Max Pain & The Groovies Take On The Big D

The word of the trip was “deranged.” The slogan was “taking on the big D.” That should already give you an idea of just how wild this weekend’s little excursion was.

Max Pain & The Groovies, a five-piece psych-rock band from NYC by way of Salt Lake City, played Delaware on Saturday and invited me to tag along. It was the East Coast record release show for their friends L.A.-based/hometown Delawareans band Spindrift.

The night before, we partied until 4 a.m. in Brooklyn. “Let’s leave at 11 a.m. tomorrow,” frontman David Johnson said to all of us while sitting on top of the bar at Dardy as we polished off a fresh round of tequila shots and the bartender yelled last call. We all heartily laughed, because that was definitely not going to happen and we didn’t hit the road until around 2 or 3 p.m. the next day.

These boys ride in style, with a retired airport flyer bus they call “Das Busch,” which, like their song “Don’t Shake My Busch,” stems from the band’s passion for Busch beer. Of all the rockers I’ve hit the road with, Max Pain & The Groovies was the most luxurious mode of transportation I’ve experienced.

Purchased back in 2012 with prize money from winning best band for Salt Lake’s City Weekly Music Award, the bus may smell like feet and have a floor riddled with cigarette buds, but it is epic.

It’s equipped with a futon, four comfortable seats facing each other for ultimate socialization (which they call the “Tcoy lounge” since you can always find their drummer Tcoy Coughlin sleeping there), a bunk bed in the back (with the bottom bunk called the “troll hole” due to its dark and moist atmosphere), plenty of large windows for lighting and a ceiling hatch to get all the breeze you desire.

*Slaps Das Busch* This baby can withstand even the craziest of party nights.

Lead guitarist Dallin Smith volunteered to be the designated driver going down to Delaware and that was the only responsible thing we did. Everything else going on in that bus was not meant for the weak-hearted. Busch tallboys and joints were passed around, while guitarist Shane Preece periodically went to re-tape the side mirror in place and use the intercom to tell us new facts about each state we passed through.

Every time we saw a sign saying “welcome,” Coughlin or Syd Walsh (Flasyd)—who was also there along for the ride—said, “hey, a new state. Let’s smoke a cigarette about it.”

Eventually, we all passed out and woke to find we were pulling into a strip mall in Newark, Delaware and arriving at a place called Argilla Brewing Company at Pietro’s Pizza. It seemed like a fine family establishment. They truly had no idea about the pandemonium soon to ensue.

Before the show, we hit the liquor store. Once stocked up on tequila and whiskey, we pulled a classic rock ‘n’ roll move of drinking in the parking lot outside the venue. We sat on top of Das Busch and passed around bottles while we watched the sunset. Eventually, rockers from the other bands strolled over to join us and we all proceeded to get drunk maybe a little too quickly.

By the time the show started, we were nice and sauced. “We’re all deranged people in here,” Preece would yell at us throughout the night. Compared to the middle-aged Delawarean crowd in the venue, we were definitely a bunch of mad 20-something-year-olds about to tear down the house—but everyone loved it.

When Max Pain & The Groovies took the stage everyone swayed and bopped along to their heavy psych and fast riffs. Johnson said into the mic, “we love the big D” before singing about beers and death. It was surreal watching these epitome of sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ rollers play with little kids running around in the pizza shop area and older women screaming along. Still, the place was packed and everyone was happily rocking out.

After their set, we headbanged along to Spindriff and chugged the remaining alcohol.

As New Yorkers, we don’t start partying until well after 10 p.m. In Delaware, we started partying at 6 p.m., so what happened after Spindrift finished playing around midnight is somewhat of a mystery to all of us. We remember chilling in Das Busch, there’s a video on my phone of me pointing the power drill at everyone coming onto Das Busch, my mom texted me thinking I got a neck tattoo because we all drew on each other with Sharpie and bassist Kallan Campbell told us he took a stroll down the highway to the casino where he won around $300.

So whatever happened, it was a good night and we, by some miracle, all woke up around 8:30 a.m.

It felt like a whole new world for us waking up so early. Two of our team were missing, Johnson and Jennifer Hussey (Roolette Records). Turns out they’d gone to one of the other band’s houses to crash comfortably, far away from those of us who drunkenly passed out in the hot and humid Das Busch.

Since we arose so early, we decided to have a day.

We got breakfast at Wawa and made our way to the casino where everyone lost money, except Preece who won around $100. I was only in the casino for about 10 minutes before all the senior citizens addicted to the slots started bumming me out, so I ended up pulling another parking lot hang on top of Das Busch with Coughlin and Smith.

After the Casino, the hangover was starting to settle in, so we decided we needed to find some beer STAT.

In Delaware, you can’t buy alcohol until after 12 p.m., which led to another parking lot hang where we bought scratch-off lotto tickets for half an hour. Once the liquor store opened, the boys bought more Busch and, surprisingly, boxes of White Claw flavored hard seltzer, which became the drink of the day.

After stocking up on booze, Coughlin and Campbell wanted to check out a D.I.Y. skate park close by. While those two shredded the gnar, the rest of us shotgunned White Claw and talked about opening a solar-powered trailer park across the street.

But alas, we had to return to the big bad city.

We scooped up Johnson and Hussey and headed home. We were burnt out physically and mentally on the ride up to NYC. I sat on the top bunk under the hatch, which became a problem at one point when a spring shower started to pour. Smith grabbed the drill and popped out of the hatch to undo the makeshift lock keeping it open, untroubled by being halfway out of a vehicle doing 70 mph down a rain-soaked highway.

Once we saw that NYC skyline, the rain stopped and a huge rainbow appeared above us. We then knew it was time to rejoin our own deranged society.