At the venue, Soho's Bar & Grill, we loaded our gear in and then found out there was a poker night going on and we'd be on after that...in about four hours. (Tours most days are endless games of "hurry up and wait." You rush to be somewhere at a certain time only to not actually be needed there until a time far later than your actual arrival.)
We did our thing, and even though we didn't think it was quite our crowd, everybody seemed to have a pretty good time. I unexpectedly ran into a guy I went to high school with who lives there now. Small world.
DAY SEVEN: New Orleans
We showed up to the venue -- Neutral Grounds Coffee -- and it was TINY. There was no way we were gonna fit all our gear in. Everyone else was playing acoustic, so we decided to roll with it and did our first ever full-band acoustic set with Chris playing an djembe and Adrian playing guitar.
It was a lot of fun and (apparently) sounded all right, so maybe we'll try it again sometime.
DAY EIGHT: New Orleans/Lafayette, La.
We got up and headed down to the French Quarter/Bourbon Street area pretty early (for us) to check out the whole scene. It was crazy! Everyone was saying it was kind of dead down there this week, but there were people all over the place at 2 p.m., drinking beers in the street, playing awesome music, dancing, trying to get you to go in their bars -- the whole New Orleans image personified.
After we ate, we hit up a Guitar Center and killed some time drooling over things we hope to one day own, then started the short drive over to Lafayette and The Wild Salmon. This is the week prior to SXSW, and we are fast approaching its region, which means there's 500+ bands all trying to get to Austin by next week somehow.
This show was four bands, and all of us were headed to SXSW. Even better, all the other bands were AWESOME. We opened up the show, and Chateau Nowhere (from France), Friendly People (Massachusetts) and The Boston Boys (North Carolina) all brought the heat after us.
We became fast friends with a lot of people, exchanged contacts and made plans to meet up in Austin hopefully. After the show, we ended up staying with a fine gentleman we met at the bar, got some Whataburger and called it a night.
DAY NINE: Houston
We got into Houston about 5 p.m. and showed up at Super Happy Fun Land, which is probably one of the more interesting venues I've ever encountered. We found out we weren't playing until about 9 p.m., so we hung around for several hours in the parking lot, killing time and talking to some other SXSW-bound musicians who were playing as well.
During this, we got a Facebook message asking if we'd like to play a second show that night across town. We accepted, played our first set (which went OK), packed up and headed across town to do the other show at Dean's.
The venue gave us a dolly to use, which we quickly discovered only had three wheels. Much anger and aggression followed, and the van tried its best to further beat me up. (I've been excellent at hurting myself on random objects this tour.)
Eventually we got all our gear to the venue and played a really fun show for a small but receptive crowd. We sold some stuff, hung out for a while and then headed back to Super Happy Fun Land to pick up our cut from that show.
What happened when we got there was some of the most disrespectful behavior I've ever seen from people at a venue in 10+ years of touring. We did not get paid, but we did get plenty of remarks from people who should be old enough to know how to act better.
Luckily for us, Chris had some friends from West Virginia now living near Houston who had graciously opened their home to us. We arrived to see beds made up for each of us, food, drinks, a place to do laundry and WiFi. It was like touring paradise (especially before three days of most likely sleeping in our van with all of our gear in Austin).
DAY 10: Angleton, Texas
I woke up about 3 p.m. on another day off and eventually settled down in front of my laptop to try to catch up on all the pre-SXSW work I've been avoiding.
Our hosts cooked us an awesome dinner, and afterwards some of the guys drove down to the nearby beach. I, however, decided to live the exciting life of doing band work on my laptop, and I pretty much lost track of time until they returned.
Tomorrow, we head to San Antonio for another SXSW overflow show, and by the time you're reading this, we will have hit Austin for the madness of SXSW and the whole point of our trip. We're playing a cool showcase there on Wednesday with high hopes of picking up a couple others and blanketing the town with our fliers and CDs.
Friday we head to Fort Worth for a bar show, Saturday we play at Six Flags in Arlington, Sunday we are off again, and Monday, we're in St. Louis. Then I will be back home in close range of my bed, cat and bar.
Reach Nick Harrah at wvrocksc...@gmail.com.