Sand Section Road Notes: Here We Go Again (July 2011 Part 1 of 4)

Sand Section Embarks on First National Tour

Well we did it again. We are back on the road with Fortunate Youth barreling through some of the hottest states in the country during the hottest months of the entire year. So much has happened in the past seven days that it will be a bit of a challenge describing all of the crazy events that have taken place in a manner that is easily digestible. Here goes nothing…

As many of you recall, this same time last year we left in a Winnebago for a similar journey through the Southwest United States and made it just under 300 miles before breaking down in Baker, California. We left our Winnie in Vegas and finished off the tour in a rental minivan. This year I am proud to announce that we finally sold our Winnebago literally the day that we left for tour! The Winnie, however, still had a couple more tricks left up her sleeve to make sure that our journey would not be as smooth as projected.

This tour, in order to assure that we would have no car problems, we decided to take Stefan's Jeep across country. Being a 2003 Jeep Liberty Sport with fresh tires, we were confident that we would avoid any major car fiascos and just focus on our music. Unfortunately things didn't go so smoothly. We got a flat tire less than five minutes into our trip in Manhattan Beach, California on Sunday July 17th. Being a Sunday, the tire place where the new tires were purchased was naturally closed. After finally finding a place that could repair the valve leak in the tire, we were able to leave town by about 12pm en route to The Green Room in Flagstaff, Arizona. By about 2pm when it started to get extremely hot out in the desert, we lost our air conditioning which made everything pretty uncomfortable for the duration of the drive. If we were not on such a tight budget we probably would have fixed the AC, but unfortunately it was not high on our priority list so we were forced to deal with the blistering heat.

The show that night in Flagstaff was actually the perfect start to our tour. It was a mellow crowd, we played great, and a had a lot of fun re-uniting with Fortunate Youth. We stayed above The Green Room in a little lounge that they save for traveling bands to crash for the night. Some time around 4am there was a sleep walking incident that resulted in a completely destroyed bedside table and a broken lamp, which was hilarious. It probably wasn't that hilarious for The Green Room management team, but if they provide free housing for bands they probably have a warehouse full of replacement furniture.

The next day we were off to beautiful El Paso, Texas (sarcasm implied). Pardon my pun, but this is where the tour really started to go south. We were originally supposed to be playing a place called the Percolator with some other reggae bands, but when we got there we found out that the show had been switched to a place called Lips, which is a gay bar about nine establishments down from the Percolator, and nestled next door to another gay bar known as The Tool Box.

The Percolator that night was hosting about five metal bands, and then the crowd was supposed to walk down the street to Lips after the bands had finished. Once at Lips, three additional metal bands were to perform followed by Sand Section, then Fortunate Youth some time around 1am. Once we were hit with all of this information, we debated whether or not this show was worth waiting around in El Paso to play or not. We all finally decided to abandon the gig because while we have absolutely no problem with the homosexual metal community whatsoever, it really isn't either of our key demographics especially considering we would be playing after eight metal bands on a Sunday night. Plus, we had an 11 hour drive to Dallas ahead of us, so we bailed. It was at that point that we started to hear some really strange noises under the hood of the Jeep, which we knew was going to be an issue at some point in the near future…

That night we drove about 5 hours to Odessa, Texas which is the mid-point between El Paso and Dallas. We used to book a hotel in Odessa, and almost booked the cheapest hotel we could find until we read the first three reviews that read "RUN, RUN, RUN!", "Terrible", and "BED BUGS!". We decided to step it up a notch and settle for the next cheapest hotel that ended up only having dirty towels and some blood-stained sheets… But hey, no bed bugs at least. The next day we drove to Dallas and met up with our old friends Dan and Lisa Morgan who were amazingly hospitable to us last year. We had some cocktails and swam in their glorious pool to escape the heat until it was time to head to our gig at 2826 in downtown Dallas. The gig was a really fun one and that night we stayed with Tony's buddy Oren who coincidentally lived across the street from the venue.

When we started the car the next day, the strange noises under the hood got extremely loud and you could tell that something was really wrong. We immediately drove to an auto-repair place to diagnose the problem and the mechanic quickly told us that we needed a new air compressor and evaporator because the spindle on the compressor was locked up and was preventing the belt from properly running its course. He said it would cost about $1,000 with parts and labor. We thanked him for his time and prepared to drive to another mechanic that might be less expensive, but of course then the car wouldn't start. Seen as how we were broken down in his parking lot we were left with no choice but to ask the mechanic how soon he could begin working on the Jeep. Three hours and $750 later, we were back on the road headed for San Antonio with a functional vehicle complete once again with air conditioning which was a nice plus.

Now it was (un)Fortunate Youth's turn for some serious car trouble and they had a full on freeway breakdown on their way to San Antonio which rendered them unable to make it to the gig. We, on the other hand, did make it to the gig only to find that the bar owner was going to close the bar because it was not worth it for him to stay open if the headlining band was not going to make it. After some frustrated groans and grunts, we reluctantly found a hotel in San Antonio for the night and decided to go hit the town. We actually ended up having a really fun bar hop that night along the river walk in downtown San Antonio so we were able to make the best out of a less than favorable situation.

The next morning we were informed that the bar that we were supposed to play that night in Corpus Christi had been closed down because they lost their liquor license after being raided by ABC. So at this point three out of six shows had been cancelled on our tour and we were beginning to get slightly worried about what would happen on the remainder of our journey. Fortunate Youth was still broken down up near Austin with a fried computer diagnostic system in their van, so they were waiting for a new computer system to arrive from Fed-Ex before they could even figure out what was wrong. At this point we just switched from work mode to vacation mode and we headed to Corpus Christi even though we weren't playing that night. Luckily it was on the way to Brownsville where we would be playing the following night so it was worth checking out a new city located right on the gulf coast.

We arrived in Corpus Christi and, after checking into our hotel, jumped in the extremely warm waters in the Gulf of Mexico. While it wasn't all that refreshing, it was still a pretty cool thing to do for the first time. The swim was cut short once we were surrounded by 20+ jellyfish within a matter of minutes. After lounging by the pool for an hour or so, we did what any 24-year-olds would do when vacationing in a new city, we hit the town. After hitting several local spots, we ended up at a place called the Blues Bar and we actually talked the house band into letting us get up and play a few songs because we are a touring band after all. We played really well and even made some new fans which was great. Some how I managed to make friends with an enormous rugby player, probably about 300+ pounds and no shorter than 6'5" wearing a shirt that said "If Rugby was easy, it would be your mom"… He was actually an extremely nice guy who ended up taking us under his enormous wing and showed us another great bar where we all got destroyed on $1 Jack n' Cokes. The next morning was very painful to say the least.

Finally, we were off to Brownsville, Texas which is the most southern tip of the state where we were to play a bar called Shenanigans. Fortunate Youth was able to borrow a car from a friend and they were finally able to make it down to join up with us again. Both bands played great that night and the bar was packed full of people.

So here we are on day 7. We just left Brownsville and we are headed to Austin for our show tonight at Ruta Maya with high hopes that this show will be a huge success. Life on the road is always an adventure, and we have been able to maintain a positive morale by taking everything with a grain of salt. At the end of the day, we are a group of friends traveling to uncharted waters together and whether we play a gig or not, there are tons of great places to see and lots of fun stuff to do everywhere we go. In fact, one personal goal that I had for Texas was to see an armadillo, and I accomplished half of that goal on the way to Dallas in the form of road kill. It was kinda gross, but I am strangely satisfied. Anyways, hopefully we will have no further setbacks and my next blog will bring more positive news. Thanks for reading, I will try to post more frequently!