The rock band, Flannel Mouth, just finished up the “Killin It Tour” with Event Horizon. While they were on this tour, they wrote an exclusive blog for us. You can check out the first entry written by Tyler Owen, after the break.
I received a call from our booking agent on Monday the 11th, four days before the tour began, informing me that our first show in Pittsburgh had been canceled. The venue had closed its doors for good, and we were stuck having to wait until Saturday to begin the #KillinItTour with Event Horizon. Saturday’s show was in Morgantown, West Virginia, and that twelve-hour trek (thirteen with the time change) as daunting as it was a black hole financially; one day without pay and an extra half-tank of gas was going to be crippling!
Because of the context, I spent my entire afternoon looking up venues and shows in every conceivable city or town between Morgantown and our hometown of Peoria, Illinois. A Friday night should be easy to find something to hop on, right? I sent maybe 50 emails and Facebook messages to bands and venues offering up our set for the price of a high five and buying them a drink or two, but to no avail, until I finally received a reply at 10pm (11 their time), saying, “Hey, we’re on board, but you’ll have to ask the venue.” Of course, I immediately responded and acted accordingly, and by midnight, we had ourselves set up to play in Lima, Ohio – six hours from home and six from Morgantown, effectively halving our trip.
Day One (May 15): Avalon Bar – Lima, OH
Our trip began in Glasford, Illinois, where my singer/guitarist, Luke, lives, as well as my bassist, Ryan, who keeps the van and trailer at his place. Zach (guitar/vocals/piano/violin/anything you can name) joined them the night before and the three of them picked me up in Bartonville, a village just outside Peoria. A couple quick stops for gas and smokes (shut up – we know), and before we knew it we were through Indiana and into Ohio. The excitement and anxiety finally kicked in and we were giddy by the time the rampant trains made us wait at the crossing for the first time. We found the venue, shook a few hands, got the load-in instructions, and parked the van for the night.
As we settled in, Pop Goes the Evil (our initial saviors) parked their van and made our acquaintance. Acquaintanceship quickly became best-friend-hood by the time both bands had played a dirty rock ‘n roll set for the 13 people who had paid door and the bartender (and incredibly accommodating band-mom-type venue owner), Pepper. If you’re in a band and want an example of how owners should present themselves, Pepper is the quintessential conglomerate of passion, encouragement, excitement, and business sense an owner should exude.
Our night concluded after drinking too many PBRs (because we’re probably cheap hipsters), so we made our way to Morgantown with the sober Zach piercing the night until we came to a stop at a Kmart parking lot in Cambridge, Ohio at 4 in the morning.
Day Two (May 16): The Mason Jar – Morgantown, WV
We arose from our slumber at 11am sweating from the humidity and lack of air flow, opened a couple doors to brush our teeth and get a morning coffee from the adjacent gas station, and get a move on for Morgantown. But first, breakfast. Denny’s in Wheeling, West Penns-ohio-ginia is as cost-effective a dine-in experience as you can get, and I’m a sucker for playoff hockey, so we caught the 2pm puck drop just as the first cups of pseudo-diner coffee were served.
Two hours of off-and-on rainstorms in the fringes of the Appalachians brought us to our ultimate destination, where we met the promoters and sound engineer and loaded in both theirs and our gear. Before long, Event Horizon arrived and there was nothing but guy love to be found in the building. Hugs and handshakes were rampant, as well as recounts from the previous nights’ adventures, and it was like had been touring since November of last year when we played together most recently. Soon enough we were acquainted with Tell No Tales, Riviera, and the Holey Soles, with whom we spent the evening high-fiving patrons of the free show, also doing our best to turn their collective interest into a sale, like, or a general good vibe (but not necessarily in that order).
We gelled with two members of Tell No Tales super well and were fortunate enough to receive an invitation to shower and sleep at their place of residence about fifteen minutes away. We filled our evening in typical rockstar fashion drenched in cheap beer and whiskey, but also adding a healthy layer of 20-something geekiness as we shared YouTube links until 5am. Exhaustion eventually befell us all, and upon waking up at noon-ish, we made headway to the next city, Cincinnati.
Day Three (May 17): Day off – Columbus, OH
Sunday was a scheduled day off between Morgantown and Cincinnati on Monday, so Event Horizon had made plans to see a movie in Columbus, Ohio. The theater had automatic recliners on super comfortable chairs, and they wanted to share the experience with us at a nice halfway point between each city. Four hours of driving got us to a Motel 6 where we checked into adjacent rooms and went to dinner at the Winking Lizard. The craft beer nerd came out in a few of us, and since it just so happened to be EH’s guitarist, Mars’s birthday, we surprised him with a dessert and a song in the middle of the restaurant.
Days off are typically reserved for our most cost-effective behavior, generally characterized by minimal groceries from discount stores, visiting public parks, and entertaining ourselves in ways free or previously paid for. Today was not a typical off day. We bought coffee in the early afternoon at our first real bonding time with the touring partners, checked into a hotel to get a bed for the night, went out to dinner to celebrate a birthday, and then went to a movie and spent about $20 each between a ticket and concession. The best thing you can do on tour is absolutely none of that. However, we had fun, so no regrets, right? Also, go see Mad Max.
Day Four (May 18): Maudie’s – Cincinnati, OH
Check-out of the hotel room was noon, so we naturally took every second of our allotted time to sleep, bathe, and pack for our short slog to Cincy. It took no time to travel through the increasingly flattening terrain of Ohio, and we arrived at Cincy by the Slice at around 2:30. Maudie’s is the bar/venue upstairs in the same building, defined by its long hallway from front to back, which is four panes of revolving window; city-ancient but built to last. The whole city is going through an art renaissance and the streets are populated by aged buildings with a dash of fresh talent painted on their walls, and certainly made us feel like welcome additions to its grandeur. A quick walk up Main (for the bars) and Vine (for the food) will give you ample exemplification.
A downtown renaissance comes at a price, however, and the gentrification of the city is proving to be hard on a few residents who have found themselves homeless and/or addicted. Besides the mendicants that’ll offer a service for a small fee or simply ask for a buck or two (which are universal – not just Cincinnati, of course – and it breaks our hearts that every dollar means as much to us as it does to them on tour, too), there are those in better positions to feed their addiction, and we met a quintessential example in our short time in that lovely city.
Almost as soon as it was known we were a band we were offered a place to stay by a friendly local, which is virtual gold for us, as I mentioned before. We hastily accepted and thanked him and asked him to pop by the show later that evening. However, before we met up with our friendly host, we ran into a friend we had made a couple days prior in Lima, and he happened to have known our host since high school. He also told us the only conversations they have are when The Host asks for a cigarette, he declines, and that’s the end of it. Of course this struck me as odd, and as soon as The Host made it to the show (for which he somehow didn’t have to pay at the door), I proceeded with caution as I offered him a shirt for his generosity. He accepted, asked for a beer on our band’s tab, and then offered to handle the money as our merch guy while we played. I declined.
I stepped outside to speak with our new friend and asked for a bare-bones truth about what he knows about The Host, and he simply said, “He’s an addict. If you stay at his place tonight, you’re going to get bothered. A lot. If I were you, I would leave anything you care about in the van.” That’s simply not an option, especially when you stay in a public lot, despite any securities reassured by the surrounding signs. I thanked him for his honesty and moved outside to breathe and think on our revelation, I noticed another patron of the show with whom we had grown familiar having a smoke, so I asked if he knew The Host. He affirmed and confirmed our friend’s story, but then offered us his home for the evening and I about jumped out of my shoes.
The show concluded with two amazing bands, Dynamite Thunderpunch (who put up Event Horizon for the evening – mad props, gentlemen), and Go Go Buffalo, who were out of their minds and simply incredible. France vs. France opened up and set the tone for an amazing show, as well. We left without incident and traveled to our new host’s place, met his dogs and couch friends, and called it an evening.
Side note: we met the actual owner of the place we were initially offered to stay that evening, and she said The Host had been mooching off her for a few months, but she didn’t have the heart to kick him out. Gotta be careful who you’re trusting with your band/employees/friends and personal effects when you’re managing a tour, ya dig?
Day Five (May 19): New Albany Production House – New Albany, IN
Departure from Cincinnati was at 11am, and we stopped at a small diner in Paddock Hills called Sugar n’ Spice (absolutely scrumptious with omelettes piled practically a foot high off the plate), and made our way through Louisville and across the river to New Albany, Indiana. Despite a missed exit due to the heavy construction, we made it within ten minutes to the venue seemingly spilled from the sky into an industrial part of town. Its location says about none percent of what it has to offer, however; the stage is built four feet tall, has accommodations for merch, a bar for pizza and soda (as the only all-ages venue in town), and a sound booth exactly where one should be – right in the middle of the room. The green room behind the stage made for some added comfort, but a Tuesday in Indiana wasn’t going to be defined by rockstardom. We made as many friends as we could immediately, and it led to sales before we had even set foot on the stage. The performance part helped pretty immensely once we did, though.
Because we had arrived so early, we had time to get our equipment set and checked, and then promote at the local mall, getting some food in the process. It’s always important to do both, you see. As we returned, we met the gentlemen of Undecided and Cosmic Radio as they arrived, the latter in some pretty flashy 50s-style jackets and ties. All those dudes were pretty young (between 17 and 21, I’d surmise), but they brought the locals out to play and gave our touring bands a pretty great crowd to entertain. Venue owner, Cory Pollard, was extraordinarily charismatic and fun to work with, and beyond too kind by putting both bands up for the night, as well.
We arrived at Cory’s and he walked us two doors down to his cousin’s, and that’s where the party began and didn’t end until about 4am, but that didn’t keep us from getting up at 10 to play more video games and just be young dudes who basically just had a sleepover. The only difference is that we’re all in need of coffee for fuel, which Cory graciously supplied with his daughter in tow. Queen of the castle, that one, and his daughter’s pretty cute too.
Day Six (May 20): Scores – Columbus, IN
Leaving Cory’s was pretty difficult for all of us because we were having an awesome time having a “bro-down,” but all good things come to an end, and we made our way to Columbus, Indiana around 2pm. A cloudy and rainy afternoon spelled out the night to come, as we heard locals complaining about the lack of a karaoke night in the downtime between load-in and showtime, and there was simply a general disinterest pungent in the air of the room. An hour and a half before the show was scheduled to begin, our opening band dropped because of a petty pay discrepancy, so now the night was poised to carry a sour note the entire time.
We carry ourselves as professionals and won’t let the little things get to us, but fact is we’re all human and you’ve got to take the bad with the good, so opening in front of disinterested bunch of middle-aged sports fans could have gone better. There was a clear lack of chemistry between the four of us on stage, and it became difficult to give out energy when we were receiving so little in return. That’s no excuse because, as a professional touring band, it’s your job to set aside any distractions or feelings and do your job for the 25-45 minutes you’re allotted each night. Pure and simple. That’s exactly what local favorites Bionic Monks did, and Event Horizon then proceeded to play the solidest set of the tour thus far. Mad props to both bands for hanging in there and putting out a product that could have been played in front of a couple thousand with the same energy, and won the hearts of them all. Lesson learned.
The gentleman who had offered us a place to stay was nowhere to be found after the show, so we snuck into Event Horizon’s hotel room and played some video games until we passed out like the adults we are.
Day Seven (May 21): Cicero’s – St. Louis, MO
The exodus from the Days Inn was cold and difficult because of the location of the hotel, but we managed to make our way to I-70 and scream across the southern half of our home state of Illinois. The weather broke, and so did the funk we were feeling after a subpar show the night before.
The area around Cicero’s has a reputation (or at least a very vocal minority) for being particularly unkind to touring bands – broken windows, stolen equipment, vandalism, the whole she-bang. We hit a rest stop about a half hour outside of town, reorganized our setup, packed anything that meant something to us for a place by us at the merch booth, and hid the rest. Honestly, we learned we should be that proactively cautious at every stop, so consider that lesson learned as well!
Load-in went smoothly, and while the EH guys had a meal in the restaurant side, I was fortunate enough to be visited by my girlfriend, who had driven 3 hours to come see us play and enjoy some of the pizza Cicero’s made its name making. Pretty lucky guy, right?!
Jack Nations and the Sleepers kicked the show off with some vocally-driven pop rock tunes, some terrific dialogue between the band, and a wonderful introduction to our set. We then followed our worst set with our undeniably best set of the tour. Things clicked between the four of us, the crowd brought by Jack Nations and our closers, Steadfast and Foolhardy, seemed to love us, and even our broken strings and onstage banter came at perfect times and made the show something to remember. Event Horizon topped themselves with a tight, crisp, well-performed set, and the night was closed with S&F, who put on an amazing folk punk show.
The latter band’s bassist and her significant other brought us to their house to camp for the night, and the night (and entire following morning) was filled with talk of homebrewed beer and coffee, Game of Thrones, and a ridiculous story John (from Event Horizon) that culminated in him thanking God repeatedly for Rudy Giuliani. If he can make John that happy, I’ll concede that Rudy’s an okay guy.
Day Eight (May 22): The Boomerang – Astoria, IL
We bid adieu to our new friends in St. Louis and made our way through the treacherous county highways (and a lot of not those at all) to the booming town of Astoria, Illinois. 1,200 people strong, we weren’t expecting a giant turnout or interest in our rock n’ roll show at one of the town’s two bars. Another lesson learned – this town was HUNGRY for some tunes that haven’t been purchased in a TouchTunes jukebox 100+ times. They coupled Midwestern hospitality with terrific food, an open mind, and a simple desire to get down with the touring acts.
Halfway to Wasteland (quite the fitting name, actually) opened the show with their brand of an angsty college rock fresh out of Macomb, Illinois, and then we took over and repeated our performance from the night before, only switching the last two songs to see how it would go over (it did well), and made way for Event Horizon to try out a couple new tunes. Following them was Shadows Incorporated from our hometown of Peoria, Illinois, who put on a relatively melodic set despite being an amazing heavy band, and they blew the walls off the place. I’ve been friends with those guys for a long time (they first mentioned our band’s name on the radio in 2009), and I’m not sure I’ve seen them more in their element. We’re a bit less familiar with our closers, Killinoise, but they made sure we were face-to-face by the end of their set. By the second song, their lead singer was dragging a mic cord out a side door to the folks smoking on the sidewalk and screaming the song right to them. He wouldn’t sit still, and absolutely shouldn’t. The entire three-piece put on an incredible performance and close the night with as big a bang as you can imagine in a tiny town like Astoria.
Load-out included breaks to watch some fire-spinning, settle down the town drunk, take a picture in front of the chalk-written sign with the Aussie owner, and hug everyone who came to the show. Those small towns, I tell ya!
Tour continues in our hometown Saturday, May 23 in our hometown of Peoria/Pekin, Illinois, and will surge through Saturday, May 30 in Pittsburgh. Until then, friends!