Cleveland, OH: Packed club this night, and it was probably the smallest place we’ve hit on the tour, so it made for a whole lot of squeezing our way through the crowd. Leading up to the set was a slow haze of mundane tasks, going back and forth between stage and van.
Opting to take a bit of time to ourselves for relaxation after the weeks of go, go, go, a good number of us spent our pre-show time lounging in the green room. We all casually went about our own pre-show rituals, and enjoyed a lightly humorous air of camaraderie. When we got the call to head towards the stage, we pushed our way through the throng, and made the night’s initial address.
We had a bit of technical difficulty this night, which we needed to fix between songs, and so, to fill the time, we called people on the stage to give us their best stand-up acts. We had the time to get two people up, and they both chose to tell anti-jokes, and so with a dark comedy mood well set, we took off into the next set of songs, and continued through the rest of the set without issue.
After we had our time on stage, I set out to acquire some hot water to use with some throat-soothing tea, and was accompanied by some nice audience members. We arrived at a nearby coffee shop and held engaging conversation while we ordered our items from a very kind barista. Eventually we drew the barista in to the conversation and enjoyed a lighthearted banter for the remainder of our time in the café.
After the little excursion, it was time to crawl in to the back of the van, and make space on our custom built, queen size bed, for an early night of sleep and recuperation.
Baltimore, MD: What a good time this night. A good chunk of the tour’s members were from close by, and so, much of the audience was filled with friends and family eager to support. Hanging out backstage, we had no idea what the size of the crowd was by the time we were slated to perform, but when we stepped up from behind the curtains, and looked out at the audience, it looked to be a few rows, nestled close to the barricades.
We started in to the initial addresses of the set, then the lights rose to reveal that the club was much fuller than we initially thought, and it seemed to be one of the biggest crowds we’ve played to on the tour thus far — great. Playing through our nightly performance, we watched as many audience members caught on to the energy and vibe of the music, and began to let loose.
There were a good number of people singing along, here and there, and one person in particular who seemed to make a point to sing every word. He later told us that he had been reading these posts, and was adamant to be one of those crowd members written about for knowing the parts — thank you for that.
For the larger part of the remainder of the evening, time was spent standing at the merch table, and speaking with a steady flow of enthusiastic show-goers. There was, however, one trip made down to Baltimore street, passing a huge tactical police bus, and endless strip clubs, whose doormen would practically grab you to pull you in, regardless of whether or not you were clearly holding an involved conversation on a cell phone. Upon returning from said trip, I was told that if there’s one place you don’t want to go alone, it was Baltimore street. Well, still alive and in one piece, so I guess the fates were with me.
Wrapping up for the evening, we prepared ourselves to head off with a number of the Jeff Loomis crew, to their drummer Anup’s house, where we stayed for the night. It was nice to get a good rest, in a full house, from hospitable hosts, and cool to see Anup’s recording space. He talked about how he would regularly spend 8 hours a day in that space, recording bands, or practicing, and it made me go in to thoughts of the day I could create something like that for myself; hopefully sooner than later.
Atlanta, GA: Another haunted venue this night, though that’s all we really heard or so about it; no tours, no specific stories. The only thing that we were able to gather about the place was that it was an old cotton processing plant. The decor of the place was cool, with stone walls and wooden beams / stairs, which definitely made it feel old, and full of history.
The part of the venue we were playing in was on the second floor, and we used an old-school pulley type elevator to get our gear up there. Pretty cool if for nothing more than the novelty of it. The room itself was pretty large and kept the feel of the rest of the building.
After we had our sound-check we were pleased to find that the venue had laid out catering for us, in the form of an open fajita and salad bar. The majority of the tour personnel gathered around the table and we made our own concoctions before taking to the tables in show room to eat together.
Shortly after dinner-time we found ourselves stepping on to the stage. It was a big crowd this night, and we were ready to give it our all. Things started with great energy, which continued through to the end, and we were able to get nice and close to interact with the crowd throughout the set. It came as no surprise that Atlanta was very hot and humid, so by the time we were done playing, we were dripping wet from the act.
Post-set we walked around the venue to speak with many first time listeners, who by and large wanted to say that they were happy they made it out early. We also had the opportunity to speak with a fair number of people who stated that they knew who we were, had been following us for a while, and came out to catch what we do live. It was really nice to hear this and we let them know that we really appreciated their support.
The rest of the night was more of the same old sit at table, load out gear, sleep in van, so I won’t bore you with those details, but will close with the mention that our merch guy (Mandroid Echostar drummer, Matt HK) had has tattooed finished up by The Safety Fire’s Joe. He opted for an image of a cardinal; a bird that hangs out in Canada and frequents the States. Seems pretty appropriate for our current situation.
Orlando, FL: Pretty interesting night this night. We played another one of the smaller venues of the tour, which may have been the smallest, though I can’t confirm that by any numbers. We had heard that the night had sold out in advance and so were excited to play to a packed house. Happily, this is how things turned out, even at the offset of the evening.
The stage for the venue was very long and shallow, so it saw us spread out in our own spaces, and for the most part kept us from traveling too far from one side to the other. As such, we all worked our own sections individually, playing to those in the pit in front of us, as well as to the watchers behind the banisters all around.
The crowd was very loud tonight; happy to let loose, and it really fed in to the energy of the set. Being in Orlando, it was yet another hot one on stage, and so we soaked our show clothes, exerting ourselves for performance sake.
When we finished, the crowd roared to what seemed the sound of a crowd much larger than could fit in the place, and we received many kind words from viewers as we made our way back to the merch table. We also had some more encounters with supporters who had been following us since early days, and it made us feel really good to know that what we’ve been doing has been able to spread so far from home.
Having finished our duties for the evening, a good number of us turned our attention to what was happening next door: a performance by Gwar, which was being put on by the same promoter, and therefore, so long as armed with our laminates, was viewable by all tour members. We had never heard anything but ludicrous things about Gwar’s live show, and so felt that if we didn’t go to check it out, it would be something we would end up regretting.
We watched as the larger than life, extra-terrestrial creatures performed there music and fought with other ETs, all the while with blood and other questionable liquids spraying far out and in to the crowd. It was definitely something to see, and so whether we had stained our clothes or not, the lot of us were happy we had the opportunity to take it in.
While the show went on in front of us, I thought to myself that this would be something my brother would be really in to, so I pulled out my American phone to put in his number and text with him about it. I told him that it was his brother, and we began holding a pretty involved conversation on the elaborate act. It wasn’t until he was ready to get to bed, that I discovered that the number I had entered was one digit off, and I had been spending all the time speaking with a stranger named Sarah. We laughed about that for a while, said it was nice to be almost-siblings for a bit, then went our separate ways.
Both our show and Gwar’s came to a close at about the same time, and so with images of ridiculous, sci-fi space violence fresh in our minds, we took back to the van, in preparation for a near 10 hour drive to Raleigh, North Carolina. Ghoul, one of the bands touring alongside Gwar had almost the exact same touring rig, and so members from their crew and our own, spent the rest of the night nearly stepping in to each other’s vans without paying much attention to the different interiors, or the unrecognizable people contained within. This caused quite a bit of funny confusion, and was a good, light-hearted way to end the night.
Raleigh, NC: We arrived in Raleigh, and the weather was pretty nice, so we took some short trips around to see what the well-kept city streets had to offer. We made our usual stops for coffee, and tea, then returned to the venue for sound check.
After sound check some of us went to a small urban pitch, where The Safety Fire involved themselves in a game of football; soccer for us. It would have been nice to join in, but it wasn’t long before we had to return to the stage for our set. As such, we watched for a little bit, then made our way back to the evening’s hub.
We took our usual stage positions shortly after returning, and played through a set blinded by bright white spotlights. As the performance rolled along, I took note of how quickly it seems to come that we hit the tail end of our set; I always wish to play for longer, and in those moments on stage, look forward to days we’re allotted the time to do so.
Coming off stage we introduced ourselves to many new names and faces, who expressed their appreciation for our set. Throughout the remainder of the evening, we held further conversations with enthusiastic audience members, taking trips, back and forth, from green room to merch table.
Speaking to The Safety Fire before they took the stage, they expressed their regret in regards to exerting themselves in sport before having to perform for the night. We had a light laugh about it, but it really seemed to have no effect on their consistent ability to put on a good show.
Shortly after all the acts finished playing tight and entertaining sets, it was time to head to the van, in order to catch up on some much needed rest.
Check out the song: “From Bulwark to Bane”
Tour Dates (w/ Protest The Hero, Periphery, Jeff Loomis, The Safety Fire):
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