tour journal

i will attempt to update this page daily while touring, however that won’t always be possible. i will do my best to not disclose setlist info, or anything that could be a spoiler for people who are hoping to attend a show, but, some things will be unavoidable. if you’ve got anything to say about these ramblings, find me on instagram or reach out here. i’m sure this is a boring read, but, i’m mostly doing this to help me remember. i’ll add the new posts to the bottom.

2020-01-23, nanaimo, british columbia, wolf parade

today was my rehearsal day with wolf parade. they have been rehearsing in a fairy like house in the woods just south of nanaimo for a little over a week now. they wrote a lot of the new album here. i can see why, its just isolated enough, and it feels like a magical place. 4 of their new songs have been getting played live since early 2019, so, i was already used to a lot of the stuff they will be playing. having said that, i’ve got new content for a lot of things, so, it was good to see how it worked. the rehearsal helped me iron out a few things i wasn’t fully stoked on, but, i still feel woefully behind on assembling all of the content. the few days leading up to a tour are often me making a thousand minor changes to a thousand tiny parts.

wolf parade likes to use a different set list every night. they gave me a list of what songs they have been rehearsing, as they will choose the set list from that list. i know very little about which songs have been historical crowd pleasers, but, i do definitely recognize a few nuggets on here that people have asked me about. i suspect this tour is gonna make a lot of the long time fans happy!

the best part of the rehearsal; spencie brought oliver, his fluffy dog friend. don’t worry, there was a sound proofed room he hung out in while we made noise, but, its always incredibly grounding to hang out with a dog!

 

2020-01-24, nanaimo, british columbia, wolf parade

today was the show at the queens in nanaimo, the first show of the tour. nanaimo is the sleepy town that arlen calls home. spencie lives just a short drive away, so, it is a logically good starting point for their tours.

the first time i ever did a show in nanaimo was with wolf parade at the queens in late 2018 (video). this was the final show for the lovely dante decaro. he was attempting to keep his departure quiet publicly, so the best we could do for a send off was champagne in the backstage area at the queens. that show went well, and i must say, it felt like a great send off for a wonderful guy.

while the 2018 show itself was great, it was an odd one logistically. we arrived for our 4pm soundcheck, only to discover that the space (including the stage) was being used for a community art class until 5. we managed to get all of our gear into the venue, but, we really could do nothing but wait till the aspiring artists were done. the venue also had a regular cover band that was scheduled to take over at 11 pm that night. to me, it seemed like a strange plan to empty a sold out crowd after the set, just to have a cover band do another show. thankfully the guys still played like champs, and we managed to head to an tour after party at the fabulous venue, the white room.

tonights show was not riddled with the same time constraints thankfully. instead it was the first show of the tour, so, my setup was very slow, with me constantly going “wait, how am i doing this again?” in the end, the room wasn’t suitable for testing my new plan for multi-projectors, so, i went with a simple setup. thankfully the only technical issues came when a spectator stumbled into my area, unplugging the projector. once i get into the swing of touring, this happens less, as i anticipate things like this, and set up everything in a less disruptable manner.

i usually feel disappointed in the first show, and i was so focused on the visuals tonight, that i barely noticed the band’s performance. tomorrow will be better for me.

 

2020-01-25, victoria, british columbia, wolf parade

tonight was victoria, at the upstairs cabaret. i had somehow forgotten, or overlooked the fact that we had a “disco load out” tonight. the dreaded disco load out is a horrid practice where a venue will book a band for an early show, and book another event (usually a pop dance party) afterwards. sounds great i guess, till you’re selling merch, while trying to convince venue security that you need 5 more minutes to count everything and pack it up. it’s almost always a lie, it takes more like 15-20 to do a rush count and pack, but, i’m more concerned with getting the 10 minute line up of people who want a record or a t-shirt sorted out. during all of this madness and chaos, all other hands are generally focused on getting the band gear and my visuals gear piled in the whatever safe zone the venue has given us to pack from. all around a stressful rush, that always leaves me being positive that i forgot something. at least tonight the dj was blaring the soothing sounds of robyn and some house beats for us to pack up to.

the show tonight was somehow great. i say somehow, because we were all plagued with equipment shenanigans. a missing cable nearly brought down spencie’s amplifier. a defective cable forced arlen to use a different monitoring setup. rena had a few other issues with the soundboard that are beyond my worn out brain’s comprehension. i had some sort of a gremlin inside my visuals computer that required many restarts during setup (a restart cannot happen during the show). this gremlin eventually made it so that i wasn’t able to build my project file (aka setup the visuals based on the set list i was handed after all of the soundchecks). not one to give in to the whims of a fictional creature, i eventually convinced the gremlin to let me have the computer back. in spite of this treaty, during the show, my software was still acting very strange. miraculously every time i looked up, the stage somehow looked right. i’m still not sure how though, as everything on my computer suggested that things were exploding before our very eyes. the magical force that guides good shows was definitely on our side tonight though. tomorrow, we will head to seattle for an in store at the glorious sonic boom records. this should be an easy day for me, so, i’ll spend as much time as i can working on reducing the potential nonsense that my computer can pull.

 

2020-01-26, seattle, washington, wolf parade

today started very early, as wolf parade had to do an in store at the lovely sonic boom records in seattle, and anything to do with getting off of vancouver island seems to take much longer than anyone ever expects. i needed to pop in to vancouver, so, i parted ways with the band on the ferry, and took a bus. there was an unexplained one hour delay, which caused me to miss the show. that’s not a problem really, as visuals don’t really work in an in store, but, i still wanted to see the show. sonic boom is also one of my favourite record stores, so, i was looking forward to taking some time digging through the bins. having to do both merch and visuals for wolf parade does eliminate a lot of my record shopping time, but, i’m hoping to actually get some in on this trip. hopefully the mighty amoeba in la or san francisco are in my future, but those are pretty busy show days. thankfully today being so relaxed allowed me to get all of the visuals clips i’m using optimized properly. this is going to make the shows go a lot smoother for me. i’m also trying to get ahead of things with the gigantic piles of merch that we’re getting tomorrow. i suspect this is the last calm day i’ll get for at least a month, so, i made sure to do as little as possible!

ps, i’m still new to this journaling thing. when i’m more caught up on everything, i’ll start including shots soon that aren’t just from my instagram or from the prints i’ve been making…

 

2020-01-27, portland, oregon, wolf parade

today was a short drive. getting from seattle to portland barely feels like a drive on an american tour. we’ve got some very long hauls coming up, so, this is a small start. also nice after the length of time i spent getting to seattle yesterday.

i knew today was going to be a busy day for merch, as it was the first merch drop. none of it was in listed in our inventory system, so, i had to go through and catalog, count, and sort it all. it actually took so long that several products didn’t even make it on to the merch table. part of an efficient merch setup is having things split into sellable and overstock, just so that you don’t have to carry 100 copies of apologies to the queen mary in and out of the venue every night. i did not get a chance to do that at all. i also wanted to get a photo of the merch setup together for the wolf parade fan community, however, i didn’t even get a chance to eat tonight. merch combined with visuals definitely takes a lot out of me, and today was a long, hard day. the worst part was being able to see the record store ‘everyday music’ from the windows of the venue, knowing that there was no way i’d make it there.

the shape of the crystal ball room is odd. the stage is in the corner of the room, and the screen is rather off centre. with the age of the room, the lighting trusses weren’t exactly state of the art, so i still couldn’t use the 3 projector setup. the corner stage position made it so that no matter how the band set up, they seemed off centre compared to the visuals. where i was setup made it very difficult to see the stage over the crowd, but, i managed. still not entirely happy with how things are looking, but, the general crowd reaction seemed positive. it always snaps me out of the feeling of having done a bad show!

 

2020-01-28, shasta california, wolf parade

today was the first “day off”. if you’ve never toured, the idea of a day off is much different than it seems. generally the financial reality of touring means that literally every moment from the moment you leave home should be working. so, when you see that a band has a day off, pull out google maps, and see how long it takes to drive between the cities on either side of their day off, and you can likely guess what is actually happening.

generally when we’re in the van, most of us have a device out to work. lately, spencie has been trying to finish off his next track for patreon (go sign up!), dan has been working on more music (i’ve spent a lot of time in vans with dan, he is rarely not writing songs), arlen is in constant contact with his family. rena (our lovely tour manager), usually has her laptop out, dealing with all the logistics of keeping this machine well oiled (she has the hardest job in the van, hands down). i usually go so far as to setup a mini visuals setup in the van, or i’m dealing with merch logistics. this particular drive, we expecting more of the same.

portland to san francisco is 10 hours before breaks. remember, a pee break for 6 people, who all get distracted by snacks and strange gas station trinkets, will take much longer. portland to san francisco will be more like 12 hours if we attempted it in a straight shot. so, this day off was meant to be used to leisurely get us to shasta california. this is far enough that we have a shorter drive to get to the show (less driving on a show day makes for a more awake band!), but still far enough out of san francisco to keep the hotel prices reasonable. it also means that we can leave around noon, and we can all sleep in a bit. i opted to wake up a little early, and run to a record store (ultimately scoring myself a sweet throbbing gristle box set).

we had an issue with out trusty sprinter van that required rena to bring it in to a dealership. she got started on that at around 9 am (remember, she has the hardest job on tour). she was informed that it was not a simple fix. our leisurely noon departure turned into “maybe we’ll get out of town by 4”. arlen and i took this 4 hour delay as a great time to go hit up ground kontrol (a barcade). we love old video games (this love is actually what eventually caused our paths to cross), and i can think of no better way to spend a rainy portland afternoon than feeding quarters into pinball machines and video games. somehow it was the perfect way to ignore the stress of the day, and of course, we got a message from rena saying to head back to the hotel, and all was well. we hurried off to shasta. rena was well aware that we’d be arriving at 1 or 2 am, so, she called ahead to setup our ultra late check in at the hotel. no worries, the doors had punch codes, so, we could get in ourselves. of course, we showed up at 1:30 am, only to discover that we couldn’t get in, and no one was working that late. a few phone calls later, we were headed to a different hotel, to sleep like a rock.

 

2020-01-29, san francisco, california, wolf parade

after yesterdays adventures, we’re all a bit exhausted. the chaos of getting the merch sorted in portland still hasn’t faded, so i’m feeling very tired and wired at the same time. we’re to the point in tour where the lack of sleep is starting to cause tour brain. i’m forgetting where i am, and where we’re going. it’ll only get worse, so, its time to just accept it and adapt to it.

the show in san francisco is at the lovely fillmore. its a semi-legendary venue, with a large portion of wall space dedicated to showing off the custom posters that they’ve been doing for their shows for a very long time. i tried to admire them every time i rushed through that area.

dan flew down from portland (missing out on our van hijinx), as the lovely devojka is currently in southern california. she brought their dog archie, so, i got to spend some time hanging out with him. he’s a very good boy who made sure to keep guard over the green room for us while we set up. i made sure to put him in charge of getting the guys to sign the posters for the night, so of course they were done quickly.

the visuals side of the show went well for me. i’ve still got a few things that i want to change when i have time, but, its starting to feel a little bit more together. it probably helped that for the first time, i was able to actually see the show, as they have a dedicated lighting booth about 30 feet above the crowd.

merch on the other hand was pure madness. the line was very large, and i worry that i wasn’t able to be as attentive to each person as i would like. i also wonder if anyone left because of the wait. before the show, there were so many people that rena even had to remind me that it was almost show time (merch is closed while i’m doing the visuals), and i had to shut it down. i will attempt to get a second person to help in la.

also, huge shout out to the person who asked if i have the prints of my visuals with me, then bought one. yes, i have them, but, i’m far too shy to try to sell them off of the merch table. it means a lot that people like my visuals enough to buy a print of them. i’m still not used to the idea of people liking what i do.

 

2020-01-30, los angeles, california, wolf parade

yesterday was a bit of a blur, because of the energy that went into merch. i’ve asked for help from management, and we secured a merch person for tonight. this helped keep me sane. it also had the added benefit of us being able to keep the merch booth open during the show. i also realized that with the three projector setup, having someone else to handle the setup of the merch really took a lot off my plate. maybe sometimes it is okay to take some help!

we hired former wolf parade merch slinger extraordinaire chez for the night. this made it really easy for me to know its handled, and i just focussed on getting the projectors setup. once those were all setup and ready for an elaborate version of the show, i checked back in, and folded as many shirts as i could before it was go time.

during the soundcheck, spencie’s keyboard was acting like its on its last legs. it reminded us that if that thing dies, the show is pretty screwed. dan has multiple guitars, arlen can rent a new drum kit in any city in america, and even i roll with a second computer. a nord stage 3 isn’t something that can be found in any old town though, so, we rented a second one, just in case. we weren’t sure that his nord would survive the night, so, when it arrived, the sounds were immediately loaded onto it. the show went off just fine for him, and we didn’t need the rental, but, it’ll be very good to know that we have it with us if all goes sideways.

the visuals worked well for the most part, however the house lighting was dark. i’ve got to make sure to insist that we get a light/visuals test during the soundcheck, as that at least makes sure that dan and spencie pie can see. the overhead projectors i was using weren’t quite as effective as i hoped, but, i was using them to light the crowd from pretty high up. now i know to skip this option next time.

 

2020-01-31, solana beach, california, wolf parade

today is solana beach, a town near enough to san diego that our tour poster even says san diego on it. the venue had booked something called “happy hour band” from 4pm-8pm. this meant we needed to be there, setup, sound checked, and ready to go about 4 hours earlier than usual. things like this are always the cause of major grumblings from touring bands. that pushes our sleep schedule, hurries our sound check, and really just annoys us, for in the end, something that feels pointless.

in spite of our worst fears, the venue team at the belly up club were top notch. they went above and beyond normal house techs, just to help us get situated faster and better. i managed to do the overhead projectors the way i was originally envisioning. the house team helped make sure that everything was run properly, with little work from me. we managed to get the entire show set up and ready with enough time for rena to go get a fresh manicure. this gave me the entire set of the happy hour band to prepare and organize the merch.

i was quite surprised at how well received this happy hour band was. generally when things like this disrupt our schedule, my thoughts are “you’re messing with a sold out wolf parade show for this?”, but, it was a sold out show for this band. they did a medley of covers for 3ish hours. it drove me a bit nuts, as it was so far from something i’d enjoy, but, the crowd that was there was very into it. their energy made me accept that this happy hour band nonsense was a good thing for the venue, and i get why they do it. far better than the time wolf parade had to end their sold out show at 10 pm, so that the venue cover band could play to 12 people.

the merch was one again very busy. i wouldn’t have been able to get through everything had the house team not been helping so much with the tear down of my visuals gear. at the end of the night, i didn’t even manage to count out everything, as we were past our curfew.

my brain has officially turned to mush. i have no idea what day it is, and i have to look at an app in my phone to know where i am, or where i’m going. i just emptied my pockets at the hotel. i have a box cutter, two aa batteries (i don’t know where these came from, i don’t believe i have a device that uses them), change, a wrapper from some snack i had two days ago, three notes that make zero sense to me, two almonds, the credit card reader for my phone, a usb cable, a phone charging brick, a price tag for a spencie album that didn’t arrive, a guitar pick (i don’t know how to play, and i don’t do any guitar tech stuff), and two velcro straps. i don’t need any of this nonsense in my pockets. i need sleep. i’m not sure how it happened, but, the band gave me my own room tonight, so no one even gets to make fun of me about the contents of my pockets.

 

2020-02-01, tucson, arizona, wolf parade

i didn’t get much sleep in the hotel in solana beach, as we had such an early departure. we drove for 6 or 7 hours today to get to a show. our trusty guitar tech maureen departed us though, as the mighty nicholas wasn’t able to join us until tucson. maureen was awesome, and will be missed. this did mean however that everyone in the back got their own row of seats, so, i was able to sleep for most of the trip. this put me into a much better mood. the desert is calming for me. something about the cacti and the hills, its the same as seeing an ocean for me.

the venue is a smaller one for this band, with another of the dreaded “corner of the room” stages. they had a relatively ideal projector mounting point though, and the screens were able to go up with little issue. the show itself looked great, although once again, it was too dark for the band to see. i have to get this down better. it is a delicate line between too much light (therefore killing the visuals vibe that we all like), and too little (making it tough for them to see). spencie is still getting over his cold, so, he was concerned about his voice, and his ability to sing properly. i thought the show went great, and i thought it was one of the strongest of this run. we’ve fallen into our rhythm with this show finally. tonight i felt like everyone in the room fell into the right energy, and i got a tingly feeling a few times.

i then spent the evening with a very close old friend, who warned me that there are many wild, rabid boars in her area. i spent a lot of our outside time questioning every shadow i saw. of course, this took away my chances for a good night sleep, but, enjoying a night is worth it. i made it back to the hotel after the sunrise. i briefly mistook arlen’s balled up sweater for a wild boar.

 

2020-02-02, austin, texas, wolf parade

today was a drive day. this trip should have been split up a bit, however, the band is doing a radio show tomorrow, before a show at the mohawk. this means we had 13 hours in the van. thankfully i got my own row in the van again, and was able to sleep for the first 5 or 6 hours of today’s drive. we stopped briefly in el paso, which is filled with strange buildings and pretty signs. we were mostly thinking of food though. about half way through the drive, i traded the seat, so someone else could sleep, and it was a video game night in the van.

i want to do some work on changing out some of the visuals content i’ve been using. there were some songs that i created visuals scenes for before i really felt the vibe of the band, or knew the lyrical content of the song. one in particular, i’d been wanting to change out for a while, and after seeing some questions about the meaning of the visuals on the internet, it’s time. naturally i meant to do this in the van today, but, something about driving along the border wall put a lot of my mind that wasn’t exactly good for creativity. tomorrow i shall pop by a friend’s place to get caught up, and see dogs.

 

2020-02-03, austin, texas, wolf parade

after yesterday’s grueling drive, we woke up in the city we were playing in. this is a rare luxury, but, i’m not sure that its worth the required billion hour drive day that leads to it. the luxury is also usually overshadowed by whatever obligation required it. today it was a kutx radio show at noon, followed immediately by a 3pm load in for the early show at the mohawk in austin.

visuals and merch aren’t needed for radio shows, so, it meant i got to take the morning off. i headed off to go visit my friend thor, and his mess of dogs and cats. thor is a lovely creature of a human who has figured out that unconditional kindness, and helping people simply for the sake of helping them is more rewarding than anyone can fathom. his heart and empathy know no limits, and should be an inspiration for us all. the world would be a vastly better place if we’d all just try to be a bit more like thor. either way, we got caught up, ate some tacos, and then i headed off to get ready for load in.

for those who have never been, the mohawk has an odd shaped stage, that is outside. the venue itself has an indoor section, but, the music area is effectively a courtyard. there is a stage with a slanted roof over it, and an area for about half of the crowd in front of it. there is also an area on top of the main venue building that is a standing area to look down at the stage where the rest of the crowd can go to see the stage.

this strange layout seemed to be a little confusing for finding a place to setup the projector and screen. in the end, i built a ridiculous looking tent/table combination up on the balcony. it worked perfectly somehow, and would have kept the projector dry for a bit had it started to rain again. i was worried that the people up on the balcony were going to have a terrible view, but, the few pictures i saw on instagram from up there ended up being great!

the show went really well, and we managed to do an instagram live stream of it. that plan was thrown together pretty last minute, but, it seems to have been really well received. we will attempt to do this again, so, follow the wolf parade instagram!

this was a tricky day to pick a photo from. the tent for the projector was absurd, the show looked great, there were a few good shots of thor and i, but, in the end, here is thor’s ultra-photogenic dog toby.

 

2020-02-04, dallas, texas, wolf parade

texas has all started to meld together. this is a very big state, and driving arount/across it make all of the cities and sights blend together a bit. i think i’m starting to get a little worn down, as things aren’t making as much sense to me as they should.

the venue in dallas (trees) is a nice place. they had a tiny little sound/light booth though, so, i opted to setup side stage, purely to avoid being in a booth designed for one with two other people. the show went great, and not a lot to report back from dallas. i think i may be catching the van cold, but, i’m trying to stay optimistic about this.

 

2020-02-05, oklahoma city, oklahoma, wolf parade

texas is still a very big place. getting to oklahoma took a while. it is very cold out. a van full of canadians, we expected the southwest to be much warmer than this. the promoter warned us to be careful as the snow was apparently very bad.

we arrived safely (both drivers are experienced in icy driving), and were greeted with an amazingly large, restored theatre. it was an amazing venue! everything sounded, and looked great. the only trouble was that this wasn’t a well attended show. no matter, it was still a huge amount of fun!

i finally caught the van cold that spencie and dan had been passing around. i suspect arlen has it too. its made it so that i really just want to sleep.

today was also dan’s birthday. we surprised him with wine, and the crowd/band sang happy birthday to him. he says he hated every moment of it, but, we could see the love in his eyes.

after the set, we went to a bar next door to properly celebrate his birth, and wind down after a great show.

2020-02-06, santa fe, new mexico, wolf parade

we’ve opted to do the entire drive today in one fell swoop. all the same to me, as the cold i picked up yesterday has taken me over completely. i can’t really stand up or think clearly. i’ve opted to take some drugs, and be generally asleep for most of the drive.

really not much to say about today, aside from texas still being big enough to have been 1/3rd of our drive. looking forward to tomorrow’s show. the meow wolf is supposed to be an amazing venue, as its all part of one elaborate art installation.