Smile Politely

On the road with The Dry Look, part two

The Dry Look took on a week long tour, and they are reporting back for us as a part of our Tour Diaries series. You can read part one here, and read part two below, as guitarist Michael Kramer rounds things out for the second portion of their tour. The band performed at Cowboy Monkey last Friday.

Editor’s Note: While some edits are made on this type of piece, we like to leave them alone as much as possible. It’s kinda better that way, anyhow.


We spent an inordinate amount of time looking for a pharmacy, switched seats in the parking lot. I’m not much of a driver. I haven’t had a car for about a year and a half, maybe get to drive every two weeks or so — so that lack of experience made the last 30 minutes of the drive very harrowing. I’m not used to highways, hills, getting passed by Corvettes with one working headlight, constant low-level banjo hum, etc.

We loaded into the record store, Fond Object, and caught up with some old/good friends who moved out to Nashville a couple years back. We played in a tiny little room full of vintage clothing with Fischer’s Kitchen and Big If True. Both bands seemed like they stopped missing notes a couple years ago and just hadn’t hit a clam since. Nashville’s weird like that. This was the first set that felt comfortable for yours truly. Sickness at a manageable level, friends in the front row, broke a string but it didn’t slow us down/gave Nico an opportunity to razz me semi-heavily (audiences seem to like this, for whatever reason).

The Dry Look at Fond Object (above)

Big If True at Fond Object in Nashville (above), Fond Object (below)

We went to a christmas-themed karaoke bar called Santa’s with friends after the show, drank/chain-smoked. (Remember that other Tour Diary where I said this was a bad thing to do? I’m going to feel horrible in a couple paragraphs.) I watched a bunch of dudes with weird faces and well-trained voices do cloyingly/unpleasantly good covers of popular songs. I was forced to come to terms with the harsh reality that everyone in Nashville is better than me at every aspect of playing/singing/performing. Too late in the night to retreat into the cave at the heart of the self, simpler to draw from infinite internal wellspring of hibernian belligerence. I got up and sang “Dancing On My Own” — couldn’t find a note to save my life — and danced on my own. 20-minute drive back to the crash pad, made a half-hearted attempt to hang out and provide entertaining conversation, passed out on floor.

I woke up, made tea for everyone, did most of the dishes. Sam took over thank you note duties… likely for the best.

singing karaoke at Santa’s in Nashville


I spent most of this drive staring straight ahead with earplugs in. I felt pretty horrible (told you!) I didn’t do any writing or reading, hard enough to unwillingly occupy phlegm-filled flesh prison without also having to think. No one wanted to stop for food so we drove straight through and ended up hitting St. Louis right at rush hour. We couldn’t collectively figure out what to do, decided to use the Chipotle coupons that were given to us earlier in the trip. There was a moderate amount of confusion re: payment/bathrooms/etc., strange vibes until we ate. Sickness plus lack of communication plus confinement equals a van suffused with vaguely discordant vibes.

We went to the same bar/record store we went to the last time we were in STL, Blueberry Hill/Vintage Vinyl). I spent $5 on a hot chocolate, still not sure why. (lead in the water?) It took about 30 minutes of thoughtless unmoored herd animal/vagrant wandering before a record store employee very earnestly asked if I needed help. I made him throw away my hot chocolate.

Above: Michael at Vintage Vinyl in St. Louis, MO, cocoa in hand

Below: Tyler (right) and Nico (left) at Blueberry Hill in St. Louis, MO

Short drive to the Sinkhole. It started snowing hard right as we were loading in. First venue without a “green room” so far. I enjoyed getting to restring/warm up without having to make eye contact/small talk with anyone. Clean room opened for us, tight skate punk, good kind thoughtful human beings who I wish I had been mentally present enough to talk to. We turned in maybe the first “tour tight” set of the tour, packed up, crushed a couple Busches and watched Shitstorm nail their set. Sam must have called in some serious karmic favors, because we haven’t played with a bad band yet.

Sinkhole in STL (above), Shitstorm (below) at Sinkhole

We drove home on the surface streets through some heavy snow, our friend James in the middle of the back seat navigating. First night of the tour where I pulled my weight, party-wise. Not going to say when I went to bed, woke up at noon. I had “breakfast” at the same bougie place we went to last time. Ryan (our pragmatist, our healthy liver, our astral projector) showed up like three hours before the rest of us and read his book in the corner of the cafe until we got there. Settled on our band nicknames on the way out of town — mine’s pretty good.

Nico and our host, James, in St. Louis (above), Driving through a literal shit storm, after the show in St. Louis (below)


This felt like the shortest drive. It wasn’t, we’re just used to sitting in a van for hours on end now. Ryan didn’t want to hear any music so we listened to the one comedy CD in the car while I typed and typed and typed. We showed up to the last venue, State Street Pub, nice and early, had a surprisingly well-priced/portioned dinner at the bar. It was pretty quiet in there, bands had a weird ambivalent who-goes-first-but-does-it-matter-if-one-of-us-goes-first-no-one-is-even-here sort of conversation. I promised I’d stay sober and drive everyone else home. NRVOUS ended up playing first, some equipment hiccups but a darn fine set with some top-quality playing/writing. Their song about cigarettes was a huge hit with the smokers in the audience.

Nrvous at State Street Pub in Indianapolis (above)

I couldn’t seem to catch a break at this show. A significant amount of my technique is just “throw your hands around this-a-way and this noise will probably happen” which never happened, spent the entire show with that Smiths song about letting me get what I want in my head, hit enough clams to feed Indianapolis for years. I’m going to blame this one on sobriety. We packed up, rest of band finished their free beers, I took the wheel for the second time. This was the shortest drive so far. I was scared to death something would go wrong because we were so close to home, if that makes sense. “Entertained” the rest of the band with some “eclectic” music. Nothing went wrong. We’re home now.


I am very, very, very grateful to be home and alive. It was a minor miracle that we didn’t sleep in the van, run out of money, or experience any major equipment failures. All our relationships appear to be intact and we finished the tour in the black.

I took two Benadryl and slept in my own bed next to Tyler, who slept on top of the sheets/under his sleeping bag. I got a solid 10 hours in, mostly untroubled by thought. We went to Bentley’s pre-show, slammed three tallboys, and I hucked my limp carcass to Cowboy and helped load gear in for the very last time. I restrung my Telecaster, did not restring high E despite heavy gut vibes encouraging me to do so/readily available high E. I changed into tank top in familiar/glamorous Cowboy Monkey bathroom. Smoke in Space played first.

We the Animals at Cowboy Monkey, photo by Candie Kates Photography

We did our pre-set rituals upstairs, downstairs and straight into setup/line check. Had minor friction with the sound guy over volume of amplifier. We went straight into the set, rad as hell to be playing for so many familiar faces, first set in a hot minute where I have both the room and the inclination to jump around. My high E string snaps five songs in, gut vibes confirmed, switchover doesn’t slow things down much. We finally played the newest song in the set right. We packed up post-haste, got off stage, hung around to see We the Animals kill it. I have a massive, massive soft spot for that band/those people/their music. I skipped out on load-out to go back to Bentley’s. Karmic debt accumulated by refusal to load out hopefully repaid by cold stumble home.

I woke up for work at 7:30, found out I wasn’t on the schedule. Showered and grabbed breakfast at Sam’s Cafe. Thank you to everyone who helped us book, played with us, put us up for the night, put up with us in general, etc. Thank you to the people at Smile Politely. Thank you for reading this!

Top photo by Candie Kates Photography

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