Saturday, December 31, 2011

snail party cross canada tour update

Tour started in the rain.
sockfoot in moncton (photo: rosie toes)

We woke up, groggy from our kick off show, to a torrential downpour. Dressed in garbage bags and galoshes, we set about gathering our things and making sure we would leave Halifax on the best foot possible, even though it would be wet as it had always been. Sockfoot and Snail Party were off, in a trail of propane scented slime.

Our first out of town show was in Truro. We found out pretty quickly that rain in Halifax meant flooding in Truro. The fabulous cellist from Sockfoot, Julia, and our banjo player, Mogli, had to close the road leading to the Tim Hortons, as so many Truro natives thought it would still be open under four feet of water. We played in a busted up old attic until local firefighters informed us that the river couldn't be contained and we would need to evacuate.

We played some quieter shows in Saint John, St Andre, and Quebec City. Our new drummer Hollie began to find a slimy foot in the band and the people hosting us were amazingly kind. Still, there was an air of the world shifting. Occupy Halifax had been violently evicted on the day we left, some of our friends may have been hurt and it was difficult to know what was going on beyond the bus and the house shows. We brought that tension to some of our shows, and certainly the songs both bands had written about police brutality seemed depressingly relevant again. There were still many bright moments. Getting the tape player fixed and picnicking in Fredericton grocery parking lot while listening to crust music. Pulling into St. Andre, seeing a smiling young man holding an accordion and
realizing we were in the right place. The Snail Party cellist, Kaitlyn, brightening after her first ever sip of a brass monkey in Quebec city.

Then we hit Montreal and found ourselves in the lovely arms of Dee and Dylan (bum tickens + Snail Party forever). We had three shows booked in that dirty city, a huge relief to our only driver. The shows blurred in that same way most things seem to do in Montreal, but all three of them were warm and friendly. Things ended on a high note at the Laurier house, with half the audience getting their faces painted to match the band and those who had learned the words at the previous two shows screaming along. It was sloppy, but, as one member of the audience commented, "a room full of people drunkenly singing out their souls is better than any trained orchestra." It is probably fair to say that Snail Party and Sockfoot fucking killed Montreal. Despite all our ruckus, this was a sad point in our tour. It was as far as Sockfoot would be coming with Snail Party. Sad departings.

snail party somewhere (photo: unknown?)
Bum Tickens followed us to Ottawa and we played a nice cafe show at the Daily Grind. I think it was one of the first shows at that location, and they are an excellent venue. A lot of our friends had recently left Ottawa, but the city showed us that it could still be good to us even without friendly faces. Ottawa was another sad leaving story, though. Our cellist/financial advisor/death posse leader/moonshiner Kaitlyn would be heading back to Montreal with Bum Tickens.

Only five out of the original eight, we headed on to Peterborough. Mogli had been very excited to play this show since hearing one of the bands that we would be sharing the stage with, Moon King. They did not disappoint. Snail Party sang along, tapes were exchanged, good times were had. It was also in Peterborough that we were introduced to We Live Here Too, an organisation dedicated to creating
space for queer and disabled folk. This struck a note with Snail party, being a mostly queer band, and we became a little more aware of how important it is for queer bands like Sockfoot and Snail Party to tour across Canada and queer up the joint. Queer punx will fucking kill you!

In Toronto, the tour began to take on a more skidly note. We played an eviction party of sorts and somehow a few oogles stowed away onto the bus for Southern Ontario. This part of tour became about forties and dumpstered bacon and moshing and, most significantly, the absurd amount of chips and dip we dumpstered. We didn't know it at the time, but we were destined to pretty much live off of chips and dip for the rest of the tour. We also picked up a much more welcome addition to the bus in the
form of the washtub dynamo, Chantal, who would play with us until Saskatchewan.

beyon. (photo: ryley)
Northern Ontario was where the winter finally caught up with us, we spent many a night huddled together in the bus, stealing electricity from local businesses for our space heater. Like every traveller, we found ourselves stuck in Wawa, siphoning propane next to an absurdly large goose. The goose signifies way too long stuck in Northern Ontario. But we pulled through and managed to make it to Winnipeg before succumbing to frostbite or the drain propane puts on wallets. Here we would be hosted by Hollie's parents, who are wonderful people and more punk rock than you will ever be. Hollie's parents weren't the only punk as fuck people in Winnipeg though and our shows featured absurd mosh pits and a Wall of Death for the Snail Song. It was the perfect upswing from Northern Ontario.

mogli. (photo: rosie toes)

Bringing KellyYah and Snarlin along, we moved onto Brandon. We had no idea what to expect, and certainly did not expect much walking into the Yoga studio we were playing at. But Brandon was filled with the true and real sentiment that comes from being a periphery-not-quite-a-suburb town and had some the most enthusiastic dancing we'd seen on tour, as well as some of the grittiest kids.

It was on the hungover maybe still half drunk you hurt like that because you had fun last night sort of feeling that we had from Winnipeg and Brandon that Snail Party was riding on when we broke down. We'd pulled into Regina and couldn't pull out again. The transmission in the bus had dropped, and the bus wouldn't drive except in reverse. We backed up and pushed the bus through several major intersection in Regina, corking like it was critical mass. The mechanic we went to told us it would cost $2700 to fix the bus. Between our tour fund and all the members of Snail Party, we had something like a thousand dollars. Luckily, our friends Nicole and Syd happened to be Greyhounding through Saskatchewan at the time and ditched their working bus to help us with our broken down one. Between car panning and the help of some of the Occupy Regina folk, we pulled through.

Only to break down again a few hundred kilometres away in Tompkins, Saskatchewan. We pushed the bus three kilometres to the nearest gas station and spent the night in an abandoned motel. In the morning, the owner of the motel gave us a free room with heating and informed us that Tompkins sucked. After some time, though, we figured out that the Regina mechanics hadn't reinstalled the transmission properly and we'd only been running on seven cylinders (Able Auto, fuck them. If you are in Regina, steal something expensive from them).

We ended up missing our show in Calgary, but we made it to Edmonton to play the Wunderbar. It was homesickineningly reminiscent of Halifax between serving Propeller and Garrison and Audio/Rocketry's Faxe themed merch. When Audio/Rocketry played Hallelujah Halifax for us, it broke our hearts a little. We were all broke or in debt at this point and a long way rom home.

Feeling a little better both financially and mentally after playing a show, we headed onto BC. Snail Party poured hearts out to the Slocan valley and played one of our tightest shows of the tour. It seemed
everything was going our way again, we were too hard to die, and we'd got through the cold part of Canada. When we were informed we would be caravanning to the place we'd stay at in several different cars and trucks, it was decided that we should Death Race. We were on top of the world and a Death Race through the mountains was the way to prove it. Alternately screaming praise at our driver Bibi and our lord Satan, the bus careened down dark highways passing driver after driver. As we saw the pace car pull into a driveway, we knew we'd won. We'd gone from Nova Scotia to BC trailing slime and cigarette butts and empties, we'd pulled through two break downs and we'd just won a Death Race. Hard as fuck. Top of the world. Then, pulling into the snowy driveway, the bus started to slide a little. Beyon turns to Mogli and gives a look to say: "oh. Fuck."

And the bus goes into a ditch and rolls onto its side.

Everything falling to one side of the bus, some of the art inside absurdly upright, some of it disturbingly ironic (Mogli, come home safe), nothing really making sense, the tv landing just between Hollie and Arlin, a new perspective on the world, is everyone okay, everyone is okay, is the dog okay, he's shaking but I think he's fine, what are we going to do, oh fuck, I guess smoke through it, what can you do but have a cigarette at this point.

smoke the valley bull (photo: rosie toes)
The owner of the property had a BCAA card for RVs and we ended up having a free tow truck. After much deliberation on whether it was safe or not to do the mountain passes, we powered through on to Vancouver. (It turned out that going through the passes was an stupidly irresponsible decision. One of the suspension coils had gone through the floor of the bus into Mogli's bed when we got the bus righted. We didn't know until we were in Vancouver that the rear left wheel being held up by some wooden framing in the bus and not much else. It is incredibly lucky that it didn't break entirely in the mountains.) Vancouver was the perfect final show to our forty day tour. We all had an overwhelming sense of having made it. And we did. We made it.

Snail Party crosscountry, hard as fuck. Canada will never be the same again.

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