EXCLUSIVE TOUR BLOG FROM THE AUSTERITY PROGRAM’S JUSTIN FOLEY: DAYS 1 & 2
Our number one homie Justin Foley is currently doing a mini-tour with his band, The Austerity Program, and graciously offered to do a tour blog for us. We can never say “no” to Justin and wouldn’t much want to anyway, so we agreed! Below please find his musings on the first two days of the mini-trek…
Monday, May 16, 7:43 AM
New York City
It’s early. It always takes me a few hours to get to bed after playing, as the electricity of it needs a bit of time to bleed from my system ,at least enough for sleep to take hold. Since we got back to the house pretty quick last night I just stayed up until 3 or so doing dumb shit like paying my bills. Then, when my daughter was up at 7 I leapt up to get her. So, yeah, now she’s watching the end of Elmo’s World and I have hit that “whut the fuuuuck” thing that happens when you’ve gotten 3 and a half hours of sleep and got the whooole day ahead of you.
Last night was us playing our New York residency, a little music box venue called Union Pool. I like the place a lot – it’s a small enough venue with a bit of a weird theatrical feel to it: little light bulbs frame the stage for black-t-shirted bands like us. We always have to play Tetris with our amp setup and barely manage to figure it out each time.
The load-in for an event like this is always some low level of absurd. Four sets of guys, all dressed pretty much the same way, all wheeling and carrying amp after amp after amp into a not-so-big room, all to be stacked on top of/behind/in front of one another and quickly rearranged when it’s some band’s 26 minutes to play their music. Certainly some rational observer would look at it all and say “why don’t you all just take the best collection of those boxes and just all play through that?” For some reason, rational observer, it just doesn’t work like that – and I say this as the band that is about the worst offender of the “lbs of heavy shit per band member” rule. And so we all politely and determinedly got our piles of gear in and sort of settled. The sound guy bit his lip as it all unflolded.
Cleveland crustos Massakari were up first, noting to all that this was their 4th NYC show in 36 hours. Hey, did you know C-squat is still around? I did not, but Massakari did and they played there earlier in the day. They laid out the grind at UP. My favorite part was when the lead singer started a song with “okay, this next song is about [involved explanation]. It’s called [song name that Justin doesn’t remember]” Song starts. “RRROWOOWOWWROWWWAR.”
Grind music is funny. They were good.
We were third on the bill and did about as well as expected for a first night. Usually too much energy packed into the bottle on the first night of a set of shows, so I have a hard time maintaining the balance of abandon and the work. (The work here is playing a guitar and singing into a microphone neither of which comes too naturally to me.) One of my pedals spent the first ½ of our set with the wrong settings, so the distortion sounded like a Behringer Lil’ Tiger combo with the treble turned to Kramer. Finished the third song and said to the crowd. “Okay! Two more songs!” Sound guy through the monitors:”uh, guys, you really only have time for one more.” “Okay! One more song!” Bam – bam – bam.
First night out with Louisville punk rock bulldozer Coliseum. We’re not on anything like a tour yet as we slept in our own proper beds and were on our standard “‘get the kids to school” duty. Today it starts in earnest as we point west and drive to Bethlehem, PA. Coliseum has stayed at the house for the past couple of days. That band proves the old adage – the meaner the music, the nicer the guys. Both my kids were ready to call Ryan Patterson “Uncle Tattoo” by the time they leave. Totally square fellas, but they are weirdly into the movie Thor; they kept asking me if I’d seen it and if I’d heard anything about whether a sequel was in the works. I heard that movie was supposed to suck eggs, but not according to them.
Thad’s Quote, selected by Justin: Later in the day, on the road to Bethlehem. Thad to an occupied hearse we passed on the highway: “A ha, you’re dead!”
Tuesday, May 17, noon exactly.
On the road to Philadelphia, PA.
So we’re the band that, when we do tour at all, does so in a 2003 Passat wagon lugging a poorly loaded 5×8 trailer, sunroof open in the rain, jamming Yo Majesty’s “Futuristically Speaking…”. Right now “Booty Clap” is on and I can barely type on this computer because I’m stomping my foot so hard. If any of the ladies in that outfit read this site, drop me a line stat and let’s talk about your next video. I’ve got some ideas and know someone who knows Christina Hendricks’ sister. This will be massive.
I don’t know what the fuck made me think that the BQE at 4PM was going to be anything other than absolutely jodido but I was quickly set straight. By the time I’d driven the 8.5 miles from my house to pick up Thad I’d averaged just about 9 miles an hour. Between attempted local detours and ill-conceived attempts to outwit the GPS, it took 90 minutes. I lied to the night’s promoter in the meantime (“yeah, I’m just about through Staten Island and it’s looking good up ahead”; absolute bullshit) and just kept thinking that nothing gets accomplished by punching the steering wheel so best not get started with that mess. Whatever. I got the bassist and we made it over to NJ, where the GPS exacted its revenge for my previous disrespect; the totally ass backwards detour through every goddam suburb south of the Lincoln Tunnel on our way to 78 left me cowed. But we somehow got to the DIY joint in Bethlehem spot before the show started. Loaded in, shook hands and hey, it was showtime.
Secret Arts Space in Bethlehem is, as Coliseum Ryan later pointed out, the right kind of place. DIY, all ages, no booze, show on the floor. I continue to lament that I had no idea about such things when I was 15 years old; maybe I would have gotten all of this out of my system and be listening to jazz now. Well, that ship has sailed. Third on the bill again tonight and so I took some time prior negotiating volume issues (their concern) and electricity distribution (my concern) with the guy who seemed most like he was running the place for the night.
The set was better for me than the previous night – I keep telling myself that I’m going to be all business, no bullshit between song banter before we play and then I get up there and it all goes to hell. In case anyone who ever sees us asks “does that guy say all of that because he thinks it needs to be said? Because he thinks it’s funny? What the hell?” the answer is none of that. I just can’t stop. Trust me, no one is more relieved when the song starts than I am. Well, maybe except for Thad. Poor guy has to listen to me every time we do this.
Coliseum did a fine job in Brooklyn but they were really ripping it wide open in Bethlehem. Totally clear what they are trying to do in a space like that and it was fine with me. Ryan started their set with a quick couple of thoughts about how much he loves the spirit that drives kids across the country, the world, to want to make their own place to play their own kind of music. Dead on, brother. And then they hit it and were solid for the whole set. Great fun.
Accommodations for the night were provided by JG’s mom, a way station of comfort for touring scuzzwads like us. She had a full, delicious dinner rolling for all three bands, made laundry and showers available, let us pet their sweet old dog… fantastic. Thad and I stayed up a little late nearly crying in laughter as Coliseum told us stories of the worst places they’ve ever stayed. Holy crap. This veered from the subject to “crazy dudes they’ve met on the road” and we just couldn’t get enough of it. There’s something wonderful that happens when people who are absolutely not shit-talkers have no other choice, if they want to remain honest, than to talk a bit of shit about someone. The humor in it is exquisite.
Now we’re just speeding towards Philly P-A. Last time we played here we were so, so very bad that I can’t believe no one actually said “I thought you were a good band but now I saw you and your band isn’t good at all and in fact it is a very BAD band.” Absent theft of important equipment or debilitating injury, we will be having a much better show than that. (The venue is called Kung Fu Necktie, which doesn’t make sense even though it kind of seems like it should.) Maybe we’ll check out Thor in IMAX – Carter from Coliseum says that it’s worth the $25 and “really, guys, it’s the only way to see that movie.”
Thad’s Quote, selected by Justin: Regarding the last time we played Philly “I remember playing Song 19 and remember wanting to cry. I was just so bad. Really, wanted to cry.
Justin Foley plays guitar and sings for the Austerity Program. Their record Backsliders and Apostates Will Burn is out now. Visit them online at www.austerityprogram.com. All messages about urban bike riding, vegetarian BBQ, and monetary policy will be answered first. You can also get a list of their upcoming tour dates here.