Road Blog: Thursday April 12, 2018 - London, ON
April 12, 2018
We met at Gabriel’s house, loaded the van, and hit the road around 3pm. Traffic on the way to the Ambassador Bridge was intense, especially once we hit the Detroit City Limits sign. We usually take the tunnel because big trucks aren’t permitted, so traffic is lighter, but we took the bridge this time. We flew down the auto lane, passing hundreds of semis waiting to get through, and pulled right up to Canadian customs. Right off the bat I knew we were in trouble. “Did your tour manager fax your itinerary and party members? Do you have a letter of invitation from the venues?”
“Um, listen buddy, we don’t have a tour manager. And for what it’s worth, we play little dumps. We’re lucky when they take the time to answer an email. They’re not writing us any formal invitations. I can show you an email?”
“Nah. Show it to Immigration.”
25 minutes later, after an in-depth, scary-detailed analysis of our checkered pasts, we were headed up the 401 towards London. The guy in immigration was a bit intense, but more understanding. I asked him what we might do to avoid this in the future and he said for what we’re doing, we’re doing everything right, so we left with that assurance.
We pulled into London a little after 6 and checked into our Airbnb. We have an apartment in a large complex on the East side of the city. Gabriel and I each have our own rooms and Patrick set up his air mattress in the living room. It’s pretty basic – no frills – but clean and comfortable enough. Some quick hygiene and we headed to the venue.
The Old East 765 Bar is in an old, run-down neighborhood that has seen better days. It looked like Detroit in the 90s with boarded up buildings, long lines outside of the homeless shelter, and plenty of burnt out streetlights. It seems like they are in the early stages of attempting to revitalize it, which is encouraging. No worries here though. The bar looked nice enough from the outside. We pulled around back and loaded in. Local support band The Bluesbirds were having dinner and we started chatting it up pretty quickly. We worked out the gear logistics, set up our merch, and ordered food and beers.
The 765 is a big place but it’s divided into two rooms – the band room in back and the bar room in the front. There’s a bar in the back too, tended to by a sweet, tattooed punker-looking girl who kept us in drinks all night. (Sorry can’t remember your name!) The stage is pretty big for a venue this size, and there’s an elevated area with tables and chairs in the back. Apparently it was a rowdy western bar in the past. I took a quick walk up the street in search of a phone signal to call home, but came back unsuccessful. Sometimes phones are gimpy in other countries. Sorry TrooperGirl.
The Bluesbirds hit around 9pm and played a fun set of blues and classic rock. This was one of their first shows but they had a great sound and played well together. They were the nicest dudes too – sharing stories about rock and roll, living in Canada, and their trips to Michigan. They each wore hockey jerseys in tribute to the 16 people killed and those injured in the Humboldt Broncos hockey team bus crash in Saskatchewan earlier this week. From the time we crossed into Canada it was pretty apparent that this tragedy has hit Canadians hard.
We went on around 10pm to a thin but appreciative group. (How many times have I used that phrase “thin but appreciative”?) The sound engineer Eric is a great guy who had us dialed in well. My new rig was sounding great, except for some pedal issues during a couple songs in the first set. We had some friends show up – including our pal Jeff, who is a stand-up dude and our local one-man street team, and Dave, a great guy who has a really cool radio show called Radio What Wave. We played pretty well, did a couple sets, sold some merch, loaded out and headed back across town, stopping at a 24-hour grocery store. At some point my phone kicked back in and I was slammed with a barrage of texts, emails and social media messages all at once.
Back at the AirBB we crashed out around 2:30am. I was awakened at 7am by a nest of baby birds outside my window. I didn’t mind so much. They were hungry. I’ve got no real hangover to speak of, and got up and at `em, ready to kick the day in the ass. Patty had coffee on and I logged in to see what was going on in the world. I bundled up and got in a good run through an adjacent neighborhood and down a path through a really nice park that went by a skate park and a couple schools. I saw a massive grey squirrel struggling with a quarter of a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. Little dude was pretty set on taking it home.
The boys are getting hungry and I’m the last one to shower, so I’m gonna wrap this up. Time for some eggs, record shopping, and the short drive to Toronto where we’ll play The Painted Lady tonight with Cloverdrive. It’s an early show – get there at 7!
There are some great people in London, and we’ll be back for sure. Thanks to the staff at the 765 for being awesome, and the brave people who partied with us on a school night!