The Wanderer Tour: Part III

With the speed I was taking the RV through, we almost drove past our venue in Warren, MI! I remember making that sharp turn into the venue and flinging almost everything inside. At first it was a bit confusing figuring out where to park. One of the workers who manned the front door gestured his arms to have us park in the rear and so I did just that, again disregarding speed bumps. I pulled in and parked our RV directly in front of the dumpster. It was a very clean park job that kept the lot looking organized. My parking was impressive enough that the band members had even complimented me on it. When we entered the venue we were shocked to see the set-up this venue had. The stage was massive, the sound system was impressive and the lightshow beautifully worked with the fog machine. The drums even had its own stage! This venue in comparison to the previous one was like day and night- many could say it went from 0 to 100 overnight. After Lauren and I set up our new stage banner for the very first time I jumped straight into the drum set up. I had to troubleshoot the quickest and most efficient way to erect an entire kit I’ve never used live before. All the heights were different than what I had been accustomed to. Everything down to even the tom rims were something I had to readjust to before that night’s show. Once I got the basic setup the sound guy started adding mics to my kit. I told Dom that our sound guy really closely resembled our friend Milen (who did all the strings and piano for our EP). Dom disagreed, but I still believe he does! While the drums were getting mics I stepped aside and took promo shots with Jessie for my upcoming endorsement with Protection Racket. With our sort-of-manager Jim, we’ve been in talking to Protection Racket for a few weeks leading up to the tour and managed to strike an artist endorsement. It wouldn’t have been official until the promo shots were sent in- so we had to get that out of the way while we had the opportunity.

Our morning chicken ran through our system and I remember fighting with Dom to use the washroom. I let him go first so I could help Jessie and Lauren set up the merch. Dom came back out of the washroom to tell me Chris was currently using it. When HH arrived they spared no time and got straight to setting up. Kenny brought his gear in and started to preload a program on his laptop. Jordyn was setting up her kit on the floor, and Sam was outside prepacking the merch where the vehicle was parked (at the center of the lot), they had a good workflow running. After Jordyn’s drums were assembled, I was told that our drums would not remain on stage but rather they had to be stored in the greenroom provided. I was initially bothered by this detail over the fact they could have mentioned it earlier. The green room was sizable enough to fit two drum kits, our guitars and a bunch of stacked tables. The walls were covered in band stickers and graffiti tags- it reminded me of “Sneaky Dee’s”, a venue we have at home in Toronto.

We experienced one of the stranger sound checks where the playback shifted during a part of “Patronizer”. We choose that song for our sound checks because it involves the most playback tracks coming from my laptop. Since implementing my laptop in our performances at the beginning of January ’16 the occurrence has never happened, and to this day remained unchanged. It was a one-time thing only! After sound check, setting up merch, moving necessary gear to the greenroom and locking the RV, Aleksei, Dominick and I decided to get some food in the neighbourhood. We first walked over to McDonalds down the street where Aleksei grabbed a burger. While we were waiting for Aleksei’s order, the lady at the till was talking to us. She noticed we had an accent so decided to ask us where we’re from. Her name was Jazmin. She told us her parents named her with a “z” because it made her special. It also seemed Jazmin had a crush on Aleksei because when she asked for his name, she became bashful (she had no reaction to our names). After getting Aleksei’s burger we walked across the street to Arby’s where Dom and I ordered the grossest (albeit newest) option on the menu. We each had a Porkbelly sandwich and I don’t regret it one bit. It was an amazing burger and I’d order it again given the chance.

We headed back to the rear parking lot at The Ritz where HH’s vehicle had been re-parked next to ours. The trailer was opened and Rob, Meg and Brad were practicing a song on their set. The vocal pair worked on the Rob’s harmonies. Lauren Jordyn and Jessie were also in the area hanging out/listening to the practice. It was a peaceful moment that made me realize it’s worth practicing even the smallest details for a performance. The performance went underway and I was finally able to hear HH’s set for the first time and it was incredible. They wrote some truly beautiful songs and to hear it accompanied with all the bells and whistles they had on stage, it was magical.

After our set had finished it was time to pack up and move to our destination. The venue and their promoter insisted we take our time since there wasn’t an early curfew. We slowly packed away the drums and guitar while talking to the other bands and members of the audience. Essentially we were all hanging out at the back parking lot. At one point I stepped out of the venue to see a man in a blue tracksuit rapping for Lauren and Jordyn. I think he tried to sell them drugs. After everything had been packed away we decided where to go for a late-night dinner. We decided to go to a nearby IHOP but not before we learned about each other’s love for the same YouTube video. For RHD’s set we used audio clips from a bizarre video called “YOLO”, an animated video about two girls having a great time at the club. It turns out HH and RHD had a mutual love for the video, and thus began a new wave of shouting “drunk” and quoting the video throughout the tour. The moment of realization I’ll never forget!

Chris lent HH a walkie-talkie for the drive while we had the other one in the RV. We used it to radio back and forth directions on how to get to the IHOP. Most of the time we used the walkie-talkie to sing songs to each other during that drive. We arrived at the IHOP for a grand meal while we got to know more about each other. After eating we went to a Walmart to call it a night, however not everybody slept immediately. Myself, Jessie, Rob and Brad took a stroll inside the 24-hour Walmart and I bought myself a beverage. We found automated Walmart wheelchairs and raced them back to our parked vehicles. I actually loved those chairs and wished more Walmarts in Canada had them. The night was getting chilly and the fog was coming in thicker so we decided to end the day. We were in for a long drive the next morning.

All photos by Jessie Lau