In which I write an open letter to bands touring the mid-west
Listening to: “Handwritten” by The Gaslight Anthem
Dear bands of the punk-rock persuasion and similar stylings,
Please. Hear me out.
Since February, I’ve been traveling around the mid-west to remote towns of the United States, working as what I’ve come to call a “professional volunteer.” While it’s awesome because I have now been to states I would have probably never otherwise seen and come to meet people I would have probably never otherwise met, it’s not the greatest situation for seeing live music from bands I’ve come to love.
I had an enjoyable, steady life in DC before I quit my job to volunteer professionally for a year. I was able to attend shows on nearly a weekly basis; a mix of local bands and musicians from other areas who were touring through the city. It was awesome. Basically, any of my income not going to rent, food, booze, vinyl or other necessities was going to see bands at the wonderfully divey, dirty venues that DC has to offer.
But that’s changed drastically and painfully in the past six months. Full disclosure: I spent about five weeks in Louisville, Kentucky, during the spring, in which I was able to attend two shows. One was at the Chestnut House: an all around amazing show with sets by Nixon, Male Bondage, Alcohol Party and Walkthrough. The other, at the Haymarket Whiskey Bar: a serious local show with a surprisingly raw high school band and headlined by rocking-with-a-southern-twang Supertruck. Also I met a young man who called himself Oscar, but looked like Beck dressed as a farmer, to whom I will always be grateful for teaching me the correct way to choose and drink really good whiskey.
Those shows, while seriously quenching a thirst for some loud, distorted, punk-rock-rioting-in-your-face-bluesy-rage, were not enough to satiate my everlasting (and ever-growing) need and love of live tunage.
For my next bought of professional volunteerism, I was lucky enough to get sent to the city of Sioux Falls, South Dakota, for the next two months. Not being in the middle of nowhere is a beautiful and welcome change. I’ll be here until mid-September, with a group of young adults consisting of others, like myself, who crave hearing music live.
A number of bands who I would love to see are touring now. When I lived on the east coast — first in New York and then in DC — I took tours for granted. Many bands frequent the east coast, including some of the best orgcore around. But being in the midwest and searching for a band that will pass through the city has left me with little hope. Murder by Death, who have been through Sioux Falls in the past and are working on a Kickstarter to fund a vinyl release of what is sure to be an amazing new album, are unfortunately not planning on stopping through on their current tour. Bomb the Music Industry! are going from Chicago to St. Louis in August (incidentally, during my stay in Louisville I made new friends with a kid I randomly passed on the sidewalk who happened to be wearing a BTMI! shirt at the same time I was); Cheap Girls are visiting Nebraska, Montana and Illinois; Joyce Manor will be through Nebraska, Minnesota and Illinois; Against Me! — well, I think I missed my window for them this summer, since they’re already off to Europe and plan to tour the west coast when they get back to the US.
The point is, this letter is not meant to sound at all hateful or passive-aggressive. The bands I listed are bands I really love. Some I have seen live before, and some I have not. I would love to see all of them live and hopefully will in the future, even if not in Sioux Falls. But the way my current professional volunteering job works is that I am not told where the next place I will be sent is until a week or two before we go there. This could be my last chance in a city until mid-November. I plan on making the most of it while being here. That includes discovering all the new local bands that I can, visiting as many divey bars as possible, and learning what the Sioux Falls music scene has to offer.
And if you do decide to come here, bands I listed above and others, I promise this: I will be at the front of the stage, any night of the week, screaming, dancing like nobody’s watching, and singing along at the top of my lungs. Whether here or in whatever other city, town, dive or punk house basement, I can’t wait to do that again. I will also help you find a venue at which to play if needed. I don’t know the area that well yet (it’s literally my first day here as I write this) but I am willing and able to learn if it means I could see you play.
With sincere love and punk rock,