The jokes started soon after I met up with Champagne Superchillin and didn’t stop. I’d come straight off the plane in some hole-in-the-wall, yet delicious pho place in Memphis, TN.
“You know what they say about this town,” drummer Charlie Garmendia said. “If you throw a hotdog, you’re bound to hit a ham sandwich.” Then we left the restaurant to get some beers and meet up with BOYTOY. We treated the pork product non sequitur like a real expression commonly said and found a lot of excuses to use it. Why? Well, why not?
It was one of many nonsensical jokes concocted in a dive bar or while losing our minds from boredom on the road. I’ve known both of these bands for a while now—I’ve seen them play several times, I’ve interviewed them on separate occasions and I’ve hung with them out and about in NYC. Still, I didn’t really know what I was getting myself into when I agreed to travel with them.
Before the show in Memphis, we played pool and drank beers at a small place called The Lamplighter. It looked like someone’s living room and we were lucky enough to be there for “Pisces” night, aka the bartender Laurel’s birthday. Laurel fed us shots while we helped her decorate the bar with Pisces-themed banners and distributed Swedish fish to everyone.
It was hard to part from the Lamplighter, but the bands had to play. Before we left, Laurel offered us a place to crash for the night. I didn’t know at the time, but I learned that touring mostly means not knowing where you’re going to crash for the night—it might be a hotel, it might be in the van or it could be in the home of some charitable stranger. (Thank you, Laurel.)
The show was at a bar down the street called DKDC—a small yet stylish place that was bursting with life. Even though people were spilling out onto the streets, both bands got the crowd dancing and passing shots around.
In little towns, everyone is starving for live music. In NYC, you forget what it’s like to wait for your favorite band to come to town, because everyone always plays NYC.
I rode with Champagne Superchillin. Though the van had faulty brakes and a sliding door kept on by a seatbelt strap, we felt like superstars riding in style.
The brakes did force us to stop at a mechanic, who took one look at us and rolled his eyes and said, “looks like we’ve got another touring band, what are you guys called?” Keys/guitarist Ben Trimble responded without hesitation, “Yeah, you may have heard of us; we’re called Coldplay.” The humor was needed since our mechanic was very vocal about his love for guns. He was helpful, but definitely not a guy we’re used to bumping into in NYC—he told us all about the mother-daughter owned corner store that almost got robbed but the mom and daughter shot the robbers down with their rifles.
But I digress …
After Memphis, we made our way to Tulsa, OK. A surprisingly awesome town that was totally rock ‘n’ roll and, of course, music city, baby. We ate dinner with BOYTOY and eventually lost Trimble around town. The only one in the band without a cell phone, yet he’s always the one to wander off. This particular time he wandered off he was able to book Champagne another show at the record store down the street.
The Tulsa show was at a house party. We were all so tired and burnt out at this point, though the party was wild, like Animal House style but centered around rock ‘n’ roll instead of college, we had to leave before the last band was done. The party just kept growing and growing, turning into an episode of Skins, but we couldn’t fight the exhaustion.
The next day we split from BOYTOY to play a show in Norman, OK with a band called Ohmme from Chicago and a local musician named Penny. All the bands were amazing garage/pop/rock/indie and I highly recommend checking them out.
It was a fun night, but we made our way back to Tulsa the very next day to play the record shop show Trimble booked the day before and to meet his family. We crashed at Trimble’s family friend’s house where we walked into a beautiful home and a family-style feast waiting for us. We ate more food than I think I’ve ever eaten and played with the cutest little nieces who didn’t really seem to like their uncle’s music.
The next day was our longest drive so far to get to SXSW. It was only supposed to be about eight or so hours to Austin, TX, but it took almost double that. With the brakes just hanging on by a thread, we couldn’t drive any other way than slow.
By the time we made it to Austin, the brakes were done. We were coasting to every stop, but everyone was totally chill about it. You’d think being on tour would be this stressful whirlwind of chaos, but at least with Champagne Superchillin and BOYTOY, it felt more like rolling with the punches.
Once we got to SXSW we all split up to run around and do our own things. Though I still caught a bunch of these bands’ shows, like BOYTOY at Cheer Up Charlies or Champagne Superchilllin at the infamous/exclusive after party spot called the castle. (You can read all about the SXSW experience here.)
The trip was a memorable and dreamlike moment in rock ‘n’ roll. I was front and center for all of these shows for both of these bands and I never once got tired of the music—it’s unique, badass and just plain and simple the essence of rock. In fact, I’m still waking up every morning with BOYTOY’s single “Mary Anne” stuck in my head and I am loving it.
Now we’re all back in NYC. And you know what they say about this city. If you throw a hotdog, you’re bound to hit a ham sandwich.