Tour Journal #5: Moon Tooth On The Road Again

Moon Tooth singer and venue-climber John Carbone is here to deliver our fifth and final entry to the New Noise Tour Photo-Journal. Thanks for tuning in folks. This entry covers the last four shows of our tour with Thank You Scientist & The Tea Club in Toronto, Montreal, Brooklyn, & Asbury Park.

Tour Journal #5

Toronto.  December 15th, 2017.

I drove the first half of the day. We crossed the border without any hassle, the Sun was shining, it was a beautiful day. I slept through the second half of the drive and woke up to a three-story load in during a blizzard. If that wasn’t enough of a bad joke, the venue was called Hard Luck. When a load in is that bad, all you can do is laugh and get to lifting. Stairs aside, Hard Luck is an awesome venue.  And it’s hard to bitch about a tough load in when the staff is helping all the bands carry gear, not shying away from the heavy stuff and remaining friendly the whole time. This place has an amazing history of bands rolling through there. We were happy and proud to share that stage.  After our “work out”, we had some time to kill. Last time we played here, we were on the outskirts of the city so we didn’t get to see too much.  So despite the snow, I took a walk on Queens St W in the hopes of getting some Christmas shopping done. No luck with that but I did manage to find a good housewarming/”congrats, there’s a baby growing inside of you” gift for my friends Matt and Michelle. One of my favorite things to do on tour is to go on those little “alone time” adventures. There’s nothing quite like walking around in a city you’ve never explored, especially in a different country. Something as simple as grabbing a coffee and doing some writing at an independent cafe can nourish your wanderlust and keep your spirit strong through the trials of winter touring.

Earth’s Yellow Sun kicked the show of with perhaps the most impressive show I saw any local opener give the whole tour. If you dig how Thank You Scientist blends horns, metal, jazz, rock and prog, then you would dig Earth’s Yellow Sun. Check ‘em out! The Tea Club brought their usual dose of phenomenal musicianship and as always made it look easy. Our set was fun. I worked on my tour bruise collection with a few tumbles. In my line of performance you have to learn to laugh it off when you go from epic rock-god move to Kelsey “Oh dear lord!” Grammer stage fall (look it up). I was planning on driving for a bit after our show so I skipped Thank You Scientist’s set to nap in the van. Woke up in my zero degree sleeping bag feeling like I was going to die from hypothermia. Before we left the city, Thank You Scientist invited us on their bus to partake in some delicious soup made by their resident merch bro/jesus look alike, Nick. Passing around TYS’s double-sided “talking stick”…*ahem*, we shared road stories. If we didn’t have the soup to warm us, the laughter would have done the trick. TYS’s drummer Odin had me shedding literal tears from laughing so hard. Pre/post show hangs with The Tea Club and TYS will go down as some of my fondest tour memories.

Montreal.  December 16th, 2017.

Bar Le Ritz. Locals, Bird Problems set the bar for the night. The crowd was a little slow to file in but proceeded to get rowdy for the sets to follow. Had a good show, along with some good whiskey. We had to leave super-fast because there was a K-Pop show going on right after our show. No bullshit. We boogied out of there pretty quick. All in all, a cool venue and I look forward to playing there again February 3rd with Astronoid. Short description for this one because I think the whiskey consumption the next night in Brooklyn wiped some Montreal memories away. Au revoir, Canada!

Brooklyn. December 17th, 2017.

Ooooooh, I felt like a lion ready to pounce before this set! There’s few things that make you want to rip the stage apart with your teeth more than playing a hometown show at the end of a tour. We were coming for blood. The Knitting Factory was packed, wall to wall. Lots of friends and old tour-mates but also a bunch of newcomers to our music via TYS and Tea Club. And lions we were. Lions, wolves, dragons. Smelly, raging 20 somethings giving salt, blood and soul to the stage and to the roaring crowd. After, I sit trying to catch my breath. Nursing some fresh cuts and bruises, noticing a lump forming on my head. I feel like someone put me in a burlap sack with a bunch of rusty nails and threw me down ten flights of stairs. And all I can think is… I. Fucking. Love. This. Job. Pain well earned, indeed. And then, you know just the usual stuff you’d expect from a great second to last show. Bottles of whiskey being drained, other bottles being smashed. Forced guy on guy lip kisses between certain band/crew members. Certain nuts dangling from certain pants to distract certain drummers of Thank You Scientist mid-set (although I hear it was in retaliation for an earlier nut flashing in Grand Rapids). Some nights, this lifestyle turns you into a frat boy/pirate hybrid. Huzzah!

Asbury Park. December 18th, 2017.

Needless to say, we were all a little banged up from Brooklyn. We all spent the night at home which can put you in an odd headspace during a tour. Especially the second to last night. Tricks your brain into thinking the tour is over. But on the bright side, we were headed to the House of Independents, maybe the nicest venue we played all tour. Another plus of this scenario was that Nick’s girlfriend Lianna was able to come along as well as our good buddy Joe. Joe’s been with us on many tours and has served as an expert merch guy/roadie/mechanic/driver/life guru.

Loaded into the venue, then split up to get some grub. Vin, Joe and I went off together and within two minutes we ran into Wills, drummer of Toothgrinder. Recently we toured a couple of weeks with Toothgrinder and Auras so it was really special to bump into him like that. We walked for another two minutes and spotted Johnuel, one of Toothgrinder’s guitarists. We stalked him into a 711 and Vin nearly gave him a heart attack. If you want autographs from that band, apparently all you need to do is walk around Asbury Park for a few minutes and you’ll find them, hah!

Back at the venue, all the bands were floating around. There were two huge green (yellow) rooms so we all gathered around laughing, throwing ice at each other and picking our favorite shows/moments from the tour. The Tea Club guys were signing copies of their graphic novel, “Grappling” which is the basis for their songs. Written and drawn by Pat and Dan McGowan respectively. Really cool stuff, check it out! Their set was, as always, outstanding. Every night, they take the crowd down a twisting water slide of changing parts. Complex grooves, sweet melodies, perfect harmonies and choruses so epic and pleasing to the ear, that you can almost hear the sound of an arena full of fans cheering along. A band that can write songs like that, play them even better live, deal with the frustrations of touring while keeping a jovial and professional attitude… A band like that can accomplish anything. Their performances kept me on my toes and forced me to give my very best to reach the high bar they set every night. I was honored to share stages with them.

Starting our set. One of those shows where getting your body to work is like a parent trying to get a kid out of bed for school. Fortunately, playing a bigger room is good motivation as is an enthusiastic crowd. Maybe the most moshing of the tour this night. Plus plenty of people in the chairs going up stadium style. Which I couldn’t not utilize. Prior to the show I grabbed an extra xlr cable to make an extension. Offered Blood is a song we usually close with and most of the time, I make my way into the crowd for a spoken word part. I climb up the stands and wait for the band to let their notes rumble out before I say the last two lines in an otherwise silent room. Joe from the Tea Club filmed me from behind, following me down the steps back towards the stage. It looked like a movie. So epic. That is until I tried to hop back up on stage and slipped. I landed on my shin, and the mic hit the stage as if to amplify the sound of a bone cracking. Although I didn’t break anything, it sure as hell felt like it. But the bigger wound was to my pride. As I said before, it doesn’t take much to go from looking like Luke Skywalker on a Star Wars poster to a first prize winner on America’s Funniest Home Videos. I own up to it with a bow and get applause and laughter from the whole room. Ya gotta take what you can get. While we may have shot most of our last show wad the night before in Brooklyn, this was still a good set and the crowd gave us the energy we as touring musicians crave.

Thank You Scientist. Man… One way I’ve described them to friends is that they’re a band you pay fifty bucks to see. If there was an Olympics for live bands, these guys would take the gold home every time. Watching them play is like watching Han Solo fly the Millennium Falcon.  If that wasn’t enough, they made sure to take care of us openers. Aside from offering bus space to warm/rest up, Tom and the gang made sure we didn’t get stiffed on food buyouts, door deals, cut set times or any other hazard support slots might face. They went the extra mile, headliners worthy of the title. For their set, they were joined (as in Brooklyn) by AJ Merlino on percussion. As you can imagine, he was just as mind blowing of a musician as the rest of TYS. During their set, Tom broke a guitar string. He jumped to a backup while his brother Dan (drummer of The Tea Club) restrung the primary ax. Dan got it to Tom JUST in time for a classic TYS hurricane of a guitar solo. Like fucking Han Solo narrowly avoiding asteroids!

Prior to the show, Sal (vox) asked everyone to join TYS on stage for the final chorus of “My Famed Disappearing Act”, their set closer.  Standing on stage with nearly twenty of these road dogs, these class A musicians that I had come to admire dearly, singing “We’ll miss you everyone!” was one of the most beautiful endings to a tour I’ve ever seen. I’m amazed by the strength and quickness of fellowship that was formed between these three bands. It was a match made in heaven.

You can call the pursuit of music as a career a risk, as is the chasing of any dream. But if you are truly in love with what you’re striving for, then there’s no risk. If you’re doing what you know that you were born to do, then you won’t stop until you’ve achieved your goal. Giving up is not an option. Because to do so would be kill your soul. And no matter how many people tell you “do it while you’re young” or “it’s really hard to make it” or to “maybe get a backup plan together”, you keep your will solid as iron. You don’t blame them for not understanding. There was plenty of people who didn’t think Muhammad Ali would amount to anything either. You remember that as long as you follow the truth in your heart, work harder than you ever have, make sacrifices, remain virtuous and never give up, there’s nothing you can’t achieve. But that doesn’t mean that there aren’t risks involved. When you tour, you think about your loved ones back home. You fear that if the worst were to happen, you wouldn’t be around to help or to say goodbye. You fear for your own safety. You drive through white out blizzards, through intense winds and thunderstorms. You play areas notorious for bands getting robbed. When you tour with other bands, a bond is forged unlike any I’ve experienced. Because you’re all taking those risks together. For the same reason. The pursuit of truth. Of Freedom. Of the heart, the soul and of the mind.  For that, I give all my respect and gratitude to Thank You Scientist and The Tea Club. And to my brothers in Moon Tooth, without whom I’d be lost. And of course to the Wild goddess of the road! See ya next time!!

John feelin’ it…

Toronto load-in hell…

Vin getting low in Montreal. Picture courtesy of Bucket List

Fender bender we narrowly avoided being a part of on the way to Brooklyn from Montreal

Bassists in Brooklyn. Vin with The Tea Club’s Jamie at Knitting Factory.

Moon Tooth on stage at the Knitting Factory in Brooklyn, NY.

Merch Jesus with pretty ladies in Brooklyn…

Vin’s turn to talk…

TYS & The Tea Club @ House of Independents in Asbury Park, NJ

Asbury Park, NJ

Last string change of tour…

Moon Tooth at House of Independents. Asbury Park, NJ.

Backstage hangs at House of Independents…

Christmas “spirit” alive and well in Asbury Park…

One more gift from the road…

Tea Club Pat backstage in Brooklyn. Also, Japandroids rule!

The Tea Club’s own self-published graphic novel…

Another successful tour in the books!

Check out Moon Tooth on the road again in February with Astronoid:

Feb 1 – Brooklyn, NY – Saint Vitus
Feb 2 – Allston MA, – Great Scott
Feb 3 – Montreal, QC – Bar Le Ritz
Feb 4 – Toronto, ON – Hard Luck
Feb 5 – Detroit, MI – EL Club
Feb 6 – Chicago, IL – Reggies Rock Club
Feb 7 – Pittsburgh, PA – Club Cafe
Feb 8 – Webster, NY – Harmony House
Feb 9 – Clifton Park, NY – Trick Shots Billiards
Feb 10 – Lancaster, PA – Lizard Lounge
Feb 11 – Amityville, NY – Amityville Music Hall

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