#MerchMaddieGetsGooey: On The Road With Glass Animals

It’s Saturday night in a drizzly Ithaca, NY, and I’m the only person sitting on our Prevost bus, waiting for the rest of the crew to return from a bar before we make our way north into Canada for a show in Toronto. Today marks show 7 of the Glass Animals Fall North American Tour, and what a whirlwind seven days it’s been! It feels like we’ve been out forever, but it’s hardly been a week.

It’s been a hot minute since I last hit the road. This last year has been hectic in terms of my personal life, between big life moments happening with family and lots of inner struggle trying to decide which professional path to continue to down. I took some time to really step aside and let the necessary things happen, and now I’m finally hopping back in and doing so gingerly; making strides to focus my attention on answering some “what ifs” that have been haunting me for far too long. One of those questions was if I should reset my focus on trying to tour consistently, and I think this tour is the universe’s way of giving me the time I need to figure that out. 

Prior to this tour, I spent the week in Baltimore working a brand event, so Sunday the 25th I popped on a train from Baltimore to D.C. and made my way south to meet up with the crew who’d had their first show the night prior in North Carolina. Working with a new group for the first time is like your first day at a new school: it’s up to you to figure out the existing dynamic and see where you fit alongside the other characters. For some tours, this can take days, or weeks to really find your place, so I wasn’t sure what to expect. 

When I arrived at the Echostage that afternoon, there was a church service being held inside the room (that’s new?), so I wandered through a venue full of little kids and elderly women in their Sunday best to find our bus parked out in back. I was immediately welcomed by a mix of band and crew, shown to my bunk, and introduced to everyone. The first day could not have gone smoother, and it’s only continued that way since. This crew function like a family unit, and they’ve welcomed me to the pack without blinking an eye. By the end of night one I’d been properly introduced to the game of “bummy”, been made a cup of tea, and included in the band’s pre-show ritual. Everything felt seamless and awesome and perfect. There are three “new kids” this tour: one light tech, one guitar tech, and me - the only three Americans (everyone else is English). It’s been fun to see how we’ve all fallen into place, and been neat getting to know everyone a day at a time. I’ve honestly never felt more quickly comfortable and just…at home in a setting as I do with this bunch (except possibly when I first started at Apple). These are my people, I’m good to be myself in every way around them, and take pride in this band and their work like I would a band I’ve been with for years. Tour family is a very real thing, and it’s humbling to feel that in such a massive way so quickly. 

Our first chunk of tour went from D.C. to Philly, followed by a day off and two back-to-back sold out shows in New York City. I’ve never really spent time enjoying NYC, but these shows gave me a new perspective on the city, and made for a hilariously perfect three days including dinner dates with good friends, getting to know the crew over drinks at bars, and an incredible art installation from our frontman complete with palm trees, purple lighting, and a super nintendo with Super Mario World rigged to play a chiptune version of the band’s radio single “Life Itself.” 

After New York, we headed north for a chilly day in Boston, which happened to be a show where the venue was selling the merch, so I had my first opportunity to photograph the show. Our lighting designer, Louisa, has done an incredible job with this show! It's full of fun fills, color combos, silhouettes, and textures all being displayed across giant Tetris-esque arches hanging on either side of the stage with three giant cacti dispersed in between. I won’t be able to photograph the show again until Chicago, but I can’t wait. I’m lucky to be out with a crew that not only has an awesome stage show, but is giving me the opportunity to create my own art from theirs. 

The band is currently touring in support of their new record, How to be a Human Being, which was just released last month. It’s been exciting to see songs coming to life for the first time, and watch the audience react to new music. Their fan base is a mix of die-hards who come dressed as one of the album cover’s characters, to fans who’ve been newly introduced through friends or classmates. The crowds are usually pretty young, and all very excited - for some it’s even been their first concert ever. I’m working really hard to reciprocate that passion by getting to know them, and build on that joy through their time with me at merch. The kids are loving the show and we’ve been flying through merchandise, so it’s been a bit of a whirlwind to keep up with orders and shipments, but I’m enjoying the “hecticity.” 

Highlights so far include: bummy in Washington D.C. behind the venue where we hit one too many cars yet managed to not break any windows, my new fanny pack (thanks, Shawn G!), getting tacos for lunch with the whole band in Philly, dinner with the legendary Amanda Lynn Kim in New York followed by walking from Chelsea back to my hotel on the Lower East Side with no directions (like a boss), my massive, crazy, egg-shaped bathtub in NYC, bar escapades and tequila shots after NYC show 1, photographing in Boston after a miserably cold day, and waking up with our bus immediately next to a street fair in Ithaca this morning. 

Tomorrow we’re off to Toronto for our first Canada show, followed by a week in the midwest and then an adventure driving across Montana for one show in Missoula en route to the west coast.

More updates to come soon, but for now, enjoy some photos from along the way :) 

New Music Tuesday | Hozier and PVRIS

Buckle your seatbelts and startup your Spotify, kids, it's time for New Music Tuesday! I know I said I am working hard to be better at this, and I'm getting there slowly but surely. I think it'll take ages before I get to a place where I can really do this weekly, so for now monthly will have to do. This week I write to you about two of my favorite new finds: the most amazing Blues player I've heard in ages, and one of my favorite new bands I discovered while out on Warped Tour 2014. 


HOZIER - Hozier

Andrew Hozier-Bryne, better known these days by his surname Hozier, is the Irish singer-songwriter credited with the Top 40 smash hit "Take Me To Church". If you thought you liked the one song you've heard, be prepared to have your brain melt. It sounds silly, but the man's radio hit does his full length album zero credit, and you can't just take my word for it. Filled with catchy beats, beautiful melodies, impressive guitar work, and even more impressive lyrics, Hozier's album takes you on a beautiful ride through love, doubt, faith, and imagery. This album has become a staple of my musical library in the short month I've known of its existence. My personal recommendation is to start the album with track number two, "Angel of Death and the Codeine Scene" since track one is the only song you already know. Let the rest of the music speak for itself, and by the album's end you'll hardly believe "Take Me To Church" and the rest of his album come from the same artist. Trying to pick my favorite songs off of this album is impossible, and spoiler alert: I have already decided that for Ultra5280's 2014 roundup, I will be naming this my top album of the year. Feel free to hop over to Ultra5280 and read my review of Hozier's show in Boulder last month, but if you want to just cut to the chase, set an hour aside and listen to this record the whole way through. If I had to pick, my 3 favorite songs are "Jackie and Wilson", "From Eden", and "Work Song". Trust me on this though, you want to hear all of it. Sweet Andrew Hozier, you have solidified yourself as one of my favorite artists... I pray God your next album blows my mind as much as this one does. 


PVRIS - White Noise

When I was growing up, Warped Tour was the place to discover new music and slowly watch it rise to fame. Somehow in the late 2000's, that all changed and legacy bands began to rule the roster traveling coast to coast. It started to feel like the only way to discover new stuff at Warped was to lurk around the Kevin Says Stage for a few years in a row, and see who stuck around. This past summer was one of the first times in ages that I feel like new talent truly got to shine through at Warped, and one of the bands that succeeded the most is PVRIS. A band of youngsters from Boston, they played a quick two-week stint of shows across the east coast on the Ernie Ball Stage. In that time they managed to draw the attention of bands from every single stage on the tour, photographers, and even the production staff. Lead singer Lyndsey Gunnulfsen draws you in with her fiery yet seductive tone, a growl encroaching on her her smooth voice with every chorus. Her lyrics take the listener from a place of wonder and curiosity to a place of uproar with killer hooks like "It's my house / and I think it's time you get out/ it's my soul / it isn't yours anymore / it's my house / and i think it's time you get out". Iridescent synth tracks in the background lead you weaving through each song's melody, escorted by driving guitars and sharp drums. The ferocity of the vocals in songs like "St. Patrick" and "My House" give Gunnulfsen credibility as a vocalist in ways most females are written off in this genre. She can sing, but damn the girl can mean it too. The entire album front-to-back is a quick 40minutes, but it might just be the most successful blend of pop-punk, rock, and electronica that i've ever heard.