The tour’s the thing
By Dan Agacki
With gas prices hovering around $4 per gallon, my band, Bored Straight, decided it was high time to throw some money away. None of us had ever toured before, so contacts were sparse. Half of the shows we booked came to us within a week of leaving. No one knew our band, and our record was out as of that week, so no one had even heard it. It was a patchwork, fly by the seat of your pants sort of deal. Perfect.
Our first night was a house show on the south side of Chicago. Attendance was sparse and payment was adequate. Our set was strong, opening up the tour on a good note. We stayed with the FNA’s – cool band and even cooler dudes.
The next show was in Clarksville, Tennessee. Traversing Illinois in 90+ degree weather was no picnic. Once in Clarksville, we met up with our friend, Nico. He lead us to the smallest basement I’ve ever seen. But in the face of potential disaster, the kids went nuts. We sold records to kids who didn’t own record players. The hippie mom at the house told me her son was having a bad acid trip. Ah, small town America. I love you so much.
Going on no sleep and with me behind the wheel, our next destination was Richmond, Virginia. The drive was tedious on its own, but then we hit “The Accident” – a flaming blocking all three eastbound lanes. Three hours and six miles later, we were on our way. Luckily, our guitarist, Eric, likes driving fast. We got to the show just in time to unload and play immediately. Barely anyone watched, which was good because we stunk. We party-hopped after the show and fell asleep in the daylight. Every city was so new, we wanted to take in every last minute we could.
We spent our first off-day of the tour in Richmond. It was a lazy day, ending with earlier bed times than normal. The next morning welcomed us with the site of an open parking space where our van had been parked the night before. Apparently the city of Richmond takes street cleaning seriously. After a two hour bus riding fiasco, we got our van out of impound. Starting our drive three hours later than planned, all spare time evaporated.
With another day off, Brooklyn was next on the list. We met up with an ex-Wisconsinite and headed out to Coney Island. I wasn’t impressed, but the night was more about hanging out with old friends than anything. We sat on our chauffeur’s stoop until six in the morning, not wanting to miss a second of the city around us. Another day of eating pizza and hanging out in record stores came and went and it was time for our only bar show of the tour. The show, booked by another ex-Wisconsinite, was awesome. Free pizza, a well-played set, and payment double our previous high-water mark, The Charleston gave us a warm, positive look at Brooklyn.
The next morning began our two-day trek back to the Midwest, culminating in a scramble to make it to Chicago for our last show. The show itself was great. The FNA’s guys came and hung out. We played well, but our minds just weren’t in it. Milwaukee was so close and we all longed for familiar beds. Without notice, we packed up and jetted back to Milwaukee.
With tour over, it was time to reflect. We forecasted the tour to be financially doomed, but returned home with $30 more than we left with. If a band of nobodies that no one’s heard can go on tour and come out ahead, I ascertain that anyone can pull it off. Ultimately though, the tour was about leaving everything behind and hanging out with your friends in odd places. Sure, we all hated each other at some point in the tour, but once back in Milwaukee, we were brothers. VS