Going on tour is something I’ve wanted to do since I was a starry-eyed, 13 year-old girl at her first local show. It looked like a magical, romantic, exciting. life-changing adventure, revolving around my two favorite things: eating Taco Bell and Rock & Roll.
I was fortunate enough to be asked by my friends in the great local Austin band, Act Rights, to book their tour and go with them on the road as their Tour Manager. Dreams come true, yall!
Act Rights’ East Coast Rush Tour 2013
It was everything I dreamed it would be, and more: jumping on the bed and eating pizza in the hotel room, losing everyone in New York City at 3 AM, sleeping in the van in Philadelphia to keep the spooks away, and all the gas station coffee I could ever wish to consume. It was the best three weeks ever.
What follows are my favorites from various cities. Get learnt!
Music City could rival Austin’s local scene, though I’m not sure who would win. We would probably call it a tie after a twelve-hour overtime. There’s something in the water that breeds these amazing twangy rock & roll groups, with just enough slouch without getting sloppy. Plus everyone is a total babe.
Our show that night fell through, so we went to a party. This party was a show in an old dog washing business with every awesome local we’d heard of, and was probably the hippest place to be in the whole city. In the morning, our host made us cheese grits and coffee and I quietly died of happiness.
“White People” – Natural Child
Honorable mentions include Useless Eaters, Ranch Ghost and the JP Five.
Atlanta has always been an exciting and mysterious place to me, and upon my first visit I wasn’t proved wrong. The bands sounded like Nashville but livelier, and quite a bit younger. Our bartender had a Big Star tattoo, and gave us extra drinks because I was the first one to recognize it. Atlanta really loves its garage rock, like Shepherds and Concord America.
New York was the cornerstone of the tour. It was a rough halfway point, and with two shows on a Friday and Saturday, the band was psyched. We all stayed out too late and caught colds. Our show at Union Hall in Park Slope, Brooklyn was one for the books: amazing sound, a generous door cut, engaged crowd, beautiful people everywhere, and the best fried egg sandwich in the whole wide world costs $2 on Lorimer Street.
Elliot & the Ghost headlined. They were kind of a departure from the Act Rights sound, but the band’s members are friends from Austin and former members of 2008 high school supergroup The Steps. They did not disappoint.
“Turn Off Your Radar” – Elliot & the Ghost
Philly was dark, rainy, and cold. I didn’t get to eat a Philly Cheesesteak and I nearly cried. The venue was a tiny dive that we later learned was owned by the mob. The bartender stood on a trap door that looked like it led to a basement, and the door had about a dozen locks on it, so I don’t think we were lied to.
Literature headlined the show, and they totally killed the 10-person crowd. It was their first show since moving up north and they played a really, really killer new single. I can’t find it online, but look out for them all over the Northeast in the coming months.
“Criminal Kids” – Literature
Honorable Mention: The Pussydogs
It was already dark by the time we got into town, and it was a pretty intimidating greeting. We watched a drug deal happen around the corner from the venue, and we were warned about the intersection in the other direction. Apparently, that’s where you go if you want to get jumped.
As initially scary as it was, Cleveland is a great city. We were invited to jam in a practice space on the Cuyahoga River, of the famous Cuyahoga River Fires, and played with this INSANE dude named Obnox.
“Bleeding Now” – Obnox
Obnox is totally out of control. The singer, Lamont, sounds like a radically different person when he sings than when he talks. And I just can’t describe his live show. There was one person there dancing his legs off, the venue had skate ramps in the other room, and the drummer, Richard, let us crash at his house. This house was actually a four-story punk rock squat mansion in East Cleveland, complete with 900 rooms, a recording studio, secret passageways and ghosts. Cleveland rocks.
Everyone we spoke to was surprised at our excitement for Detroit. Detroit is like a great big dangerous playground, with only the zombie homeless to get in the way of some exceptional urban adventures – at least, that’s how it is in my mind. That’s also pretty much how it was. You don’t really grasp the emptiness until you drive in at night and realize most of the skyscrapers are totally abandoned.
The show was at PJ’s Lager House, which sounds like it might be lame, but, according to folklore, was a speakeasy during Prohibition and the once-hangout of The White Stripes and Von Bondies. There’s a record store in the basement!
We played with two bands, Fake Surfers and Growwing Pains. The latter is just the former, plus two more members. Everyone was probably 18 or 19. And everyone totally rocked.
Of all the places to take a group of wimpy Texans, Chicago in January is not the best place. Somehow we survived and played a badass show following a badass comedy show. Cameron Gillette was in the comedy show and is a very hilarious man.
The headlining band, Vamos, reminded me a lot of Turbo Fruits. Vamos ended up taking us to a party in a tiny office building with Wire blasting on the speakers and dogs freaking out all over the place. This city had the most drunk girls trying to hit on the band, by far.
We stayed the night with some friends in another band, Carbon Tigers. Carbon Tigers made the news when their van full of gear was stolen from in front of their house, and also because they play with bands like Local Natives, Maritime, Magic Milk, Biffy Clyro and Further Seems Forever. They are so great and I forgot my sleeping bag in their living room.
“Science” – Carbon Tigers
I can’t say enough about how surprised I was by the different cities’ exports. If you ever get the chance, peek into another local scene and stay as long as you can. There are some astounding kids out there.
– Submitted by Tessa Hunt, Audio Engineering