Keeping a blog of whats going on around Guerrilla Radio. First up we’ll be following the ON THE ROAD TOUR with Thompson Highway and Poppa Squats. Sign up for our newsletter for immediate updates of whats going on.
After the band rented the van, we left Edmonton bouncing along the potholes with what seemed like some of the weakest suspension I had ever seen. Hours later than was planned, we finally left rain soaked Edmonton for the sunny prairies and our first show outside of Edmonton. Thompson Highway had never performed away from friendly audiences and Guerrilla Radio had, until now, never been far from home.
We had been on the road for about an hour, just passing Red Deer, when the band realized that they had left some gear behind. Vonn’s cymbals, hardware, throne and sticks had been left at the Highway House and a mild panic broke out. Drummers, by their very nature, are very adaptive and often play on other peoples kits. Sarah led the charge in trying to find new equipment in Calgary while Vonn took the news as graciously as is possible and we figured we would just have to use the other bands equipment. They were already planning on using their amps anyway, in for the penny in for the pound.
The show was at the Blind Beggar Pub in Calgary, a venue that none of us had ever been to before, but it had been recommended by our friends Stone Iris. It was an olde-style pub with wood on the walls and beer in the carpet, complete with a patio in the middle of the parking lot. It was fun, definitely the type a place a few of us had grown up around. We had some beers while we talked with the other bands and got ready for the show. The old mixer in the sound booth (built into what looked like a medieval style turret – totally bad ass) didn’t have the required outputs for my gear, so we had a stripped down show conisting of just audio without added mics or interviews. Sucks, but you gotta deal. The audio broadcast was set up, and we waited as the other bands played. All of the bands had a varying level of tighness, but you could definitely tell that Thompson Highway was having the most fun. A group of buddies playing some music, it was hard not to have a good time.
The beers kept coming and my notes became ever-increasing illegible and unintelligible. I know we closed the bar down, milking the bar tab as far as it would go, and head back to our hotel with some of the other bands.
The show went well. Too well. We were not a pleasant site this morning. Craving coffee and popping Advil we loaded up the van and had to start heading home. The van is due at 2 and we got some distance to go yet…
We made it back with minutes to spare. We were 56 minutes into our 1 hour grace period as we screeched the van into the lot. Brandon handed in the keys with a copy of their aptly-named album “Tardy and Fashionably Late”, and the Thompson Highway tour was done. For me, it was the end of the first leg.
I’m finding that when being on the road, it’s not the travel, the shows or the parties that wear on you… it’s the lack of sleep. Finding time to rest in a hectic schedule like this can be hard to do. Unless you’re the type that can sleep in a van driving down the highway (which I definitely am not), it can be difficult finding the hours you need. The Thompson Highway boys are having a party tonight… I don’t know if I’ll be able to make it.
The party raged all night, but I ducked out early. Unlike the rest of them, I had another show to do on Sunday. The gear was loaded up and the road was hit, aiming to be in Jasper before sunset. I met up with Poppa Squats at the Athabasca Hotel in Jasper for some steak and pool, where he learned that pool is a thinking mans game – a little defense can take you a long way. The show was being organized by the same people who put on the Mad Hatter Art and Music Festival every summer. The theme was Star Wars, and I couldn’t believe the decoration. Giant Tie-Fighters, little ones, and some sick costumes. It also had a lazer set up that would make the Death Star jealous. I was in heaven.
The night was kicked off by resident Jasper DJ Child Size Medium who rocked the decks pretty solidly as the bar began to fill. Around 11:30 there was almost no one in the bar, and I thought the show might tank. The radio was going well, as there were a lot of people back home who could listen to a good show from their homes on an otherwise slow Sunday night in Edmonton, but the show itself was starting to look like a tank-job. I went to the bathroom and literally in the 2 minutes it took (maybe 3, I had a lot to drink), the bar was packed. Unlike anything I had ever seen before, and I’ve spent a good amount of time in music and liquor establishments. It went from mostly crew people to a fully packed bar in what seemed like 10 minutes.
Chimpa Chowie, another Edmonton DJ got a lot of it, and by the time Poppa Squats came on the house was rockin. An institution of a venue which had catered to rock music for decades had been transformed into an electronic lazer light show party that could raise eyebrows in cities across the country. And it was a Star Wars theme. In the Canadian Rockies.
After the show, we gathered our gear, I thanked the sound guys who did a phenomenal job and we head out for an after-party. This one was much more tame than the night spent with Thompson Highway, thank god, but it definitely went all night. Poppa Squats and I finally left around 8 am, with the sun glaring in an extremely unfriendly way as we made our way back to the hotel to try and use those rooms. It seemed as if the story was over….
After our quick 2 hours of sleep, the whole crew – minus one – got together for breakfast. We talked about the show; the Mad Hatter guys were very happy the result, as they should have been. It’s definitely not easy organizing a successful show in an unfamiliar location without the support of your friends and family that is often relied upon back home. In this industry it takes 20 shows to build a good reputation, and one bad one to ruin it and chalking up another good one is always time for celebration. These guys have put the effort in to build a reputation that’s growing around the province, and I was pretty stoked to be a part of it.
After breakfast, we all said our goodbyes and the cars were loaded. Due to a lack of space, Poppa Squats and Sarah from Mad Hatter were coming with me in my comedian of car. It was a beautiful day, and pretty much instantly we decided spending it on the road would be for suckers, so we headed to Pyramid Lake. We spent a funky day at the lake, taking in the beautiful vistas interacting with nature, and generally being pretty happy to be where we were.
Hours later, as the Sun began to mingle with the horizon, we began to get ready to head home when my car decided to play one of her jokes on us. The key didn’t work. After over an hour of some of the most intense frustration possible trying to get it to turn in the lock, the key snapped in my hand. Goddamn it.
Sarah got on the phone and we had some friends over pretty soon followed by AMA. Somehow, the tow-truck driver took the broken 25-year old key and rebuilt it from scratch. 2 hours later, with a hand covered in blisters, we were back on the road. We left at 11 and had to drive through the night. Well I did anyway, they slept.
What a tour. If nothing else, it wasn’t boring. It took a lot out of me, but it was worth it. Time for some sleep.