After a killer kickoff show on Thursday, Phoenix-based pop-punkers Out of Reverie (and one stowaway reporter) hit the road and headed for California to play the first show of a ten-day tour.
While Los Angeles might be a sexier destination, we are setting out for one of it's many little brothers--the kind of trendy downtown area in Whittier, California. Lead singer Dain Griffin's cousin owns a little bar right in the center of town, so the band thought it would be the perfect spot to start off the tour.
In the morning, Griffin arrived about an hour late in the Dodge Ram 2500 van that will act as our home for the next week and a half. After giving him some not so good-natured ribbing, guitarist Rene Teran and I hopped into the van and got ready to hit the road.
The 2500 is a standard touring van, with a few modifications. Griffin, his father and a few family members built us a wooden bunk in the back to sleep on in our off time. All of the equipment slides under the wooden structure and drummer Sam McGee's futon mattress slides on top for some added comfort.
I don't know if lying on a homemade futon while traveling down the I-10 at 75 miles per hour is legal, but it sure is comfy.
The rest of the trip to California was pretty standard for any Arizona kid used to making the trek to L.A. for summer vacation.
We made the customary stop in Blythe for subpar fast food and run-ins with interesting people. We dealt with aggressive drivers passing on the shoulder. We spent countless hours passing through the desert passing the time with games we haven't played since junior high like M.A.S.H (by the way, McGee married Scarlett Johansson, had five kids and moved to Blythe to become a park ranger).
After seven hours, we finally arrived in Whittier. Not having visited or heard of the place in my life, I really did not know what to expect of the Los Angeles suburb, but I was pleasantly surprised. Red brick cross walks. Classic brick buildings. Trendy dive bars. The place was a genuine hipster's paradise.
As it turns out, a bar in Whittier is not the optimal place for a pop-punk show, however. The bar clientele was a little older than us and not quite used the decibel level. But you can't underestimate the power of family. Griffin had plenty of family and friends come out to show and the hospitality of The Firehouse Grill really made our first night a great one.
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Before the set, we decided to walk around Whittier for a bit and see the sights. With a bit of luck, we managed to find a little patch of grass in the center of town with a few folky kids hanging around. A guy and a girl were sitting around with an acoustic guitar, so Krauss asked them to play us a song.
Being the friendly folks they were, the two quickly played us a Janis Joplin cover that was really damn good. The girl had a real raspy voice and the guy strummed his instrument with soul. They were a serendipitously good find.
After some confusion, one of the house bands that was set to play later in the night loaned Out of Reverie a PA system to use and everything really went smoothly from that point on.
Teran immediately got into the good graces of the slightly older members of the audience when he riffed on "Sweet Home Alabama" during warm-ups.
The boys then set up in the front corner of the restaurant and began to wail. Griffin humbly mumbled "thank-yous" in between songs and the guys chugged through a pretty tight set. Outside of a couple of hiccups (McGee, trapped in a tiny corner, dropped a few drumsticks), the band put on a succinct and fairly enlightening show, considering the audience which had a lot of regulars in their 30s and 40s.
"I don't do well in tight spaces, I drop stuff," McGee said.
They played their normal set, but cut a little short. The guys jammed on new tunes from the Slugger EP, but you could tell that the new environment and less in-tune audience played on their nerves a bit.
Not that it affected their performance all that much. Out of Reverie still put on a strong show, they just seemed a bit out of their element.
But isn't that what first tours are all about? I would have liked to have been there when Blink-182 or Jimmy Eat World first hit the road to play for unfamiliar audiences. Playing in weird spots picked more for opportunity than familiarity is all a part of the learning curve.
It was really inspiring to see the guys overcome the awkwardness and play with the charisma and vigor I have seen so many times before.
Following the band's set, the rest of the night was a blast.
We stayed around to grab some drinks and grub while the house band, a Spanish-language rock group, performed. The guys were so genuine and nice. I never knew that a Spanish cover of The Smith's "There is a Light That Never Goes Out" could sound so cool, or have such a long guitar solo.
The guys even beckoned Griffin back up, with the help of the crowd, to sing an English cover of Radiohead's "Creep." It was a little awkward, but ultimately really fun. He got up there, closed his eyes, and crooned those lines we've all heard before: "I'm a
freak creep... (screwing up song lyrics in my blog is a side effect of being on tour and writing at 3 a.m.)"
Teran joined him halfway through with a pint of pear cider to finish off the ballad.
From that point on we just enjoyed ourselves. We walked Whittier and saw some of the cool buildings the town had to offer. Bassist Jake Krauss talked up a slightly dirty drunk girl with a cute face for a while.
He still contests that she is a "nice lady."
And we cannot forget the dollar store. Out of Reverie has a made it a tradition to visit dollar stores around any venue they play and this one sure had some gold in the form of 3 dollar 24 oz. bottles of beer.
Needless to say, we bought a couple for later.
After the show, we headed to Griffin's Aunt's house. She was kind enough to let five dirty boys spend the night.
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We intruded on a dinner party, drank some beers, and Dain learned how to drink wine for the first time.
All in all, the first day on tour was a resounding success. We were all forced out of our comfort zones and one point or another.
And I wouldn't have it any other way.