PEARS’ furious, yet harmonious skate punk rock is akin to staring at a strobe light: you might love the effect and want to swing your hands wildly around, or your heart might seize up with cardiac arrest. They blasted onto the NOLA scene this year and wasted no time taking their energetic set on the road.
November 4th (Dallas, TX)
at Three Links, with The Briefs, The Applicators, and Blank-Men
Ugh. We did a four week East Coast run that ended just two weeks before we left for this tour. Why did we have to do this again already?
We left early. Really early. We piled into a Conestoga wagon with nothing but two loaves of bread, the little bit of medicine we had, the shirts on our backs, and an Ampeg 8×10. Among us were myself, Brian Pretus (guitar/vox), Alex Talbot (bass/vox), Tim Harman (drums), Dante Graziani (tour manager/general problem-solver), and Dante’s infernal cousins Mary-Belle Graziblis, Frederick Tony, Sybil Bybil, and Corn. Upon the immediate death of all of Dante’s cousins, we arrived in Dallas road weary but hopeful. There was only one bathroom, so naturally I spent most of the night compulsively drinking water and hate-pissing into an empty gallon jug in our van in the back lot. The sound guy, Joe, was a really super cool guy, and holy hell, The Briefs were fantastic. We slept at Todd from Clearview Records’ house; I slept in his daughter’s bed. It was pink and pretty and perfect for a princess like moi. In the morning, we ate a bunch of cookies, went to Tim’s parents’ house (he’s from Denton), and drank all their coffee. We even yelled at their dog. With that matter of business taken care of, we left for Midland, a show that JoJo from Red City Radio had promised us would be a “Character Builder.”
November 5th (Midland, TX)
at Blue Max
So after driving through what seemed like the same two miles of scenery for hours, we arrived in Midland at our venue. This place looked like some kind of little storage facility off of some service road and it was immediately weird: weird because there was no one there, weird because the woman who booked the show still promised us 200 bucks, weird because regardless of the turnout of two, she delivered on that promise, which we hear through the grapevine happens all the time here. So kudos to her, she really likes bands. There was a man named Roach who looked like Santa Claus, if St. Nick got really into 311 at an awkward age to do something like that. I heard a slew of country songs referring to the police as the “Po-po,” and I know what Staind is up to now. Some hick made fun of me while we were playing, so I stared him in the eye for much of the remainder of our set. Groan.
As the gaggle of besties loaded their lumpy expensive noisemakers from this tiny hole in the planet, something popped in my shoulder. I was hauling the Ampeg over my head, but my right arm went limp, and I dropped it off a cliff. “Ah! Fuck!” I muttered, rubbing the source of the sharp soreness. “You alright?” Alex asked. “I’m sorry I wasn’t carrying the bass cab; you’re just so strong and brave and I love you.” “That’s okay, Alex. I’m sure It’s nothing.”
After we said goodbye to that one drunk punk guy for the 346th time, we rode off into the black of the desert, with no intention of stopping til Yuma. I drifted in and out of restless sleep in the passenger seat, sometimes awake long enough to look over to the wheel to see Brian staring straight ahead, determined. How far will he bring me? I would wonder, then return to strange, single frame dreams. Sometimes I dream of rooms I’m sure I know, the certainty almost painful, and I spend what feels like eternity on the edge of being reminded, and then when I come to, I just step backwards slowly from recall completely. Dost thou recoil?
I woke as the sun began to peek over the horizon, and immediately started discussing the Goo Goo Dolls’ “Dizzy Up the Girl” with Brian. We put it on and listened in wonder at how flawlessly written it was.
November 6 (Yuma, AZ)
No idea where, no idea with who
We hit Yuma pretty early and snagged a motel room. We headed to the venue at some point in that evening and people began to trickle in. Marilyn Manson was blaring through the sound system, and I insisted to Tim that Marilyn Manson was interesting at one point in his career, but also he’s still making tons of money and I’m sitting at this strange place in Yuma, so I’m not sure what kind of authority I am. I was extremely disappointed that there wasn’t a good place for me to lurk in private; lurking in company is embarrassing. During the first band, a crazy drunk thrash cartoon guy jumped up into a hanging light and smashed it with his head on purpose.
It rained glass on him and he seemed “stoked.” He had an SS tattoo that Tim asked him about, and he said something like “Aw dude, my ex made me get that when I was 16,” but the people of color in his band seemed to be over it, so I figured it was none of my business. Might wanna get that one covered up though, buddy. By the time his band played, he couldn’t even hold his instrument. After his set, I was worried that he and his girlfriend were going to dry-hump a hole in our trailer. Also at one point, he passed out and someone farted on his face, which he awoke to and was “stoked.” I thanked the cosmos that I wasn’t an idiot, and then patted myself on the back for being kind to myself as well.
November 7 (San Diego, CA)
at Ken Club, with The Atom Age, TheTouchies, and Gone Baby Gone
I fucking love San Diego. We got there around two o’clock and had plenty of time to kill, so we decided to go to the beach. We pulled up and I looked out with anticipation, now knowing full well that this was going to be my favorite (or close to it) part of our tour. I grabbed my headphones, hopped out of the van, and headed to the water. At this moment, Kyary blasting into my ears, everything felt fine. I walked along where the waves broke against the sand for a while, til I finally took off my shoes and stepped in. The water was cool, perfect. There were yards of water where the sand underneath was tough, sculpted by the current flowing through a channel of a nearby jetty. I waded out and looked directly at the sun and wished that this could be forever, that somehow in my life I could’ve shaken the scents of sweat and beer, but my pallet grows thinner, not by choice, but circumstance, availability. I pushed the inevitability of returning to tour out of my mind, and escaped my way towards the pier.
I walked past it, found a bunch of huge weird rocks and hopped along them for a bit, then realized how lame this stretch was compared to where I had just come from, so I turned around. As I made my way down past all the jubilant beach- goers that I secretly wished would all go away, I saw my fellow PEARS waving in the distance. I’m not sure they exist when I can’t see them.
Later that night, I went out to the pier to look at this stretch of beach after dark. I’d essentially been shoe gazing, silently whining all day that I would ever have to do anything else. Brian came and sat with me, and we giggled about this and that; then it was time to go play a show. We all reconvened at the vehicle and rode over. The Ken Club was cool, and Ryan Young from Off With Their Heads came out to see us and hang. It was the first time we’d seen him since he released our record, so it was wonderful to give thanks face to face. It was our first show on this tour with The Atom Age. It was cool to see those guys, all in their dress shirts and stuff. That band sounds like wingtips. Fun fact: a cobbler is a tour stop for them. Our set was okay; the first thing I did was jump and land funny on my right leg. It locked and kinda went backwards, and I lost all power and just ate shit. I thought I was going to be limping through our whole set, but my strength returned and we played fine. That night I slept with my leg elevated, with my stinky suitcase on top of our lovely motel bed. Me and Brian always cuddle. He is my beebah.
November 10 (Tempe, AZ)
at Yucca Tap Room with The Atomic Age, Casket Life, and JJCnV
The sound at this show was awful. The turnout was pretty awful too. Who would’ve figured a Monday in Tempe would be tough? Tonight it was difficult to believe what I was doing and saying during our set. It’s usually a matter of settling into the desperation completely, and to whatever degree I’m still withdrawn is how much the set feels similar to theater. Tonight I was play acting, and I gave it my all—I feel like that’s something I definitely need to know how to do. If you play 50 shows in two months, I’m quite doubtful that every night is supposed to feel magical.
November 11 (Las Vegas, NV)
at Artistic Armory with The Atom Age
I was feeling very awkward and shy at this show; I’m not sure why. I don’t think for any reason. But that always spirals out of control and I get a bad case of the sads. It was cold, so I wore the Pikachu suit, which is always an ordeal for me because I really like it, and I think it’s really cute and it makes me feel warm and cozy, but I also don’t want anybody to look at me and it does me no favors. This was a venue/art gallery that was in a strip mall, but it was surprisingly enormous, and there was beautiful artwork everywhere. It was more like a warehouse than anything else. Actually, the art was all pretty nerdy stuff: Mario Brothers, Batman, Futurama, horror, etc. The promoter is gonna send us a Joker painting especially for us in exchange for a record that we signed and gave him to hang in the space.
November 14 (Oakland, CA)
We woke up in Oakland, so this was like a gift we had given ourselves; we had a day to spend enjoying the city. By enjoying the city, I mean we drove around for hours trying to get Brian’s prescription filled to no avail. We picked up our friend Amy that had moved out here only months prior, and spent the day with her. We got coffee, went and visited a lake, and Amy, Alex, and I took a long walk in the dark through an adjacent park. A wonderful day of downtime but alas, the show awaited, so we piled in our wonderful van/house/ prison and headed to the venue. Now, the significance of this night lied not in the venue or the bands that played (all those things were just fine)—no, it lay in someone I met there. Amy had said that her roommate was coming to the show, and that she was from New Orleans, she’s cool, blah blah blah. When she arrived, I felt a familiarity, but I meet so many people now that I figured it was my imagination, or that maybe I had seen her around in New Orleans. But when she asked me, “When you were young, did you ever get in trouble?” I was taken aback, because yes. Yes, I had gotten in lots of trouble. I was a difficult child with a slew of emotional problems who musical chaired his way through living situations through his teens. “Sure,” I answered. Then she asked, “Did you spend time in De Paul?” And it hit me. We had absolutely met before. We were friends. When I was young, I struggled with the anxiety and paranoia that I still struggle with to this day, and my parents struggled to understand why I acted the way that I did. Often times I was ashamed of my fear and panic, and didn’t share with them. I would see therapist after therapist, and I wouldn’t tell them about the fear; and as I existed silently terrified, I began acting out. My parents had me placed in the mental health wing at St. Vincent De Paul when I was 15, where I had met my friend. We were both young and very afraid. I remember very little of my time there, only that I cried so so much, and that there was a woman that screamed bloody murder every night as we tried to sleep, a woman much farther out in that vast ocean of mortal anguish, far more lost than we. But this woman was a reminder of the possibility, a reminder that the ocean was in fact that vast, and all of us candidates to become the forlorn. I gave up trying to sleep. Most nights I just paced. My friend, now in this bar, here in Oakland, 11 years later, mentioned her. That scream. I had to get up and go smoke. When I returned, we changed the subject, I think not quite ready to continue talking about this discovery. We played our set. I’ve never been so nervous to perform in my life.
“Do you remember what you told me?” she asked after our set, after we had loaded the van. Tears welled in both our eyes. I didn’t. “Our rooms were right next to each other. You told me that if I was ever scared at night, to just knock on your wall. I would knock and knock, but the walls were too thick. You couldn’t hear me.” “I’m sorry,” I replied. And I was. I have never felt so sorry. “Don’t be sorry, it’s not your fault” she assured me, though I knew it hadn’t been my fault. I think I felt this much because she had given me a roundabout way to feel compassionate toward the memory of myself. We cried and hugged, and I told her that If she ever needed me now, I can hear her knock, though I’m sure it’d be me doing the knocking.
November 15 (Portland, OR)
at High Water Mark with Company and Ports Will Call
Fart noise. The bands were cool, but this show sucked. I broke one of my two mic stands out of frustration. The monitors and PA were goddamned awful, and I couldn’t hear a thing I was doing. This is dangerous for me because this act (I have come to learn) is control intensive. I sorta had to learn how to sing in this band on the fly because we immediately started recording and playing shows. Our short tour in August with HiGH ended with my voice being reduced to a whisper; since then it has become about walking a fine line underneath a threshold that, if crossed, sounds no different, becomes no louder, and I stand only to hurt myself and knock my voice out of commission. I was careful enough on this fateful night, and my voice lived to fight another day. My friends Corinne and Mattie came to this show. Corinne was performing in a play down the street and I was disappointed that I couldn’t make it. Before the show, Mattie and I awaited Corinne’s arrival and discussed privilege, queer politics, erasure, and hetero-perfomativity. We split off from the rest of the PEARS team and stayed at Corinne’s, where we struggled to choose something on Netflix, and then fell asleep within the first five minutes of an episode of the X-Files.
November 16 (Seattle, WA)
at Kraken with Poke Da Squid, BURN BURN BURN, Dirty Dirty, and Godfish
We got here pretty early. I ate a burger and then took full advantage of their wonderful wifi and watched two episodes of Gotham on my phone and Alfred agreed to teach Bruce Wayne how to fight. That was pretty sick. And HOLY SHIT, this older Australian gentleman named Henry danced on stage through the entirety of Dirty Dirty’s set. That was amazing. Tim spent a lot of this show honing his new character we had named “Glary Christmas,” which is just a guy that stares at you angrily, but he kept laughing cuz I’m too cute. Brian met a man who had escaped from prison the day before, and to help drum up funds was trying to sell a pair of pants that he was hiding in his pants. The bartender was very cool, and a mutual friend of ours and Officer Bradford (Masked Intruder) gave us Officer Bradford coozies. I’m gonna use mine when I drink Guava Nectar. Being sober sucks/rules.
November 17 (Boise, ID)
at Shredder with Ancestors, Upinatem, and Repeat Offenders
Why oh why is it so cold? This show was at a TMNT-themed venue, and it had pizza, cool tunes, and—you guessed it—a half-pipe. The attendance was light, and there was a very drunk girl drinking Four Loko. Also, what is snow? Why does it exist? I can’t figure it out. I smoked very little at this show because nobody could convince me to come outside. After the show, we stayed at this guy Cam’s house. He donated us a bunch of money. He’s the coolest.
November 18 (Boise again)
SLC cancelled due to VAN PROBLEMS
Our tour ended in Charlotte eight days later, but our story ends in Boise. At 6 a.m., Brian and I readied ourselves for our third mechanic visit of this trip. This was going to be a doozy. We woke up, got dressed and walked outside, and much to our chagrin, it was fucking one degree and our van had effectively been snowed into a hole. We hadn’t even thought twice about parking in the gutter on the side of the street, because we are not sure what snow is. For two hours we pushed snow with a broom, broke ice with bats, and boiled water to pour on stuff until finally, after it warmed up to a comfy five degrees, we succeeded in escaping and headed down the road. I don’t know much about Boise, but it’s a fucking winter wonderland out there, and I just kept thinking how I wished snow wasn’t cold, cuz it’s really cute and I wanna play in it. At the mechanic, we watched two episodes of Ellen and waited for a diagnosis. The mechanic called us in, laughed at us when we said we were going to Salt Lake later, and said we needed a new rear axle. This was terrible news. We had already replaced the engine fan on this trip, which had cost us 400 bucks, and now this. They were able to find used parts in the city that would be cheaper and more time efficient than new parts that would ship in a week from California. Good. This repair cost us near $1,400. Now that’s a lot of money, but what got me thinking good and long about how far I’ve come in my life is that between door and merch for this tour, we just about had this money to spend. Granted, it was everything, but still, I was proud that we could get hit twice and still keep going. We had to go cash a royalty check at a Walmart three miles away, so Brian and I headed out. We walked through this adorable town and talked about the future. When we got back, we watched 18,000 more episodes of Ellen and voilà! Van ready. We wouldn’t make it to SLC though, so Cam in his infinite kindness threw a show together for us at a bar somewhere in the fucking snow. Later that night, as I stood on the small stage in front of many of the same people that watched our set the previous night, I was grateful. I was grateful that I had gotten to do this, grateful that I too could create something that people somewhere cared to witness, grateful that I had found a way to communicate with people I didn’t even know, however successfully.