Flannel Mouth – 2nd ROAD BLOG from the “Killin It Tour” with Event Horizon

The rock band, Flannel Mouth, just finished up the “Killin It Tour” with Event Horizon. While they were on this tour, they wrote an exclusive blog for us. You can check out the second and final entry written by Tyler…

Flannel Mouth – 2nd ROAD BLOG from the “Killin It Tour” with Event Horizon

The rock band, Flannel Mouth, just finished up the “Killin It Tour” with Event Horizon. While they were on this tour, they wrote an exclusive blog for us. You can check out the second and final entry written by Tyler Owen, after the break.

Day Nine (May 23): The High Note – Pekin, IL
The second part of our journey began as we arrived home late Friday evening. Saturday’s show in our hometown was part of an anniversary party for a podcast called IBWIP, or It Burns When I Pee. Their eighth anniversary coincided their 200th episode, so they put on a free event at The High Note in Pekin, Illinois. We were asked to join the bill with our Event Horizon buddies, as well as Brett Conlin (with whom we’re quite familiar) and his Ghost Boots Band (who we had never seen before).

The High Note is up two stories of stairs and logically notorious for its difficulty for musicians. The equipment haul is a workout and one should absolutely get there early so as to cool down between the load-in and showtime. That day we weren’t so lucky, and we opened the music part of the evening (after an amazing show from the IBWIP guys) not fifteen minutes after we had pulled up our gear and set it all up onstage. Luckily we were able to feed off the energy from our hometown people and muster a 40-minute set with rampant vitality and a polished tightness among us. Some days you just kick some ass, you know?

Event Horizon was as good as ever, and Brett Conlin showed us some amazing depth to his sound we had no idea existed because his solo act was already enthralling enough. Outlaw western noise with some heartbroken lyrics define the style, but we got a little more than we paid for (which is saying something at a free show) when the guys all went shirtless, a callback to the podcast in which he participated. Check the IBWIP episode number 200 for a more in-depth idea as to what they’re all about, and listen for Flannel Mouth and Event Horizon in the intermissions!

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Day Ten (May 24): Day off – Peoria, IL
We had originally booked a Sunday evening show in Rockford, but were dropped about a month in advance for a bigger name/potentially more successful event for the venue. The music business can be a fickle bitch, and it’s your job to improvise and make the best of the situation. The best course of action is to minimize losses, therefore stamping out costs in the meantime.

However, we found ourselves with an off-day in our hometown, which is way luckier than most bands could hope to get. My family and I are the type to give as much as we can in whatever fashion we can, so we had a Memorial-Day-style cookout and invited EH to the kids’ table for an afternoon of burgers, brats, baked beans, potato salad, and the like. No one was safe from the anti-hunger wrath my parents and grandparents bestowed on our bellies, and we were beyond full for the next two days.

We capped the evening at a hometown bar my girlfriend and I frequent, where we watched the Rangers lose to the Lightning in game 5 of the Eastern Conference Finals, much to the dismay of our New Yorker friends. Sorrows were drowned in craft beers, and we left the bar with more bad news about the following evening…

Day Eleven (May 25): Reggie’s – Chicago, IL | Livewire Lounge – Chicago, IL | Day off (again) – Peoria, IL
More truths about being in a small-to-mid-size band – your priority can be low to venues who can subsidize (or come out way ahead) in almost no time at all. We were informed that the promotors would be relocating our show in Chicago to the Livewire Lounge because instead of hosting a show, they took the sure bet and rented out the room instead. It was a bummer because we had some close friends and family who had plans to see us there as well, and with the cover would have made them a killing, particularly at the bar. But the biz is the biz, and we just so happened to love the room, stage, and staff at Livewire.

We informed our local support of the change, and much to our surprise, were canceled on; not one, not two, but all three bands. One of our biggest shows of the tour was completely in the hands of the locals, and when promotion heard the word, they understandably canceled the festivities so as to minimize their losses. Another lesson learned – being in a band is often being between a rock and a hard place, and you’re lucky to be the river flowing right through it most nights.

On this day we had nothing planned, so we all spent our time at home (Event Horizon with Zach, except for a small tour of our office/studio where John recorded some guest vocals for our upcoming album), eating fridge food and watching the movies and shows we had meant to since the tour began. Again, we were very lucky we were at home; typically two off-days are murder for a touring band, and the best you can hope for is bearable weather in a Walmart parking lot, and maybe an open mic nearby where you can take your shot at some tips from a welcoming crowd. It’s not by any means a guarantee, but it’s absolutely worth the try, and it’s incredibly morale-boosting when it works.

Day Twelve (May 26): Smith’s Downtown – Mishawaka, IN
The van finally left for Mishawaka, Indiana on Tuesday, and being only four hours away, we could afford to sleep in and leave in the afternoon. Besides a tollway, a band’s best friend, the mind-numbing drive between Peoria and basically South Bend, Indiana is as flat as anywhere in the country and makes the drive seem twice as long.

We arrived and unloaded about 5pm to another story-and-a-half of stairs, but this time to a room with a full horseshoe bar, a mammoth TV showing the Rangers game (a 6-2 victory), and a stage, lighting, and sound system to be proud of. The place was caked in a pseudo-neon that was bright and expressive and meant to be run by a professional, however there was no sound guy, no light guy, and no one to really keep track of anything besides a door guy on attendance and a bartender working her tail off to keep our thirsty souls happy.

Being a DIY band, we know how to do most of the peripherals, including getting the opening band going, sound check taken care of, comprising a playlist for between sets, and a rough overview of the lighting situation. A half hour later we were owning the room, making friends, and had a smooth show sailing right along with no issue. It definitely pays to get to know what all those staff members are doing at the shows you play, and when you have a show that pans out as ours did, you can appreciate what they do and give a sincere thank you every time you don’t have to do it.

Far Away kicked off the show with a bang, then we followed with a bang or two of our own, became pros at the light board during Event Horizon’s set, watched South of Sorrow croon us despite some heavy riffs immediately thereafter, and Walk on Darkness closed the show with a prolific and exciting set. Five bands is a lot for a Tuesday, but everyone who attended came to party, and we made acquaintance with a lot of special people, including one person who had never been involved with the band scene before. She graciously showed me about the city, including a killer moonshine bar across the street, and gave the boys and me a place to stay. A pull-out couch and a floor are a godsend for a band, and while we like to think we’re more trustworthy than most band dudes, you can really humble a group of guys with a roof.

Day Thirteen (May 27): B One Ballroom – Keego Harbor, MI
We got a late start to one of my favorite cities in the world, Detroit. In my experience, everyone had always been overly nice and incredibly welcoming, and we had exactly that kind of experience this time around as well, perhaps even more so. Actually a lot more so.

We arrived at the Ballroom around 3pm, introduced ourselves to the bartender, ordered some food, and made friends with a couple patrons and the bands when they arrived. One of the locals had already offered us a place to stay, so we already had a monkey off our back for the evening. We saw a stunning performance from The Most Powerful Weapon, a female-fronted and absolutely Warped-ready band, and then prepared ourselves to follow such an act. The sound was amazing despite the harshly shaped room, and we made out with a few key merch sales because of it. Event Horizon was outrageously good, and we had the privilege of seeing Harlow close out with a giant performance worthy of a House of Blues or two.

Our bartender, with whom we had befriended upon arriving, was still working and described her work to us as a tour manager for bands in the past, empathized with our struggles, and offered to get us a hotel room for the night. We told her we already had arrangements, but she wouldn’t take no for an answer, and we proceeded to be treated to a Holiday Inn Express Suite. The room came under one condition – she gets to party with us like she did with her previous bands for the first time in years. That was, of course, a very simple “yes,” and we got a late reservation, meaning we didn’t have to check out until noon the following day. Detroit hospitality, you see! After a night full of drinking, chatting, and sneaking into the pool, we caught the free hot breakfast at 6 as it began and went to bed until 2 the next afternoon.

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Day Fourteen (May 28): On the Rocks – Dublin, OH
Our late departure from the hotel meant arriving later than is typical for us, so we got to Rocks at about 6pm Thursday evening. The place immediately hit us with the same sports bar vibe as Scores in Columbus, Indiana, and the show turned out to be almost identical.

Despite the free cover, the locals were more inclined to step out into the smoking garden or just leave altogether. However this time we felt we did really well, thanks in large part to the knowledgeable and friendly sound engineer (who just so happened to love our sound). Event Horizon put on a more laid back type of show, but then attacked it heavy-handedly when they hit their song “New Earth Army,” where Mars improvised a solo and made us all laugh uncontrollably in equal parts shock and jealousy.

We were then joined by our old friends, The Glance, who played our previous Columbus-area show in May of last year. Their progressive-leaning brand of folk rock is punctuated with impressive vocal hooks and harmonies, and their show certainly doesn’t disappoint relative to that. The talent is abundant in Buckeye country!

We had a couple offers to sleep at band members’ places, but they were more than a half hour away in the opposite direction of Akron, Ohio (Friday’s destination), so we politely and regrettably declined, settling for a hotel room only three minutes away instead. It turned into a pretty great decision because none of the EH guys, the biggest sci-fi nerds we know, had ever seen Sunshine, one of our collectively favorite films. We geeked out and had ourselves a bonding experience filled with beer and tomato sandwiches. It was nice and also important, in the grand scheme of things, to get back to our roots and have a night of just playing music and being good friends outside the band.

Day Fifteen (May 29): The Empire Concert Club – Akron, OH
Check-out of the hotel was at noon, so we devoured every second (and a few more) yet again, officially leaving about 12:45 for Akron. The two-hour drive is basically nothing, especially if you know all the lyrics to just two CDs in your collection. It wasn’t even 3pm yet when we arrived, so we filled up the gas tank, got groceries at a neighboring Aldi, and played the waiting game until a staff member let us in the back door about 5pm.

The Empire is not quite a year old, but has all the right things going for it: a loading “dock” where vans and trailers can be secluded by walls, a false wall where bands can unload their equipment with security, a kitchen-turned-staging area for up to seven bands, and a green room to cool down and watch movies, eat, sleep, and/or catch the Rangers play Game 7. We did all of those things after a generous food donation from the owner. The entire staff is incredibly nice and talented, and even a no-name band can pop in from out of town and feel like a local.

We unfortunately had a band drop off due to an illness that sent one of them to the hospital (or so rumor has it), so we had a local acoustic act called My Buddy Josh open the set with his honest and often humorous lyricism and everything-else-ism, playing harmonicas, kazoos, or just a folksy whistle. The room was cleared by the time we began our set, but had a couple handfuls by the time we were done after one of our most solid sets of the tour, and Event Horizon maintained that excitement through their set. The last act, The Scenic Route, had a nicely rehearsed closing act that showcased their young talent and potential in the business. According to their manager, they should be road-ready in about two years, and I couldn’t agree more!

Another generous offer to stay a half hour or so out of the way of the next venue, another polite and humble declination so as to get a room nearby, and off we were for a Super 8 – only this time I didn’t call ahead and instead booked online. In my few-beers-deep state of mind I booked a room on my phone for the following night by accident, not only spending irreplaceable money on an unusable room, but also unable to cancel or reschedule the stay without still being charged. It was a real sobering moment when I discovered what I’d done upon arriving at the hotel, and certainly not a mistake I’d be making again. You have to mind those Ps and Qs at all times when you’re on tour, and take nothing for granted.

We were fortunate enough to find a room across the street, but more money being spent meant more budgeting issues. But it gave us another opportunity to hang out with the EH guys before we would split ways, watching movies and bathing before bed.

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Day Sixteen (May 30): The Valley Hotel – Clairton, PA
Eleven o’clock check-out meant twelve o’clock departure and only two more hours separated us from a small town outside Pittsburgh, called Clairton. The winding roads on the mountainous terrain surrounding the Pittsburgh area made up by far our favorite drive of the tour. The Valley Hotel sort of appeared from nothing and we arrived just in time for Happy Hour, which was $1.50 drafts, and we ran them out of 25-cent hard boiled eggs.

The Hotel’s a charming little dive in what feels like a steel worker town, filled with regulars who seem to welcome bands with open arms. The stage is behind the bar, so when you sit at your stool and face the bartender, the band plays behind him/her with their feet at eye level, and makes it feel like a music-box performance. The owner told us he considered chicken wire between the bar and band, but he didn’t want to encourage the crowd.

Plaid Noise kicked off the night with a garage rock sound, as if The Vines and Violent Femmes played a set of each other’s music, and then we were able to serenade the crowd for the last time of the tour with a super tight and prolific set. After Event Horizon did the same, we watched Apex Gibbon crush us with some ’03-Evanescence-style rock, which is pretty refreshing to hear when it’s done correctly. We departed our dear EH friends at 1am, delaying the process with hugs and high fives and anything else before the inevitable part in ways, which began our 9-hour trek home.

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And so ended the #KillinItTour. Lessons about life, trade, and professionalism were learned, friends and acquaintances were made (for better or for worse), a few more thousand miles were added to the van’s odometer, and another tour is in the books. Time to relax, right? Absolutely not – time to plan the album release and its corresponding tour! Catch Prisoner’s Cinema when it comes out on SwitchBitch Records at the end of the summer, and in a town near you when we get the van back on the highway. In the meantime, follow us on Facebook, Twitter and other social media outlets!