Missouri Perks

Thursday July 11, The See tour day 13, leaving Kansas City:

Missouri was rejuvenating.

We stayed and played in Springfield on Tuesday and got the star treatment from Joe’s parents Bill and Peggy— they let us stay in their beautiful home, cooked us a delicious steak dinner, stayed out late to see our show, made us french-press coffee in the morning, and then took us out for Mexican food in the afternoon! Luckily we were also well received by Springfieldonians not blood related to our lead singer. We played at the charmingly hip, if decaying club, The Outland Barroom to a friendly late-night crowd of PBR drinkers and received more compliments (and sold more merchandise) than any other show of our tour thus far. Though my first impression of Springfield was unflattering (the land of strip-malls and mega-churches), I thought downtown Springfield was groovy— I enjoyed some delicious pre-show caffeine at a local coffee shop called the Mudhouse, strolled the spacious sidewalks, and even got to view Saturn through a powerful telescope that a man had randomly set up on a street corner (seriously).

It was hard to leave the fine accommodations, food, payment, and people of Springfield. We were there just long enough to get really comfortable before having to depart abruptly for Kansas City. The touring rock-band experience is highly romanticized*, with uproarious shows, adoring fans, ecstatic partying, and fiery liaisons being the enduring stereotypical images. Yet for us (and I have to imagine the majority of touring bands), touring has included a lot of driving, packing/unpacking the van, sleeping on floors, and eating cheap food. In Springfield the perks of a settled, domestic life were made explicitly clear— never has a bed been so soft, steak tasted so delicious, or a shower felt so cleansing to me. Luckily we were spoiled again in Kansas City by Joe’s sister Mo who gave us cozy couches and beds to sleep on after our early show at the large, sleek, downtown venue, the Czar Bar. We played a short solid set, sold some merchandise, watched the other bands, went to Mo’s house, showered, got a full night’s sleep, and woke in time to watch a comically bad Kansas City morning show over cups of coffee. It was great.

Friday July 12, The See tour day 14, on the road to Denver:

I’m certainly not saying that the comforts of home are better than the fun of touring. The comforts of home are good in relation to the adventure and struggle of touring. A soft bed, morning coffee, frequent hot meals, friends/family, and a regular routine all sound extremely appealing to me right now and I know I will cherish them when I return home… for a while… then slowly but surely these things will become the norm again, I’ll probably begin to take them for granted, and eventually my home life will seem a bit boring; I’ll again crave the thrill of new people and places. Yes it is tempting to dream up “have your cake and eat it too” hypotheticals: What if we were famous and could afford to travel in a tour bus with all the luxuries of home, have a crew of roadies to unload for us, and still get to enjoy the excitement of playing shows in new places? Though I would certainly never turn that scenario down, I know that if we were to gain it, we would lose much of what is making this tour such a rich, authentic, and humbling experience— staying night to night with friends and friendly strangers, impressing new listeners with our performances, eating and hanging out for cheap (i.e. picnics in parks), loading/unloadiing our own equipment (great exercise), and truly appreciating any small temporary comforts. I daresay that I will never be ultimately satisfied by any particular circumstances (e.g. wealth, fame, romance, talent, victory)— every gain in one area is counterbalanced by a loss in another. I think that the only way for circumstances to actually be satisfying is for them to perpetually change. Knowing this, I hope that I continue to have opportunities in my life (both musically and personally) to shift between periods of comfort and adventure, abstinence and indulgence, and consistency and novelty.

*I have no doubt in my mind that in the future I too will romanticize this tour and this time in my life. This is one of those “tell your grandkids about it” experiences, and I can easily see the story of the tour growing in stature as I get further and further removed from it. To be fair, much of this experience has been truly incredible: driving up to so many attractive skylines (Nashville, Louisville, Chicago, St. Louis, Kansas City, etc.), meeting so many interesting people (Ben, Darren, Valerie, Sarah, etc.), growing closer to my bandmates (Joe, Jason, Tyler, etc.), really hitting a strong stride in our performances, and enjoying the nightlife every now and again. This is likely, and thankfully what I will always remember about this tour. But to only remember the good times will be to create an idealized and inaccurate image of this tour. Yes it has been wonderful, and I wouldn’t trade it for the world, but I just want to point out now, while I still remember it, that it’s not all fun and freedom.

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