I fully intend to sleep in on the first day of tour, but I’m wide awake by 9:30. I finish packing and have a leisurely breakfast, a bacon egg and cheese and a fancy coffee. The nearest good coffee to me is C. Lo, which does a cold brew with coconut milk and toasted coconut shavings in it. It is delicious as always and puts me in a good mood. I basically never have a leisurely morning to myself. Maybe someday I will become one of those people who routinely wakes up for things before it is an emergency to do so, but for now this is a fluke. We get to New Haven with plenty of time to spare despite having to make several stops to get various merch and gear items scattered between our houses and the practice space. Before going to the venue we stop at a park by the water where there are legit ten food trucks lined up next to each other. They are mostly taco trucks, and the array of taco options is dazzling. I decide to start out at a truck that advertises “tripletas” because I don’t know what that is. This is a basic principle of food selection: if you are eating the food of a culture other than your own, and you see something prominently displayed on the sign and you don’t know what it is, you should try it. The fact that it’s advertised means the proprietor is very proud of the job they do with this particular food, and/or its presence on the menu is important to people more familiar with this kind of food. The name “tripletas” evokes the Dominican “tres golpes,” which I love. The first time I got tres golpes I didn’t know what it was, I just liked that the name was self-explanatory to somebody. It turned out to be mashed green plantains, eggs, fried white cheese, and fried salami topped with pickled red onions, a delicious and filling combination. The three hits. The triplets. Three things you want to eat, together. I trust you, food truck. The primary item pictured next to the word “tripletas” looked very large, and I didn’t want to fill up at one place, so I opted to get my triplets in empanadilla form. The triplets turn out to be chicken, pork, and ham, with some melty American cheese (also like tres golpes, it is unclear which of the more than three ingredients count towards the named amount and which are uncredited contributors). It’s a tasty combo. Hearty and salty but not too much because the chicken balances the two pork elements. I can’t remember the last time I had an empanada that was fried to order rather than merely reheated, and I appreciate the freshness. So far so good.
The set is fine. We don’t fuck anything up but I feel unsteady. An old friend who’s living in New Haven to work on a political campaign comes through. Vote Lamont for CT governor, if that is a thing you can do, so he can have had a key role in a winning campaign and continue to climb the political ladder and one day exert a meaningful positive influence on our piss-poor electoral system. It’s always good to see a familiar face at an out of town show, and we shoot the shit until I happen to look up and see that everyone has packed except me. He has to get up early too, and we part ways. Cafe Nine seems to operate on a “no drink tickets, if you’re in the band you can just drink” policy, so I take a Jameson to sip on while I deal with my gear. More places should adopt this highly civilized approach to hospitality. We have a longish-for-nighttime drive ahead of us, as we are staying in Boston with Julian’s parents. This is a reliably great lodging situation, with a soft surface for everyone and even private rooms for two, plus a ton of food. This time it is Wegman’s sesame chicken, dumplings, and some homemade cold sesame noodles. I dig in hard, as I ate tacos at a weird time and never ended up having dinner. I sleep on my preferred couch for at least nine hours and awake rejuvenated. Then there is challah French toast with some fresh fruit. Perfect. Julian’s mom is a consumnate hostess. Also a truly threatening Scrabble player, to the extent that my goal is usually to lose by less than 100 points. Unfortunately we did not allow time for Scrabble on this trip. Sated, we set off for Portland.
The show in Portland is at the Apohadion Theater, which is less of a theater and more of a DIY spot in the industrial part of town. Like Silent Barn it started out illegal and went legit, which I guess is easier to sustainably do in Portland than back home. It reminds me more than anything of Goodbye Blue Monday, a place I did not grow to sufficiently appreciate until late in its life. There are seats and tables, and you can get beer and wine and tea. I would be a regular if I lived around here. The people who run it are friendly. The opener, Bright Boy, is legit amazing. He makes weird stuttery beats like J Dilla and has a beautiful angelic voice. The songs are very freeform, to the extent that it is not immediately clear that everything he does is in fact on purpose, and I appreciate seeing a rare set in which I genuinely do not know what is going to happen next. Kind of reminds me of Son of Salami, and I wonder if this is a New England thing. The crowd is sparse but into it. It’s a weeknight, and we rarely go to Portland. I feel a little more secure about the set this time around. We’ll be okay for New York, right? We must. We rehearsed for this more than any tour I can remember and goddammit we are going to give these people a show. Tonight’s lodging is with Julian’s aunt and uncle, who have a vacant floor of their house available that is being renovated. We stayed on a different floor last time, and it’s cool to see the house take shape. We manage to finagle our giant van into the driveway, which makes us feel better about leaving some stuff in the car. We dig into some chips and salsa and go to sleep.
In the morning we meet up with Julian’s cousin, who takes us to Dutch’s for breakfast. She lived in Ridgewood briefly and we had a few fun nights at Gottscheer a while back. It’s nice to see her again and be properly shown around where she’s from. Dutch’s reminds me a bit of the justifiably famous Friendly Toast, which mashes together a bunch of breakfast staples in a clever way and they all have sort of a veneer of healthiness/naturalness but in practice you are stuffing yourself like a filthy animal and you like it. I get this:
The next stop is Boston, where we have a bunch of time to kill because there’s a comedy show before our set. The comedy is pretty bleak, a bunch of similarly dressed young white dudes with the same cadence talking about receiving blowjobs. It really makes me appreciate the genuinely weird and unique comics I know. With that ruled out as a time-killing option, I decide to get some dinner, and most of the band comes along. We’re fortunate to be playing near one of my favorite Korean places in any city, Seoul Soulongtang. I remember getting a delicious cold noodle dish last time, and in the hot weather that seems like just the ticket. I end up going with a combo this time, naengmyon and BBQ pork belly
Back at the Julian’s parents’ place, we are greeted with a giant bowl of homemade cavatappi with pesto and a tray of meatballs from an Italian deli. It hits the damn spot. I appreciate the use of cavatappi, my favorite go-to pasta. You can use it with basically any sauce and it’s the best for mac and cheese. This is an early night with minimal hanging, though. Tomorrow is the big release show at Music Hall of Williamsburg, and we have bad memories of being catastrophically late for journeys between Boston and New York. In order to ensure arrival at 3 PM for soundcheck, we will have to leave at 9 AM. Everyone makes a face when I say this but no one argues. We gotta suck it up and do it. In the morning we will shove some bagels and coffee in our faces and set off with grim determination to meet our fate, hopefully obtaining the needed records on the way. I am uncharacteristically nervous about the show and sleep poorly. It’s been so long since we’ve done a big New York headlining show, and MHOW is by far the biggest venue we’ve done that at. Our last release was at Baby’s All Right, a lovely place to play but very small and never a question of whether we’d sell it out. This is a risk. Whole areas of my life are organized around an aversion to risk. I try not to think about it and go to sleep. Eventually, I succeed.