Smile Politely

On the road with Spandrels, part two

Editor’s Note: In part two of their Tour Diary, Spandrels fills us in on the rest of their trek across the East Coast. Read part one here.

Day four: Monday, March 19th in Boston, MA


The next day, we got an obligatory Philly cheesesteak on our way out of Philly. We got word that morning that our friends in DUMP HIM had to drop our Boston show that night, but our other friends in Cosmic Johnny were able to hop on the bill. We got to Boston around 7 p.m. and loaded into The Burrow, where Kaley from the band Baby! lives and hosts shows.

Cosmic Johnny

As folks started showing up for the gig, we got the chance to meet a lot of friends from the internet as well as some friends we don’t get to see often like our pals Ari and Larz. Cosmic Johnny played an incredible set, and shortly after, California guitar duo Sour Widows started playing.

Just as they started, though, things took a turn: someone had called the cops during Cosmic Johnny’s set and a Boston police officer was soon banging on the door. Kaley was able to get him to leave (by telling him it was just a band practice, I believe) and Sour Widows were able to finish their set. But we knew that Spandrels would be too loud and hatched a plan to move the show.

Larz suggested that we move the show to her small practice space at a Brighton practice studio called The Sound Museum. Everyone who drove to The Burrow offered to shuttle over show-goers, and Spandrels and Baby! would just use the bass and drum backline at the studio. As Sour Widows finished, we started loading up the van with our other gear and Larz and Julia went to get another P.A. since we couldn’t bring the one from The Burrow, which was wired into a huge soundboard.

Ellen, Larz, and other showgoers waiting outside of Larz’s practice studio at the Sound Museum.

Most folks ended up making their way to The Sound Museum, and by the time we got there, there was a decent crowd waiting in the stairwell. As I walked up, my friend Ellen told me she had some more bad news: Larz and Julia accidentally locked Julia’s keys and the P.A. in the trunk of Julia’s car. Thankfully, our friend Christine had a key to the practice space and we were able to just plug the microphone into one of the speakers in the space. Larz was able to get a ride over (and informed us that she fell in the snow and ripped her pants while trying get into Julia’s locked car) and after some brief trouble with the bass rig, we were finally able to play in a tiny room filled with 20 or so people.

Larz acting as my human mic stand during our set.

After all the chaos it felt so good to play our set, and afterwards we all agreed that it was probably our favorite show we’ve ever played. We covered Sleater-Kinney’s “Light Rail Coyote,” which has more than one vocal part, but since we only had one microphone, I ended up singing the whole thing by myself for the first (and hopefully only) time. The mic stand wouldn’t reach, so Larz had to stand directly behind me and hold it up to my mouth while I sang. If a relocated show in a tiny practice space with a human mic stand isn’t the most DIY thing ever, I don’t know what is.

Baby! played a quick set after us, and soon after we headed back over to The Burrow to eat pizza and watch Shrek 2 with some of our friends before crashing at Larz’s apartment for the night.

We can’t thank Kaley, Larz, and everyone else enough for making that show happen. What was a bad situation turned into an incredibly memorable night with friends, and it all happened because our friends were determined to keep the show going. It was especially cool to see so many people we DIDN’T know make their way to see us at the practice space. While we hope our next Boston show goes more smoothly, we’re glad our first show there turned out the way it did.

Day five: Tuesday, March 20th in Brooklyn, NY 

The next morning we got breakfast at an Allston diner called The Breakfast Club with Larz, Ellen, Julia (who eventually got their car unlocked!), and Mike from Cosmic Johnny. Larz gave us a ton of bread, pizza, and pastries from the bakery she works at before we left for New York which we enjoyed in the van on our way there.

I checked the weather and saw that a snow storm was set to hit New York the next morning, so we made plans to leave for Maryland right after our show. We loaded in at ALPHAVILLE in Brooklyn and ran into all sorts of old friends, including my longtime friend from the internet who I met for the first time that night.

Human People

This was our biggest show of the tour: by the time we played, the back room of ALPHAVILLE was packed with new and old friends. All the bands on the bill were great, but I was especially excited to play with our friend Hayley’s band Human People.

We dipped immediately after the show to drive all night to D.C. in an effort to beat the rapidly approaching winter stormm because the last thing we wanted was to get stuck in a snowstorm in the Tri-State Area. We eventually crashed at Isaac’s friend and former bandmate in Withershins Colin’s house around 5 a.m. and got some much-needed rest after a long night in the car.

Day six: Wednesday, March 21st in College Park, MD

We had a snowy, lazy day in Maryland which was spent snuggling Colin’s cat and puppy before grabbing some mid-afternoon Waffle House on our way to our show at MilkBoy ArtHouse in College Park that evening.

One of the local bands dropped off the bill that day but Normal State added on as an opener last minute. MilkBoy is a gorgeous space that you enter through a fake bookshelf door and was by far the nicest-looking space we played on tour. After soundcheck, we got the news that Normal State’s car slid off the road and they couldn’t make it to the show. Lady Pills from Boston ended up playing first and were amazing, and after we played, Two Inch Astronaut took the stage. It was very special (especially for Isaac) to get to play with Two Inch right before their hiatus, so even though the weather caused some problems for the show, we still had an overall positive experience in the D.C. area. Another highlight of this show was the free food: I used my meal ticket for MikBoy’s hangover burger, and I’m still thinking about it five days later as I write this.

Day seven: Thursday, March 22nd in Pittsburgh, PA

The Long Hunt 

After another comfortable night’s sleep at Colin’s house in Maryland and a brief pitstop at WaWa, we made our way to Pittsburgh for our second-to-last show of tour. That morning, we got yet another round of bad news: Howlers, the venue we were playing at in Pittsburgh, got broken into the night before and could no longer host the show. The locals were able to move the show to the Smiling Moose, but the show had to start much later in the night to accommodate for the change. On the bright side, this gave us more time to spend with our friends from Illinois Brandon and Miles, who hosted us in Braddock for the night. We grabbed dinner at Thai Gourmet before loading into the venue.

Thinking about Jaime Lee Curtis at the Smiling Moose.

Smiling Moose had a lot of cool horror-themed decor, but the scariest thing about the venue was definitely the rickety back staircase that we used to load up our gear. Turnout for the show wasn’t great (the time and venue change certainly didn’t help) but we played well, got to hang out with friends, and saw some good local Pittsburgh bands. Pittsburgh was also the most beautiful city we visited on this tour. We were all blown away by how hilly and gorgeous it is, and I know that I, personally, want to try to visit again soon just to explore the city.

The view from where we stayed in Braddock, PA.

Day eight: Friday, March 23rd in Columbus, OH

Friday was a day off in Columbus. We stayed with Isaac’s friend Ryan, who had a lovely house, two of the cutest cats in the world (Tupelo and Sandwich), and a goddamn pasta maker. After eating some delicious pasta and zucchini, we went to a lesbian sports bar called Slammers and eventually made our way to a gay club called Axis to see Morgan McMichaels, who was the first queen eliminated off of RuPaul’s Drag Race All-Stars Season 3. You might also know her as the face behind the recent “is she gonna jump from there?” meme.

Columbus had a much more vibrant gay scene than any of us expected which was a very pleasant surprise, and our one day off ended up being a lot crazier than any of us expected. The one downside would be that seeing Morgan McMichaels resulted in us incessantly quoting “is she gonna jump from there?” every five minutes for the rest of tour, but it’s the price we had to pay for being gay in Columbus.

Day nine: Saturday, March 24th in Indianapolis, IN

We made our way to Indianapolis in the mid-afternoon to play our last show of tour at State Street Pub. There was crazy snow outside of Indy that delayed our arrival, but we eventually made our way to Pioneer (the restaurant where Casey works) and ate some delicious food and drank some much-needed coffee before loading into State Street.

Playing Indianapolis is always fun since Casey lives there and knows everyone and their gay brother, and our last night of tour was no exception. State Street was packed and we played with Casey’s friends in Hales Corner and Thunder Dreamer, who both brought the house down. I was definitely feeling pretty exhausted at this point and personally didn’t play the best set, but the rest of my talented bandmates got the job done. I think I was in a weird space mentally with tour being over yet not quite over (since we still had to drive back to Champaign the next day) on top of all the work I had to catch up on when I got home, so it was difficult to be fully present during our set.

Playing our last set of tour was bittersweet: I was excited to get home and sleep in my own bed, but wasn’t quite ready to transition back into school and work life. Tour didn’t officially end until the next day when we drove back to Urbana on Sunday morning. We ate at Waffle House on our way out of Indy and took the “Which L Word Character Are You?” Buzzfeed quiz. For those who’d like to know: Casey is Alice (obviously), Isabel is Bette, Isaac is Dana, and I’m a Carmen/Tasha cusp. After the two hour drive back to C-U, tour was officially over and we all made our separate ways home.

I (and I’m sure everyone else in Spandrels) certainly won’t miss taking the van topper on and off Car-rie Vanstein every day, the long drives or the lineup and venue changes, but I’m grateful for the time we got to spend together on this wild ride of an East Coast tour and for all the people we met along the way.

Spandrels’ next C-U show is Friday, April 13th at The Iron Post with Sleeping Okami, and Lung.

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