Salt Lake City, UT: Salt Lake City is honestly a bit of a haze in memory, as it was preceded by a day long drive, and so much of the time was spent catching up on sleep. I (David) recalled waking just in time for sound check. Normally I find it best to allow myself at least 3 hours to wake up before doing any singing, as it can take the body a while to “reboot”, if you will, and be able to perform properly. No worries, I had thought, as there would surely be another hour or so before doors — not the case.

Turned out that doors we’re opened practically as we finished our check, and we were to play only fifteen minutes after that. And so, with some hurried preparation, we took to the stage. It was 5:45 (early show) and the sun was still pouring in through the venue windows, creating a very different show environment; every audience member’s face was clearly visible from the light. We watched smiles form on faces while others sang along.

The set went very well, and the limited waking time turned out to be no big factor. After the set, a number of us headed to the green room, where a nice selection of foods had been laid out for the bands. We partook in that, and then a couple of our members sat down to be tattooed by some of the Safety Fire members.

The rest of the night was spent watching the other bands and speaking with new fans at the merch table, before turning in early in preparation for the overnight drive. As the eyelids drooped, sickness began to set in…

Denver, CO: What a beautiful city; what a beautiful day. The weather was just about perfect, with clear skies, bright sun, and comfortable temperature. The drive in to Denver saw us traversing the Rockies, and inspired much photo clicking — breathtaking. Arriving at the venue, many of us took advantage of the in-house shower, then took to exploring for food and further sights; we got an excellent share of both.

After our excursions, we returned to the venue for sound check, and it sounded great. It was some of the best sound we’ve had so far this tour, and the layout of the venue itself was pretty sweet too. This night we had about two hours between our sound check and show time, so we once again hit the streets for pre-show nourishment.

We brought our finds back to one of the best green rooms we have had, played some foosball, and watched some big screen Food Network, from some very comfortable white leather couches. Soon though, we would take to the stage, so it was time to stretch out and warm up.

When we did get up in front of the crowd, they were with us from the very first call out, and continued to throw their fists, bang their heads, and shout their appreciation until the very last note. The crowd, needless to say, was fantastic, and we were very appreciative of their support.

As the night passed on, many of our fellow musicians trekked through sickness to perform, though unfortunately Spencer’s illness had returned too strong to reasonably warrant performance, and so Periphery played their second instrumental set of the tour. The crowd was understanding, and still ate up what they had to offer.

As silence fell upon the evening we took the cue to head to our hotel room for the night, hoping to fight our maladies with some solid rest.

St. Louis, MO: For the sake of clarity, let me state that this show was not exactly in St. Louis, although it was promoted as such, for reasons of proximity. The venue we played was actually in a city called Sauget, just on the other side of the Missouri state line, so we were actually playing in Illinois.

If I can go off on a little tangent here, every time that we drive through or see signs for Illinois, all I can think about is Sufjan Steven’s album on the state, and all the little stories within it; I listened to that album staunchly for a good few months. It may seem strange, but simply being in the state has created a slightly heightened sense of connectedness to the album and the place it’s had in my life. In fact, since we’re driving through Illinois right now, and we’ve been talking of it, think it’s a good time to revisit the old favorite. If you haven’t heard it, I highly recommend you check it out; great instrumentation.

Getting back to the day itself, when we arrived in Sauget, we decided to take a little bit of time for a trip over to St. Louis’ giant arch memorial, and packed our van with some of the other bands’ members for good measure. The magnitude of the memorial was really quite staggering, and we all had a good time being tourists for a bit.

When we returned to the venue, it was pretty much time for the show to begin, and there was a local opener (The Gorge, I believe), so we got to watch as the crowd built up, which did so quick. When it came time to do our own thing it was immediately apparent that the night was going to be a good one, with attentive, and enthusiastic audience members. The energy from the crowd fed in to the energy on stage and we ripped through the set with vigour. Sauget gratefully showed some of the most eager fans we’ve seen yet in the States, and helped to make a night to remember.

After the show came to a close we were starved and in search of food, which led to the quirkiest part of the evening, best to begin explaining with a description of our setting. You see, the venue we were playing at is situated in a very industrial area, which had much space between lots. Really the best way to visualize it would be to imagine a giant expanse of concrete, surrounded by factories, and train tracks, with a club at the furthest, most remote end. Needless to say, this made our choices for nourishment pretty limited. Now, I say limited, and not inexistent, because there did happen to be two other buildings flanking the venue: PT’s Sports Cabaret, and the Penthouse Club, and so our dining experience for the evening was set to be of the strip club variety.

It’s safe to say that opinions on strip clubs vary widely for different members of the overall touring party, let alone the general public, so I won’t delve too far in to the experience, but will mention that the quality of food was pleasantly surprising, while the hour-long wait to get it was largely disappointing. Probably the best part of the excursion was that the clubs waived cover for touring artists, and so we didn’t have to pay for our food twice.

We sat around in large groups, enjoying our meals in the company of animated friends, before calling an end to the most cliché night of tour.

Milwaukee, WI: This night was a blast; a real experience. We had some great space for green rooms and the lot of us had the opportunity to just hang out and enjoy each other’s company. As Milwaukee was the city in which Jeff Loomis grew up, he was able to have a bit of a reunion with some old friends and acquaintances and it made for a bit of a high spirited, party environment in the back rooms.

One cool experience I was able to partake in came about when I heard Jeff warming up for his set. I walked in to his green room to find that I was mistaken, and that the smooth, prodigious playing I had been hearing was coming from a young lady named Sarah; MissSmiles4u, in the online world. I took a seat and watched as they jammed back and forth together, and traded “I like that’s”. Once they finished I told Sarah she was great, and Jeff that it’s a pleasure to be able to just sit and watch him play in such a calm environment, to which he replied with a sincere thanks and a hug — the nicest guy.

Show time came and we played through what felt like a pretty explosive set, and the crowd seemed to really dig it. Many unwavering metal horns popped up, and heads banged, while roars and clap-alongs made their appropriate appearances. Stepping off the stage saw us greeted with much enthusiasm, and it continued to follow throughout the night.

Aspects of the show, and the green room environment aside, I’d like to take some time to speak of the club itself, which was really interesting, in a creepy, history filled kind of way. There were many stories that passed around this night, of which some may have been tall tales, but I’ll try to tell as many of them as possible without drawing on too long.

We had some locals, and regulars to the venue with us, and so they took it upon themselves to show us around the multilevelled, 6 stage club, which has seen some of the biggest acts you can name through it’s doors. Now it’s very important to note that nowhere in this building was lit, unless it was actually in use, and so we had to feel our way around the aged, vast and purportedly haunted halls with what little light our cell phones would emit. This, along with the years-untouched and cobwebbed vibe of the lesser used areas of the building created the perfect environment for building up some good “what’s around the corner?” anxiety.

The one place in the club that people were most adamant about showcasing was the basement pool. The moment we opened the pool room doors there was a rush of cold air, and the sound of it’s movement reverberated off the tiled walls. We approached the poolside, and descended it’s steps, proceeding to the deep end, where a collection of stagnant liquids sat. We looked up above as the stories of the room began to spill out. Apparently at one point in it’s history, the building was a form of “gentlemen’s” club, and one morning, after a night of debauchery, one of the maintenance crew members had come in to the pool room to find the lifeless body of a poor girl; the apparent victim of some club goers’ wicked compulsions.

Our tour guides moved on to tell us about the morning that one of the club’s janitor’s was found hanging right above the very spot we were standing, then of the day multiple children drowned in the water that had once filled the space we currently occupied. We stood staring in a bit of an eerie awe, before the feeling of all the horrible history of the room began to manifest itself within our stomachs, and we decided we’d experienced enough.

Later on, while chatting with one of the night’s audience members, I had made mention of the building’s spotty history, and he asked if I had heard about the nazi ties. Having not heard of them, I asked him to fill me in, and he continued to say that during world war II there were a certain amount of nazi supporters within the States, and a number of them gathered together to build the club in Hitler’s name, for when his army had taken over the country. With the feel of the building, and it’s architectural elements / decorations, it didn’t seem like too much of a stretch that this could be true.

Probably the most modernly relevant, and so possibly most chilling tale of the evening didn’t have to do entirely with the club itself but with the hotel that resided across the street. This hotel, we were told, was built on the old grounds of Jeffrey Dahmer’s apartment building, where he committed his gruesome crimes. Though it no longer held the same infamous building, the site emitted an ominous air of real-life horror. We were further told that the club itself may have been a regular spot where Dahmer would pick victims from.

Think it’s safe to say that if there has ever been a place I could say we’ve been to that’s emanated some form of influential negative energy, this was it, but luckily, as far as our knowledge goes, no bad tales were to be added to the club’s repertoire this night, and all of our experiences came out positive.

Detroit, MI: Rowdy. That’s really the best way to sum up Detroit’s crowd, which was actually a mix of locals and Windsor, Ontario natives from just over the border. It was nice to have some of the Canadian pride present for the night, and to see familiar faces.

We didn’t leave the venue all day, since it held within it’s walls a café, and a good food joint, for which we received free meal vouchers. It also provided us with wireless internet, and bowling lanes we could all play on for as long as we wanted, with no fees.

As time came closer to doors there was an arrival of good friends we hadn’t seen in a long while, and so we all involved ourselves in catching up. With good spirits the moments passed quickly until we were called to take the stage. When we did it felt really nice, as we were able to feel a bit more of that energy received from playing to a crowd that knows your material, and is ready to follow along, note by note.

When our set was complete we spoke with some cool audience members, and continued to hang out with Canadian friends. All the other bands continued to work the crowd and the night saw a near endless supply of crowd surfing bodies. Once everything on the show front had boiled down, it was time to get serious with some inter-band bowling competition, which took us well in to the wee-hours, for some of the more wholesome, yet still ridiculous, fun of the tour.

Columbus, OH: Good show this night; great crowd, great conversations post-set, and all the band’s continued to be on-point with their performances. Other than our time on stage (which was a lot of fun, as usual) the night was pretty chill. There was a grocery store near the venue which was pretty all encompassing and had a decent sushi bar within it. As such many of the tour members took to that for a while, and enjoyed a step away from the usual fast food binges.

Later in the night a bunch of us gathered in a green room for some socialization, while Periphery’s bassist, Jeff got tattooed by one of The Safety Fire’s drivers, Joe. Things got pretty funny, and it felt just like a regular hang out with friends back home, which was nice. We took the vibe with us, back to the two hotel rooms we had gotten for the evening (thank you online discount booking) and got ourselves some good rest, with each of us having a spot in a bed.

That was really the bulk of our experiences for this night, so I won’t try to pad things too much more here by detailing un-extraordinary events. On to Cleveland!

Check out the song: “From Bulwark to Bane”


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

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