Albuquerque, NM: This night we played on a giant gilded-theatre style stage, like as if we were part of some elaborate prog opera. Our old friend the crowd-barricade made it’s return, and was coupled with a high stage, so keeping strong eye contact and engaging banter kept the energy levels up.

For some reason, I couldn’t seem to keep the name Albuquerque in my head, and so thought that at some point in the set I would address the audience by an incorrect city name; luckily this concern did not come to fruition.

Everything else ran smoothly minus the fact that Spencer had come down with bronchitis, and so Periphery played an instrumental set. As much as it’s enjoyable to catch the full Periphery show, it was actually interesting to see the music in a different light; allowed for a little further dissection, having heard the full sound for a few nights by this point.

Phoenix, AZ: When Jadea’s sample kicked in during Protest’s set tonight, and she sang the line “what about the crippling desert heat?” well, let’s just say it suddenly made a lot of sense. Consequently, much of our day was spent lounging in the shade, trying to move as little as possible, though some soccer ball juggling circles did break out amongst the tour members, in some shady patches. Some of our boys made a trip down to Arizona campus, for some interesting experiences:

“Contrary to what most people think, when we’re on tour its very rare that we have any chance to experience the city were in. We run on such a tight schedule that doing normal ‘touristy’ things is almost impossible. Needless to say we spend lots of time in venue parking lots and nearby coffee shops. However, after an enduring 8 hour drive from New Mexico, we arrived in sunny Pheonix at 8am. After our fill of waffles and coffee at a nearby Waffle House, myself (Ben), Eric, Matt Young, and Matt H.K., our merch guy, decided to embrace the day and do a little exploring.

We must have walked for an hour before we hit the University of Arizona. As Canadians we have only seen on T.V. the magnitude of College and University stadiums. Canada doesn’t have as much funding for sports in schools and that became very apparent as we walked around the empty basketball court, watched an early morning track meet and caught the start of a Sun Devils football game. We didn’t end up seeing the baseball diamond, the olympic swimming pool or whatever else U of A had to offer because our eye was caught by the hundreds of people crowded just a block over from campus.

As it turns out, it was the U of A arts festival. There were all kinds of buskers, along with arts and craft stands, and the air was filled with the scent of authentic south-west barbecue.

Lets keep in mind at this point it was around 12pm and the desert sun was out in full force. We had no sun block or water so we decided to make our way back to Club Red before we were burnt to a crisp; in my case it was already too late. We got back at 1pm, greeted all the other bands who had arrived in the hour, and commenced with the regular busy tour routine.”

We had a great set this night; got nice and close with a packed and attentive crowd. As a result we got some enthusiastic interaction going, which always feels good. We can feel the appropriate vibe for this tour’s sets growing stronger and stronger with each performance.

Spencer was back in action tonight, which was nice; glad to know he was feeling better.

Los Angeles, CA: As six musicians raised in a modest region of the Great White North, having the opportunity to play at a packed show, under the gaze of the iconic Hollywood sign on Sunset Strip, was quite a trip. The kind of trip that had us reflecting on our musical timelines, and thinking “when did we get here?” Whatever it is that’s gotten us where we are, consider this an official statement of gratitude.

Los Angeles is beautiful; there’s no getting around that. As is the case with a few places on this tour, such as the desert, LA looks like nothing we’ve seen before, and that chance to experience things anew is one of the many benefits that really excite us about being on this tour.

Things moved a little slow in preparation for the night, and even with door and set times being pushed back fifteen minutes, we got a very short sound check; a line check, to be more precise. This caused a bit of trouble on stage with monitors, but it happens, and when it does you either make the best of it, or let it consume and detract from your set. We generally work for the former, and as such enjoyed ourselves, while smiling faces, and bobbing heads followed along in the crowd. This was also another night for crowd sing-alongs — awesome.

Post-set we took to the outer vicinity of the venue, and spoke with some very cool, and down-to-earth musicians, including Stefan Carpenter, who shared with us all some very insightful philosophies. His work with the Deftones has been very inspiring to a good lot of us, and so it was nice to meet him in person, and find out how kind, and grounded he was.

We also met the drummer of The Human Abstract who was very friendly, and had a lot to share in terms of his experiences in the music world. We’ve had the pleasure of spending our time on this tour with his bandmate and bassist, Henry, who is doing merch for Protest The Hero, and being a wicked dude in general. On that note, Elliot of Tesseract has been with us as well, and adding a cool, calm supportiveness to the ensemble, while running merchandise for Periphery.

There was some great catering about half way through the night, and we were able to enjoy it from the balcony of the venue, watching Jeff Loomis and the band do their thing. All the bands were on their A game tonight, and the crowd ate it up.

Without getting in to much further detail, and creating a novella out of this post, spirits were high this night, and the company of the entire touring group was well enjoyed.

San Francisco, CA: So this day was interesting; let’s start with the drive in. All of us were very excited to see the city and so as the orange expanse of the Golden Gate Bridge came in to our sightline, the van got pretty rowdy. We planned on taking a ferry out to, and tour of Alcatraz, but as is the case with most touristy things while traveling for musical performance, this fell by the wayside. We did however see the island from the vantage point of another bridge, and that was cool enough, for this visit.

We arrived at the tour destination for the day, but not for the regular reasons, as the venue we would have been playing this night has a limit of 4 bands per show, and being that we are the openers for this run, that meant we were out of luck. Now let us be clear that everyone on the tour felt like this was unfair, and fought hard for us to get on somehow, which was very humbling, and appreciated; it’s great to have non-competitive attitudes of support from fellow musicians.

Despite everyone’s efforts the venue wouldn’t budge, so we unloaded our gear for The Safety Fire and The Jeff Loomis Band to use (we’ve been lending our gear for the tour) then waited for a line to form. As we didn’t want to leave anybody who had come to see us with no form of performance, Ben and I (David) took to the line with an acoustic guitar to play, and explain our situation. Everyone was very friendly, and receptive, and we managed to get some CDs in to the hands of some appreciative attendees.

Since we had the night off, we decided to take the little time we had and headed up and down the iconic, steep streets of San Francisco to the Golden Gate viewing area. It was certainly an inspiring environment, and we all took a moment to yet again reflect on where our music has taken us. After our brief pause we headed over the bridge, and on our way to Portland.

Portland, OR: Rainy day. You know what that usually means? Most of our time is spent in our van, or staring at the ceiling in lethargic poses by our merch table. Luckily, with our friends in Protest having a bus for this tour, a good number of us spent the time in a nicer ambiance, with electronic time-passers and enjoyable conversation.

When time did roll around for the show to start there was a good crowd out, and we were well-prepped to perform. It seems there are some great concert-goers in Portland, ready to rip it up, and it was a lot of fun to ignite that energy. There was a steady flow of people coming by the table throughout the night to give their words of appreciation, and their support.

The night wore on, the bands continued to fuel the fire, and Rody gave a rye whiskey inspired sentimental speech about the members of the tour. Think we all agreed with him on our appreciation of the crew.

When the lights went up, and the good ol’ nightly Thrice began to play over over the club speakers, we trudged through load out, and over to our home for the night: Crowne Plaza.

Seattle, WA: Driving in to Seattle was nice, because much to our relief, the skies cleared to a serene blue as we arrived. Also, the skyline was probably the nicest we’ve seen so far; like driving in to the opening sequence of Frasier. As a side note, we felt that way about San Francisco too, except it was Full House. Chicago and Albuquerque brought to mind a couple of our favorite idiot-box time-passers, Shameless and Breaking Bad, respectively.

The biggest thing to note about the daytime exploration of the city, would be trips to Starbuck’s HQ, for those of us who would opt to have it fed to us through an IV, and the French Dip sandwich I got from around the corner of the venue. Yes, it was good enough to write in a public journal about.

We had some great fun on stage this night, and even more fun interacting with the audience afterwards; a good number of contagiously enthusiastic people around. Beyond the show, the positive, light atmosphere continued as a good number of us stormed the local Denny’s to swap stories of our bands’ tours, and general life experience.

Check out the song: “From Bulwark to Bane”

Tour Dates (w/ Protest The Hero, Periphery, Jeff Loomis, The Safety Fire):

04/06 – Salt Lake City, UT – In The Venue
04/07 – Denver, CO – Summit
04/09 – St. Louis MP – Pops
04/10 – Milwaukee, WI – The Rave II
04/11 – Detroit, MI – Magic Stick
04/12 – Columbus OH – The Outland Ballroom
04/13 – Cleveland, OH – Grog Shop
04/14 – Balitmore, MD – Sonar
04/16 – Atlanta, GA – Masquerade
04/17 – Orlando, FL – The Social
04/18 – Raleigh, NC – Lincoln Theater
04/20 – New York, NY – Gramercy Theater
04/21 – Worcester, MA – Palladium (New England Metal & Hardcore Festival)
04/22 – Philidelphia, PA – Trocadero