Earlier this year, Bryan Funck from Thou approached my band, Heat Dust, about doing a West Coast tour with them and The Body playing as a collaborative band. Needless to say, we immediately said yes. We have been friends with both bands for a long time and knew that it was guaranteed to be an amazing time. The tour would be three weeks long, From early October to November. About half the days we would be playing a matinee in addition to a night show. The route would be through the Southwest, up to the Pacific Northwest, and then down the West Coast. Thou is made up of Bryan, Mitch, Andy, Matthew, and Josh. The Body are made up of Chip and Lee. Heat Dust are made up of Chris, Clayton, Shawn, and myself.
NEW ORLEANS / AUSTIN / SAN ANTONIO / EL PASO
We started our tour with a record release show at Sisters in Christ in New Orleans. We’d be touring with Thou and The Body once we got to Tucson, but for this first show we played with TV-MA and Lee Harvey Oswald, my two favorite local bands. After the show, Chris and Shawn and I bought some beer, and I fell asleep on their floor watching A Decade Under the Influence.
We woke up early the next day, and our way out of town I got a gallon of iced tea from PJ’s and go cups. We stopped in Baton Rouge to pay a quick visit to Clayton’s parents, who had packed us a big plastic container full of snacks: Lärabars, dehydrated veggies, and packs of gum.
Having played Austin a handful of times now, we’ve got our routine down. First stop—before the show—is always Torchy’s for fried avocado tacos with poblano ranch. After playing the Sidewinder we stayed with our friends Courtney and Colby, talking (and playing with their cats) til 5 a.m.
The next morning we got barbeque with our hosts and our friend Andrew at Micklethwait, a truck in east Austin. We had brisket, sausage, jalapeno grits, Topo Chico, and plenty of time to kill—it was only an hour’s drive to San Antonio—so then we went to Rio Rita, my old haunt from when I lived in Austin, and we drank margaritas outside while contemplating how hard “tour life” is.
In San Antonio we played at The Paper Tiger, a huge venue with every amenity possible for a traveling band, including a green room built in an old Airstream. The venue was so big that our crowd looked small. Pinko, a local band that our friend Alex is in, headlined the show. While loading out, Alex closed the trunk of his hatchback onto a corner of an amp and shattered his back windshield. On our way to crash at Alex’s house, we got tacos from a truck called the Taco King, located in the parking lot of a strip club called Hard Bodies. Alex and his girlfriend and sister greeted us at the house with piña coladas. We stayed up past 5 a.m. again, talking about food and playing Uno.
The next morning we decided that we’d started off the tour with a shitty diet and poor routine. So our first stop on the way out was Whole Foods, where we stocked up on water, yerba mate tea, fruit, and more Lärabars. We fantasized that we could be set for food on this tour if we could just score sponsorships from Guayaki Tea and Lärabar. This was our only day off on the tour, and our goal was to knock out most of the drive to Tucson, where we were playing the next day. We decided to drive through to El Paso and get a motel. We stayed at a La Quinta next to an amazing Mexican restaurant called Tacos Chinampa. When we saw the sign, we couldn’t imagine eating more Mexican food, but then we realized that it might be a while before we got to experience it again. They specialized in tacos al pastor. We went to sleep early, watching Frankenhooker.
TUCSON / SANTA FE / COLORADO SPRINGS / DENVER
One thing I’m always in search of on tours is what I call the “reset button.” Generally speaking, the “reset button” is a place that provides for the possibility of sleep at a reasonable time in a location that doesn’t hurt my back, followed by a shower. Other qualities of a “reset button” include access to a machine that washes clothes, sufficient time to dump out and repack my backpack, and a sink to shave in without feeling guilty that I’m making a mess. After we all hit the reset buttons at the La Quinta in El Paso, we resumed the drive to Tucson, eating Lärabars and drinking water.
We got to the venue really early and walked around town for a while. I was anxious to meet up with Thou and The Body, both because I was looking forward to seeing my friends and also because I wasn’t sure how we were going to fit the three bands in two vans. We’d lost the use of a bench seat in my van to Thou merch. Luckily, our friend Derek was going to be driving alongside us for the rest of the tour, and he was planning to take a few band members in his car. The show in Tucson was part of the Southwest Terror Fest, a doom and black metal festival in which we were sure we were going to stick out like a sore thumb (We did). Thou and The Body were performing as a collaborative band, as they would on almost all the evening shows on the tour, doing material from their collaborative records alongside covers of Marilyn Manson’s “Irresponsible Hate Anthem” and Fleetwood Mac’s “The Chain.” As soon as they finished their headlining spot at the show, we had to haul ass to a punk house for Thou’s secret aftershow, where they performed an all-Nirvana cover set. Between songs, a woman noted that the house “smelled like prison.” By the time the show ended it was 3 a.m., and we crashed out at the hotel the festival had provided.
After getting about four hours’ sleep and checking in on the local Whole Foods scene, we drove to Santa Fe, where it was cold outside and we saw tons of people with 40 ounce bottles. The show was at The Cave, a local DIY venue in an industrial area. It quickly became apparent that the show was a donation-based situation and there was no dedicated donation- collecting person taking money for the touring bands, so we knew the gas money provisions were going to be underwhelming. A couple of songs into the Thou/Body set, the police shut down the show. They hadn’t received a noise complaint. Instead they apparently had posted at the end of the street, waiting for the hour that the noise ordinance took effect so they could come in. We stayed with some people we had met at the show, in a house with no furniture. They’d just moved in. The floors were linoleum and there were strips of leather everywhere (The girl who lived there made leather goods).
The next day was the first of many in which we would play two shows. Our matinee was with Thou in Colorado Springs at the Flux Capacitor, a venue in a building with rehearsal spaces. The green room, which was in fact green, had a desk with bongs on it and a Super Nintendo set up with Mortal Kombat. The night show was in Denver at GLOB. Bryan grabbed us some vegan food from Watercourse Foods and we did an interview for a college radio station while we ate. The band before us was a grindcore/ death metal situation. We had entertained a fleeting hope that tonight we would blend in with the other bands on the bill. But their set ended with a hard stop, after which the singer growled in a death metal voice, “STICK AROUND FOR HEAT DUST.” Clayton and I looked at each other, hope abandoned, and said “Oh shit.”
SALT LAKE CITY / RENO / PORTLAND / BELLEVUE / SEATTLE / OLYMPIA
It dawned on me, on our drive to Salt Lake City, that we would be playing on a Sunday. Salt Lake City is in a county that’s dry on Sundays, and it was raining really bad. Despite these deterrents, we managed to draw a good crowd. The venue asked us to sign documents saying we wouldn’t play covers (to avoid royalty inquiries from ASCAP and BMI), which was inconvenient for Thou and The Body since a third of their set consisted of covers. After the show, we had our first ever meal paid for by the band, using the money we had made selling merchandise. We decided nothing would be more appropriate than pizza and root beer. Blood Incantation (the band we had played with) and Jon (the show promoter) joined us at The Pie Hole.
My burrito was as big as my forearm and tasted incredible.
We got up early to give ourselves extra time in Portland. On the drive we stopped at Odell Lake in Oregon, surrounded by pines stacked on mountains. Mitch (from Thou) undressed and jumped in the freezing water. When we got to Portland, we met up with Tyler (who hosted us for the night) and Eleanore (who would join us in the van to hang out for the rest of the tour). We took a trip to the mall before the show so Chris and I could buy some new socks, since we had gone through all the ones we brought (though we had obediently refrained from microwaving them). The show was at a very small venue that didn’t look particularly crowded inside, but was in fact at capacity before any of the bands even started. Someone explained to me that Portland is very strict about venue capacity and noise level. After the show, we met up with the bands and a slew of Louisiana expats at a bar called the Florida Room. To no one’s surprise, we all got into a heated discussion about hot sauce. Back at Tyler’s house we fell asleep watching a Madea movie on his giant projector.
After an oil change and a re-up on Lärabars and yerba mate, we drove to Bellevue, right outside of Seattle, where we played a matinee show at Ground Zero, a youth program of the Boys and Girls Club. As soon as we finished, we had to throw the gear in the van and rush to our night show at The Black Lodge in Seattle. Dream Decay opened the show and blew me away with all their new songs. As we were setting up, the sound guy spilled a full beer all over my pedal board. (The pedal board survived.)
We slept at our friend Jason’s house and hung out with his fluffy cat, Romeo. The next morning Bryan and I walked around Seattle, drinking coffee and checking out Fantagraphics Books. Thou and The Body did a taping at the local radio station, KEXP. The show that night was in Olympia, in the garage of a house in the middle of nowhere. One of my favorite hardcore bands, Gag, opened up. During our set, a couple of amateur sound guys not affiliated with the show stood right in the front and angrily told us how to adjust our sound levels, while everyone else jumped around flinging beer across the room. Load out was difficult, owing to the fact that there were no street lights and we couldn’t see anything.
PORTLAND / SALEM / ASHLAND / EUREKA / BERKELEY / SANTA CRUZ / OAKLAND
Our Portland matinee show was at 1 p.m. at a small anarchist book shop. Because we drove back the night before, we had time to hit the reset button—shower and have brunch— before the show. When Thou was about to go on, Josh was nowhere to be found, so Mitch gave the whole crowd Josh’s cellphone number and instructed them to ask Josh where he was. For the rest of the tour, people from that show continued to contact Josh, often texting him pictures of their pets. We stopped at New Seasons (like Whole Foods, but better) on the way out to stock up on snacks and get some regional kombucha. The show in Salem had been moved from a house to a tattoo shop. On the way into town we grabbed an 18-pack of Coors. The show promoter brought us two giant bags full of burrito-style seaweed wraps. That night we slept at a motel a few hours out of town on the way to Ashland.
After four hours of sleep we finished our drive to Ashland to play a matinee at noon. Nobody was at the venue when we arrived, so we found a diner to eat at. Just after getting our food, Bryan called us to let us know it was time for us to set up and play. After eating as fast as we could and playing the show, we took the scenic route to Eureka. On the route we stopped on the Avenue of the Giants and walked around to look at the redwoods. About ten minutes out of Eureka, Bryan called us again to let us know the promoter expected us to set up and play immediately. Still road- dazed, we ran with our gear through the maze that was the veterans’ hall we were playing at, dodging crust punks to load into the room the show was in. After the set I sat in the van to get my breath back.
Arcata during the day was incredibly foggy and very beautiful. We ate a late breakfast in the town square at Alibi. Our show that night was in Berkeley at 924 Gilman Street, an all-ages DIY music venue that has been open since 1986. We were excited to play there, and the show went well. We finally got to meet and hang out with Jonathan, owner of The Flenser, the record label that recently put out the Heat Dust LP. When the show ended, we all decided to get In-N- Out Burger, which three of the four Heat Dust members (myself included) had never tried before. Mitch filmed everyone’s first bite. My burger (Animal Style, of course) and milkshake lived up to the hype. That night and the next two, we stayed at our friend Julia’s house, where there were two cats running across the ceiling beams and two dogs to play with.
We went to Santa Cruz the next day for our matinee at Streetlight Records, where we stood sandwiched between LP racks as we played. By the time we’d loaded back into the van we knew we would be late yet again for our night show. In Oakland we got to The Metro and found out we would be playing in the side room, rather than the main hall, because the venue had double-booked an Austrian black metal band called Belphegor, who lined the front of their stage with a display of faux goat heads. Our show opened with S.B.S.M, a female queercore no wave-ish band that was my favorite act we played with on tour. Our set that night was also my favorite of the tour, partly because people were really moving around to the music and seemed to be enjoying themselves.
OAKLAND / SACRAMENTO / SAN LUIS OBISPO / GOLETA / SAN DIEGO
we all decided to get In-N- Out Burger... Mitch filmed everyone’s first bite. My burger (Animal Style, of course) and milkshake lived up to the hype.
After our routine stop at Whole Foods the next day, we made our way to San Luis Obispo. We played at the SLO Grange, a community hall. The space was huge and looked like the set of Parks and Recreation, down to the murals depicting town history covering the walls. The environment was made even more surreal by the music being played on the PA: loud, atmospheric drone. Outside I overheard the guy who was running the PA and playing the between-set music tell his friend, “I think I’ve curated a super chill vibe.” He wasn’t wrong. I left the show with The Body in order to get pizza before the pizza place closed. While waiting for the Thou and Heat Dust pizza orders to come out, I watched The Body use a trash can as a table to eat theirs.
Eleanore had recommended making a stop at Montaña de Oro State Park on the drive to Goleta, about an hour out of the way but totally worth it. We climbed down rocks to get close to the shoreline. Before the show we stopped in Santa Barbara to eat burritos at Super Cuca’s. My burrito was as big as my forearm and tasted incredible. We arrived at the venue, The Hard to Find, to discover it was a rec room at a church. The show was a bust, but afterwards we drove to Mitch’s house in Glendale, where there would be plenty of room for everyone to sleep comfortably for the rest of the tour.
Mitch’s house was the ultimate reset button. I did laundry, showered, shaved, and slept on a blow-up mattress instead of the floor. Before heading to San Diego for our show that night, we explored Los Angeles a little, ate sushi at Sugarfish, and went record shopping at Amoeba. The show in San Diego was at a warehouse called the Stronghold. The promoter got a soul food stand to come out. Their slogan was “Food so good it’ll make love to your soul.” I watched Mitch and Chip eat four chili cheese dogs each, making it clear to all of us that they intended to share the Tummy Courage Award for this tour.
SILVER LAKE / LONG BEACH / LOS ANGELES / FORT STOCKTON
At Mitch and Kathryn’s house the next day, we had coffee and donuts from Donut Friend, a restaurant that names donuts after punk and indie bands. We ate Fudgegazi, Drive Like Jelly, and Hüsker Blü, among others. The show in Silver Lake had to start early because there were eight bands and the whole thing had to be over by 9 p.m. Thou played a Nirvana cover set for Halloween while dressed up as Nirvana (Bryan was dressed as Courtney Love). Afterwards we split up into the party crew and the stay- home crew. I went with the party crew to a tiny karaoke bar called Smog Cutters. When it was Clayton’s turn, he immediately got everyone’s attention by jumping around the room and grabbing people by the shoulders while singing “Kentucky Rain.” At the end of the song he gave the microphone to a guy in a dog mask, who howled. The stay-home crew watched Dawn of the Dead and ate pizza.
The next morning, after our final Whole Foods stop of the tour, we drove to Long Beach to play a matinee at Alex’s Bar. When Thou played, Bryan asked the audience if they liked Sublime or the Long Beach All Stars better, which seemed to make them angry, and he announced each song in the set by stating the length of the song rather than the title. Julia, the friend we stayed with in Oakland, played her first show with Kowloon Walled City, and they were incredible. We jetted to downtown Los Angeles after the show was over to play at The Smell. The venue was aptly named, as it smelled like a toilet. It was our second show with Full of Hell, who absolutely killed and who are the most polite guys in hardcore. Thou and The Body played their best collaborative set of the tour, with Bryan’s eyes bulging especially far out of his head. Our set went well, and people were responsive. I did, however, keep getting shocked by dripping sweat into the microphone. The Body picked up a 7-Eleven pizza and we went back to Mitch’s house.
We woke up at 6 a.m. to start driving back home. Goodbyes were completed in a half-asleep haze. 16 hours and endless gas station snacks later we stayed in Fort Stockton at a Motel 6 and slept for 5 hours. The next day we finally made it home to sleep in real beds.