Smile Politely

On the road with Tara Terra, part two

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, Tara Terra recaps the second half of their tour. Check out the first half here.

July 2nd

I’ve been reminded each day of each of our hosts’ generosity, and today was no exception — Joey’s aunt Carey and her two sons Tanner and Ian had provided us two bedrooms (plus floors) as well as a breakfast spread in the morning. We’d arrived at their house east of Atlanta late the previous night, and only realized in the morning that there was a massive lake in their backyard.

After breakfast, we all changed into swimmable clothes and went for it — absolutely tore up the water. We sneak-attacked Emily on a paddle board (Colin won), played chicken with Tanner and Ian on our shoulders (Tanner won), and blasted our own album on their boat’s stereo system. Call us narcissists, but there’s something that just feels right about listening to your tracks through a speedboat on a lake in Georgia, right? Joey and Colin also made the mistake of leaving their wet clothes in a plastic bag in our car-top carrier.

Then we left for Charlotte — a four-hour drive that involved another crossing through South Carolina, thankfully with fewer Confederate flags this time. Among the driving adventures was attempting to find a quick oil change in the developing stages of Independence Day weekend, and driving through a storm system smack dab in the middle of South Carolina.

The show that night was at Crown Station, a small bar in Charlotte with an even smaller stage, but with a little clever placement, we were able to pack in and play to a welcoming crowd that included our friends in Valore and Angwish (whom we’d met in Johnson City, Tenn.). Lodging was provided that night by the Comfort Inn and Suites, as well as pizza by Papa John’s and entertainment by the local television channels.

July 3rd

The Magnetic Fields’ “Washington DC” played through our van speakers as we pulled up to our nation’s capital. We were starving as usual, so we decided to eat at a trendy public market that offered a plethora of dank food choices. Emily and Rachael chose to indulge in dosas, sort of like an Indian burrito. Everyone else got a Korean version of chipotle called TaKorean. After we ate, it was time to head to the venue.

The Tree House Lounge was an intimate but lovely upstairs show space with a sound engineer who doubled as a bartender. The stage could barely handle the amount of people in our band, but the crowd was really responsive to our set, a few people came up and danced! After our set was over we set out to view the monuments. The walk across the mall turned out to be “monumental” and a bit more than we bargained for, but it was worth it to stare deeply into honest Abe’s eyes. By the time the clock struck midnight (officially the fourth of July) we were standing in the phallic shadow of the Washington monument getting band pictures. Very appropriate, no?

One of the most amazing monuments was definately the MLK memorial. The statue is made to look like he is coming out of a stone wall, and he is surrounded by some of his most well known quotes. After taking in all the monuments, we had a long ass walk back to the car. Luckily we were welcomed by Bos’s aunts who lived nearby. After all that excitement, we fell immediately to sleep, like sweet little babies.

July 4th

For concern of Fourth of July traffic, the gang left the cushy accommodations of Boswell’s aunts’ D.C. apartment for Brooklyn, N.Y. Luckily, traffic wasn’t too bad. However, we ran into some minor car trouble along the way and had to pull over. Basically, a small piece of lining on the back right tire was coming off, so we cut it off. It was bound to be one of those problems that was bound to get gradually worse, but we’d at least survive the drive to NYC.

The band was set to play at this bar/pizzeria called The Place that had a back room where the show was held. Most of us grabbed food at the bar served by very friendly staff who were being harassed by their asshole manager.

The bill was shared with two bluegrass/folk groups, one named Deltaz who was on tour from California. The wood-floored, glass-walled show room only had a handful of people when we got there. Our audience was maybe five people consisting of Boswell, Rachael’s friend, and Deltaz. The set felt pretty tight nonetheless, plus the guys from Detlaz seemed to dig it.

Since it was only around 5 p.m. at this point, we headed to our Airbnb for night in Brooklyn. New York is a bitch of a city to drive through, but Bos was up to the challenge. After settling in and indulging in some 40s the band was greeted by Ben Lee and Nick Rainey, Alleya’s long anticipated surprise for the band.

As the evening wore on, some folks split up for various plans, some which included a rooftop party in Brooklyn, complete with the perfect night time view of the NYC skyline and all the fireworks that were going off.

Some of us awoke half hungover to good news: the man who’s place we crashed in never accepted the credit card payment through Airbnb, which means we got a free place to stay for a night. Good work, Squad.

July 5th

We split up in little groups for the day — Emily visited with her significant other, Alleya and Bos explored the town, and parts of Brooklyn. We all visited a giant food festival at different points of the day, full of great smelling meats and sweet iced drinks. Somehow, after a day of shopping in thrift stores, exploring Brooklyn and Manhattan and seeing some sights, we all ended up at a cute little grilled cheese joint. Best grilled cheese in town or they owe you a beer was the slogan. Anyway, we did indeed have some beers and headed right into the venue for the night.

Rockwood Music Hall is, shall I say, adorable. It’s this tiny (but fancy) bar with a little stage and a baby grand, and we were more than happy to be playing there for the evening. But because we are a band of six, we didn’t all fit on the stage. Colin and Alleya had to rock the floor and get super close to the audience, which we think worked out splendidly. In addition to that detail, the audience closest to us ended up being from Champaign and they were extremely excited to see another Champaign #squad hanging out in NYC.The show was one of our tightest yet, our group seems to continually get closer and more in the zone!

July 6th

We spent our first day of break enjoying some free time in New York City. It was a mix of sight-seeing and exploration around all parts of Manhattan. We ventured to Central Park and tried some of the infamous soup dumplings on the Upper East Side. After we walked till we could stand no more and Alleya spent all of her money to suffice her shopaholic problem, we packed the car to head out of the city and toward our next stop.

As we began to leave, we realized our back right tire was no good. It was almost a fun time driving to multiple tire shops in Manhattan and sitting in line with the various cab cars that also needed new tires. After three attempts to find the correct tire and a drive through Harlem, we eventually got the car ready to go and drove out to Pennsylvania where we spent the night.

July 7th

Today, we drove through miles and miles of various states. Included in this momentous journey was our 3rd visit to Popeye’s, a stop at a Cabela’s with a frightening amount of automatic weapons, and a hotel suite for Alleya’s birthday.

July 8th

The ride to Kentucky was filled with St. Vincent, rain, and murmurs about what the show would hold for us. According to Boswell, the show was to be “in a barn or something,” which raised more questions than it answered. We rolled off the interstate into a vast expanse of farmland which looked eerily similar to Tolono, and braced ourselves for a Kentucky welcome.

After passing several barns, we discovered that we would not be playing in any of them, but would rather be terrorizing the Owensboro Country Club. We pulled up to a huge house in the middle of a ritzy neighborhood and unloaded our gear with the help of our hosts, Supertrash, who were just in the middle of an intense frisbee sesh. I mean, 20ft tall mirrors, a bathroom for every bedroom, and the dopest porch I’d ever laid eyes on, and the house was filled with hospitable, friendly and funny folk —the band agreed that the venue was rad, but the question remained: who would come out to a house show in such a high end neighborhood?

But Owensboro was ready to party. Many of the residents informed us that there wasn’t really any other place for music in town, other than a bar “for metal bands” and an auto shop “for hardcore bands” so this house became a haven for many of the bands and fans of Owensboro. The first act of the night, Pinky Swear, lead off with some heart-wrenching spoken word and guitar (FFO: La Dispute), and were followed by Traveller, another duo who filled the room with thunderous drums, crunchy guitar and a powerful belt. We watched the bands and met the locals, who were some of the friendliest folk I’ve had the chance to met so far.

Then Tara Terra took their place under the colossal mirror, and proceeded to play one of the funnest sets of tour (in my opinion). The crowd was engaged, we were having fun, I felt like I was suffocating in good vibes. Despite my slop-fest behind the drums, TT walked off feeling like rockstars. Seriously, people of Owensboro, y’all were too much fun.

Supertrash’s set was phenomenal. I can’t think of another set where literally everyone in TT was head-banging or dancing. We all jumped along to some catchy originals and sang our hearts out to some nostalgic Weezer covers. Incredible hosts and headliners, the guys and gal of Supertrash knew how to throw a show, and how to have a good time.

The rest of the night was a little hazy (for me), but I definitely remember watching Ricky and Morty in the basement while double fisting some Cinna-Stix from Dominoes. That was cool, too.

July 9th

Due to a lot of ambiguity with our show and its organization, we decided to cancel our Bloomington, Ill. stop and drive all the way up to Chicago. We stopped for a little while in Indianapolis so Alleya could visit some family and made it to Chicago around 10 p.m. We dropped off everyone with their various homies and went to bed.

July 10th

Friday was one of our best shows yet. We met up at the venue, the Abbey Pub, after a night apart staying with various friends and family. We knew this was going to be a great show no matter what because we were playing with our brother band, the 92s.  Luckily, we had a lot of downtime before the show started, so we filled up on some upscale pub food at the Abbey. Those of us who were of age took advantage of drink tickets provided by the venue as well.

After a sound check in which we were able to achieve a great mix, people started to trickle into the venue. This time was different though, because many of the audience members were our family and friends! We ended up drawing a huge crowd, and it felt great to perform in front of people who knew and loved us. Our show was full of energy and the joy that came with coming home after a long but rewarding tour.  After we played, we rejoiced with our friends and enjoyed listening to the Hudson Branch, whose rockin tunes and harmonies closed out the night. Once the show was over, we hauled back to Rachael’s parents house where we fell asleep with sweet smiles on our faces.

July 11th

Rachael’s parents treated the band to a delightful breakfast feast consisting of blue cornmeal pancakes, vegetarian sausage, bacon, fruit salad and mimosas. It might be fair to say that we’ve been pretty spoiled during this tour.

After packing up the van one last time we hit the road back home to Champaign in the absence of Boswell who was staying in Chicago for a wedding. Immediately we headed to Mike n Molly’s for an early load in even though it was to be a later show with Euriah.

In our downtime before the show the band was once again treated to more than enough food at a dinner party that Joey’s parents so generously held in honor of our homecoming.

And it could not have been a greater homecoming show for the band. Unfortunately the rain moved the show into the upstairs room of Mike n Molly’s. Euriah kicked off the energy of the evening with a hard hitting set. Despite perhaps a lengthy sound check (there are six people in the band after all) the room appeared pretty full, quite possibly our largest Mike n Molly’s audience to date. We were humbled by the number of friends and family who had come out in addition to some new comers. Never quite expected the audience to know our music well enough to sing along.

Naturally, we couldn’t have felt more at home on this last show of our first ever tour. And as far as first tours go, things could not have gone more smoothly. We’ve met so many new people—some interesting, some a bit weird, some downright dangerous, but mostly very cool. We are so grateful to have had this opportunity to travel and share our musical passion and would like thank everyone who made this possible and worthwhile.

But for now, it feels pretty good to relax at home until the next band adventure. Do you think anyone missed us when we were gone? Nah.

Photos courtesy of Alleya Weibel.

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