The Broken West Tour Diary #4: "Take Your Band to Work Day"
The Broken West are back on tour! Here's a recap from their time on the road with the Walkmen.
March 8, New York
Our much anticipated tour leg opening for the Walkmen commenced in New York City at the Bowery Ballroom. We were incredibly psyched for this show; you could argue it was our biggest show to date. Our nervousness may have affected the show, not to mention the fact that Dan and Rob were so sick they looked like walking dead.
March 9, Baltimore
The surprising part of this visit was where we ending up staying. A good friend of Rob’s wife had offered up her place for us, but she said the only person there at the moment was her husband, who none of us had ever met. So in the middle of the afternoon, five strangers show up at this dude’s house, saying his wife said it was okay that we all crash there, like, right now. To Eric’s credit, he invited us all in and got us drinks. Nice!
The Walkmen put on a killer live show, and we realized that we had some work to do in order to get to that level, which is always a sobering notion. To counteract that notion, we went home after the show with Kristen and Eric and drank scotch all night.
(CONTINUED: Click permalink below for more tour diary entries from 3/10-3/23)
March 10, Colombus – Big college town! The show was in a big room, and it was 18+ or all-ages or something, so it was packed with people. We had a really great show and Ross benefited from the chance to really smoke his new amp. Afterwards, we hung a bit more with the folks in Ferraby’s band, drummer Jason, bass player Jacob, and of course the beguiling Erin Armstrong. Most of Ferraby Lionheart’s band/entourage is from Los Angeles, so we had a few things in common, such as fledgling careers in the performing arts.
March 11, Chicago – After some serious highway time, during which Ross learned he must never, ever lie to me, we arrived in Chicago. Jason from Ferraby’s band told us he almost crashed the van in the sudden and heinous Chicago traffic, which surprised nobody. I should say here that Dan and Rob drove the van for this entire trip and did a great job behind the wheel. Personally, I think it’s probably the best possible driving situation.
March 12, Newport –John Shaw and I listened to reggae all night on the balcony of the motel. Below us in the parking lot was a flurry of criminal activity that peaked sometime around 3:30 a.m.
March 13, Texarkana – Worst city in the country, probably.
March 14-17, Austin – We had a killer showcase on the first night of SXSW opening up for Spoon at the Merge showcase at Antone’s. The entire staff from Merge was there for at least part of the festivities, so we played many day parties for their enjoyment and generally made mischief for these four days. Unlike the rest of these shows, there are many blogs that document our various appearances, so I won’t go into much detail here. Basically, John got a bad ear infection, Ham (of the Walkmen) went to jail, and we finally figured out how to do radio appearances without throwing up in our mouths from nervousness.
March 18, New Orleans – Sparsely attended show for both bands, although Rob’s dad put us up in a swank hotel and we felt like real rock stars for one night. Rob’s lovely wife Tina joined the tour in this town, but only after signing a few insurance waivers.
March 19, Tallahassee – We played in this crazy all ages bar right near the college, so this was one of the “crazier” crowds. We got up and jammed with Ferraby and Co. on his great tune ”The Ballad of Gus & Sam” for the first time and slayed goats all over the stage. The talent buyer gave us a great Bob Marley boxed set.
March 20, Athens – My good friend Ted Kamp would describe Athens, GA as “just a groovy little college town” and he would be correct exactly. The 40-Watt is as sick a rock club as you will find anywhere, but the show was only moderately attended, and no one really knows why. We watched Ferraby’s entire set and enjoyed it immensely, and had a mellow party after the show as Ross attempted to recover from food poisoning.
March 21, Asheville – Another college town, although this one was filled with dready hippies; nonetheless, we had a pretty good time. We were told that if we had been playing bluegrass, the place would have been wall-to-wall bodies. As Dan likes to say, “they should have just asked us if we could play it”.
March 22, Chapel Hill – We went to the Merge office for “take your band to work day” and arrived looking like five scruffy, greasy, hungry, dirty guys. Luckily, Spott gave us some CDs to ease the pain, one of which was the just-released, strikingly awesome “Neon Bible”, which would go on to receive somewhere around 500 spins over the ensuing three weeks.
We all love Chapel Hill and we had a great night hanging with Merge folks before, during and after the show. The show was sold out and we had an awesome crowd, which was nice after a relative drought throughout the Deep South. We cooked up a few steaks on stage and had a great old time. Spott introduced us to “a couple of fine, upstanding, good people”. Maggie from Merge was kind enough to let us crash her lovely pad in Durham.
March 23, Washington, DC – Our last show with the Walkmen was a sweaty kickass night. It is hotter than shit in the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hotel, which was a nice enough club but wins the “Most Ridiculous Name” contest by a wide margin. John got the offer on this night to join the Walkmen on trumpet (as he had been doing the whole tour), after the Broken West tour was over on April 16th, which he accepted, despite the fact that it pushed his homecoming in Brooklyn back to April 30th. How can you say no to Hamilton Leithauser?
Alright, I have to go now but the next installment will deal with Canada, The Long Winters, getting back to California (or “Take the Long Way Home”), the Chris Pace adventure, countless Gibson guitars and a host of other great things.