Turning 21 while being on tour with a band is an amazing experience to say the least. Even more so when you just happen to be playing a show in the state you were born in. My account begins in a little place called Atlanta the day before my annual celebration.
We were wandering around a multi-million dollar park right across the street from The Masquerade where we would later be playing. Eventually we were greeted by Jim, the man who was interviewing us for a podcast. Jim was a very friendly character who was associated with Zone Music Reporter, a venture that Molly’s father is quite involved in. Jim kindly offered us each a bottle of water that he had gone out of his way to provide us with and I happily accepted the token due to the amount of sweat pouring from my body due to the thick denim skinny jeans I had for some reason decided to wear in the sweltering heat. We came across a shady spot in the grass, and as we sat to begin the interview Anthony proceeded to kick up some dog shit on my shirt which luckily did not stain due to the fact that it had been baking in the hot Georgia sun for an extended period of time. I was overcome with a degree of anxious anticipation for this was my first real interview as a musician, which has been somewhat of a life goal for me. After a short briefing and microphone check, Jim fixed his headphones to his ears and pressed record. After an hour or so the interview was finished leaving me with a major sense of accomplishment. The band and Jim exchanged words of gratitude and took a long walk back to the ever-faithful Honda minivan. Upon entering our chariot we excitedly rambled about the interview and decided to stop at a nearby strip mall to kill some time before our load-in time at the venue.
[[Check out our interview for The Sunset District here]]
We pulled into the parking lot of The Masquerade to find several other bands unloading their gear from their respective vehicles. I casually exited the van and lit a cigarette as members of the band hurriedly began opening the back hatch to grab our things. After carrying in the remainder of said things, I took time to explore the evening’s musical sanction. The Masquerade is a rather large venue, evidenced by several posters advertising notorious acts scheduled to play future shows. It was gratifying to think that tonight I would be playing on a stage that these much larger acts would also perform on. The venue was split into three main stages themed Heaven, Purgatory and Hell. I found it a bit ironic that the Heaven stage was closed off and that we would instead be in Purgatory for the night. Purgatory had a large stage, sort of a rarity in my tour experience, and very high ceilings which provided the room with exceptional acoustics. There were many bands on the bill that night; in fact it was the largest bill of our tour. Luckily we were not the first act scheduled to play, so the crowd was gathered by the time we went on. Jim had returned with his family and friends to have his first live Wooden Wings experience which I was sure he was highly anticipating after our interview hours before. The show was one of the most memorable for me thus far. We received innumerable compliments on our set and did very well on the night’s merchandise sales. As I wandered the venue euphorically I looked at my clock and noticed that in a mere 3 minutes I would be of legal drinking age. I quickly ran over to an employee of the venue eagerly awaiting the wristband which I was unable to receive before midnight. As soon as the hour struck I headed to the bar and received my first beer from a bartender who was obviously much less enthusiastic about this drink than I was.
Our night in Purgatory then drew to a close as we neatly packed everything back in the van and drove to the home of our next host. His name was Charles, an acquaintance of Anthony’s family. Charles had been at our show earlier in the evening with several friends, who I was surprised to find all still gathered in his living room to greet us with freshly made pizza. Once they left, Charles accompanied me and the boys on his front porch for late-night conversation and a stiff drink to wish me a happy birthday. When I awoke the next morning I came upon an outdoor feast of a breakfast that Charles had prepared for us early that morning, including a makeshift cake made of zucchini nut bread complete with a candle. He was a truly remarkable host to us during our time in his home and I was more than grateful for his efforts. After a hot meal and a humble goodbye we once again set out on the road.
We arrived at the Firewater venue in my birth-state of South Carolina that evening full of delicious Chinese food from my birthday dinner. My initial impression of this place was a skeptical one being that the only people outside of it were what looked like 14-year-old kids smoking cigarettes in the parking lot and a running car containing three drugged-out adults who somehow managed to offer us pills despite the fact that they were barely able to hold their heads up from what I imagine was the intensity of their trips, all the while with an infant in the back seat. Perhaps in a birthday miracle however, the venue turned out very differently from this initial impression. As the bar filled with patrons and other band members, I met several amiable people. The stage we were playing on was as large as Purgatory and had a more impressive light-show to boot. Before we got on stage I received many phone calls from friends and relatives from which I became overwhelmed with a wave of nostalgia and emotion, which fueled an excellent performance for the night. Our reception from the crowd was surreal, and for a single moment I felt like a rock star as people rushed on stage throwing compliments towards us like a group of kids throwing empty bottles at a train.
As I laid down for the night to end a truly memorable day, I slipped out of consciousness with a peaceful sense of accomplishment and gratitude toward my bandmates who completed my experience. Here we are, only halfway through now. We’re shipping out again soon for a new show in a new city and I can’t wait to see what the remainder of this tour will bring.