Smile Politely

On the road with Kowabunga! Kid, part one

Editor’s Note: In Tour Diaries, local bands write to report back from wherever their tours take them, for better or for worse. In this edition, Kowabunga! Kid’s Aaron Shults recaps the first half of their tour.

Day One: Chicago

I woke up pretty early to get the tires changed. I waited in line for 30 minutes for the man to tell me that I don’t need tires. Hmm. We’ll see. Kamila and I met up with Jake, Brian came over, and we left for Chicago.

Brian and I sang songs of the gospel the entire trip. We got to the show in Chicago pretty early so we walked around and our good friend Kevin pulled up on a bike. Jimmy and Christian came to the show and we all ate Indian food. I love Indian food. Got back to the show and my old roommates at Garfield’s Garden, Sam and Richie were there. So many other great friends were there too, shoot.

The show started with Crude Humor and Black Hole Youth. Both of which were pretty tight. We went after and I felt really good with how we played. The sound was on point. We played a few songs that we had never played before with our new drummer Jake, which went nicely. After us The Wrong played which was fun. They changed everything to black lights and there were laser beams and it was tite.

After the show we went back to Richie’s place and I fell asleep almost instantly and didn’t really hang out, oops.

Day Two: Cleveland

Woke up at Richie’s and got ready to do his podcast, “Not That Off The Record, This Off The Record.” He does the podcast through Champaign’s newest little media outlet Ghost Track. We all sat around his computer where he Skyped his co-host Nick and we talked about the new Peach Kelli Pop LP.

After we finished up we found donuts at Stan’s Donuts. I had a pistachio donut and everyone else had a banana donut for some reason. While we were eating we got a text from our best friend Kris from the band The Valenteens. We met him and a whole bunch of other friends at a cafe. We all smiled for a while but then had to go. We stopped by Bric-a-Brac, said bye to Richie, and got on the road.

The trip to Cleveland was 5.5 hours and we ended up leaving at 2 p.m. I get super anxious about being on time, but we ended up being fine.

The show in Cleveland was a band lotto benefit show for ‘Not’ Horrible Fest, a fest that Kamila and I went to last year and one I really enjoyed. A band lotto is when a bunch of people get together and start a band for a single show. The third band that played, I can’t remember their band lotto name, used a keyboard instead of using bass which really worked. Again, I feel like we played pretty well. Felt a little out of place playing pop punk at a hardcore band lotto, but it was really nice of Richard to let us play his show.

After the show we decided to get a head start to Syracuse. It was pretty nice driving around at night; Brian told us a pretty scary story. That is one of my favorite parts of touring. Driving at night either listening to Coast to Coast or sharing scary stories, feeling just a little bit nervous as you watch the road and your eyes play tricks on you. Everyone is on the edge of their seat. These are the moments that I truly cherish about tour.

Day Three: Syracuse

Niagra FallsThe next day we woke up and went straight to Tim Horton’s. As we were heading to Syracuse we came to the realization that we are so close to Niagara Falls. None of us had been before so we decided to make the small detour.

The Falls were beautiful, we walked around the park and watched boatloads of people get splashed. Kamila was saying how surprisingly touristy it was, I felt the opposite, actually. There were obvious touristy places, especially surrounding the park, but the park itself wasn’t too bad. We left the falls with a bunch of smiles and continued on our way.

We got to Syracuse and pulled up to the venue, an art space called Spark. It reminded me of something familiar that I couldn’t really put my finger on. It was a really cool space. The band Technical Ecstasy started the show. They were punk with some tight guitar riffs. Drums were on point too, pretty cool. Next was Flip Shit, which exuded some straight up rockabilly vibes. Their frontman had some moves. We played and wow, felt really good again. While we were playing I caught myself smiling….. 🙂

After the show we met Michael from the band Hunted Down. He was very nice and let us stay at his empty mansion. He and Jake talked about wrestling and I couldn’t keep up. I am only familiar with WWE but they went all over like PWG and all of everything else. Michael was an incredibly nice man, I hope to meet him again and when I do, I hope I can keep up!

Day Four: Boston

The theme surrounding this entire trip seems to be donuts. When we woke up we Yelped local Syracuse donuts and found a lovely little place called Serres Donuts. It was really cheap and very nice. There was a very nice lady who worked there who we talked to for a bit.

The trip to Boston was a fairly quick one, no detours, just straight ahead. We got into town with ample time to spare so we decided to hit up record stores. There was a record store called Weirdo Records that was basically in a closet. I saw some people holding some good stuff but unfortunately the three other people in the shop made it too crowded to browse anything so we left.

Still having lots of time before the show and everyone feeling pretty antsy for adventure, we decided to seek out the Boston Harbor. It was pretty far but we followed Siri’s directions until we got to a small little island. It was pretty obviously not where they dumped the tea but it was a really pretty area. We climbed around on rocks and ran up steep hills. Brian even got to see the ocean for the first time!

We got back to the show, which was on the second floor of a restaurant in kind of the college area. Everyone basically shared gear, which was really cool because we parked kind of far and the roads in Boston were hilariously confusing. All the bands that played were really great! The band Fucko played after us, Kamila said that they kind of reminded her of Lemuria. Their drummer was just moving to Philly, I’m pretty glad we got to see them before he left! After, the band Brave Hands played. Their drummer lives on the west coast, so it was a real treat to see them too! Sneeze played last and killed it too, shoot.

After the show we went to Mambo’s house and talked about basically how small of a world we live in. He knew a lot of people we knew and people we were going to meet on the rest of the tour. Mambo, and really everyone we met in Boston, was so incredibly nice. It’s so cool to know that even when you’re half way across the country people are there to have your back. I can’t wait to hang out with Mambo or go to Boston again.

Day Five: New York City

We woke up in Boston, said our goodbyes to Mambo, got our donut, and we were off to the big apple. The drive wasn’t super bad. The tolls though, woof! When we were passing through Connecticut we saw a big sign that said Dinosaur State Park. The decision was unanimous so we stopped by. There was a big dome where you could look at a few fossils and there were some trails. We started walking the trails but got mobbed by mosquitos. We tried to keep going but the mosquitos got worse and worse. We eventually just ran for the car and got out of there as fast as we could.

Big City traffic was pretty bad and our GPS said we were only 1 hour and 1 minute away for a very long time. We eventually got to NYC and found a parking place by the venue. We started walking to the venue when we saw a bunch of cameras in the middle of the street. We were pretty confused until Christine Pallon, the music editor of the buzz, happened to walk up to us by happenstance and told us they were filming some Aziz Ansari show for Netflix. We walked by and saw Aziz and also Eric Wareheim directing from under a tent.

We were a little bit early for the show so we explored the neighborhood. We stopped by the old CBGB’s and I got some rice pudding that I had been dreaming about this whole trip. We made our way back, sound checked, and got ready to play. The show was kind of weird and we only really played to four of our friends, but it was cool. I thought the sound was good, and we got done pretty early.

After the show we explored the neighborhood a bit more and ended up going to an improv show at the UCB theater. The show wasn’t that great, but the stand up segments were pretty good. When it was over we headed back to our friends Paul’s apartment and crashed.

What happened to Kowabunga! Kid next? Check back with us tomorrow to find out.

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