Phantom Family Halo Tour Diary 11/2012


BACK STORY. i love joining bands. as Travis Morrison (Dismemberment Plan) once put it too me, “all new bands are in love.” So i happily found myself playing bass in Phantom Family Halo; a band originally from Louisville KY, now relocated to Brooklyn and signed to Knitting Factory Records. Lydia Lunch and the Ritchie White Orchestra invited us to LA and SF for a few shows at good venues. This was right on the heels of hurricane stupid storm sandy and only hours before another northeaster storm rolled in. we managed to catch the last flight out of JFK before they started canceling them.

Our first night in LA was a night off so we set up our home base at Brewery Artist Lofts, a collective of warehouse spaces so awesome that i spent the week apologizing to everyone for hating on LA for most of my life. three times bigger and sunnier than any loft space i’d seen in nyc. we went out for a drink, met some old friends, and then ended up here
where the drummer from The Germs was MC’ing between strange reverb folk bands and Christian Puppet Show Projections. i was completely entranced. to underscore how different this town is from NYC, our friend was randomly selling his comic books while he stood on the street in front of the speakeasy. People would walk up to him and engage saying “Oh are you selling comics? and then actually buy them.” has that ever happened in New York? maybe in the 70s to R.Crumb.

millies! we ate here a lot.

our first gig was at a fashion museum / school exhibit opening for a collection of old punk rock T shirts.
a completely appropriate show actually. The students and staff at the school were exactly what you might imagine; young hip amazonian women, metrosexual dudes with frosted tips, and matronly museum types with no sense of humor at all. i later learned that Lita Ford was there, and that the synth player from Faith No More really dug my bass playing.

Tour is usually just a series of surreal moments, with some rock and free beer thrown in.
cut to a gas station in the middle of the high desert equidistant between Los Angeles and San Francisco.
For absolutely no reason a guy in a full carhartt overall suit walks up to me and says “You want a flare?”
and hands me what looks like a stick of dynamite. it turned out to be a standard issue emergency road flare, i gave it to Rose, the lady working at the gas station. We didn’t end up needing it anyway.

We drove past a farm that someone cleverly knick named ‘Cowschwitz’ an aptly titled mega-beef-farm you could smell for miles before it was in view. not a lot of free ranging going on in there.

That night in San Francisco was pretty wild. The local opening act was something i’ve never seen before, which is always a surprise after 10 years of professional touring rock-ness. they had 2 bass players and 2 drummers and 2 stacks of amplifiers about 12 feet tall each. i have no idea how they adjusted the volume at that height. the music sounded like what you’d expect with a set up like that, power violent blastbeat sepultura-esque grind core. the awesome thing is that the typical low growly scream singer was actually a little asian chick with an asymmetrical haircut. she could certainly vomit noise as well as the boys. good for you girl. as if it wasn’t unpleasant enough already, they turned the house lights on to full. great job.
go ahead and give yourself a migraine and really feel like you were there with me:

Driving back to LA we saw a 50 foot tall dust devil, which if you’ve never seen oneā€¦ it’s a spontaneous funnel cloud of dirt that looks like a special warp zone effect from a video game. it’s pretty surreal to drive right past one.

Our show at the Echo was a pretty great goodbye california moment. Lydia had been exceptionally nice to us the entire tour. she’s a true original punk rocker and her onstage persona can be terrifying.. like if someone gave linda blair from the exorcist a top notch prog punk band and said ATTACK! but she knows who she likes, she’s practically adopted our singer. after soundcheck she came over just to tell me that there was now beer and snacks upstairs in the green room. i sold some merch for her. i think we share many of the same interests.
so cap a loud ass show off with some old friends and a midnight taco truck run and you’ve got a New Yorker very impressed with Los Angeles.

we’ll put the nail in the coffin of this tour on thursday in Brooklyn.