The Coast, my quasi-tourmates, playing sober in Salt Lake City.
Joining a young, energetic Toronto band midway through their first 40-date, cross-continent tour is such a unique experience, metaphors are probably the only way to convey what goes on.
In Denver, I thought of it as being in jam band – improvising plans, always headed in different directions, no real connection to reality.For the travel part of the tour – four band members and myself, a cultural attaché, crammed into a big blue van – I anticipated feeling like Jack Kerouac in On The Road. At least in spirit.
But after a night in the Motel 6 in Ft. Collins, Colorado, I began warming up to the idea that touring musicians were more…businesslike. How To Win Friends and Influence People might be a better literary metaphor, as going from city to city with a product is more traveling salesman than in-search-of-meaning bohemian.At one point, Ben, the lead singer, said to me, “We’re basically in the same place every night. It just has a different name.”
At the time, that seemed like a terribly bleak point of view. But, in retrospect, true enough. I now have a difficult time remembering which tour stop fits with which memory. And considering most of the time in a city is spent at the back of a bar, there’s no shame in saying L.A. felt a lot like Denver, etc.
One place that was like being in a completely different country, however, was Salt Lake City.
SLC, as locals probably don’t call it, is the Latter Day Saints capitol of the world, so right from the city limits there was apprehension as to how the religious would react to our drummer’s handlebar mustache.
Surreal Lake City
Arriving in Salt Lake City was surreal. Racing to the show with a time deficit was enough, but the unbelievable, hour-long descent (literally straight down) into the city certainly added to the intensity.
Ben Spurr had no time to look back en route to northern Utah
Next, the venue where we played, Kilby Court, was single-handedly the weirdest concert experience of my life.
We pulled up to the front door, where we were to load gear, with a lineup of indie kids stretched around the dirt path in front of the gate. (Dirt path, gate - strong indications this was not your Horseshoe Tavern.) We had to unload our gear in front of possibly 200 eyes and 70-plus pairs of skinny jeans. To make things more absurd, not one indie child in line spoke a word! Just their to watch, thank you very much.
The tour van in a sea of indie kids
I offered to take the edge off with some shots, but when I went to the bar, the only shots available were shots of marshmallows. Overpriced ones at that (four for $1!).
Even as there wasn’t a hint of intoxication in the crowd, they were very lively.
And as the closing band, fellow Torontonians Tokyo Police Club, they took the stage and it turned from standing room only to no room at all. It was both encouraging and surprising to see two Toronto bands, both as yet to release a single full-length album, attracting such numbers.
During the time The Coast were on stage, I worked out a deal with the promoter to get free marshmallows, which were shared among the band post-show.
SLC was perhaps the most enthusiastic audience on the tour. Autographs were signed, merchandise was sold, lots of Mormons were met.
The bar at Kilby Court: Most expensive marshmallows ever!
Next tour diary: L.A.
The Coast play a CD release show on Friday, April 18, at the Horseshoe.