With their recently released sophomore album, Some Racing, Some Stopping, in their hot little hands, local indie-pop darlings Headlights take to the half-pipes and highways on the first leg of their North American tour. Guitarist and vocalist Tristan Wraight reports from the road.
February 16th. The Void Skate Shop. Lexington, KY.
It’s impossible to leave for tour on time. No matter how well you plan, you are certain to forget at least two things that you really wanted to bring. No matter how emphatically your booking agent says, “Just pack up the van the night before and get up early…suck it up,” there are still all the little things that you just can’t account for. Like your van dying right as you are finally ready to leave. It happens, though, and generally promoters are pretty forgiving. So, we were all fairly proud of ourselves for getting on the road only an hour late. Pretty good. Pretty good.
The show was a bit rough, but it was the first one and that’s usually the case. We were playing next to a half-pipe and there was a feeling that at any time any one of us could have gotten clocked in the head by an errant skateboard/skateboarder. Despite the persistent and well-founded warnings of my bandmates, Josh, Kyle (both Evangelicals) and I all tried the half-pipe after the show. They were better than me. I wiped out really hard. Twice. This is a really stupid thing to do, especially on tour, but it did make for an amazing photo of the rainbow-colored bruise on my knee. Fun night, good kids and Evangelicals are great. After the show, we found a college party. It was really more like a gross, wasted, leg hump party. So we danced to gross leg hump music in between the gross leg humpers (not right between, more like among) and tried not to get anything on us…on to the Travel Inn.
February 17th. The End. Nashville, TN.
The End in Nashville is one of the few really cool rock rooms left. It’s kind of like the Caledonia in Athens (where we will be tomorrow) or Empty Bottle in Chicago. The perfect balance of dingy and awesome, with great sound and a really nice staff. For a Sunday night, there was a great turnout, and much fun was had. We also got very swank hotel rooms at the historic Union Station Windham via a miracle of the internet (this never, ever happens, since we’re poooor). The rooms had ceilings that were eighteen feet tall. They were only 9 feet wide, so if you turned them on their sides they would be twice as wide, but apparently rich people are very, very tall and very, very skinny. Oh, and we got a superb shower. This is also a rarity.
February 18th. Paste session. Atlanta, GA. / Caledonia Lounge. Athens, GA.
It turns out that Atlanta has many “college” streets, avenues, places, drives, alleys, turnpikes, freeways, etc…the Paste studio is on College Avenue and our tour book listed it on College Street, leading to a fifty-minute cross town scavenger hunt, past College Place, etc… On the way, we picked up John’s girlfriend Renee from a coffee shop near the airport. After a few calls to Paste’s kind receptionist and some MapQuesting, we made it (Only an hour late! Which is practically early). Setting up our acoustic set is nice and easy—no big amps or drum kit, just keyboards and shakers, things like that. We played four songs: “Cherry Tulips,” “Market Girl,” “Towers” and “January.” There was a short videotaped interview afterwards in which our rather vocal celebration of booze may have come off more sincere than intended (or more factual?). That’s the hazard of having your words recorded as they come out of your mouth. Everyone at Paste was very kind (and clean-smelling) and they gave us a stack of mags for the van. Thanks Paste!
On to the evening show in Athens. It was a very long day. Traffic-y day. Got lost many times day. Athens is a great town though, and we have a lot of friends there. Maserati, Kindercore, I am the World Trade Center—they are all good buddies. The Evangelicals were smoking hot tonight (Seriously, we lit a cigarette off ‘em. Not John, though, he quit. Don’t worry, Renee). Really good. You want to know what is weird? Looking down to find someone licking your shoes. That is a pretty awful thing to have happen. Guess what? It happened to me. This kid was on his hands and knees licking my shoes. Licking them. Eewww and yuck! He wasn’t even cute. Apparently he’s kind of a famous town weirdo that drinks pee too. Diff’rent strokes, you know? Anyway, we stayed with Coley from Maserati, and Nick destroyed me at foosball three times while Brett played Rock Band with the Evangies on Playstation. I think I remember hearing “Black Hole Sun” and Faith No More’s “Epic.”
BARACK OBAMA is the shit.
February 19th. Village Tavern. Charleston, S.C.
Planet Earth is amazing.
The literal planet too.
But the DVD particularly.
Pat is a great sound guy.
The bartender is named after Brigadoon.
Renee lives in an historic neighborhood.
Ever thought about it?
Thanks, Dennis from Florida.
February 20th. The Boot. Norfolk, VA.
You know how I was talking about history last night? History is a spooky mutha fucka. We stayed in THE neighborhood that was built by slavery. Sadly, its beauty was severely compromised by its making. It’s no different than anywhere else in the world, though. Castles, cathedrals, pyramids, great walls…all built on the backs of human suffering. Drinking the blood of the working class is always in vogue. We stayed in the carriage house of a mansion in the battery of Charleston. These homes are what you think of when you hear words like “declaration of independence” or “give me liberty or give me death.” And it was really very beautiful. I think that the weed made me wax all negative about the shame of its heritage, ‘cause before I got stoned I was all about it, and then afterwards I was all like…“Man, man, it’s just such a shame. There’s so much beauty in life…and so much pain…” It was also probably the weed that made my blog from last night so awesome. John and Renee went for a walk this morning and saw dolphins, for Christ’s sake. If I went for a walk by my house I’d probably get run over by a FedEx truck. Or a drunk redneck. Or maybe, just maybe, I’d get bitten by a coyote. So. That was the morning.
We had a seven-hour drive to Norfolk. Back in the old days on tour, you had to entertain yourselves by doing laborious things like reading. Or thinking. Nowadays, kids can just play four-person Mario Kart on the DS. I’m old school though—I puzzle crosswords.
The Boot is a pretty sweet place. It’s a fancy Italian bistro that, kind of like Cinderella, turns into a rock club on the stroke of 9:45ish. After some good pasta and some good tequila, we played and had a great time. The guys who run this place ran a record store here called Relative Theory. They put on an in-store that we played the last two times coming through here. Sadly, it succumbed to the times of Sam Goodys and Best Buys. But that’s alright—they’re still putting on rock shows. If you haven’t bought Evangelicals’ The Evening Descends then you’re nuts. Almost as nuts as if you haven’t bought Headlights’ Some Racing, Some Stopping, which came out YESTERDAY!
February 21st. Iota. Arlington, VA.
First chance for breakfast on this tour! We were in no rush and only have to drive four hours. Egg sandwich at Cracker Barrel! It’s gross/delicious and cheap. Our dear friends Ben and Laura live in Charlottesville, which is right between Norfolk and D.C. They are filming us tonight, so we stopped by and picked them up. It’s a tight squeeze. Seven people, luggage and all of our gear, plus all the film stuff crammed into our poor old looney bin. That’s how you get “close,” know what I’m saying? Iota is very cool; everyone who works there is really great. Scott, the bartender, Dan, the sound guy, Steven, the owner, the door guy—everyone. This was our first time in Arlington, but we have always had a good time in D.C., and Arlington is just over the river, so it was a great show. Our friends in Page France showed up and it was a great surprise to see them. We did a long tour with them last year and love, love, love their music. Their new project is called The Cotton Jones Basket Ride and you need to check them out. Sam from Metal Hearts (who we also did a long tour with and coincidentally, who were Suicide Squeeze label mates with Page France) came, also a great buddy. Our friends Jared and Jacob came too. This is what I love about tour. All our buddies!
The Evangelicals blew the club’s fuse, which is the second time they have done that on this tour. See? Ferocious. They blow a fuse, lose all their amps and still manage to keep the crowd with them. During the power outage, Josh sang a crushing version of “Snowflakes”—so unmistakably amazing that by its midpoint, the crowd was listening so intently and quietly that you could hear a pin drop. Outstanding. We drove back to Charlottesville to stay with Ben and Laura. Ben is a chef at heart and a filmmaker by day, and decided to cook pounds of steamed shrimp, East Coast style, with three (count them, three) sticks of butter with lemon. It was a very serious midnight snack. There’s nothing like sitting around drinking wine and eating shrimp while talking with best friends until dawn.
February 22nd. Twisted Branch Tea Bazaar. Charlottesville, VA.
When you stay with Ben and Laura, you really have to get ready to eat. Gourmet. I don’t know how these two aren’t as big as a house. Ben made lobster eggs benedict with asparagus for breakfast. It’s no Cracker Barrel egg sandwich, but it’ll do, I guess. Then he started making all this handmade pizza. When I asked what kind he was making, he shrugged and said, “I dunno…caramelized onion…goat cheese…parmesan…truffle oil…garlic béchamel…seared shrimp…margherita…” These were not all on the same pizza. Oh, and apparently he has plans to make calamari and avocado tempura for tonight’s snack. We want our agent to route us through here every two weeks solely on account of friendship and vittles. (He won’t, though.) I’m used to one meal a day and I’m getting kind of worried about not wanting to leave. The venue tonight, the Tea Bazaar, is a teeny little cafe. They don’t sell coffee, but they have any kind of tea you could dream up. I guess that the people who work there aren’t baristas since there’s no coffee. What do you call tea bartenders? Teatenders? T-tenders? Sure. All the teatenders were very awesome. Gus shreds an accordion like melty butter.
As cool a place as this is, it is not a rock club. It is the kind of place that you go to lay on a couch and smoke a hookah, drink a matte and have some hummus. The sound system is fairly nonexistent, so Headlights and Evangelicals reinvented our sets to fit an acoustic setting. We both love to bring the rock, but it was really fun to try this out. All’s well that ends well, and now it’s time to end well because Laura is getting that avocado tempura going.
Life is good.
Headlights continues racing, and rarely stopping, on tour through April 6th. Catch them at The Canopy Club on March 6th, or at Schubas (Chicago) on March 7th—both are record release parties.
All photos courtesy of Headlights.