Tour Blog #7: Phoenix, AZ; El Paso, TX; Austin, TX; San Antonio, TX; and Final Thoughts on the Road

I’d have to say our stop in Phoenix was the one I was most excited about. While I didn’t have much time to show the guys the places I normally hang out, I was at least able to relive the breathtaking views of AZ.

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After a long day of driving, we killed a bit of time at a Starbucks and loaded in. The show went well, but wasn’t exactly well attended. Unfortunately, the show at Rebel Lounge was 21+, so none of my friends were able to come out.

The Rebel Lounge, however, is generally pretty cool with press, even if they’re underage. I simply told the manager I was underage, and he X’ed my hands and told me the rules. At other venues, I’d 100% be kicked out, but I’ve covered shows at The Rebel Lounge before and I knew that they tend to be more relaxed.

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Luckily for me, we were staying with one of my friends from school, and he invited several of my other friends over for a small after party. It was so awesome to see everyone and catch up, albeit a little strange to have two worlds collide. I was already excited for school to start back up, but now I can’t fricken wait.

After staying up way too late chatting, we hit the hay and woke up early the next morning. Our host, Frankie, whipped us up an amazing breakfast, and we packed up and headed out to El Paso.

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El Paso hosts this amazing little stop called The Outpost. Specifically created for musicians on tour, it’s a convenience store, studio, lounge space, and I believe a future hair salon—all for free for those who stop by. We were scheduled with two other artists, and it was great to get to know them and look around the space. I also did some of my favorite portraits to date there.

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With new goodies and a spring in our step, we grabbed dinner at a bar, and one of the girls who runs The Outpost met us there. It was fascinating to hear about the concept and logistics behind the place—it’s under the same management as the Patch houses, which are like The Outpost, but artists can stay there as well.

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We didn’t have the highest of expectations of El Paso, but it turned out to be a really cool little spot. Eating dinner at a rooftop bar, grabbing ice cream, and crashing at the hotel made for a pretty good night in an unexpectedly fun city.

After getting a painfully early start, we traversed a nine-hour drive to Austin and crashed at Cory’s brother’s apartment. Along the way, we learned that a band we all like, Vesperteen, was playing a show in Austin that night. The guys and I both have industry contacts who are involved with Vesperteen and have all been meaning to see them live for quite a while, so we hit up our contact and went to the show after dinner. Vesperteen put on a fantastic show, and I got to shoot with their photographer, who I hugely admire

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We decided to call it a night, with the blissful notion of not having to set an alarm the next morning.

Because the drive to San Antonio was only an hour and a half, we had a little time to run around Austin. After grabbing breakfast tacos, I had every intention of getting in some pool time with the guys, but ended up taking an hour-long nap instead. No ragrets.

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We arrived at Cory’s future in-law’s and set up in the backyard for a wonderful little house show. The boys were dying in the heat, but it was a great temperature for me (although I was laying across chairs and they were assembling heavy equipment, so that may have had something to do with it). Kristin’s dad and stepmother were wonderful hosts, and I leaped at the chance to have my own room.

The show went very well, and our merch sales were through the roof. We also made about the same amount in donations as we would if we’d been paid for a club show, which is certainly a rare phenomenon for TNS. We walked away feeling very good about the last show, which kind of packaged a weird mix of highs and lows up with a nice little bow.

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This tour blog is a little late because I wanted to include some reflections and final thoughts on the tour. I’m back home in Indiana and I’ve had a few days to chill out and catch up on the things I’ve neglected over the past three weeks. 

The last time I left the boys at the end of a tour, I had a prepared response to the question from family and friends: “How was tour?”. This time, I’m a little more lost. I’ve had the time of my life, but there were things that dragged me and the crew as a whole down. I loved running around the country and spending three weeks with some of my favorite people, but by the end of the run, we were exhausted, lacking five laptops, and out of money.

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This run was a lot. It was entirely different in nature from my first tour, which was ten shows in ten days. We had days off, we didn’t freeze to death, and we were able to actually explore the cities we played. But we also had frequent 8 hour drives, almost twice as many dates, and a ton of ground to cover.

My casualties currently stand at a phone charger, two pairs of socks, any chance of my hair looking okay for the next two weeks, at least 10 pens, quite a bit of money, and my sleep schedule—may they rest in peace or find happy new homes.

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[Kansas City, MO]

I couldn’t talk about this tour without singing the praises of Jessica Lamb. She was a fantastic addition to our crew, and I was so glad I had the opportunity to get to know her better. We all miss her dearly, and I hope our paths cross sooner rather than later.

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[Costa Mesa, CA]

Tour really is a roller coaster. There are highs and there are lows, but even the lows seem pretty damn high. Even when you get robbed, you get to see the beautiful lights of San Francisco on the way home. Even when you pop a tire, you create giggly memories in a Jack in the Box drive thru. And even when you’re too tired to function, you get to crash with some of your favorite people.

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[Seattle, WA]

I’ve been from New York to California with these boys, and from Portland, Maine to Portland, Oregon. I’ve cried in front of them at least 20 times, and they haven’t ditched me yet, so that’s some real comradery. They’re some of the kindest, most dedicated, most thoughtful, and funniest people I’ve ever met. I’m not sure I could pick a better group to split a van with.

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[Denver, CO]

It’ll be a hot minute before you hear from the tour blog section of my website. I’ll be going back to school at Arizona State in just a few days, and winter tours are very, very hard to come by. If you’re on the East coast, TNS are heading out there in September, so make sure you check those shows out, even though I won’t be with them. But no matter where I am, just know that my heart is on the road. It may be awhile, but stay tuned for what’s to come.

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Tour Blog #6: 2 Days off, & Los Angeles, CA

I feel as though we needed these days off in the same way I needed tour to begin, which is certainly ironic. After going so hard for so long (7 shows in 7 days), we were all starting to feel burned out.

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It was during this time that I kind of came to a harsh realization—over the summer, I’d worked too hard. From a basic standpoint, I was alright, meaning my health didn’t plummet, I wasn’t making huge mistakes, my affairs were generally in order, etc. etc. But I wasn’t creating anything. I was shooting, yes, but I rushed through everything to snag an extra hour of sleep and nothing received my best work in the end. I’d planned to have a head start on a creative project that’s going along with the tour, and I really didn’t by the time I left. Now that I’m more relaxed, I’m still worried about the quality of work I’ll be producing at the end.

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This is all just to say that you need to take care of yourself. Let yourself be your priority, even if it means taking a break, especially if you’re an artist of any kind. My art gets me through the day, and I neglected it. I’m going to take care to not let that happen again.

On that note, my break from tour with The New Schematics was a great time. We spent both afternoons at a couple beaches, and I took full advantage of the hot tub that was a short walk from Cory’s parent’s house. I was also able to grab lunch with a friend from school, and Jessica and I had some girl time while the boys went out to see a movie (meaning we watched a different movie).

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Cory’s parents were phenomenal hosts (not that all of them aren’t, but these guys put up with us for four days), and we ended our time off feeling refreshed and ready to head back east.

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We also had a show in L.A., which the guys were eagerly anticipating. It was well attended, and despite having some issues with the sound, the guys walked away feeling pretty good. The other bands we played with were hugely talented, so that made the whole night more fun.

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 So far, my strategy of just not leaving 21+ venues has been working (knock on wood), and while I was grateful that I didn’t get kicked out, I could’ve done without the bartender hitting on me. Unfortunately, that’s one of the realities of touring for a girl.

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After a long day of walking around Los Angeles and playing a super late show, we were all ready to get to bed. Sadly, L.A. was our last show with Jessica Lamb. She’s been an absolute joy to be on the road with, from her In-N-Out spidey senses to her hilarious stage banter. We bid her goodbye and already felt the weight of her absence on the way home. I hope our paths cross again in the very near future.

There’s an empty spot in our van and in our hearts—we’ve filled both with naps.

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We didn’t leave the venue until very late, and didn’t get home until around 1:45 a.m. We were exhausted, and I immediately starfished into (a now Jessica-less) bed and passed out.

Tour is starting to enter its final days, which is simultaneously a relief and a bummer. I’m tired, I’ve been living out of a suitcase for three weeks, my bank account just laughs at me when I check it, and I’m outrageously behind on business matters. But I love touring and seeing these fantastic places, and it’ll probably be quite a while until I get to see the guys after this summer. In fact, due to my school schedule, the earliest I could go out is a full six months away, and it’s incredibly difficult to find December tours, so eight months is more realistic. This winding down is certainly bittersweet.

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Only a few more days of this rollercoaster of a run—stay tuned!

Tour Blog #5: San Francisco, CA; San Jose, CA; & Costa Mesa, CA

We awoke the second day of San Francisco to a text from Shanan that his Mac was used to log into wifi in the city—after waiting for the window repair guy to fix us up, we grabbed breakfast and headed to the police station. They had us park on the corner while they went around knocking on doors. Unfortunately, no one had recently purchased a laptop, and no one matched the description of the thieves from the photos we have. Worth a shot but ultimately a bust, we called the operation quits.

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Defeated and still sore from the loss, we were just a few hours away from load in. We decided to try to find a coffee shop, and some of the others just wanted to sleep in the van. Unable to find a shop, Jessica and I gave up and just headed to the library.

After loading in, we decided to grab some Thai food, and we were unfortunately carded at the door on the way back to the bar. Luckily, they let me shoot, but it was another night of sitting in the van (although that did make us feel better about the chances of not getting robbed again) the rest of the time.

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 The show was fairly difficult to shoot, just because the light was inconsistent, meaning very intense in some areas and nonexistent in others. I thankfully didn’t have the problem of not having enough light, however. The bar was decently packed for a Thursday, including some faces from the previous night’s SoFar.

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Luckily, security let me stay in the venue to work merch and help load out, so I didn’t feel quite so useless. The show was so late, however, that people were just eager to split, rather than buy merch, which was rather unfortunate, given the financial disaster we’re in the middle of.

We called it a night and trekked back to our host’s, where we all NEEDED a good night’s sleep.

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 Because San Jose is only an hour away from San Francisco, we’d planned to stay in the city a little longer, given that we’d spend most of the previous day with police. We were all getting bad vibes, however, and decided that perhaps we should just close the chapter on SF.

A hop, skip, jump, and hour drive away was a coffee shop where we set up camp. I let the other guys use my laptop (hence the late videos), but Cory ran to Best Buy and grabbed a used laptop that he’ll pay himself back for when he gets his insurance check. Shanan also received some good news that could lead to him getting a functioning computer for at least temporary use. 

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The dark cloud is beginning to lift from the group. I’m dealing with a little survivor’s guilt, but obviously I’m super thankful I can still function. We’re starting to realize how much worse it could have been, and seeing it as a lesson that really frickin sucks.

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The show in San Jose was at Cory’s cousin’s house, so we got to meet a little bit of his family and their adorable dog. Ironically enough, our stage was a garage. The guys found the whole production a bit odd, but it seemed as though everyone had a good time.

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They also had a ton of fruit trees in the yard, and I ate so many plums I nearly threw up.

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We then crashed at the house we played at, with Cory and Shanan actually sleeping in the garage they played in.

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We left early in the morning on Saturday, but the blow was softened when our host brought us a fantastic breakfast. With a seven hour drive to Costa Mesa, we wanted to account for LA traffic and get there a little early so we could settle into Cory’s parents’. The drive started off with an amazing view of a lake, and eventually leveled out to be less interesting, prompting naps and work time all around.

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I’d also like to take the opportunity to plug the Foster the People album that was released yesterday—I listened to it three times today. Absolutely fantastic.

 We’re staying at Cory’s parent’s house, so we dropped our stuff off and hit the pool for a few hours before we packed up for the show.

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 The show, of course, was 21+. I used a new tactic this time (hiding behind the merch table) and managed to not get kicked out, so that was great. I also met for the first time in my life, and the boys the first time as a band, a sound GIRL. Her name was also Kelly, and in addition to running sound, she also ran lights that were gorgeous.

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The guys pegged Costa Mesa as their favorite show of the tour—Seattle had the best crowd, but Orange County was better overall, in terms of venue, lineup, me not getting kicked out, etc. The house was pretty packed, and we sold more merch than usual.

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After swinging through Del Taco, we were all ready to crash, so we ended up in bed roughly six minutes later.

 This seven day leg was decidedly the biggest hump of the tour, that also came with additional humps, barbed wire, and road spikes. Now, we have two days off before starting another stretch, which will be pretty laid back. We desperately need a break after going so hard for so long, and California certainly seems like the place to do it.

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We’re getting back on track and back to ourselves, and I’m eagerly looking forward to the rest of these dates. Stay tuned!

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Tour Blog #4: Portland, OR, & San Francisco, CA

After driving for 8+ hours for multiple days in a row, the three hours from Seattle to Portland felt like nothing—we even got to the venue early. As soon as we got there, however, I realized I’d left my camera battery and charger at Shanan’s friend’s house in Seattle. I got into contact with our host, and it’s on it’s way to Cory’s parent’s house in California, but I had to inconvenience Spencer (huge shout out to him for being so nice about it) and it was money I didn’t want to spend. It’s a bummer, but I have one charger and two batteries, so I’m not hosed by any means.

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I try to keep these blogs as honest as possible, so I’m going to be real and tell you that the show at The White Eagle was pretty rough. The bar was sparsely populated, and although the people who were there were engaged, TNS and Jessica were essentially just interested in getting in, playing their sets, and getting out. It’s hard to be optimistic when you spend more on gas than you get paid.

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To top off a less-than-perfect night, we realized we were quickly losing tire pressure as we drove to the place we were crashing. When we stopped at a gas station, we found a screw in our tire that we had apparently run over. Cory had hitched a ride with our host, so they turned around, and picked Jess, Jeff, and me up to go home, while Michael and Shanan dealt with the van.

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We also stopped for some Jack-In-the-Box tacos, which has become a pretty self-destructive running joke.

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Michael and Shanan ended up filling the tire up twice and driving it back to our host’s house, and we had to call a tow truck to get a new tire the next morning. While the guys do account for these kind of things, they make it really hard to stay on budget, especially when our merch sales have been abysmal (don’t worry, it only gets worse from here).

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Once we got the van back, we left Salem and headed back to Portland. We wanted to try a recommended brunch place, but we knew there would be a line, so we stopped at a fantastic donut place to hold us over. Both the donuts and the brunch were so good that I cried.

After we ate, the guys just wanted to chill out or nap in the van, but Jessica and I wanted to explore Portland a little more. We took a bus to a different part of town, where we visited a famous, massive bookstore and a coffee shop, along with running a few errands.

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Having JLamb along is really a blessing. She adds a rad new dynamic to the group, and she totally gets the struggle of being a young, female creative on the road, and all the baggage that comes with it. 

We met the boys at the venue, which was the first real SoFar show of the tour. The space was unlike anything I’ve ever shot for them—the “stage” was a garden, with the yard as the seating area. The boys seemed to like it, and were able to bring it into their stage banter pretty effectively. While it wasn’t the first time I’ve shot through plants, it’s the first time I shot through a tomato cage and was concerned about stepping on basil leaves.

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Nevertheless, I was really happy with the photos from Portland. I’ve felt like my photos have been mediocre for the past two or three shows, so it’s putting a spring in my step to get some solid ones. This one is probably my favorite from the tour so far:

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Which was easier said than done, considering we weren’t out the door until around 8. Oops.

The drive to San Francisco was a long one, and I slept for a healthy portion of it. By the time we got into the city, we had to immediately load in for the SoFar show and scarcely had time for dinner. We managed to scam some Chinese food from our hosts, Couchsurfing (which is a super cool company you should totally check out).

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There was a miscommunication about Jessica being on the bill, so we managed to figure out a way to divide our set and share with her—it was different and harder for me to shoot, but people seemed to really like it.

As soon as the set was over, however, we received news that no musician ever wants. This is the blog post I never wanted to write.

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Shanan ran into the venue as we were working merch and told us the van had been broken into. Thieves had smashed the passenger side window and taken all the backpacks they could reach. We later learned a lawyer working late in his office heard the glass break, took a few photos, and scared them off, and thank God he did. 

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Shanan ran into the venue as we were working merch and told us the van had been broken into. Thieves had smashed the passenger side window and taken all the backpacks they could reach. We later learned a lawyer working late in his office heard the glass break, took a few photos, and scared them off, and thank God he did. 

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With that act of kindness saving our butts, I was shocked to go back into the venue and hear our SoFar MC announcing to the audience what had happened, and passing around a bucket to collect donations. You could hear the wind being sucked out of the room as soon as she said it—the joyously good time of hearing music intimately ruined by a few shitty people. Seeing everyone pitch in so generously to help us was mind-blowing, and brought tears to my eyes. We ended up collecting enough money to fix the window, plus some extra. 

With a bottle of tequila donated from the venue to ease our pain, and a police report filed, we had no choice but to pack it up and head to where we were crashing. Our hosts for the night helped us put cardboard over our window and we hit the hay. 

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I’d love for these tour blogs to just be a fun chronicle of my adventures, zipping across the west coast without a care in the world, but tour just isn’t like that. There are highs, and there are lows, and this one knocked the breath out of me. We’re all heartbroken. The incident could have been a million times worse—we had music gear in the back, and more stuff even in the cab that they could have grabbed. We’re trying to stay optimistic on that front, but it’s hard to do when you feel so violated. 

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Something that’s helped to ease the pain is the outpouring of support from strangers and fans alike. We are so grateful for all the kind words and offers to help.

To those of you who are asking what you can do to help: To the best of my knowledge, no kind of GoFundMe has been started, and we don’t plan on starting one. The best thing you can do is just to support the band. Look at our tour dates (thenewschematics.com/tour) and encourage your friends, family, acquaintances, blood enemies, and friends of friends of friends to head out to the shows, buy merch, and spread the word. This is certainly a nightmare for all of us, but we will recover, and your support in this decidedly more difficult journey means the world to us.

I hope we have happier trails ahead of us, and that karma will come back to those who did this. On that depressing note, stay tuned!

Tour Blog #3: Denver, CO; Traveling; & Seattle WA

This blog is a long one—it covers four days, so buckle up!

Our drive to Denver was long and uneventful. Many of the people in both KC and Denver said the trip was one of the worst drives they knew of—it’s only about seven hours, but the landscape is flat and bleak. And this isn’t to say that I’m complaining, but rather expressing gratitude to the guys for getting through the trek.

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We also made sandwiches on the ground at a truck stop in the middle of Kansas, so if anyone thinks touring is all glamour all the time, I’d like to present that as Exhibit A.

We arrived in Denver a little earlier than we thought (not factoring in the time change—oops), so Shanan and I went to a coffee shop while the other guys shopped around.

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After sound checking and getting some bad vibes from other sources, the guys were not expecting an especially great show, and were mentally preparing themselves for the worst-case scenario. Cory and Michael’s friend Lauren came through, which was an awesome morale booster. She was super fun, and kept me company while the guys got ready (which can be the loneliest part of shows).

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The crowd was decently sized for a bar on a Thursday night, but many people filtered in during The New Schematics’ set, which made us think that perhaps the other band hadn’t encouraged their local fanbase to come out to the show early. This is a problem I’ve noticed throughout the tours, and even at shows I cover for press—bands often forget to support openers by telling their friends and families to come to the shows for their set specifically, or fans just choose to skip openers. Obviously people have busy schedules, but it helps small bands tremendously if fans come half an hour early.

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We then headed to a cabin that belongs to a friend of Cory and Jeff’s. To say this place was beautiful is the understatement of the century—three stories tall and nestled in the mountains, the cabin made us all reluctant to leave Colorado.

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Cory ran to a grocery store and brought back ingredients for a fantastic breakfast, which we enjoyed while looking into the mountains. A lot of tour is floor sandwiches and 30 mile expanses of corn fields, but there are weird moments of luxury that are somehow peppered in that make us remember how lucky we all are.

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Friday was completely a travel day, and our first day off on the tour. The journey from Denver to the hotel in Salt Lake City was long, but the landscape was so gorgeous that I was never bored.

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Dairy Queen’s “Grill and Chill” has been an ongoing joke in the van—Cory will point it out every single time we pass one. So this time, we finally stopped by a DQ for dinner. We all reveled in junk food and promptly all made resolutions to never do it again as soon as it hit our stomachs.

We finally checked into the hotel and immediately crashed—with a 12-hour drive ahead of us, we were all ready to be done for the day.

Getting an early start, we took full advantage of the hotel’s continental breakfast (RIP to that buffet) and went on our way.

The drive to Seattle was long but gorgeous. I was absolutely transfixed as we drove through the mountains and lakes and seas of evergreens. Everything here is aggressively green—as if all the plant life is trying to out-do each other.

We stopped at a Cuban-style restaurant that rocked our world, then killed some time at a local Irish pub. Exhausted by the day of driving, we turned in early—Shanan and Michael stayed separately from Jeff, Cory, and me.

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Sunday Morning, Cory and Jeff woke up early to work out, but I’m not about that life and slept in until 10. We grabbed brunch, where Michael joined us and drove us to the market known as Pike Place.

On every tour, there’s a concept known as “Cory luck,” in that Cory is able to find outrageously good parking spots every time. Cory and Michael switched spots at a stoplight, and roughly ten seconds later, Cory found an amazing spot. We’re honestly still not over it.

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We spent the day roaming around Seattle, including Pike Place, the Space Needle, and some of the various shops around the venue. As someone who’s a bit of a shopaholic, I had a blast. We also met like at least a few million adorable dogs.

In Seattle, Jessica Lamb is joining us for a week of this tour, which I’m super pumped about. I love the guys, and they go through great pains to make me feel like I’m part of the family, but it’s going to be great to be on the road with another girl. JLamb and I get along great (I shot one of her house shows in Indy a week before we left), not to mention that she’s a fantastic musician and puts on an awesome show.

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The Sunset Tavern is a cute little bar with weird bathrooms and cool stage lights. It was at this place, however, that we ran into a very frustrating situation. The show was 21+, and apparently, the signs were more than suggestions at this place. As I tried to leave to grab food, my ID was checked and I was told I was only allowed to be in the bar for Jessica’s and TNS’ set. This meant I couldn’t work merch and couldn’t help load out, and I had to sit outside the venue during the sets of the other bands. We always knew this could be an issue, and I was lucky that they allowed me to shoot the set at all. But it was hard to not be annoyed at the whole situation.

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The show in Seattle was, in my opinion, the best of the tour so far. Both Jessica and Shanan brought close friends, so the people there really cared about the music. TNS always puts on an amazing show, but when the crowd is feeling it, they’re able to feed off that energy. I haven’t talked to them yet, but I have a feeling they’ll feel the same. 

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Also, guys– can we have a disco ball at every show? Thanks.

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After getting dinner with some of Shanan’s friends (at another restaurant/bar that I was booted out of, despite the fact that we were just ordering food), we loaded up and went back to our respective couches. I felt pretty useless not being able to help much with the loading, but I was able to finish this blog, so that’s cool.

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You can also see my video recaps below!

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This tour is truly amazing, and I feel like I haven’t taken time to express my gratitude for being able to be here. I’m seeing more of this country than I ever have before, all while hanging out with some of the coolest people I know. I’m filled with an overwhelming sense of contentment and belonging while I’m out here, and I hope you feel a sense of responsibility for it– without you, the reader of my blogs, the supporter of my craft, and the follower of my journey, I wouldn’t be able to do any of it. Thank you, and stay tuned.

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Tour Blog #2: St. Louis, MO & Kansas City, MO

Note: due to our schedule, I decided to do St. Louis and Kansas City in one blog, and I’ll do four days in the next blog—I want to keep it interesting despite having two travel days in a row.

This trip, like the last, has quite a few cities that I’ve never been to—St. Louis being one of them. The band originally reached out to Sara, a former SoFar Sounds host (see previous blogs if you aren’t familiar with SoFar), to see if we could crash with her on our way to Kansas City. She had the idea of hosting a house show for them, which was largely like a SoFar show, but a little different.

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My grandparents graciously drove me to Nashville to meet the boys, and I had to make a quick stop at Best Buy to get a tripod. I’d accidentally left mine at home, but I needed a new one anyway (mine was held together with wire ties), so I’m not too upset.

Last time, JT was our drummer, but this time we hired a wonderful guy named Jeff. Jeff is really cool, and has a fantastic neck pillow. I think Jeff and I are going to get along very well.

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After we loaded up, we hit the road and made it all the way to St. Louis without incident.

The house show at Sara’s was super cute—people brought blankets and chairs and just chilled out in her yard. The best place for the guys to play was the back deck, but the entire square was blocked off by railings. Luckily, Sara’s significant other, Josh, is in the construction business, and he simply unscrewed the railing and took it off.

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The show went very well, but it still didn’t feel like tour yet. The set was unplugged and fairly short, so perhaps it’s because I didn’t get the full experience. The photos turned out well though!

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After the set, the show turned into a bit of an after party, which isn’t exactly my speed. But because it was 7/11, 7 Eleven was giving out free slushies, and obviously I wanted in on that action. The boys walked three quarters of a mile to the nearest station—only to find out that THE PROMOTION HAD ENDED. So we walked the three quarters of a mile back. They band did it without protest or complaining, and that’s like, real friendship, guys.

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We crashed at Sara’s after eating an obscene amount of Jack in the Box tacos, and I had a little grey kitty to cuddle to sleep.

The next morning, we were out the door by 10 and drove the five hours to Kansas City. I’m not sure if everyone is aware, but Missouri is FLAT. Driving through it honestly reminded me of Indy.

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KC happens to house Alexa, one of my good friends from school. She recommended a fantastic pizza restaurant where we met before walking around the city. After we popped into a record store and crashed at a coffee shop for awhile, we packed up and headed to the venue.

TNS was the second act of the night, the first being a spoken word poet and the last being our hosts for the night. I’m sure it doesn’t do the band any favors, but for me, personally, I enjoy shows that we don’t headline. We’re able to get everything loaded up and get out (and to bed) sooner when we can get things done during the headlining act.

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The KC show went very well, although my photos weren’t my favorite. The lights were inconsistent—hot on certain parts and virtually nonexistent on others. This makes it very difficult to properly expose the photos. The band seemed to like them, and that’s all that really matters!

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We then stayed with the frontman of Run With It, Miguel, and his two great danes (and the rest of his family, I guess). He was an excellent host for the six hours we were there, but we had to split at 7am to get to Colorado.

Tour is finally starting to feel like tour, which is really great. The long drives haven’t totally wiped me out—something I thank my parents and the endless road trips they took me on a child for. I’m learning that I love the west even more than I thought I did, and that I really should have packed bug spray.

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I’ve also been making short video recaps of every city—check those out below, and stay tuned for more!

Tour Blog #1: The Pro-Blogue

Sorry for the title. I mean, a little bit.

I’m not sure how I can adequately describe how much I needed this tour. That sounds like I’m stuck-up or lazy, but I’ve heard tour compared to a vacation, and that’s what it feels like at this point. The best way I can describe it is waiting for Spring Break or vacation after working too hard for too long. 

Since these tour blogs last graced your screen, I finished up a very successful freshman year, moved back home to Indiana for the summer, and began working a total of five jobs, which I’ve been doing for the past two months. No, that’s not a typo. I’ve been doing roughly 40-50 hours a week, the majority of which was a food service job that left me physically and mentally drained every day. It was just too much, and over the past few months, I’ve just burned myself out.

But that’s all over! We leave for tour today, and I couldn’t be more thrilled (or relieved). The dates certainly snuck up on me, but I’m even more excited for this tour than the last, for several reasons:

-       I won’t be cold

-       It’ll be warm

-       The west coast is my ish—I love it out there

-       I have SOME kind of handle on what I’m doing now

-       The band and I discussed some new projects and such I can try out—be on the lookout for those!

-       A distinct lack of snow

-       We’re bringing a girl!

-       We’ll have real days off

-       I had to pack a swimsuit

-       It won’t be as cold as last time

 As I’ll be graduating three years from now and am a big fan of planning everything out to the letter, I’m also looking at some of these cities as potential homes in the future. The east coast was great last spring, but there’s no way I could handle that weather. West coast is much more my speed, although Phoenix in the summer may change my mind.

Speaking of Phoenix, I’m outrageously excited to get back to my happy place, even if it’s just for a day. I’m hoping I get to reconnect with some of my friends that stayed in AZ, and one of my friends graciously decided to host us for a night!

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You’ll notice we have quite a few days off, and because I assume even the most loyal reader of these blogs (which I’m pretty sure is my mom) doesn’t really want to read a blog for every day of the tour. So, I’m planning on posting these roughly every three days. They’ll be a little less current and a little more like a recap, but hopefully everyone will enjoy them just the same. 

I’ve been working like crazy for the past few months, and it’s about to pay off! This tour is going to be amazing—as always, stay tuned!

Tour Blog #12: Cleveland, OH

We awoke to a blanket of snow on the ground in Rochester, which we all know is not my favorite, but we were on the road again at 9:30. 

I took a brief nap in the car, and we attempted to finish up some interviews in the van. I’d put this off because videos in the van tended to have quite a bit of background noise, which isn’t ideal with interviews because they’ll primarily be used as voiceovers on top of other videos. It was definitely better to have poor-quality interviews than none at all, however, so we did our best. We parked on the street, and after lunch, I was able to finish all of them up. I know this was a huge pain for the guys, but it was a huge relief for me, so I hugely appreciate their willingness to work with me.

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[Nashville, TN]

My parents had driven over from Indiana during our travel time, and they met Cory, JTru and I at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. It was really great to see my parents, although it was a little strange to see those two worlds colliding. I almost wish we’d started the tour in Cleveland, because seeing the exhibits was super inspiring, especially the female-centered section about an amazing photographer and the women she photographed. It kind of brought the gravity of what I’m doing home—The New Schematics are hardly The White Stripes, but great musicians are thrust into the spotlight because people connect with their music, which is the whole goal of touring and bringing someone to document it.

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[Richmond, VA]

We returned to the van and finished up a few last interviews, but my flight left at 8:00, so I had to leave the band shortly after we were done. I’m not sure if it was the sentiment of my impending departure, but Cory said I was his favorite part of this tour in his interview. So like yeah, I cried.

We said our goodbyes, which was so so so hard. It brought me back to when the guys picked me up on the first day and gave me these awkward obligatory hugs as a way to forcibly break the ice, but now I didn’t want to let go.

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[Philadelphia, PA]

I think it’s become clear that my depression has been very much under control for at least a year or two. I’ve been very happy with my situation, whether it be shooting shows, moving to Arizona, being in college, etc., but I’ve always felt as though something was missing. I think it’s very important to find your “tribe,” which I didn’t think I’d done before this tour. I had a great community of friends in high school, but people would come and go and it never felt quite permanent. In college, I have a variety of different friends and groups of friends, which really does suit me just fine. But it almost felt like a community in the tour van. We were there for each other, whether it be venting about a show, planning and analyzing aspects of the band, complaining about the weather, or making sure everyone in the van saw the dog on the sidewalk. I really don’t think I’ve ever been a part of an intensely close-knit community like that.

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[New York City, NY]

Touring is an incredibly immersive experience, which I think contributes to that sense of family. I have spent 263 hours with these guys, living this lifestyle (minus the hour from 264 for showering). If you hate the way of life or the people you’re with, you don’t get a break. You’re in the game 110% of the time. And I love it.

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[New York City, NY]

I don’t think I would love it nearly as much if I weren’t with such amazing people. All the guys are extremely driven, in addition to being practical, talented, hilarious, and compassionate. You have to be a very intense person to survive touring, and people who are motivated generally get along better. Michael is always down to complain with me, pet a dog, or make me try new foods, but he singlehandedly assembles tours and makes it look easy. JTrudawg literally always has something positive to say, and has brought the guys together in a way I’ve never seen before. Shanan is a jack of all trades, doing all the graphic design for the band in addition to playing, and always lets me geek out about photography with him. Cory is simultaneously the most organized and energetic person I know—I’m not actually convinced he isn’t two people like the Olsen twins.

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[Boston, MA]

Maybe it’s weird to call a bunch of 30-year-old guys my tribe. Maybe every band is like this. Maybe I won’t end up back on the road with them again (pls no). Maybe that sense of community was just something I felt. I don’t know. But what I do know is that I just had the most incredible experience of my life with some of the most incredible people I’ve ever met, and I think that counts for something.

[Portland, ME]

I’m back in Phoenix, and everything is different. The last time I looked at my dorm, it was 4:30 a.m. and I had no idea what the future would hold. Now, I know that touring is absolutely what I want to do with my life. The last time I showered in a space this small, my world was a lot smaller. Now I’ve been to Canada and New York and Maine and Philly. The last time I was this warm, I was 18, I’d never slept in a stranger’s house, and I’d never had Indian food. Now, none of those things are true. I’m not saying I want to drop out of college, but accomplishing a goal I had for the next four years after eight months makes me feel like I’ve outgrown some things.

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[Montreal, QC]

You guys, I actually did it, I went out tour with a band. I did that. I did that!

I sent a band a DM on Twitter, had a phone conversation, and booked a tour for my spring break.

I explored almost a dozen cities in ways I’d never seen them before.

I spent $8 on cookie dough.

I ran the lights at a concert.

I met a hundred new people with amazing stories. 

I filmed a documentary (what?) and made a music video.

I wandered the streets of Canada for almost ten minutes looking for a fricken’ trash can.

I became family with strangers.

I learned about new places, new people, new equipment, new struggles, new victories, new questions, new answers, and I learned about myself.

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[Ottawa, ON]

The band got a three-page long thank you note, but I’ll keep it simple for you, reader of my tour blogs. Thank you for supporting me. Thank you for appreciating my art, and encouraging me to make more of it. Thank you for reading my content, and for caring enough to share it. Thank you for telling me that I inspire you—that’s all I ever wanted. Thank you for following me on this crazy journey.

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[Rochester, NY]

This tour is over, but I don’t think this is my last trip with The New Schematics. When you click with a group of people this well, you don’t just call it good enough. This tour has been the start of something beautiful—stay tuned.

Tour Blog #11: Rochester, NY

I was under the impression that Ottawa was going to be the worst day of the tour weather-wise, so I was not emotionally prepared for the snowstorm that was Rochester. Luckily, the weather is really the only thing I could complain about on my birthday.

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We’d gotten a deal on the Marriott hotel stay in which we got continental breakfast on the rooftop of the hotel. It was a perfect way to officially start off 19. The guys gave me a gift bag with a TNS t-shirt, a super sweet note, and—you guessed it—a phone charger. We then bolted out of the room after I filled said gift bag with water bottles, juice, pears, and bagels. You can take the girl out of the van, but you can’t take the constant scavenging for food out of the girl.

After filming the unplugged version of a music video in New York City, we decided the feel of it just wasn’t quite right. It conveyed the theme of the song, but didn’t quite have the right vibe. We decided doing it in the hotel room was more authentic, so we set up and ran through it a few times. They’ll likely be releasing it in a few weeks, so keep your eyes out for that!

We then loaded up to head to what would be my last show of the tour. I tried not to dwell on that, and rather focused my negative energy on complaining about the unexpected snow and freezing wind. Although Rochester was warmer that Ottawa, the wind was a killer.

We loaded in and set up, and I had a chance to relax a bit before the show. I’d been wanting to experiment with a certain technique that uses flash throughout the tour, but had never found a good place to do it. With Rochester being our last stop, I decided it was then or never, and gave it a shot (sorry). I’m pretty happy with the way they turned out, as well as thankful to the band for letting me use flash at all, especially at a Sofar show. The lights were pretty typical for Sofar, although I did have fun trying to shoot through a plant. Can’t say I’ve done that one before.

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Right before their last song, the boys pulled me over to the stage area and sang me Happy Birthday with the whole crowd. I’d considered recording it, but got lost in the moment and didn’t want to detract from the experience. And yeah, I cried. Did you expect differently?

During every set the guys have played, I’ve taken about 5 seconds to myself during the last time they sing, “everybody feels a little lost, why can’t I feel a little found?” to just be truly present and etch into my memory where I am, who I’m with, what I’m doing, and that vast incredibility that has been this trip. After hearing Happy Birthday from 100 strangers following an international tour of doing exactly what I love for 10 days, I think I can report that I’m feeling more than a little found.

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After packing up, we went to Cory’s mom’s friend’s friend’s friends’ (truly) about a half hour away to crash for the night. Michael fell in love with their dogs, but what else is new?

I’m honestly not even going to try to throw anything super heartfelt into today’s blog, because the one from Cleveland is going to be so horrendous. I’m going to cry while I write it, the band is going to cry while they read it, it’s going to be so bad. So stay tuned if you want to cry a BUNCH.

Tour Blog #10: Ottawa, Canada

I went into the trek to Ottawa with the notion that it was going to be the coldest date of the tour, which I think helped prepare me for the bitter wind and my bitter attitude about it.

After playing with Liz’s dog for a bit, we headed to a mountain Cory had been wanting to climb up. The whole thing consisted of stairs, but it was only about 16 degrees, and my asthma was having none of it. It was a miserable walk, but the view was almost worth it.

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We’d built in some time to explore Montreal, but after getting some food, we decided to just start driving to Ottawa. Friday was the only day of the tour we had a hotel, so we were all eager to see what the Marriott had to offer. Upon arrival, the guys ran off to the gym/sauna/teen room (?), and I stayed in the room to take a quick nap, do some work, and get ready to knock out some interviews.

The guys came back and we did some catching up on interviews, but I’m still worried about how I’m going to get them all done. We’re still three or four days behind schedule, and I’m not sure how much time we’re going to have to get them done. It seems as though we may have an earlier set in Rochester, so hopefully we can finish them then.

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We had an exceptionally late show in Ottawa, which ran even later than scheduled. I don’t think the guys even went on until midnight. This is actually extremely disadvantageous from a merch standpoint—when shows run that late, people are eager to get home rather than spend time interacting with the band. We did reasonably well (no one will starve), largely due to some long-time fans who made it out.

I cannot stress this enough—when you buy merch from smaller or local bands, that money makes sure they eat, pay for gas, and get through toll booths. It doesn’t go into a savings account or go to buy beer, it literally makes sure they survive out on the road. 

The room certainly wasn’t as full as we would’ve liked, but the guys got in and got it done. Cory was able to spend more time interacting with individuals in the crowd, rather than the audience as a whole, so that changed up the dynamic a bit. I’m always impressed by how the guys are able to make a room with 20 people feel like it’s packed full.

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I meant to buy my first legal drink in Montreal, but the bar closed well before we loaded in, and I wanted to be on my A-game. Then as we drove to Ottawa, I realized the drinking age there is 19. So I had to wait until midnight when I turned 19 to order, but I did eventually do it. I went with the bartender’s recommendation and ended up with something involving vanilla and butterscotch flavored liquors. The bar sang me happy birthday, and the alcohol kept me a little warmer as we loaded in.

We were in a hotel room with two queen beds, so the four guys split them. We shoved the two armchairs together to form a kind of bed for me that was kindly looked at as a crib. Embarrassingly enough, I was short enough to fit without bending my legs.

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It’s bizarre and kind of heartbreaking that this tour is almost over. I’ll post a long sappy piece about it on the day of Cleveland (which is tomorrow, oh God), but I’ve been trying to get it into my head that I have to go back to normal life in just a few short days so it’ll be less of a shock to my system. This has been the most intense crash-course and bonding session I’ve ever experienced, and it’s definitely the coolest thing I’ve ever done.

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Tomorrow’s blog will include everything from my birthday, during which I’m sure the guys will do something ridiculously nice for me while doing everything they can to embarrass me. Stay tuned, the tour is coming to an end! (I’m not crying, you’re crying)

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Tour Blog #9: Montreal, Canada

We stayed with JTD’s family in Portland after the show, and woke up super early to head to Canada. I ended up sleeping in his dad’s photography studio, ironically enough. We got to Montreal quite a bit before we had to load in, but we built in a ton of extra time to go through customs. Apparently, last time the guys got caught in a lie (after receiving some bad advice) and it ended up taking about two hours.

 

This time, we were very prepared and up front about everything. We made it through in about five minutes, which was a huge relief. I’ve seen Cory at that level of happiness only one other time on this tour, and it was when we got cookie dough after standing outside for an hour. 

We arrived in Montreal and immediately got poutine at a restaurant the guys had been to last time before heading to a coffee shop to, you guessed it, get some work done.

 

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I always thought it was kind of a joke that I referred to this leg as an international tour, because Canada is hardly an exotic place to explore. It is my first time here, though, and it kind of does feel like a different world. 99% of the population there is bilingual, but not being able to understand everyone’s side conversations made me a little uncomfortable, even though I knew they weren’t speaking French to be intentionally rude.

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It was absolutely freezing, and I’m pretty sure it snowed nearly the whole time we were in Montreal. The trip up was fairly treacherous due to the lack of visibility, but we made it there in five pieces and without frostbite.

We wandered into a boutique looking for a warm hat for JTD, and the saleswoman actually remembered the guys and called them out by name—apparently she had met them when they were in the store last time, and followed them on social media. She wasn’t able to make it out to the show, but it was really cool to be recognized.

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The venue was a spunky little bar with a surprisingly large stage setup. We loaded in and played a game of hurry-up-and-wait to do our setup and sound check, which reportedly didn’t go all that well. Nevertheless, the guys remained positive.

Whenever I’m not shooting for the bands, I’m usually working merch. I was very nervous to try to make sales with Canadian dollars—I’d never really operated on any other currencies, and the prices for the merch were actually different as well. To add on to the laundry list, we found out the Square reader we have can’t accept foreign transactions. In the end, however, we ended up just keeping the US prices and no one asked to use credit cards—I guess spending money you don’t have is more of an American thing.

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We were treated to a performance by Liz Labelle before their set, which was bouncy, energetic, and a perfect way to start off the night. Liz was actually our hostess for the night, so it was great to see her in her element before we crashed on her floor.

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While I was shooting Liz’s set, the pink lights on the artists were very difficult to shoot. I figured I may as well try to pull a Richmond and see if they would mind using a different color. A lot of smaller clubs like Piranha Bar hire a sound guy to do both lights and sound, so they just pick something that looks good from the back of the room and have no real ties to their selection. This absolutely turned out to be the case, as when I asked, he just had me change the lights myself. Like I stood there and played with the levers until I was able to soften it. I assure you that’s never happened before. I’m not sure how much good I was able to do because I didn’t quite understand how they worked, but I was able to at least make the light brighter, which helped tremendously.

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Part of the reason I’ve loved this tour so much is because it’s forced me to become a better photographer. Each venue is completely different, and I’m given about fifteen minutes to prepare before I have to go in and do the best work I can. Because the band doesn’t tour with much production equipment, we just use what the venue has. Sometimes I can manipulate it to suit me better, but often times, I just have to figure out new and better ways to shoot. I have to be more adaptable, which makes me more valuable.

Weirdly enough, coming to Canada is a lot like the experience of going to NYC for me. It was something I’d always wanted to do, so going on business was a very cool way to approach it. I’m exhausted, I’m cold, and my hair is disgusting, but I’ve never been happier. Stay tuned for Day #2 of Canada!

Tour Blog #8: Portland, ME

I awoke in Maine to the word “donuts,” and rolled out of bed (sofa) to find donuts, eggs, and oatmeal in Chad’s apartment. I’ve only cried a few times on this tour, but that morning was one of them. He made us all breakfast, truly going above and beyond any expectations. 

Because we had driven through the night, we had quite a bit of time before we had to load in. We slept in until 9 or 10, and three of the guys went to work out. Michael and I stayed behind to do some work, and because exercising is gross.

By “do some work,” I mean a variety of things. For me, it’s finishing up editing, getting the files to the guys, writing/publishing these tour blogs, organizing the massive amounts of content I get every day, and keeping my social media updated. For the guys, it can be anything– settling invoices from the previous nights, bookkeeping, planning for upcoming details of the trip, booking more shows and organizing future tours, tending to personal business, or planning out the details of that night’s set. Wifi is truly a treasured commodity on tour, so a lot of work is done in coffee places.

Portland is JTD’s hometown, so we entrusted him to show us all the cool local places, and he didn’t disappoint. We visited the world’s most photographed lighthouse (you can bet I jumped on that bandwagon), a state park with incredible rock formations, and some of the local food places. Maine is breathtakingly beautiful, and I would consider living here if it were warmer.

I took quite a few promotional photos, and I’m very happy with the way they turned out. The guys are super easy to shoot portraits for—I think they’re so comfortable with each other that they just fall into natural positions.

We loaded in, and the guys claimed it was a great sound check. I’ve taken to setting up merch while they’re checking, then coming in at the end to film if I’m low on b-roll for the day. The staff at One Longfellow Square was super accommodating, always asking if I needed anything or offering to help. This isn’t to say the staff elsewhere were unhelpful, but the friendliness in Maine was very much appreciated.

The show itself probably ran the most smoothly out of all of them so far. The sound was great, and all the technology and humans performed exactly as desired. The guys walked away feeling awesome about the cleanliness of what they put out, which is always fun to leave the venue with. 

The shooting situation was almost boringly easy. There are situations in which I would pray for all white light with no changes, but it actually made it kind of difficult to create variety in the shots. Nevertheless, TNS were very happy with my content for the day. 

I can kind of feel the tour winding down (even though we still have four more dates left), which is pretty heartbreaking. I’ve loved the time I’ve been able to spend with these guys, so the idea of leaving and resuming “normal life” isn’t something that really appeals to me. We’ve been discussing options for our summers, so that’s providing some hope for me to cling to. It’s hard for me to even picture spending time apart from everyone after we’ve spend the last 336 consecutive hours together, but I’m doing my best to channel that premature nostalgia into working harder to crank stuff out

We’re heading up to Canada next! It’ll be my first trip up there, hopefully customs will go okay! Make sure you keep up with my social media to see my work in a more real-time format.

Tour Blog #7: Boston, MA

The good weather did, indeed, follow us to Boston, which was something I desperately needed. We woke up super early in New York so we could meet an old friend of Cory’s in Boston, and the gray drizzle of the NYC morning did not help my struggle to get out of bed. Nevertheless, we made it out relatively on time and I ate my leftover cookie dough for breakfast.

It was only a two-hour drive to Boston, but some of us took the opportunity to nap. Boston was one of the few places on the tour I’d already been, so I was okay with not taking a lot of time to explore. We stopped in a café I’d been to on my last trip and met with a guy who was in a band with Cory when they were in high school and his wife. After we ate, Cory went with them to see some of the MIT facilities and other sights of Boston, but the rest of us stayed in Flour to get some work done. 

As part of that time, I edited the photos for the openers from the NYC show and sent them off, which is something I’d procrastinated on. They were all extremely gracious and had nothing but kind words. One of the vocalists told me she felt inspired by my story after we chatted, which is an incredible feeling. I kind of thought the only inspiring thing I’d ever done was sleep for 29 consecutive hours, so it was a very cool thing to hear.

Boston was another Sofar show, so my expectations for the lighting were extremely low. It was a pleasant surprise then, to see a population of small stage lights and Christmas lights. It made the shoot very doable, and I was actually able to get a lot edited before we even left the venue.

If NYC night #2 was the best show of the tour, Boston was the best Sofar show… so far (don’t worry, I hate myself too). TNS went first, which we’ve grown to enjoy—or at least I do. We have more opportunities to sell merch, more time to load out (so we can leave earlier), and less stress in general.

The guys described it as “clicking”—after weeks and weeks of rehearsals and a few shows on the road the past few days, their dynamic and process are a finely tuned machine. This isn’t to say they were a hot mess before, but it really seems like things are kind of at that next level in terms of performance energy.

I was able to shoot for some of the other bands at the show, and they all seemed to like what I came up with. Sofar really does bring some of the best underground music out.

We made some great connections with fans and industry professionals alike, both of which are almost equally important at this point in the band’s career. We also did really well in merch sales, which is a huge relief for them. We use merch cash for tolls and restaurants that don’t accept cards, so not having cash is a real problem. 

Rather than staying in Boston, we went to stay with a friend of JTD’s in Portland. Unfortunately, when we left on the way to Maine, I had an ovarian cyst rupture in the car. I’m feeling much better this morning, but I was in quite a bit of pain that night. The guys pulled over and got me some Aleeve at a gas station, and that’s been helping. I’m going to be just fine (this has happened a few times before), but it really wasn’t on my agenda for the day.

I feel like I can’t express enough how nice everyone is. A few people have asked me if it’s hard to be on the road with so many guys for so long, but it really isn’t. We got past the dynamic of a-girl-traveling-with-four-guys-let’s-all-be-super-polite and moved into a more comfortable almost family-like dynamic within like the first two days. It really feels like I have four more big brothers than anything else.

I’m excited for Maine—I’ve heard so many great things about it. Hopefully we’ll be able to do some cute promos before we have to load in for the night. You’ll want to stay tuned– we’re in JTD’s home turf, so this could get interesting. 

Tour Blog #6: NYC (still)

I’m not sure what kind of alternate universe I’ve stumbled into where sleeping until 10 a.m. is considered sleeping in, but I was thankful for the extra hour and a half during our second day in NYC nonetheless. More than that, I was thankful to find my daisy hat tucked in my backpack. For those of you who may not know, I’ve worn that hat to almost every concert I’ve shot for the last two years. I’ve forgotten it for only two or three shows, and those photos have turned out terribly. I’m very superstitious about it, so I was not coping well with not having it. But I’m saying it’s not a coincidence that my photos turned out better after I found it.

My phone charger is still gone though. Like that’s just gone.

We went to Brooklyn Bridge Park to take some photos and look around, which was absolutely beautiful. We also took that opportunity to film an unplugged session of a music video, which will probably be posted soon. 

The guys also indulged me in driving around for a bit so I could see the Statue of Liberty. We couldn’t find parking, but we circled the block like twice, so it was basically the same thing. I’m a big fan of the city. I think there’s something calming in knowing you’re surrounded by people who, for the most part, also love the city. You already have at least one thing in common with every single person around you.

We had another rare opportunity for free time, so naturally, we watched Netflix for like two hours. I also took some of the time to edit the unplugged video, which is coming along swell.

We’re gradually getting faster and faster at loading in and out (the setup is different for each tour as the gear changes), so the shows are gradually becoming less stressful.

There were two openers and one band after TNS, and all of them were superbly talented. These guys just don’t ever play with bad bands. Olivia Castriota, Leah Rich, and Evan Nachimson all killed the game. It’s always a pleasure to work with people who have truly mastered their craft, and they were all incredibly kind. I got to talk about myself for like, a collective hour, which is basically my favorite pastime. 

 

I sincerely believe the second night of NYC has been the best of this tour, and it seems like the guys agree. My theory is that because we had two Sofar shows in a row (which are acoustic and generally calmer), the band had a lot of pent-up performance energy that they just let loose at the Bowery Electric. The room wasn’t all that full—honestly about the same headcount as Richmond—but everyone was incredibly engaged, which is really the best measure of success. The band earned high praises from the staff, which is exceedingly important in the process of booking future tours. All around, day #2 was a huge success.

The show was a breath of fresh air after two less-than-successful shoots in a row. I was worried about the amount of red light, which is notoriously difficult to shoot, but it turned out to be a very doable mix of magenta, purple, and red that created that color. I’m very happy with how the shots turned out.

Everyone loaded out and left in a great mood, and we went to a fairly famous Greek place for a late dinner. Filled with good food and having satisfied our quota for making fun of Michael’s eating habits, we headed back to our dwelling places and passed out.

It’s hard to explain why I love concert photography so much more than other types. Obviously, yes, it’s cool to get into shows for free and to be that close to my favorite artists, but my love runs deeper than that. I thought it was because I’m able to be more creative and play with the visual experience of the lights, motion, and pretty faces, but I realized last night that it’s because I have the opportunity to collaborate with other artists. Whether or not I’m successful, I try my best to adapt the feel of the music I’m shooting into the aesthetic of the photos to better match what the band is trying to advertise. This pushes my abilities as an artist, which is so important to growing as a creator and as a person. Working with such talented artists—even though they work with a COMPLETELY different medium—drives me to become better myself. I love what I do, really and truly.

I’m sad to leave NYC, but I have the whole rest of the tour to explore new places and meet new people. We’re off to Boston tomorrow, hopefully the good weather follows us!

Tour Blog #5: NYC

We awoke at the Weinstein’s to bagels and brownies, and I was such a fan. Again, I wish I could’ve spent more time with them, but we pretty much left Philly as soon as we ate. It was about a two-and-a-half-hour drive to New York City, so we wanted to leave early to see the city before we had to load in to the venue. 

 This was my first time in New York City, so I geeked out quite a bit as we city came into view. Cory turned on “Welcome to New York” by Taylor Swift, and as cheesy as it was, it definitely fit my mood. I’m not sure I could see myself living here because of the weather, but New York is super cool. I like the way something is always going on, whether it’s art, music, or a man peeing right on the street. 

 We grabbed street pizza (surprisingly good) and took some promo shots around the city, which was a cool way to explore. Because we’re spending two days in New York, we unpacked our overnight bags into the apartment we’re staying in, which was truly a beautiful feeling. This optimism prepared me for the next hour of crushing defeat. 

Ever since the band picked me up, Cory has been talking nonstop about a dessert place called DŌ. The band saw a video about it on Facebook awhile back, and it’s basically like an ice cream shop, but with cookie dough instead. They have a ton of different flavors, and they scoop it out into cones or bowls, or make it into sundaes. The apartment is fairly close to it, so we decided to brave the cold. JT, Shanan, and Michael all bailed after the found out the line was about an hour long, but Cory and I stuck it out. Outside. In the cold. For 50 minutes. I couldn’t actually feel my feet by the end of it, but it was still 100% worth it. Cory reports that he has fulfilled his purpose in life and can pretty much do whatever he wants now. 

 We then went back to the apartment and watched a Netflix special, although I ended up taking a nap. This was a strange moment of free time that we really don’t get a lot of. 

This first day in NYC was another Sofar show (check out my other blog posts if you don’t know what this means). Unfortunately, my photos didn’t turn out very well. I was basically completely unable to move from my spot selling merch because the room was so crowded, and the lights were super dim. I’m lucky to be with a band that’s so understanding—I could easily see that it would be frustrating for your PHOTOGRAPHER to not get good PHOTOS. I do think, however, I likely got some good video for the documentary/music videos.

 Shanan and Michael stayed at Shanan’s aunt’s for the night, so we dropped them off and grabbed some food before heading back to the apartment to crash. 

 It’s such a rush to see New York City, but even more than that, it’s a rush to know that I brought myself here. Obviously not literally, I haven’t even driven the van, but in a big-picture sense. A ton of my friends have been to NYC on vacations or with friends or family (and there’s nothing wrong with that), but to be taken to this place I’ve always wanted to go on business at 18 years old is an amazing feeling. I’m reminded of how lucky I am to be able to follow my dreams every time I look out the window. 

 This isn’t to say I haven’t taken my fair share of L’s. Right now I’m standing at a cracked lens filter, missing phone charger, and missing daisy hat. And if I don’t find that hat by the end of tour, there will be hell to pay. 

 I truly couldn’t think of a better way to spend my spring break other than, again, maybe a west coast tour. I’m out here living (and freezing)—stay tuned for more!

    Tour Blog #4: Philadelphia, PA

    Host families are already going above and beyond by providing a place for us to crash, so you can imagine how surprised we were to see a breakfast buffet lined up before us when we woke up at Whitney’s in Richmond. Personally, I can’t think of a better way to wake up than in front of fresh fruit and breakfast tacos. It certainly put springs in our steps as we loaded up the van and headed out to Philly. 

     I don’t know if anyone is aware, but Philly is actually very, very cold. I’ve converted from my leather jacket to my winter coat, and I don’t think I’ve taken it off. I’m already dreading Canada. 

     We began the three-hour trek to the city of brotherly love, planning our quest for the best Philly cheese steaks. From what I heard, they were pretty bomb, but it was so cold outside that we all scarfed down our food and high-tailed it back to the van. 

     We had about two hours before the show, so I started harping on the guys about getting the interviews for the documentary done—we were three days behind at that point. Unable to find a location that was quiet enough, we decided to do them in the van. Hopefully we’ll be able to do them in more attractive locations in the future, but I kind of like the scruffiness. The guys gave me great answers that really give insight to everything that had happened before I got there. I’m just hoping I have enough b-roll to go under all the audio! 

    Philadelphia was our first Sofar show. For those of you that may not know, Sofar is an organization that puts on intimate concerts for small but superbly talented bands. Attendees have to apply to be able to get tickets. They then receive the locations and dates/times of the shows, but sometimes aren’t even told who’s playing until they get there. It’s a really cool way to discover new music, so TNS value it very highly. Attendees usually sit on the floor, bring their own booze, and come ready to hear the stories behind the music. 

     This show was particularly difficult to shoot, because there wasn’t really a good place for me to stand. The light, while on the bright side to the naked eye, was not very intense. I ended up running halfway up the stairs and dangling my camera over the crowd to get some. The set was also only four to five songs, so I didn’t have much time to shoot. I do feel better prepared than last night moving forward, though. We have another Sofar in New York City tomorrow, so hopefully I’ll be able to get better content. 

     We then loaded up and went to the Weinstein’s. Their son, Will, has been one of my closest friends since I came to college. He often writes reviews for shows I shoot, and we co-deejay a radio show together every week. I mentioned to him that I was going to Philly, and his family graciously offered to host us for the night. I wish we’d had more time to visit with them, but we all passed out very quickly. 

     I’m starting to settle into the routine, but not necessarily in a bad way. It’s the same basic steps—load out, set up, sound check, play, shoot, merch, load in, edit, bed, wake up, load in, drive, load out, etc. etc., but each city is a new experience in some ways. It’s probably monotonous for the guys because they’ve done it so many times and they’ve been to most of these cities, but it’s really a new adventure for me every day. I wish I could spend more time in each city, but that’s just not how it works out, unfortunately. 

     Also, tour ate my phone charger. It’s not really relevant but I’m pretty sad about it. 

    I’m really looking forward to NYC tomorrow, it’ll be my first time in the city and we’ll be there for two days. Hopefully we’ll be able to get some cool promo shots and such around the city. Until next time, cheers!

    Tour Blog #3: Richmond, VA

    In case anyone was wondering, my Arizona-acclimated body did, indeed, freeze in Richmond. I think I’ve brought up the validity of a winter west coast tour at least three times daily. 

    I got great sleep at my cousin’s, so I was fairly alert when we began the nearly seven-hour trek to Richmond. If you weren’t aware, I’m not exactly a morning person, so these 8 a.m. alarms are really not doing me any favors, but I’m coping—mostly with naps. I am, however, glad that my parents took me on so many road trips as a child. Yesterday was our longest drive time, and it really didn’t bother me. 

    The trip was great, and I’m starting to get to know the guys a little better. We’d met back in July when I played a show with Shiny Penny, but that was my first time meeting SP, so I was definitely focused on getting acquainted with them. It’s amazing what spending 10+ hours in a van with the same people will do to your process of getting to know each other. My first impression was certainly not wrong; the guys are super nice and passionate about what they do. I think I can adequately give a general picture of what goes on in a tour van at this point:

    -       Napping

    -       Playing games we’ve found in the van (decades catchphrase, anyone?)

    -       Planning sets and details of shows for the night

    -       Business discussions

    -       Playing deejay 

    -       General work things—finishing promotional materials, managing social media, sending emails, scheduling, etc.

    It’s not as interesting as one would think. No animal sacrifices, no wild parties. It’s like a family road trip, but with people you elect to be around and surprisingly, with less singing than the movies. 

    We were stuck in traffic for a bit, so when we got to the venue, we assembled everything quickly. I’m slowly getting better at merch, in case anyone was interested. Cory made fun of my Tinder app when he had to get in my phone to use the Square app, and it was the first time I’ve told anyone in the band to fight me. So I’m glad we got that out of the way.

    We had an opener by the name of The Tide Rose, a duo from the area. The vocalist, Whitney, was our host for the night, so I’m glad I got to shoot their set a little.

    The room was definitely not as full as the band would’ve liked, but the guys took it gracefully and played like it was at capacity. I knew they were nervous after a less-than-ideal sound check, but you certainly couldn’t tell from their performance. 

    If you’ve ever had a doubt about true love existing, go to a New Schematics show and listen to Cory talk about his fiancé. His expression when he talks about her saying yes to his proposal on NYE is that of a kid on Christmas.

    I was super worried about the lights when we got there. There were basically eight small, pastel colored lights from the ceiling, which was just not going to be enough. The house, however, was filled with overhead fans with lights. I chatted up the bartenders and asked what their plans for the house lights were, and they offered to keep them on for me. They ended up dimming the ones in the back, but that didn’t really affect me. I was able to get some really good content, despite my concerns. That’s one of the benefits of small places like that—they’re sometimes allowed and willing to work with photographers. They don’t always do it, but every once in awhile, you can kindly ask.

    We loaded out, which is something I’m entirely useless at because I don’t know what 80% of the gear is. Maybe I’ll get there by the end. 

    We then stopped at a cute little burger place and headed to Whitney’s to crash. I’m pretty sure everyone was in bed less than ten minutes after we got there. 

    The guys are great about making me feel like I’m at home with them. I’ve never been to 2/3 of the cities we’ve been to so far, and I think I’d feel alienated if I were with a less swell group of people. 

    I really am loving every minute of this. My cheeks currently hurt from laughing and smiling so much. The documentary is going great, and so is everything else, honestly.

    We’re off to Philly now, wish me luck!

    Your Year Tour Blog #2: Nashville/Maryville

    After leaving the Phoenix airport just after the ass crack of dawn, my version of the Your Year Tour kicked off in Nashville, TN. And by that, I mean I was picked up at the airport, we loaded the van, and we headed out to Maryville, TN. 

    Because I was absolutely exhausted and took a two hour nap, I really can’t tell you what goes on in a tour van yet. I can tell you that all the guys in The New Schematics are sweethearts and let me have the bench to myself so I could stretch out. Much love for naps.

    We also negotiated what my limits are in terms of shooting, and I was excited to see that they were all comfortable with all my proposals. Shows in bars or other small venues can be really hard to shoot, so having freedom to use flash or shoot from the stage is a really great safety net when I can’t get good shots with traditional methods. 

    We got to the venue, and I was instantly brought up to speed on what they meant when they explained that this was hardly a bells-and-whistles tour. There wasn’t much in the way of accommodations, other than the barrel the guys laid their clothes on that we lovingly dubbed “the green room.” While it would certainly make things easier to live in the lap of luxury, it reminds me of how I started shooting shows. My first few (with the exception of one or two) were in really difficult venues with really difficult bands and really difficult lighting. Did it create my best work? Not at all. But when I started shooting shows that were better from a production standpoint, they were 100x easier because I was accustomed to shooting in pitch black rooms. Hopefully, roughing it on couches and such will better prepare me for larger-scale tours. Or, I can at least tell myself that when I’m running on four hours of sleep.

    I was pleasantly surprised with the lighting in our first venue. Smaller places like that are often severely lacking in light, but there were even a few times at Barley’s Taproom when the lighting was actually ideal. You can tell from some of them that the reds were slightly problematic, but again, that will likely only make me better (or drive me to insanity—we’ll see how I’m feeling on day 10). 

    Something that struck me was how much people genuinely love this band. This isn’t to say I don’t enjoy their music, but I was first acquainted with the guys as business contacts, so my relationship is a little different. But while I was shooting, I would occasionally hear a fan exclaim when the band started one of their favorite songs, or talk excitedly about how they wanted to get their albums signed. It reminded me so much of that time period before I started working in the industry. I would go to concerts where I would wait for my favorite songs and get my album signed, and I would look at the roadies, photographers, and crew in jealousy. It was a weird moment to realize I’m now the person I envied two years ago. 

    Beyond the super fans and even people who had heard TNS before they came, people who had clearly just shown up were engaged the second they got there. All the applause was genuine, the album sales eagerly anticipated, and the kind words said with sincerity. 

    Today should be quite a bit different. I stayed at my cousin’s house last night, so this will be my first night with the band. Hopefully for their sake, I’ve outgrown my horrendous snoring (joking) (mostly).

    I’m filled with an overwhelming sense of belonging while I’m out here. I’m currently grappling with the question of whether “your place” can be not a place, but rather a journey. It’s rather philosophical for noon, but again, we’ll see how I’m feeling in Cleveland. 

    Nothing too eventful has happened in the past 24 hours, although we did see a grown man walking around with a giant teddy bear. I honestly hope the rest of the trip continues to be uneventful, for sanity’s sake. I’m feeling blessed for my ability to sleep in strange places, and my borderline nocturnal schedule. They’re coming in quite handy.

    Hopefully my Arizona-acclimated body doesn’t freeze in Richmond. Until next time!