulations Staten Island, Detroit is nicer than you. Manhattan, we’re still cool but you need to ditch your least famous borough buddy before all of New York gets a bad name. It cost us almost $30 in tolls to get into this dump too! Tonight was the first night with Stabbing Eden, and it was really cool to finally meet the guys. Here’s Jerry ten seconds before a batcave from Jessie. A good time was had in spite of the fact that the biggest drawing local was a no call/no show and we played for Melora and Stabbing Eden. We were intended to play before the local, but since they weren’t there we played last and everyone had gone home at that point. Two nights in a row with shitty local bands dropping off with no warning... We’re keeping a list of people to never work with again and it’s growing every day. George, the promoter (Brutal Shore Booking) is not on this list. He did a great job and hooked us up with a little gas money. Thanks George! What a bad stretch, we’re kind of glad this week is over. Good sight seeing all week, though! Part three is coming soon!

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