It’s way overdue, by more than a month, but I wanted to give everyone a run-down of what went down on our last mini-tour.
Thursday night before we left, we had rehearsal for the first time since our record release party on May 23rd. That’s actually normal for us. DCA songs are not particularly difficult to play and we’re all fairly competent musicians so we ran through the set, refreshed ourselves on a cover tune, and called it a day. Despite my intention not to scream too much, I still did, mostly because it was cool to see Mark again and I was in general excited to play with some of my closest friends again, but this would prove to be a critical mistake later on…
So after one more day in the office, we headed to Fusco’s place (I always refer to our drummer by his last name because that’s how I was introduced to him last year and it stuck. I always flub when introducing him to other people because I call him just Fus most of the time and not Rob. I don’t know why I’m explaining this) where our gear was. After a hellishly slow crawl through Boston rush hour traffic, we still arrived well in advance of anyone at the venue; the doors were still locked. We managed to snag a parking space right in front of the venue, and my bandmates went off in search of food. The Lucky Dog had a pretty impressive vintage marquis, and a huge poster with a list of all the shows that month. A flyer for our show that night was also pasted to the door. I hung around to wait for someone to open the door, or for the other bands to show up. After a little while, some people from Deep Six arrived. I met their drummer, a nice guy with a solid build and tattoos, who proceeded to inform that tonight would likely be a good night, that all their friends were coming out to see them and that we would probably have a good audience. Perfect, I thought, that’s exactly what we wanted, and that’s exactly why local bands are a vital part of the music scene, especially for bands that tour. Touring bands rely on locals for this, which is why I try to be as kind and helpful to the local bands, not to mention return favors to bands that do us a solid by helping them out with booking shows and providing support in our good markets.
Shortly thereafter, I met Al the doorman, who lacked a key to the venue. Then the guys from Hazzard Hawk arrived. I met Eric first, who almost immediately invited us to their after party, and then the other guys as they arrived. Finally, someone from the club arrived and opened it up, and we began to load in. The Lucky Dog had a sizable stage and a decent PA system. But as we set up, there appeared to be some confusion about the drums. With the headliner backlining the opening band, this meant we had to move the drum kit on and off the stage twice. Nobody in DCA or HH took issue with that; we agreed to roadie for each other and did so with aplomb. But there was no room on the stage for two kits, let alone Deep Six’s massive kit with its two kick drums. I think this ruffled some feathers, especially since there was a fire door in the middle of the wall behind the stage that couldn’t be blocked by any equipment per the fire code (this led to a back lot with warnings spray painted on the wall, including, “This is not your home, junkie!” and “I shoot homeless people!”), but the stage would have been an obnoxious mess with two sets of drums up there.
Since we were on first, we started setting up our equipment, and were more or less done when Deep Six started bringing their amps on stage, including two massive bass cabinets, which their bassist proceeded to stow behind our main keyboard. I then had to hover over them as the bassist and guitarist set up their amps and checked their instruments, afraid that they would drop an amp or other piece of equipment on top of our keyboard and break it. That would’ve killed the tour for us immediately. I eventually had to move the keyboard sideways to accommodate their ludicrously massive rigs and the stupid fire door, something I hate to do since it makes it more vulnerable to stage antics. Needless to say, the sizable stage quickly became more cramped with a veritable wall of amps behind us.
(Band people will probably notice that the behavior of the other band was definitely odd and possibly not cool; the only band that should be allowed to have their gear on the stage the entire time is the headliner, but being new to the area and unfamiliar with local protocol, we just rolled with the situation. HH were not making a scene so we elected not to either. We were just committed to a smooth show and didn’t want to ruffle feathers, but under the circumstances, I think it was impossible for us and Deep Six not to inconvenience each other a bit.)
With only three bands on the bill, the sound guy elected to delay the show by half an hour to allow more people in. This worked out for us as we wound up with a great audience, probably the biggest of the tour, and even though they were unfamiliar with us and our sound, all were pretty much on board by the second chorus of “Girls <3 Digital.” We threw down hard, as we always do, gave the performance we’re known for, and clearly left with new fans. We had great sound up on the stage, and my only complaint was that the glaring white spotlight illuminating center stage was hot as balls. Of course, we kept our set short so as not to take away from the other bands who clearly brought the audience. The Worcester audience was exceptional, by the way, and we’re looking forward to going back. I was also surprised by the appearance of five friends from my high school days who all drove for over an hour to come see me play. Thank you!
After our set, we broke our gear down in a flash, so fast in fact, the bassist from Deep Six thanked me for being so quick, a clear attempt to show there were ultimately no hard feelings for the congested stage. I mumbled something about having toured before and knew what to do, and went back to moving gear. Then Deep Six played their set to a fairly ravenous audience. After that, we helped Hazzard Hawk set up, making good on our commitment to keep the show running smoothly. Then HH got up and played a blistering set, no joke, to a great crowd. We’ve played with some good bands, but these guys were top shelf awesome. They have a great heavy alt-rock sound in the vein of A Perfect Circle, Filter, and Tool, whom they covered with an absolutely sick rendition of “Stinkfist.” If you live in Worcester, go see Hazzard Hawk because they are an awesome band and supercool dudes. We will definitely be playing with them again.
I wish I could say the rest of the night was pleasant, especially when it came to getting paid, but it was not. Obviously there is a lot more to tell about this night but anyone who wants the gory details can simply ask us. My final thought on the Lucky Dog Music Hall is that it is a great place to hear music, and a fun place to play. However, the management is terrible. Bands, beware.
Unfortunately, we had to refuse Hazzard Hawk’s kind invite to their after party, but after a good night gone completely sour, and Brooklyn on the morrow, we elected to retreat to Boston for a good night’s rest.
Saturday afternoon, Fusco picked us up and we drove down to Brooklyn, including the dismal trek down I-84 between the Mass Pike and Hartford, CT. If you’ve never made that journey, it is easily one of the most boring and painstaking sections of highway in the United States. There is simply nothing to see or do, except get across that plot of northern Connecticut. We had to make a pitstop at a rest area, and the port-a-john (yes, a port-a-john, not even a legitimate bathroom) was, according to Christopher, “a war crime.”
A few non-descript hours later, we landed in Brooklyn, getting rock star parking again right outside the venue. We hit up Loco Burrito for dinner, getting scrumptious vittles while admiring all the rock posters and stickers adorning the walls. Just a block away from the venue, Loco Burrito was obviously a hangout for bands on the road. Which reminds me, DCA needs stickers.
On Mark’s suggestion, we hit up Barcade a few blocks away for some vintage video game action. Along the way, Christopher and I scoured every Brooklyn liquor store we saw, searching for a bottle of Brennivin, an Icelandic liqueur made recently available in the States. Alas, none of them carried the beverage. Eventually we got to Barcade, and Fusco, Mark, and I got down on some classic 3-player Rampage, then Mark played some Marble Madness while I played a pathetic round of Galaga. We reconvened to watch Fusco and Mark team up for Double Dragon, before making our way back over to Legion, our destination for the evening. Legion is one of those places in Brooklyn that you have to know where it is to go there. They don’t put the street number or the name on the exterior of the building. While hanging around outside, Nick, the afternoon bartender came out and chatted with us for a bit. We mentioned how we were from Providence and Boston and New York collectively, and that we really liked playing Legion. Then, since my phone was dead, I went inside to charge it, and Nick bought me a shot to go with my pint of Two Hearted Ale. Nice! Hospitality at a venue is always welcome to us traveling musicians.
We hunkered down at a table, having nothing else to do but wait. The road is often like that. So much of it is actually just sitting around and waiting for other people to show up. But professionalism kind of demands it. You can either be the guys that show up late and hold up everything, or be the ones who show up early and sit around a lot. And when you’re touring, going to places where you’ve no rep and no friends, sitting around at least shows you care enough about the show to be there for it.
Fortunately, we were in friendly territory. Tom Hoy of From Below booked this as his birthday gig, and I was happy that he thought of us to be one of the bands for his special day. Tom has been a friend of DCA’s for a while. I knew him from when I lived in NY years ago. Tom invited us to NY on our first Event331 mini-tour, and in return we brought From Below up to Boston to support us for our record release party back in May. Pretty soon the venue filled up with faces new and old. I got to catch up with Lex Kaylan, who did the cover art to Firehorse, as well as the other members of From Below.
After catching up, we got down to business. From Below was up first since this was Tom’s birthday gig and he wanted to get fu-schnickened post-gig. They threw down so hard, the power cut out, and they had to sacrifice their pedal boards for the rest of the show. As if that would stop them. Then they played Tool’s “Sober” and brought the house down. (How is it we keep playing with bands that cover Tool? I think DCA needs to cover a Tool song now, just to keep up appearances.) From Below are a true original. You can compare them to other bands but the truth is their sound stands alone. Maybe that’s why we get along so well. DCA doesn’t sound like anything on the industrial scene today; From Below doesn’t sound like anything on the rock scene today. Together, we find common ground in being the Awesome Weird, and Legion is our homeland. I danced the Twist to their massive track “Blood Money” to invigorate myself, and got ready for our set.
Following From Below is a daunting proposition, but this was familiar ground and our people were out in force. I saw a lot more familiar faces in the audience, as well as some new ones, proof that we were right to come back here. Once again, we threw down as hard as we could. Legion’s stage was the polar opposite of what we played on in Worcester. It was tiny and low to the ground, basically putting us eye-level with the audience. Which is really how we like it. It was bedlam from the first note. I strapped on some cool blue LED armbands and got the party going. Christopher spent most of the show playing from the audience. Mark and Fusco were even more on point than they were the previous night; I’m surprised there was anything left of the house kit after Fus destroyed it. We also made some changes to our set, adding our cover of KRS-One’s “Sound of da Police” and closed with “Release the Beast” which saw Christopher and I more or less trying to molest each other through the closing riffs. It was probably our most aggressive performance to date.
InRod was up next, and they are truly a band that has it all. What started as crust-punk and hard rock gave way to a high-steppin’ disco dance party that had everyone moving. Lead vocalist Ria Burns-Wilder is a true firebrand of a performer with a stellar voice that can go from rawk n’roll shriek to pop crooning in a blink. One of the highlights of the night for me was after the dance party, InRod cranked it back up to eleven, and Tom Hoy and I screamed down the mike with Ria to their closing number. But watch your back when InRod are on stage, as you never know when bassist Glenn will leap off for some rock and roll antics, as he cold-cocked me with his bass when I wasn’t looking. Pow! Fun!
The late-night after party went ’til almost sunrise, complete with drinks, friends, and a choice view of the NY skyline from the roof of our hosts’ building. After watching a lightsaber duel on the roof, we retired to comfy couches, not eager for morning.
Sometime around noon the next day, we went on a quest for more Brennivin, finally zeroing in on a store reported to carry the stuff. However, there seems to be no rhyme or reason to NY liquor store hours as while some were open that afternoon, our quarry was not. We retreated to Kellogg’s Diner on Metropolitan Ave. for greasy spoon breakfast, then met up with Mark who had left earlier to run some errands. By two o’clock, we were back on the road, heading toward Providence.
Mercifully, traffic was not as congested as we anticipated and we arrived in Providence early, making a pitstop at my apartment before going over to Firehouse 13. Personally, this was the gig I was most anxious about, because Providence is my home, and it was our first time playing the city proper. I wanted to leave a good impression, letting Providence know that we were here to stay. It was also a courtesy to Davey Moore, who really went to bat for us booking and promoting the show through his label Midday Records.
We were the first to arrive, so after getting our gear inside, Nick the bartender treated us to some beers. (Lots of friendly bartenders named Nick on this tour.) Again, hospitality is always welcome and a sign of respect for the musicians who really are working their asses off to make sure everyone has a good time. Familiar faces began to arrive, including Jim Schultz of AdpaterAdapter and the Studio Cellar, who agreed to backline drums and bass for us that night. He’s just one of the best people in the scene, dedicated to making the local scene better for everyone.
The night started off on a high note as Kait & Her Best Buds treated everyone to some pop/rock standards and covers, including Lorde’s “Royals” and Cee-Lo Green’s “Fuck You.” Next up was The Adventures Of, a dream-rock outfit with ghostly vocals and a swirly mix of guitar and keyboard that was really the surprise of the night.
We were up next, and we played a strong set, but a problem I’d created the day before we left finally came back to haunt me: my voice was shot. I learned on the last Event 331 mini-tour that I could do three days in a row of singing and screaming with minimal problems as long as I drank my herbal tea consistently and didn’t talk too much outside of being social at shows. Unfortunately, with our rehearsal the day before we left, I’d gone over my allotment, and by the end of the first song, I knew my voice was done. I still managed to belt out notes, but even the clean vocals on songs like “Doublewiretap” and “a Billion Guns” came out with a razorblade rasp. But the crowd cheered, and I still feel humbled by that. Thank you, Providence.
Shortly after breaking down our gear, we loaded out and, in the words of the prophet, “got the fuck out of Dodge.” I’m not usually one to skip out on bands I’m playing with, but after three days of traveling, playing, and partying, I was completely exhausted; we all were. Word has it the Sweet Release and AdapterAdapter put on great sets. Having seen both bands before, I don’t doubt it.
Ironically, we were in such a hurry to get out of there, I totally forgot to say good-bye to Davey, who informed me the next day online that he owed me money for the show. I told him to donate it in our name to Music for Paws, the charity we were out supporting this time around. This instance really highlights the spectrum of people you deal with in the music world. Some will try to screw you out of a pittance, while others are going out of their way to get you the money you had no idea you earned in the first place.
Altogether, this Event331 was just as fun as the last, and we were able to raise a little money to help some animals find loving homes. As of now, we are planning our next run of dates, so look out for that. We’re looking to western Massachusetts, Boston, Providence, and New York for future concerts. Hit us up at downcityarmory[at]gmail[dot]com if you’re interested in booking us.