Wolvserpent U.S. "Brutalizer" Tour Diary Part 2

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October 21, 2010

Here we are on yet another nine-plus-hour drive. The last few days have been full of these epically long drives... we've seen some awesome countryside as it flies by our windows :). We'd like to come back and take some more time. Mississippi was amazing, for the few hours we drove through. Nola was awesome, we should have had a day or half-day to spend exploring. Texas was a beautiful drive. It would have been nice to spend some time "on the range." Now we know to be a little more leisurely with our travel time. We are in the middle of the 3rd drive of over 500 miles! We are on our way to Las Cruces, NM. Back to the desert. Although this desert is very different than the one from which we hail, it still feels more like home. We've had quite the shotgun ride through the south. But first, back to the mid-Atlantic:


Oct 11: From Far Rockaway, NY we were on to Baltimore, MD. We were stoked for this show, as we were booked with locals Oak. It was not disappointing. We rolled in early... still a bit bright-eyed and excited for the upcoming shows, despite a couple duds through New England. We had been warned about the extremely dangerous aspect of "Bmore," however our directions took us right from the freeway into the posh / quaint business neighborhood. So, no worries for a couple wide-eyed newbies to Baltimore. Enahre folks were not so lucky. They took a wrong turn and ended up in the "blue-light-special." Apparently the more dangerous parts of Baltimore are marked with blue streetlights. The venue, Golden West Cafe, turned out to be a little oasis. We were early enough to get in on the awesome grub they serve up at this fine establishment. They have some really wild stuff on the menu and even wilder stuff all over the walls - think gigantic stuffed bison head and an elk head to match, plus awesomely ridiculous grandma's-house-esque decor. Ah, nourishment. Everything looked a little better from the other side of a giant plate of warm food. All the employees and the show-goers, as they rolled in, were very welcoming and friendly. (Maybe it was just the contrast with the Yank-tude. :) )We got to meet up with old acquaintances that make up Abiku. It was awesome to see some familiar faces and they opened the show with a wild set complete with sequined robes and a cloth, white mountain backdrop. We hosted them at a house show in Boise years ago, so we were curious to see how they're live sound had changed. They definitely had been at work. They were tighter and even more energetic... if that's possible. They were maybe an odd match for the line-up. But, we're down with the eclectic shows. You've got to mix it up. By the end of their set, a good solid crowd had gathered before Ehnahre played. They were boosted by the bigger crowd and played really tight. This show had a four-band bill and we had to begin the show at 11pm and end at 2am..... somehow. So, the tear-down and set-up between sets was pretty frantic. After Ehnarhe, we got set up in a reasonable amount of time. It is interesting being a two-piece and toting enough equipment for a modest four-piece band.... you get really good at hefting a 2x15 cab up and hauling it down the block to throw it on stage in a few seconds flat... yes, Brittany too. Our set began with technical difficulties. It was a bummer to have a good crowd and then have our equipment give out. But, we got it sort of straightened out as we began Wolv and trouped on. The P.A. system sounded good, the sound guy was very accommodating and the high-ceiled, open space of the place added well to the overall experience. Everything was good and loud, and everything could be heard and picked out from the din. We felt a good rapport with the crowd. Everyone seemed receptive and appreciative. After we tore our equipment off stage, it was time for Oak. They crushed! They played a most excellent set with way too many stacks (as if that's possible :) ) full of epic riffs, so good. After the show, we loaded out and chatted with the Oak folks for a while. Then we started the drive to North Carolina in order to sneak through the D.C. area in the wee hours of the morning and skip the hours of Washington D.C. commuter traffic.

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Oct 12: We woke late since we didn't get to sleep until 6:00 A.M... Blake experienced eating dinner and breakfast in the same meal,.... in a gas station parking lot,... staring down hicks in the Virginia countryside. Ah tour... usually exciting, hilarious and stomach turning all at once. We spent the afternoon drinking coffee by a beautiful lake. Perfect. Some rest from the mayhem of East-Coast travel was definitely welcome. We had a pretty quick four-hour drive ahead of us to take us to Chapel Hill, North Carolina. But, the relaxing setting sucked us in and we left behind schedule anyway. We rolled into the venue, Night Lite, to find Ehnahre had already arrived and the opening act had begun. The place was a DIY / volunteer-run set up. We took a stretch of the legs. Then we began load-in with hopes that the place would fill up as we hauled our hefty equipment through alley into the joint.... We were not so lucky that night. This began a stretch of shows that truly earned for us the moniker "Brutalizer Tour." The bands played to each other and a couple rather unenthused folks who may have wandered in thinking they might be there to hear the newest artist from K records... Brutal. Not surprisingly, no one purchased merch. To top off a show that more resembled one of our "living-room rehearsals," (Blake and I played more to each other than anyone else) we were paid $9.00 from the door!!!! Some nights we get paid, some nights we pay our dues. We missed the first band but heard they were good. Mountains for Murderers sounded great. Ehnahre began to hit they're stride musically. The brand of metal they play is not for everyone and is not something that we understood right away. However something clicked on this desolate Tuesday night in humid Chapel Hill and it all started to make sense. They are a really good band, making very interesting music.
We drove out after the show in search of some respite in the form of a campground deep in the Carolina woods. Mirages of a solid night's sleep and a leisurely morning of making drip coffee called to us. Our hopes were boosted by the deep forest and lakes we passed, so peaceful, just to be dashed by campgrounds that close their gates at 8:00 PM. Yet another night in the van loft, in the shade of a side street.

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Oct 13: Haggard and somewhat beat-down, we jetted down to Charlotte, N.C. in search of a cup of joe. Driving for two hours before the morning cup of coffee is not recommended. Upon finding a coffee shop, our definition of "good" coffee was once again compromised. The further we get from the Northwest, the worse the coffee gets and the less we seem to care. Just dump some caffeine in! We tried to lounge and relax a bit, regain some spirit for the upcoming show. Before we new it we needed to grab some grub and head to the venue. We knew we were headed to a shady part of town- the club website suggests: "Print this map and the directions, you don't want to get lost on the West Side." So, we grabbed some "$7.50 all you can eat sushi," from next door to the coffee shop... It seemed like a good decision at the time. We tried not to throw up our cheap "asian," food as we made our way to The Milestone. We were greeted by a very pleasant staff and a generous drink policy. The Milestone is THE dirtiest club we have ever seen! And that is saying something. This was, however, part of its appeal. The whole place screamed absolute punk and metal disgust. It was comforting in a way. No pretense. Blake, exhibited a good amount of OCD tendencies and attempted to not touch or sit on anything in the club the entire night. Just walking into the "ladies," room was enough to make you hold it 'til tomorrow. Locals say this is Charlotte's "CBGB's" and many legends have graced it's stage (Nirvana, Dead Kennedys, etc.... though they played all the dives). It's even toted as "The World Famous Milestone." Apparently some of this is true and some is not depending on who you talk to. The whole scene was a bit odd. Brittany was accosted by a drunk bar regular, who wanted to know "Are you gonna play that thing?!?" referring to the violin in it's case strapped to her back..... yeah.... great. Luckily, some of the folks were actually there to see the show. Some even drove from out of state and provided some pleasant company and conversation to balance it all out. Despite the pleasant staff and legendary location we were met with another desolate show. Two in a row. We were a bit thrown. We played a rather dragging set, with plenty of P.A. fiascos.... levels dropping and spiking. Ash, of Artificial Ghost, a wild solo project that opened the show, put us up for the evening. Brittany crashed early while Blake "crushed some brews," with the Ehnahre dudes.

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Oct 14: The drive to Atlanta is difficult to recall. All the drives begin to blur at this point of a tour. But, the drivers of Georgia became noticeably more dangerous and unpredictable. There were even hilarious signs. They were basically a giant diagram explaining how to leave more space before changing lanes in front of another vehicle. Weird. We were both stoked to be headed deeper into the south. Here we began and ended our search for amazing Southern food. Idaho is pretty deprived of southern food...so we were excited to try out some authentic cooking. We made our way through the semi chaotic drive through the city to find the club, Eye Drum, tucked away in an industrial district. The place was awesome. It doubled as an art gallery and music space. Their current show, "The Art of Such n Such," consisted of twisted, beautiful and enormous circus artifacts. Excellent! The front exhibited a huge steel dragon (jokingly referred to as the "Wolvserpent") and the inside was completely covered in elaborate graffiti. The art pieces were truly excellent, massive displays of rusty metal meant to be used as cauldrons of fire... yes! There was already a crowd gathering when we arrived. We loaded gear into the venue as quickly as possible since we were starving. The people in the know recommended a joint directly across the street, Daddy D'z The BBQ Joynt. This was a great recommendation. If you are ever in Atlanta- eat here! It was hands down the best southern food we have ever had. Blake had "meat and three," and Brittany had a plate full of side dishes. The mac n cheese, red beans and rice, and corn bread were amazing and the best collard greens we've had to date. We looked no further for badass southern cuisine. Back to the show. A good crowd gathered, lots of rowdy and excited folks. We hung with Ryan, Ricardo and John of Ehnahre while some people smoked crack in the shadows.... getting ready for the show, presumably. It made us wonder what Wolvserpent sounds like on crack/cocaine. Regardless of what drug you might have been on, it's clear what we sounded like that night. SHIT. Stage and house sound were all over the place from the beginning of our set. A quarter of the way through Wolv, our amps blew up! The guitar levels bottomed out. All the amps but one were off... disoriented and a bit pissed off, we cut the first song in half, something we had never done before. Blake played the outro/intro/interlude of the set while Britt took a look at the amps. She switched the amps to a different circuit and got them back up and running only to have them all blow again! This time the drop in volume was accompanied by smoke and burning smells eminating from two amps and one speaker cab. We left them off and powered through the set despite the vocals and violins drowning out everything during Serpent. Apparently the whole event sounded insane, maybe just insane enough to work. The guitar could barely be heard, yet the vocals got cranked up instead. This set was being recorded, to top it all off. That is one recording that will have to be tracked down, and burned on the pyre. The only thing that would come of it is hearing Blake yell "FUCK!!!" really loud over and over while wailing on his guitar. Despite the madness of our set, we received kindness and support, even some merch sales, thanks Atlanta. We assessed the damage as we packed up the equipment. The outlet, extension cable and power strip on the right side of the stage were completely blown.... bad, bad circuitry- cursed electricity. So, we were down two amplifiers and one speaker. Luckily we brought a back up for almost all of our equipment. But, we had already blown an amp earlier in the week. So things were looking very grim. We were disappointed to have performed a sub par set when a good crowd was gathered. Such is the way of things.
Ehnahre played particularly well. They were really tight and slayed the crowd, all the viewers were dumbfounded. You Die! played a tight set to a really enthusiastic crowd. We were pleased to share the bill with such supportive folks. Despite the possibility of having to cancel the rest of the tour, it was a good night. We met some awesome people and discussed the current state of the dirty south Atlanta hip hop scene. It was satisfactory. We took an early night so as to rise early and assess the equipment damage.


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Oct 15: The drive to Nashville, TN was gorgeous. We even got up into some mountains- a little bit of home. We bypassed the city and rolled into the neighborhood of the venue... literally a neighborhood. The place, Little Hamilton, was right across the street from some houses. We were early and the people running the place kindly let us in to use the space as a repair shop for our amps. Several hours and many different configurations of amps and cabinets later we had a set up that would at least work. Blake's guitar tone was compromised by the death of the three amplifiers, but at least we could play the show. The Little Hamilton was another DIY and all-ages joint. Perfect. The grassy field beside the warehouse space began to fill with cars and gregarious show-goers. We hung out and recuperated from the trauma of the night before. We were disappointed with the cancellation of Loss and Mourner. We had been looking forward to their performance. But, adjustments to their recording schedule prevented them from playing the show (look for this recording to come out on Profound Lore- it will destroy). We did, however, get to meet and hang with a couple of the members who made it out to the show- awesome! A really generous promoter, Tyler, picked up our show and rounded up a couple local bands for the bill. These were some really impressive high-school-bands. We were stoked on their creative sets. Time for our set. We relished in playing- victory, despite the gear graveyard! The small space of the warehouse made everything rippingly loud. We felt we'd really settled into playing on a new level. Playing the same set almost every night for a month might seem like it would tire. But, we enjoy the various levels of performance that you can explore when you have a solid handle on the music. At that point you can begin to delve into the subtleties of the sound.
We chatted with folks for a while before throwing the gear into the van. Zack kindly put us up at his palatial southern mansion. :) It was an amazing house, and the shower in the morning was worth it's weight in gold. We did some porch sitting at Zack's pad and talked music nerd for a while. Being a fellow audiophile, he and Blake had plenty to discuss and techniques of recording to share.

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Oct 16: We got out of Nashville quite late. This was unfortunate as we were trying to make it to Memphis in time to hang out with friends who were meeting us there. The drive was mellow and we got a glipse of some beautiful cotton fields. Memphis immediately lived up to it's dangerous reputation (were were informed that Memphis was voted, by some magazine, the most dangerous city in the U.S.) Our directions were off and we got lost in the opposite side of town from where we were trying to go... obviously a place we were not meant to be. Finally, we got our bearings and made it over to meet up with our friends. Jerry, of Dead-I-On, loaded up his gear and we headed down to the club. This part of town didn't feel very safe either. It was just a feeling at this point. This feeling was confirmed later in the evening, back in the neighborhoods, by several rounds of gunshots heard in the distance. Poplar Lounge claims to be "where the stars hang out." Huh. It seemed a lot less glamorous than that. We scrounged up some dinero and headed next door for some Ethiopian food. A new experience for both of us, we were excited for some good spicy and nutritious food.... mmm, vegetables. We got to dine with good friends and it was enjoyable all around, good food, good friends and sharing hilarious stories. Brittany saw her first, but not last, cockroaches in the bathroom before we headed back to the club. It was a nice enough place, though it was looking like we would be playing to the bar regulars and a handful of people there for the show. We played first, which sort of threw us, as we'd had a leisurely dinner instead of throwing all the gear into the club right away. So, we took some time to set everything up on stage, but things were pretty relaxed for the night. The set was a little more eventful than we would have liked. Brittany's drums were falling all over the place- perhaps a little too much aggression involved :). Then we nearly pulled a "Great White" and burned the club down. A guitar cable was misplaced in our hectic set up. Then the vibrations from the cabs and Brittany's guitar hardware jumping with every hit caused the cable to wander over until it was just above a candle. Smoke and horrible burning smell emanated, not from the amplifiers this time, but from the smoldering guitar cable! A kindly audience member helped to move the cable out of the way and extinguish the candle. Man, gnarly. A minor incident, however, it shook us up. Ehnahre played a rather weary set with lots of Mad Dog and amazingly gruesome, grotesque and ripping vocals. It was perfect for the music... the weariness of the trip made it desolate, sharp and caustic. Dead-I-On closed out the night with a very enthusiastic set of ripping bass guitar solos. We chatted with some metallers after load-out. We headed back to Jerry's place to "crush some brews," and work on our Bostonian accents. The secret, apparently is adding "r"'s where they should not be, and dropping them where they should be. Also say "fuck" in every sentence and "khed" (kid) after everything. Blake has got it down pretty well, although it tends to devolve into Russian or Canadian depending on how many beers he's had. It was good times. The next day, the Ehnahre and Wolvserpent tours parted ways. So, we stayed up well into the early morning shooting the shit and "crushing some brews, khed."

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Some History Lessons off the Menu at the Ethiopian Restaurant

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"Where the Stars Hang Out"

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Oct 17: Jerry, amazingly, made breakfast for ten people! Eggs, biscuits and hash browns, talk about southern hospitality. We took a leisurely morning of coffee drinking and hanging before heading out for some true tourist action. Our plans took us first to Sun Studios... tour buses, retired communities on the road, and people taking pictures of pictures on the walls. Not our scene, but it was cool to see the diner- the studio itself was closed with shutters pulled, lame. Our friend, having grown up in Memphis, took us on the real, underground tour. We headed on to a tour of "North Memphis, South Memphis, West Wood, Orange Mound." It was a very interesting place. We made it through some of the slightly "rougher" areas of Memphis before getting too weirded out- culture shocked - and had to cut the tour short. We made it to "Captain D's," where Project Pat worked. We also drove through some other historic areas, saw the Lorraine Hotel, before getting some pizza and heading out to Little Rock, AR. Ehnahre had already arrived and set up to open the show. The place was a ghost town, all of downtown Little Rock was deserted on this Sunday night. The club staff were all very hospitable. They treated us well and we trouped through the night- last show with Ehnahre. A few in the audience seemed to be totally blown away, so it was a mission well accomplished. We hurried to load out, had a rather sentimental good-bye with Ehnahre, complete with a photo shoot for "U-face," and got back on the road. We had the day off the next day and planned to spend it deep in the Ozarks. So, we drove a few hours after the show to stay at a friends house in Fayetteville.

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Project Pat Worked Here

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Oct 18: We'd been looking forward to this day off, a break amid the hectic tour schedule. We forced ourselves to wake and get in on a homemade breakfast care of our friends. Our little vacation from tour started out with the best eggs, biscuits and gravy on earth! Freshly gathered eggs, gravy with homegrown mushrooms and peppers, and biscuits from scratch- hell yeah! More southern hospitality. We were truly spoiled from the beginning. We hung out at this "home away from home," drinking coffee, checking out the chicken coops and two brand new chicks and trying not to get in fights with the ninja rooster. Come the afternoon, we headed for the hills. A couple hours of driving took us deep into the Ozark Mountains. Equipped with a couple pizzas, good friends, and dry ice, we spent the afternoon setting off dry-ice bombs, shooting 22-rifles, bb guns, sling shots, riding ziplines and general play in the woods. We took a hike through the hills, exploring before heading back to civilization. It was ultimately relaxing, ahhhh the southern country.

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There are a lot of bugs in AR.... big ones.

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35 yards.

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