BRAKES USA Tour Fan Videos!! Great Scott, 7th October.
NO RETURN White brothers on breath-taking guitar…
For reviews, photos + videos: see the Fan Blog here
Scroll down for earlier blogs from Thomas taken from his Myspace
5th, 6th, 7th October
Good news! Our show in Washington, at The Black Cat, has been upgraded to the big room. The room we’re playing in is possibly the best so far – a nice big club with a chequered floor and a proper PA and all the other things that make a band smile when they arrive at a venue. Our friends who came to the Philly show (Bill and Chris) have turned up again – with copies of the bootleg they made at that gig. Despite running over a little (and getting all paranoid that we’ve pushed our luck) we have an amazing show, and I particularly delight in watching Chris wrestle my guitar (it’s the hardest guitar in the world to retune, and he tries gamely, poor chap!). A good friend of ours, Aaron, from the west coast, has flown over as well, and after the show we get to catch up properly, discussing various bands and people and things. Very nice indeed.
The following night we play New Yorks’ infamous Bowery Ballroom, which we’re all looking forward to, and much as we have a bit of stinker, the reviews are good, and we’re happy with that. After the show, we go for pizza at a nearby takeout, and randomly bump into Lou Barlow and Lee Ranaldo getting a midnight slice. I nervously approach Lou, and tell him I’m a big fan – as with every time I’ve met the fella, he seems more nervous than me, and I promptly leave him to his pepperoni and head back to the bus.
After a five hour drive, we arrive in Allston, a suburb of Boston, where we’re playing a place called Great Scott’s. It’s a sweet little bar, and the promoter, Carl, turns out to be a big ESP fan, telling us he regularly drops one of our tunes into his DJ set. Good man! The show later on is a sell-out, absolutely rammed, and for the first time on this tour I don’t break a string. A triumph, in other words.
The next day is a day off, just chilling in Boston. We decide to do something with our day and find a cinema that’s showing ‘The Invention Of Lying’. To call it a travesty would be a massive understatement. How someone as talented as Ricky Gervais could make such a humdinger of a movie is quite beyond me. I guess if he never made anything again, he’s still got ‘The Office’ and ‘Extras’, but really, do we need this Hollywood slush? The outline is perfectly reasonable in theory, if fairly pretentious, but each ‘gag’ is crowbarred in so cack-handedly, strung out so fucking thin, and the characterisation is all but non-existent. Avoid like the plague. After that massive (expensive) disappointment, we return to the bus and console ourselves with guestlist to a Manic Street Preachers show later in the evening. They’re playing a relatively tiny show (about 700 people, when they regularly play to thousands in the UK) and I have to say they’re on good form, bantering with the crowd and playing a fairly equal set of oldies and newies. I can’t say I care for the new stuff one bit, but to hear ‘No Surface, All Feeling’ in such a small venue is really quite something. Thanks, boys. The bus leaves at 2am, so we walk back through the city, along the river, and get the hell out of town.
2nd – 3rd October
After a long, long overnight drive up from North Carolina, we arrive outside Southpaw, our venue in Brooklyn. Just down the road from where Eamon and his family have made their home, the place is a classic. There’s even a dressing room. Before soundcheck we head up the road and eat pizza slices and read the local news. A couple of days ago some psycho anti-semite homophobe nuts from Kansas set up shop in the street and started barking about redemption and ‘fags’ and etc… One of the placards in the accompanying pictures stands out in the memory – ‘You Will Eat Your Babies!’. Make of that what you will.
After soundcheck we head up the hill to Eamon’s new pad, where his wife Koren has prepared a tasty, wholesome stew. A god-send in these burger-filled days of touring. Their flat is beautiful and, as they’re on the top floor, comes with a fantastic view over the Hudson of pretty much the whole of Manhattan in profile.
We arrive back at Southpaw and We Were Promised Jetpacks are already whipping the crowd up. For such a young bunch they really have their shit down, and perfectly warm the room. Thankfully, the show later is what can only be described as a half-cut triumph. All but over our jet-lag, we’re back on form, and the venue kindly records the show for us. Bootleg in the pipeline, I think. After the show, people disperse to various local bars, but I decide to stay at the venue and watch the later show, which turns out to be a 12-piece Samba band, complete with bass drum-wielding band-leader. Special. Last one on the bus is a jobby.
We wake the next day in a bus-park just outside of central Philly. It’s a short walk to town, where we indulge in the local speciality, Cheese Steak. I’ve a feeling we perhaps didn’t choose quite the right establishment for the job – it’s fairly revolting. If you imagine old, shredded beef, mixed with the cheapest processed mozzarella possible, packed into a huge 12-inch sub, with absolutely no seasoning, you’re halfway there. Oh, well. Bloated with cheap, bland stodge, we wander through town, past the Liberty Belle, past Benjamin Franklin’s gravesite. All very nice, though there’s a strong whiff of tastelessness, compounded by a huge, frankly bizarre billboard advertising some hideous touring Princess Diana exhibition. Nasty. We head back to the bus to watch Anvil: The Story Of Anvil. If you’ve not seen it, see it. I’ll say no more.
Around 5-ish, we get taxis to the venue to soundcheck, eat (much better) food, and generally prepare for the gig. The bar, North Star, is a great place, and all three bands have good shows. At the gig, we finally hook up with a couple of guys who Marc’s been chatting to online, Bill and Chris. They’re both big, BIG Brakes fans, and we spend much of the evening discussing recording techniques, and the possiblity of perhaps coming over and recording with them (Bill is an engineer, and was involved in the recording of Stephen Malkmus’ ‘Pig Lib’ – a stunning record, one of our favourites).
The bus being stuck out of town, there’s only time for a drink or two before we have to cab one off back to the bus-park. There we reconvene, dust ourselves down, and prepare for ‘the off’, as my father would say. Today Philly, tomorrow the Williamsburg. Nice.
30th September – 1st October
This story starts very early one morning. Marc is first to rendezvous with our driver. From his folks’ house, they bomb down to ours in Seven Dials. What with Eamon now living in Brooklyn, there’s no Kemptown pick-up, so straight up the motorway. At Heathrow there’s no usual sillyness. Instead, a totally personable, reasonable lady. She does her utmost to find us desirable seats – being the knobs we are, there are various requests – window for me, aisle for Marc and as far forward for Alex. As flights go, it’s as perfectly still as they get. But for the pricey drinks, and frankly awful food, it’s as calm and beautiful as flying gets.
We land in Raleigh five hours in our favour. Eamon came down from New York almost simultaneously, and is already waiting at arrivals. As is the case with long-haul flights, the next day or two start to blur – I can remember a lovely moment where we all meet up, perhaps an hour after arriving at the hotel, in the hotel sports’ bar. Warming pints of beer, all of us a little frazzled by travel, sharing tales and generally catching up. On the first night we went all out on a slap-up barbeque, just over the freeway from the Holiday Inn. Disgusting, satisfying and completely neccessary. At this point, 9pm feels like 12, so time for bed. What follows is, at least for me, a fitful night of unrest and vivid, horrid dreams. After the general unease and restlessness of the night, I wake the next morning to a fuller, rejuvenated world – blinding, and suddenly full of possibility. We are a million miles from home, after all.
Our first day proper in the States goes something like this: after waking, me and Alex decide a breakfast is in order. A quick chat with the receptionist in the hotel, and we have our destination – some diner over the freeway from the hotel. Apparently the best Blueberry pancakes in town, and I can’t disagree. We scoff, and get back to the hotel to meet Eamon and Marc, who are counting merch in their room. Once at the venue in town, we have an hour or two’s wait for the bus (containing The Twilight Sad and We Were Promised Jetpacks) to arrive. The venue’s a place called Local 506, and much as I’d love to sing its’ praises, I was however many sheets to the wind it is when you’re really fucked, and the venue wasn’t in much better shape. It’d be safe to say it was a bit of a jet-lagged mess for all of us. A less than brilliant first night of the tour for Brakes, and possibly rather harrowing for The Twilight Sad, too. Best forgotten. Back on the bus as quick as you like.