“It’s usually somewhere in the third week, where someone starts talking gibberish”—Jarrett, 2016
“Third Week typically has an unravel”—Mike, 2018
I’ve always made it a point of pride in these journals to write about every show. That every day has a bright moment, even if there is muck or difficulty. To be honest and vulnerable about the difficulty, be it personal or professional, to offer some transparency to the reader. If Joan Didion can write about her marriage falling apart (and later, the mortality of her family) then I can surely write about the minutia of a miscommunication, or my own dysphoria in an unforgiving world. I can and I often do.
This time, gentle reader, I am going to pass. You’re going to miss four days of this journey and to be honest, it’s for the better; because this is a public journal and there are other people’s lives involved in it. Some people prefer privacy and that needs to be respected. This isn’t to say there were four hellish days, that need to be skipped over; there were some real bright moments con-tained therein. There was the post show hang in Bryan where we all stayed with the tremen-dously kind and righteous power pop rockers Cheer Bomb. There was the beautiful drive to New Mexico—painted mountain ranges, breathtaking sunset, brisk nighttime air. There was the after hours altoids tasting competition between Jarrett and Liz. There was the kind hospitality of George in Phoenix whom provided us with giant shelter, a sweet cat, a wild n’ goofy dog, and a late viewing of “Hellraiser,” a film I still don’t really understand (Thank you for the only bath bomb I’ve been gifted on this tour.) There was also the guy at the Mexican restaurant whom had the biggest wallet I’ve ever seen in my life (seriously, it was a Costanza wallet that looked like five Moon Pies stacked on one another.) There was the awesome band Death Cult in San Anto-nio, delivering some righteous subversive hardcore to the masses. There were also plenty of jokes, laughs, and clinks of the glass.
But, there was also an unravel. Which happens. You get the same people moving through the world in a little box every day for over a month, something is bound to pop off. Something is go-ing to run through the air, like a cardinal pushing through tornado alley, that will set a person off. An unravel, only this time it was like a cluster of unravels, all either too complicated, too un-known, or too stupid to even warrant getting in these pages. And even writing about this day, en route to Baton Rouge is going to be truncated because the unravel did’t mend until we got to the city itself. There’s really no point in reliving the bad. It’ll save all of us some time if I didn’t. Bad things happen, mis-communication happens. What is critical is that you move through it, shake it off, and remind yourself that this is still one of the greatest privileges in the world: that this isn’t a job, but a joy. Sure, there are small moments that make it feel like work but where are we? We are in the United States, and we are traveling around playing music, connecting with nice people, and without any pressure from a label or a manager or a publicist to “do the right thing.” Because what’s not right about being honest, being economical, being kind to the people that take time out of their day to listen to your songs, and share a space with you, to engage in the art you’re cre-ating? N-O-T-H-I-N-G.
I wore shorts, but not flip flops in honor of the god Bryan Funck, singer for the righteous band Thou, as we are en route to their hometown of Baton Rouge. Bryan is a shorts and flip flops per-son; the only day of our tour together in April where it was warm enough to wear shorts was our last night together in Gainesville, Florida. In the three weeks were out together, I hadn’t seen them happier than that moment. It’s something I truly understand and empathize with, as I am generally only happy in sweltering weather and as little clothing as possible. When we were out with Thou and HIRS in April, we—three car collective of guitar dominance, queer rage, blood curdling vocals, fancy footwork, and maybe the slightest bit of optimism against a cruel and op-pressive society—brought a cold front with us to every city. We never once got ahead of it until Florida, and from there it was gravy. Sunshine, inner tubing, grazing in the grass. What joy. This tour, we’ve been carrying a strange rain/cold front with us to every city, and Baton Rouge is no different. What IS different though is we are in the swampland so there’s also a thick humid stick-iness to the whole affair. Shorts weather for sure, but it’s certainly the end of shorts season here. Make the most of it, gurl—dark blue shorts, vanilla colored Kitten Forever t-shirt, red adidas—definitely feeling like I’m exploiting something. Maybe I’m trying to will something into my life—an extended warm front, or an opportunity to get roughed up. Neither will appear, but they can’t say I didn’t try.
We had quite the time trying to make this show even happen; originally it was booked at Spanish Moon (great Little Feat song) but something happened that required “renovations” (still not sure what. Bad plumbing? Did a floor or ceiling collapse?) so then it was moved to a theater, which then accidentally double booked a reggae show for that night, leaving us with three options: a) book a matinee show at said theater b) book at midnight show at said theater or c) find a new venue all together. This was somewhere en route to San Antonio, so it’s not like we had a ton of time to pull it off. Again, the Funck came through and passed along a contact for the Arts Center, which enthusiastically offered their space to us. Took 10 minutes, three texts, and one phone call. Refund all ticketholders, get them the new show details, and do a donation/pay what you can at the door. Again, luxury of being a band and doing whatever you want so long as it’s not fuck people over.
So yeah it’s an old carpark/auto repair center rebuilt as a cute all ages space. Econo as hell, no wi-fi, a makeshift green room, one bathroom for all, but still ADA accessible which not all DIY venues can brag about. Cait and Davey are very kind and accommodating, and really bless em for saving our ass at the last moment. We load in, and ditch out to get some dinner at a local thai spot. Incredibly strong and flavorful meal. Through the sudden and massive rain fall we high tail it back to our gig. Setting up t-shirts, I see a man floating near the table. “Not now, love” I think to myself and I think he can read that in my body language. “Just gimme a minute with these shirts and we’ll talk turkey after that’s done.” I didn’t have that luxury in Seattle. I had people shaking their money at me and door busting my shirts before I could even get them counted out. It made for a difficult scene (on top of an already catastrophically difficult evening,) which I combatted by ignoring everyones questions and obnoxiously singing “Vine St.” by Randy Newman out loud, much to everyones befuddlement. I didn’t want that to happen again so I nipped it in the bud by being matter of fact “I’m not ready, I can come find you when I’m ready” but he was chill. He doesn’t go to too many rock shows anymore, but he read about Screaming Females on some ultra left/radical journalists blog and looked em up. He liked what he heard, and then learned the band were coming to town so he wanted the full experience. What makes it better is he learned all of this two days ago. What lucky timing for this person! I’m excited to see what he thinks of Kitten Forever too. I hope they melt his brain.
The scene out front is classic diy stuff. Punks and weirdos milling about a lot, all making jokes and occasionally having a “fan moment” with someone. It’s cute. A guy brought his toddler with him, and she’s just so precious with her colorful boots, big blue air traffic controller ear protec-tors, and raincoat. She loves rock n’ roll and makes sure to tell Marissa she rocks. Good one kid. Mike and I are side of the car, sipping brews, trying to cop weed, and talking about “the un-ravel.” It feels good to dissect it, and safely talk about my own issues, and him to talk about his, and we chuckle through it and hear each other clearly. I truly love and am thankful for the space this band makes for me to be so vulnerable and not dismiss it. With them, I know I am heard, I am respected and treated equally. It makes five weeks together so much easier, it makes it all the easier to move through the unravel and come out the other side with more in-sight, more “okay next time I’ll remember this” in the filing cabinet. I don’t even have that with some people I’ve known since my bags hit a shitty apartment floor in the Edgewater section of Chicago.
Loudess Wars kicked the night off and it really caught us off guard. During their soundcheck, both Jarrett and I picked up on the lead guitar players McLaughlin’isms. He definitely had some right hand akin to the Mahavishnu shred. Where we were expecting some stretched out ascen-sion to the ozone layer, we were met with some fast and furious caveman doom stomp. It worked, they definitely kicked much ass. I was definitely excited for this Kitten Forever set to-night. It just seemed like a perfect space/perfect vibe for their magnificent cacophony. I figured that the tru freaqs/raw norms of Baton Rouge would eat up. I was right, as Kitten Forever had them eating out of their collective hand of bratty vocal play, fuzzed out bass and skittering per-cussion. Screaming Females didn’t disappoint either as their back and forth with the crowd and their righteous jamming only wound the people into a tizzy. So much that one person excitedly screamed at the opening notes of “Hopeless” which made Marissa lose her concentration and slip up two additional passes at the song.
When we were in New Orleans, a person came through with a gift for the baloney brothers. One gift said “let the ghost in” and the other said “cool cig.” Mike and I burned the “ghost” before bed and I had a slow motion panic in bed thinking I was gonna die. The fear is real, but the next morning I woke up like I had enjoyed it? A brunette, with long hair and a gentle delivery brought it to us, and they showed up tonight to give us another gift. Baloney’d, with our new Baloney breth-ren Cheyenne, we did not let the ghost in. It was more like a cool cig, which is exactly what we needed after such a day.
We searched for our crashpad, on a dimly lit street about three miles from the venue. It’s the dead of night and we are searching for numbers on houses. By “we,” I mean the editorial “we” as the Brothers Baloney are buckled into their backseats.
“This is how we die.”
“Oh totally, we’re the first to go.”
Marissa and Jarrett have abandoned the car, the car is running, and we’re both buckled in the back laughing at our inevitable demise. “This is how it is in every movie. We’re gonna get killsed and those two are gonna either run into the woods and never comeback, OR they’ll run to the church and never come back.”
Maybe we did let the ghost in.
Our crashpad tonight is a beautifully quaint lil cabin with a washer and dryer in the backyard, and all the old outlets. Deep reds, and forest greens adorn the walls, there’s an incredibly gen-tle cat that is skittish at first, but I’m zooted enough to spend all my energy on petting her. She falls right into my trap of, bird noises, head scratches and whispered words of affection. I curl up near a toy piano and gently drift into the night.