Thursday, November 21st – New Orleans, LA
I sent the text to make sure everyone was up and moving. Last time we took a trip to Texas, we had to climb up to Noah’s apartment and knock until their roommate kindly let us inside to retrieve our guitarist. This time, though, everyone was set and, for the most part, awake. We packed the cars and settled in for the first part of the ride. We picked up Angelo, who would be capturing the weekend as we went from our home in New Orleans to Austin and finally Houston. After a brief stop at Costco for gas and morning pizza, we were ready to set out on the road.
This would be our second time playing at Darwin’s Pub in Austin and our first time ever playing in Houston at Axelrad Beer Garden. As a band that is just starting to tour, we were all looking forward to spending time together on the road and playing for audiences that we didn’t know. We had two cars loaded with gear and nine hours before we landed in Austin.
Traveling with The Hi Res is fun because when the aux cord gets passed around, you end up finding a lot of cool music. Mauricio, our keys and sax player, shows off an impressive knowledge of spanish funk music, while Noah can pull out anything from math rock to japanese metal. Aidan, our bari sax player, is known for bringing top notch sea shanties to car rides and Kevin, our drummer, has the Grateful Dead’s deepest cuts at the forefront of his musical taste. It makes for an interesting soundtrack as you travel hundreds of miles across Louisiana and into Texas.
The highlight on the road to Austin is Bucee’s, the most impressive highway convenience store operation I’ve ever seen. At any given time, it feels like there are at least a thousand people inside or around the store. You can buy a brisket sandwich, candy, a candle, and some pajamas all in one trip. We’ve made it a tradition to hit up Bucee’s anytime we’re on the road, and we have to commemorate the occasion by posing with the icon himself. It perfectly breaks up an 8 hour drive and having something to look forward to each way makes the drive easier.
We arrived in Austin at around 9 at night. We were staying at our trombone player, Avery’s house. We spread out over the house, claiming air mattresses and couches as they were revealed to be available. After a full day on the road, we all decided that the best way to end the night would be ordering two large pizzas from Domino’s and drinking a couple of beers. Sometimes the easiest decisions are the best.
Friday, November 22nd – Austin, TX
I woke up and took a run around Avery’s neighborhood, doing my best to remember how to get home in the winding hills of South Austin. People started waking up on their own and had a couple of plans for how they’d spend their day before our show at night. Half of the group drove into the city to do some general sightseeing and the other half drove to a nature trail that was about 45 minutes away. It didn’t matter much what we did, just as long as no one got lost, hurt, or stressed throughout the day. Angelo and I went through downtown Austin and got a few pictures. We stopped by the venue to snap a photo for social media and then we started back to regroup.
That night’s show was exciting. The first time we played at Darwin’s Pub was this past March and it lined up with SXSW happening virtually from Austin. The staff was awesome and the in-house sound guy did a great job. The band got dressed and wrote out physical setlists for the night. Once we were all set, we loaded up the cars and started off towards 6th Street.
Darwin’s Pub is a rustic piano bar on the corner of 6th and San Jacinto in downtown Austin. When we pulled up, the owner, CJ, greeted us and got us started on loading in right away. I wrestled with a mess of cables that I always say I’m going to organize while everyone else did the heavy lifting. We sound checked and were able to hangout for about a half hour before we went on. I don’t like waiting around to start a show because I usually end up chugging water and pacing until I’m close to pissing myself, so this was perfect. When I tapped the band to be ready in the next five minutes, it felt like it was time.
That show was electric. We took the first couple of songs to introduce ourselves and get the audience warmed up. By the time we hit our first medley (Never Too Much by Luther Vandross into I’d Rather Go Blind by Etta James), the crowd was into it and growing fast. We kept things going with some new originals to our set and it felt awesome to get that reaction from an audience that largely did not know us. We brought out our upcoming single, Coming Clean, and the place went nuts. We’ve referred to this song as “Head-Banging Hobbes” and it definitely lived up to its name. A lot of people started coming in off the street and we only had a couple of songs left in our set, so I turned to the band and started calling songs. We snuck in “September” by Earth, Wind and Fire and “Kissing My Love” by Bill Withers before doing our last originals and finishing with “I Wish” by Stevie Wonder. We had the people dancing.
We spent some time at the venue after our set and then headed home for the night. Everyone felt great about how we played. In the morning we woke up to a massive order of Torchy’s Tacos and devoured it. Close to thirty tacos, gone within minutes. It was an awesome way to start the day.
Saturday, November 23rd – Houston, TX
We loaded up the cars and headed off towards Houston. The ride didn’t get bad until we actually got close to the city. At first the traffic wasn’t unbearable. We sat on the interstate for about 45 minutes before we were able to move. But just when we thought we had made it through the worst of it, the sky opened up and rain started coming down hard. We could barely see 30 feet in front of us at one point. We finally arrived at Aidan’s family’s house and had about an hour before we were supposed to get to the venue. The rain was still coming down, but the radar showed it stopping so we were optimistic.
We got dressed and hopped back in the cars to go to the venue with the rain still coming down. Axelrad is a beautiful outdoor venue, but you can’t set up equipment in the pouring rain. So when we arrived at the venue, we waited for a couple of hours, hoping the rain would let up only for it to seemingly get stronger. Eventually the stage manager told me that we would have to cancel for tonight, but that we’d be able to reschedule and they would compensate us for coming out. It was really kind of them and we can’t wait to go back to Axelrad on January 21st(!!!), but in the moment we were definitely disappointed. There’s nothing you can do about it and I think that’s part of the frustration. Either way, we got some pizza and went back to Aidan’s house, where we watched The Blues Brothers and retired for the night.
Ending on a cancellation isn’t fun, but it got me thinking about how and when we were going to do our next tour. Every time we go out on the road, we just want to get better. We want to meet new people and have new experiences. We’re planning our next tour right now and every time we just want to do things that are bigger and better than before. We can’t wait to get back on the road with even more music and an even better show.