Music Makes Us Lose Control
Just like Missy Elliot says, music makes us lose control.
If you haven’t noticed yet, we like music. A lot. Every trip we take has a soundtrack. There’s always music playing in our house. Our blog posts are song titles and lyrics. And we love to travel to see music. It’s not uncommon for us to drive 2 hours to see a band and come home the same night. If we are in a new city we always check out the Bands in Town app to see who’s playing in the area. Music is such an integral part of our travel it would be difficult to write about where we have been without mentioning the music of the trip.
Music has always been a part of both of our lives but it was also the catalyst for Lindsay and me meeting. We have two friends who are twin sisters. One of them happened to have VIP, all access tickets to a Rascal Flatts concert in June of 2013. For the record, neither of us like Country music, but our friends offered up free tickets, tailgating, a beautiful summer day, and beer. They had our attention at “beer”.
We met that day, and Lindsay didn’t much like me, which I’m sure is no surprise to most people who know me. Let’s just say, I’m snuggly like a cactus when we first meet, but eventually I’ll win you over with my wit and sarcasm. This obviously worked with Lindsay. I contacted her a month later about meeting up at Van’s Warped Tour since I knew we were both going that year. The rest is history.
Since then, Warped Tour has been a consistent part of our summer. We have a friend, David, who happens to work on the tour so we are able to get all access passes. We’ve been on tour buses, backstage, on stage, and in the crowd. Unfortunately, this year will be the last full cross country tour for Warped. And because it’s the last year, we decided to take in two shows; one in Hartford, Connecticut and another in Mansfield, Massachusetts. Hartford is local for us but Mansfield is a bit of a drive so we opted to stay overnight in a tree house! We spent both days rocking out to bands, drinking a few beers, and hanging out with great friends. Basically everything that a summer day at Warped should be. Those days will be missed.
Probably the biggest music travel trip was to Austin, Texas for SXSW in 2014. SX (aka South By) is the biggest musical festival in the world. It features over 20,000 bands all across the city over a week. Yes, you can buy wristbands that get you into all kinds of special shows, but those cost big money. The reality is there are so many free shows and bands playing at bars across Austin that you can see all kinds of bands without shelling out hundreds of dollars.
Our SXSW experience went like this; Take a Mega Bus from Hartford, CT to Boston, MA. Fly From Boston to Houston, TX. Rent a car and drive from Houston to Austin where we got there just in time to catch a show by The Unlikely Candidates. We then spent the next 5 days seeing shows from The Vegabonds, Gabby Young and the Other Animals, the Soil & the Sun, Calliope Musicals, Sleigh Bells, The So So Glos, Foster the People, and even a special appearance at a free show by Slash and Cheno Moreno of the Deftones. We squeezed in some family time, lots of BBQ, and some South Congress Bridge bats. We also spent some time memorializing the victims of the awful crash outside The Mohawk, which happened as we were just around the corner from the venue the night prior.
A great part of SXSW is getting the chance to see unknown acts before they get big. There’s something pretty exciting about catching a band or musician in a small venue before they become big. Like they time we caught Hozier playing at Café 939 in Boston which holds approximately 200 people in July, 2014. By November of that year he had sold out Irving Plaza, which holds 1,200 and in 2015 he was nominated for a Grammy and performed at the awards show with Annie Lennox. Or catching New Orleans band Tank and the Bangas at Café 9 in New Haven, CT with maybe 20 other people in October of 2016 only to wake up on Mardi Gras day of 2017 to find they’ve won NPRs Tiny Desk Concert and get to see them perform at the iconic Tipitinas the following month . Or when we bought tickets months in advance to see in Andra Day at the Sinclair in Boston which ended up being a sold out show, and the next day she performed for President Obama.
Watching new or up and coming performers is such a raw view into the music world. Yes, seeing big acts like Tom Petty (RIP) or Lauryn Hill live is exciting. They put on a great show (in fact that Lauryn Hill show at Brooklyn Bowl was one of the best shows I’ve ever attended), but seeing a band or artist who’s just starting out has an unhindered feel.
We got to experience this on a week road trip with the all female New York punk band, T-Rextasy. I had started following the band on NPR after hearing a small piece on their song Gap Yr Boiz. They posted that they needed a driver for their Midwest tour. It had been on Lindsay’s Invincible List (aka Bucket List) to go on tour with a band. I figured this would be her chance. She contacted the band and we were hired. We rented a van, which thankfully ended up being a full size cargo van and not the minivan we had originally booked, and drove to New York to pick them up. Over the next 5 days we drove to Cleveland, Chicago, Iowa City, Columbus, and Brooklyn watching the band play at every city. We slept on floors and in other bands apartments. The girls got stick and poke tattoos in Chicago. Lindsay and I went to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. And on every bit of the 2,700 mile road trip we listened to and talked about music.
I’m hard pressed to call music the universal language. We don’t all “speak” the same kind of music. But we all know the feeling of listening to a sad song after rough breakup and how, even years later, it can cause a slight twinge when you hear that song again. Or listening to a song as you fall in love and having that tune become the theme song to your relationship. We might not all like the same kinds of music, but we all understand how music can make us feel. Having the opportunity to see, and for Lindsay to photograph, so many live shows over the years is such a gift. From Andra Day, Benjamin Booker, Ron Gallo, and Hurray for the Riff Raff at the Sinclair in Boston, to Young the Giant and Cold War Kids at Red Rocks in Colorado, to Circa Survive at the Paramount on Long Island, to the endless artists that we’ve seen in New Orleans (which you can read about here). From music festivals with big name artists to small, cramped, grimy venues with bands who are just starting their careers. Every show has been special. Music will always be a part of our lives and travels.
So turn the music up, and Adventure On!