Toronto's The Coast, playing in Denver of all places
In my short career as a musician – a career contained entirely in my university years - I never quite learned how to tune an instrument. Because of that impediment (and others), I also never played a show outside the borders of my campus.
I was fortunate enough, however, to be in a band that opened a show for The Coast, a Toronto four-piece whose album debut, Expatriate, came out this month.
In the years since then, I’ve since come to know said four-piece fairly well, even joining them onstage from time-to-time as a maverick multi-instrumentalist/vocalist.
So when the band went on a six-week, 40-date North American tour recently, I jumped at the opportunity to tag along - or as I prefer to say it, go on tour – for three shows.
Denver: gateway to stardom, and the Southwest
I decided to join the Coast on the trip from the midwest United States to the west coast. The band – who are lead singer Ben Spurr, guitarist Ian Fosbury, drummer Jordan Melchiorre and bassist Luke Melchiorre – were to meet me in Denver, the capital and most populous city in the state Colorado, which also sits one mile above sea level.
Because I was going on tour with an up-and-coming rock'n'roll band, I genuinely believed all rules of normal human decency could be left in Toronto. My first act of immaturity was to wear oversized sunglasses the entire plane ride into Denver. I also ordered an alcoholic beverage.
I daydreamed about getting off the plane to a swarm of journalists, to whom I would declare that I was “bigger than Barack Obama.” But the inevitable slap in the face came stepped into the arrivals area and got a text from Luke saying the tour van broke down in Nebraska and they would meet me at the venue.
I then had to wait at the airport for close to three hours for the next city bus (cabs in Denver are prohibitive!), and, in total, it took almost five hours to get to the Hi-Dive, the local watering hole - with emphasis on “hole” - where the band would play that night.
Denver's Hi-Dive is a small but charming bar, some people think
Introduction to touring
The opening act came on within a few minutes of my arrival. They played without a bassist (who didn't show up!) or much fanfare (bassist wasn't the only one who didn't show up!). But thankfully the club reached the half-full mark by the time The Coast played their first note.
(The van recovered to make it to the show with about 45 minutes to spare, by the way.)
Much of the audience was made up of older gentlemen, I noticed early on, and many of them had their names stitched onto their jackets. At least three came up to me to mention that they too once had a band.
On stage, the songs were fluid and all was comfortable. The van breakdown provided some good between-songs banter, and the songs were welcomed by a friendly crowd reaction. This proved to be The Coast’s most lucid show of my three-date tour.
This graffiti helped me realise being on tour is similar to being in a jam band
Who's the jam band now?
I had brought with me a notepad filled with recommendations for restaurants, site seeing, hotels and nightlife. I made this research on the false premise that I was a tourist rather than a musician on the road. (Technically, I was a guy riding in a van with a group of musicians on the road, but I digress.)
But, in Denver, I quickly learned the only rule of touring: research, planning, or preconceived ideas of time and place – all nonsense. This would require quick-on-your-feet, improvisational thinking, rapid-fire decision-making, and, most of all, the ability to convince other band members to listen.
Next: Salt Lake City to Los Angeles.
The Coast play MTV Live on Thursday, April 17, and a CD release show on Friday, April 18, at the Horseshoe.