Woke up 9 am after going to bed at like 4am; not a surprise really, it’s not like you immediately shut off your tour clock the second you’re done. I wake up expecting to pack up my sleep gear and quickly brush my teeth before having to jump back in the van. Instead, I’m rising slowly, taking a hearty shower, and walking out for breakfast with my friends Michelle and Christina. Then back to my crashpad to do some work. Slowly adjusting to life post tour takes time and to quote Malcolm Tucker, “I got a to-do list longer than a fucking Leonard Cohen song.”
I get some texts from the band…jokes, results on bets placed last night, someone found my knife, and Jarrett still has my passport (“I’m gonna sell your identity.” “It’s priced to move.”) A photo comes through and Mike is shaving his beard off. It’s surreal how you have to adjust back to whatever your life was before you commited five weeks to this tour thing. Five weeks is long. Our friends in Waxahatchee did ten weeks this year, which just sounds inconceivable. I have no idea how you do that. I always end any tour thinking “If they want me they know how to get to me” which is what I’m currently doing. I absolutely love being out with these guys, seeing the world, making jokes, finding shelter, fighting colds, rocking out, and being a little family. It’s important to me, because even before this became a thing I loved them, and always wanted the best for them. If whatever I do helps them get through the haul of touring then I always want to offer it to them. I have a couple days left in philly before going back to Chicago, and I reckon we’ll have a small get together before I leave.
I had a goddamn blast on this tour and we blasted a bunch ourselves. I want to thank Charlie from the fanclub for asking me to write all this out. Thank you to all the fanclub members that said hi, you’re a swell bunch. Thanks to everyone that gave us shelter on the road, you have no idea what you do for a band like this. Thank you to all the friends (old and new) we saw out on the road that kept us entertained. Thank you to the bands that opened, y’all kept our ears and heads ringing in the best way. Thank you to John and Megan from Street Eaters for being the kindest, sharpest and funniest sweethearts we could be around.
Lastly, thank you Jarrett, Marissa, and Mike for asking me to come along, for putting me to work, and for letting me snore next to ya. You three are the best and I am so thankful and lucky that you’re in my life.
Woke up comfortably enveloped in my sleeping bag and a soft couch; in the distance I can hear Jarrett’s dad strumming on a guitar—just some easy going Fahey type strumming. It’s a beautiful way to wake up. Jarrett’s mom is making breakfast. Typically a morning wake up call is like this on tour: Marissa’s alarm goes off first, then Jarrett’s alarm goes off ten minutes later. In between those two alarms you are bound to hear two sounds: 1) the air being let out of multiple sleeping pads and B) King Mike letting out a morning fart. “Ahhhhh the rooster has crowed this morning!”
A little coffee and some vegan breakfast tacos, while we listen recordings of Jarrett’s high school marching band covering Styx. Everyone is amused and trading stories of high school bands and teenage embarrassments. At one point, the Doughertys bring out their respective guitar and accordion and perform an Irish traditional they’ve been working on, “Wild Mountain Thyme.” It’s very beautiful and touching. I get slightly (and silently) choked up watching this couple perform a song together for us. It’s just so tender and intimate and makes me think about family and allowing creativity to flourish within a family. Screamales are a family—they’ve been at this since they were teenagers, and they show no signs of stopping. Processing that on the day of the last show of this tour is a heavy thing, but one that is nothing but sweet and positive.
The drive to Baltimore is long but steady—I read an interview with Mike Watt in the car, and it’s very amusing. Lots of talk about language, and communication and family and punk. We jam Allman Brothers, Geraldine Fibbers, Blue Oyster Cult and Portishead to name a few. Somewhere in Virginia we drive past the largest Confederate Flag I’ve ever seen. I wonder if people are embarrassed beyond belief by that (probably not) and I wonder if anyone has tried to drive their car into said flagpole to take it down (again, probably not.) We hit a WaWa where I score a dank BLT hoagie and then we hit traffic that takes us down to a snails crawl. DC traffic, like most cities, is the worst. Maybe it’s the additional stress of oppression that is the Nation’s Capital that makes it feel worse than say getting into Brooklyn or LA. Regardless, we trod on and arrive at Metro Gallery with half an hour to spare before doors. We do a quick load in, set the merch up and it’s showtime. It’s a stacked bill tonight as Street Eaters friends Composite got added at the last minute and the show does have an 11pm curfew. We make do though. One surprise is that my friend Jasmine plays guitar for Composite. I didn’t know it was her band on the bill and she didn’t know I was out with Screaming Females. In the blur of loading in we had our backs turned to one another on the stage, and then we turned around and both gasped with surprise and happiness. I met Jasmine when she was in the hardcore band Neo Cons, and she’s a sweet and positive angel; plus she fucking shreds on guitar with such confidence. A lot of friends turn out to the show tonight so there’s a lot of hugs and chit chat and quick change overs, and “how many drink tickets are there???” and “where’s the van, we need more shirts!” Honestly, the whole night was a blur and it’s probably better that way. If I had a moment to really think for myself I probably woulda started crying.
I don’t know why it’s like that, maybe it’s the pisces in me. The first tour I did with them, we capped the last night off at a block party in Chicago. We thought it’d be funny to cover “Zero” so I did the lead vocal, and tried to go into the crowd but missed my step on the railing. It was very silly and goofy and then I teared up during Rose Mountain. Last year, the tour ended in Philly; Moor Mother opened and they performed an incredibly intense set, which they are wont to do. I’d seen so many sets by them but this one sent me over and I was weeping. I found Camae after the set, hugged them and we both started crying. Jarrett and some point was like “jeesus why’s everyone weeping?!”
It was far too busy a night for waterworks though, between seeing so many buds, and chatting away and flippin shirts for cash and moving gear I didn’t really come up for air until we were back in the van. Composite played a soulful set of raging hardcore. They’re a new group, but they’re all so solid and strong you’d think they were at least five or six years into this group. They all looked mad cool and tough too. Purrer came through with pummeling set of hard rock that sounded like Neil Young and Crazy Horse playing “Loveless” or some shit. Wild. Outer Spaces were all rhythm and groove—keys, drums and guitar giving out some hooky and funky pop songs not unlike Young Marble Giants or the slinkier Yo La Tengo songs. Street Eaters gave us one more blast of True Wave calling for a massive resistance to the 45 looming mere miles away. What a powerful band. So grateful I got to experience their sound for so many days. Screaming Females came out strong with a rousing rendition of “Empty Head” which slammed into “Real Mothers” and then “Sheep.” The jam on “Rose Mountain” didn’t elicit tears, but I did do a little soft shoe in the merch area with Bad Canoes drummer Dawn Riddle. At some point Mike’s bass died out and while he sorted out his issue, Marissa opened up the floor to jokes. Here’s a good one
“What do you call a belt made of watches?”
“A waist of time.”
The band bounced back with thee solid sender of “Glass House” and “Step Outside” before closing with “Hopless” and “Boss.” Before “Boss” kicked off, Marissa called me out again, this time though I wasn’t embarrassed. I screamed back “I LOVE YOU SOOOOO MUCH” and she asked people to bring me shots of tequila or Bath Bombs from Lush. I received the former, and gave out some hugs and daps from nice fans.
We piled into the van and drove back to Philadelphia with Dawn Riddle in tow who filled our hour and half drive with hilarious stories from her adventures over the past six months. It’s a great way to end the night, a perfect period to 35 days of travel over this great land.
Again, I’m the last one to wake up, but it’s okay since my hair is all clean and curly and I smell nice. I slept like a cat in sunlight, all stretched and happy. Pack up and roll out to “Sweet Melissa’s” a simple but solid breakfast spot in Decatur. They have a decent amount of vegetarian options and are playing all sorts of classic jam band/hippie material. At one point, the song “Melissa” by The Allman Brothers comes on and we wonder if everyone who works there has to take a break and sing along. Then, “Eight Miles High” by The Byrds comes on and we talk about how that’s one of the best guitar sounds in rock history. Coltrane inspired shit. Decent meal. One of the better fruit cups I’ve had in over a year—kiwi, grapes, strawberries, pineapple. Most fruitcups come with a melon which is probably the weakest fruit to choose from.
It’s about a five hour drive to Durham from Atlanta so we hit it quickfast, and thankfully there isn’t much trouble. I spend a chunk of the time listening to my friend Vish’s podcast and then we swap in some Misfits because it’s halloween and we should be in that kind of mood. I don’t really celebrate Halloween; I’m not against it, but the process of coming up with a costume, creating said costume and then being confident in wearing it is just a goddamn pain for me. I’m never ever happy with the denouement—my brain is bigger than my skill set. I think the last time I wore a costume, I was ReRun from the show “What’s Happening?” My partner and I have always talked about dressing up as Big and Lil Enos from “Smokey & The Bandit” but getting cowboy suits fitted for people 6’3” and 4’10” is a costly project. Working at a bar has it’s limits too; I usually work on Halloween or Halloween weekend and working in a costume that’s gonna get splashed with beer, liquor, lemon and lime juice is also a drag. When i was a kid I loved it; one year I was Harpo Marx. Another year I was an egg.
The Pinhook in Durham is a tight, small venue that is very queer positive and couldn’t have been a better place for a Halloween show. We load in and I make I wonder aloud how far the venue is from Carolina Soul, which is a fantastic record shop in The Triangle. After bringing everything in I learn it’s a mere four hundred feet from the venue, so I take a quick stroll over. I said I wouldn’t buy anything else, but I just have to look. They have a tremendous selection—when I was here last year, I found like five disco 12”’s that were on my want list for a long time. Alas, nothing this time, which is good. If I mention a record store in this diary, it’s worth your time. Not bragging or nothing, but I fuck with records and I’m more than willing to share my info.
Back to the venue, and Screamales are finishing their soundcheck. Jarrett’s parents live outside of Durham and meet up with us for dinner; they’ll also provide lodge for us for the evening. Both of Jarrett’s parents are musicians, which explains where he got so much of his talented skills from. Jarrett’s mom is a radical free thinker and his dad is a passionate inquisitive soul. They are a total joy to be around while we talk tour and life over empanadas and side dishes. It’s so nice to see these two people who obviously love their child and what he’s doing. Not everyone understands punk and the need to play 100 shows a year, but they clearly do, which is evident in their love and adoration.
Two band bill tonight, so we have a lot of time before the doors open; my merch station is an elevated plot along one of the walls, with a lot of floor space but limited display space. It’s fine, but as the show gets more packed (and eventually sells out) I gotta worry about people knockin records off the display table. We make it work though, and thankfully there isn’t too much trouble. Lots of costumes coming though: a LaCroix Can, a Darth Vader, A Beetlejuice, a “sexy antifa” which definitely had me swooning. The place is packed, everyone is looking good and excited; only thing left to do is rock this place to the ground. Street Eaters waste no time, clearly riding the wave of the night before, they turn in a pummeling display of solid True Wave. People are going ape, I don’t think a lot of people here have seen them before. It’s now hitting me: This is the second to last Show, and I don’t know when I’ll see this band perform again, and I’ve seen them do thier thing for 33 nights, and goddamn how lucky am i that I get to watch a band that good do what burns in their hearts? Same with Screaming Females, who turned in an incredibly powerful set—opening with a barn burning “Normal” into “Criminal Image” into “Starving Dog.” That’s a 1-2-3 punch you can set your watch to. The crowd isn’t daft either, they’re eating it all up reveling in the sonic wallop these three friends are creating. At some point, Marissa mentions its the second to last night of tour and thanks Street Eaters, and then calls me out; I try to run away, but John and Megan pull me back. Marissa says something about how I’m available for hugs and I yell “ALRIGHT, LETS GET ON WITH THE NEXT SONG.” I get so shy when she calls me out. I’m not worth of attention. I am just a dummy. Closing with “Hopeless” it is clear they should do an encore. Mike is clapping along and encouraging it, I’m screaming for twenty more songs. The band comes back, and encores with “High.”
We drive back to the Dougherty house and I fall asleep on a long and comfy leather couch. All is well in the Triangle.