By Andrew Bansal
In its previous installment, my ‘On The Road With Night Demon’ tour blog left you with us exiting California, and this part comprises ramblings about our journey through Nevada, Oregon, Canada and Washington. Fasten your seat belts, folks, as this has been the most eventful week of the tour yet. But before that, read parts 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5 first.
Day 30 (10/28): The Switcheroo
We arrived for the show in Sparks, Nevada at a venue called the Alley, and much like San Francisco, we discovered that Night Demon had been bumped down to third on the bill instead of main support to Raven, as the promoter preferred one of the locals in that slot. It turned out to be a mistake as the band following Night Demon was no match for them in any way, shape or form, and I say this with no disrespect intended. Unless a band of the stature of Manilla Road gets added to the bill (as is the case for the 11/16 Chicago show), this needs to stop. The touring package should always get top billing, and if a local band thinks it’s beneath them to open for Night Demon, they simply shouldn’t play the show. With that said, Night Demon will give you a show that’s more than worthy of being billed as Raven’s main support, and you can take my word on that.
After the show we debated on getting a hotel room in Sparks or driving overnight to our next destination in Ashland, Oregon, and went for the latter which proved to be the right decision as we were able to check in to a motel there in the early afternoon for a full day, and got to sleep in motel beds after the show.
Day 31 (10/29): Three Layers And No Signal
On the way from Sparks to Ashland, we slept in the van at a rest stop in Northern California for a few hours. Temperatures had dropped considerably and despite burying myself in multiple layers of clothing, I wasn’t able to get much sleep. On the plus side I was awake to witness sunrise in the beautiful dense forest surrounding us, and it was a sight to behold. The onward drive to Oregon, passing Mount Shasta, was nothing short of breathtaking. It was natural beauty at its finest, and this picture-perfect level of scenery accompanied us on all drives throughout our stint in the North-West.
We arrived to a rainy welcome in Ashland, and after checking into the motel right down the street from the venue (Club 66), we found out that Wi-Fi wasn’t functional and we weren’t even getting network signal on our phones. Being cut off from all communication in this manner for a whole day was no fun and left us resorting to the idiot box to kill time watching bad Halloween-themed movies such as ‘Children Of The Corn’.
“3 metal bands, 9 PM”, said the marquee at the venue, as if it were a secret show and no one was supposed to know the names of said three bands. But, it was another show in the books for Night Demon, after which we embarked on our next immediate mission: post-concert food. At 1 AM, nothing around the venue was open, not even the Taco Bell, so gas station food was the only option. Gas stations in the state of Oregon have employees pumping gas into the vehicle for you as opposed to the usual self-service style prevalent across most of America, which reminded me of India where that system is followed nationwide.
The rest of the night was spent watching yet more Halloween-centric movies, the surprisingly entertaining ‘Ghoulies’ followed by its lackluster sequel which ultimately put us all to sleep.
Day 32 (10/30): Stay Hard, Stay Wet
After a shortish drive from wet Ashland to an even wetter Portland, we reached the Tonic Lounge and even with plenty of time on our hands we had to rush to load gear and merch in, just so it wouldn’t get drenched. I’ve developed great admiration for the Portland metal scene simply based on the endless amount of talent coming out of there and making its mark on a global level (Red Fang comes to mind straightaway) and it was cool to finally experience it firsthand, all three local openers at the Tonic putting on a more-than-decent show.
One obstacle for touring bands is the competition faced from other shows, specially in bigger towns. For example, the mighty Eyehategod, a popular metal band anywhere in the US and particularly amidst Portland’s demographic, played a show at a place called Bossanova Ballroom the same night and definitely pulled some of the potential Raven/Night Demon crowd. But for such factors that are out of Raven or Night Demon’s control, all they can do is stay positive, rock out and hope for the best. There was still a good crowd at the Tonic for both bands, many people in Halloween costumes/makeup including the bartender. Aside from that, the merch area was pro-level, we were fed quite well by the venue, and at the merch table, for a change, instead of being asked stupid questions or being treated like a drink stand, I was asked whether I would like to see some women’s underwear. Affirmative.
After the gig, we spent the night with the cool, hilarious dudes from the great young Portland-based band Spellcaster. They do the best Dave Mustaine imitations I’ve ever heard in my life. But there was a cat in the house, and after what happened in Oakland (read Part 5), I just couldn’t handle being near that creature and left the house to sleep in the van. I’m pretty sure I’m uncomfortable around all cats now.
The Halloween night show was at the Hop in Spokane and turned out to be a good one, plenty of interesting costumes all over the place and the audience really digging Night Demon’s set. To fit in with the theme of the evening, they played a new song called ‘Screams In The Night’, off of the upcoming full-length debut album ‘Curse Of The Damned’, for which the US release date has now been bumped up to January 27th. After a post-concert meal at Denny’s, a tradition we ripped off from Raven, we slept in the van in the restaurant’s parking lot and prepared for the border crossing to Vancouver. Brace yourselves. This is where it gets good.
Day 34 (11/01): Fight Demon / Sleepless Near Seattle
We reached the Washington-British Columbia border crossing at around 4 PM. Raven were just ahead of us and we saw them pull away as we got up to the inspection point. Everything seemed all good at first, but we had a problem. They denied me from entering their country for a mere 8-hour journalistic trip, despite being a completely valid journalist in the USA and traveling with three legit Americans. Apparently I’m supposed to fill out a load of paperwork and pay $100 for a separate Canada visa every single time I need to enter, even for a few hours for a trip where I do not intend to make any money, instead of logically being granted entry into a neighboring country as an extension of my USA visa. Technically I was already on Canadian soil in that inspection room, they totally had the authority to give me the green signal, but they didn’t. Being legal in America for the foreseeable future, I don’t consider my status as any different from an American crossing the border and I don’t see why my nationality should matter in this case. But, I was turned around at the border after all, and I’ve already decided that I will not be going to the Toronto date of this tour.
Night Demon rightly proceeded onward to play the show in Vancouver and I assured them I’d take care of myself till they’d return to go to Seattle for the next gig. After being humiliated in Canada land, I had to get inspected at the US customs booth before walking back into the country. “Welcome home”, said the extremely nice officer on duty, even giving me helpful tips on what to do in my situation. I took a cab to the nearest town of Lynden, 5 miles south of the border, and endured the next 12 hours in waiting, homeless and sleepless.
At first I hung out at a Starbucks to get on the inter-web and gain some much-needed sympathy from my dear American friends, but it closed at 9 and I was then left wandering around to see what else was open in this sleepy little town. Finding such places was crucial, as I needed to stay indoors and warm in this miserable cold, rainy, windy and dull 40-degree weather. From Starbucks I went to Burger King, which closed at 10, and then to Jack In The Box till its 11 PM closing time. The only 24-hour place in town was a Safeway supermarket. Thankfully they had a sitting area inside with free Wi-Fi which is where I spent the night, quite a challenge in itself as I knew I couldn’t fall asleep and risk being treated like an actual homeless person. So I sat up the whole time, and of course, the Daylight Savings had to take effect on this very night. I stared at the clock standing still at 2 AM and my wait was elongated a further hour. Plus, my computer wouldn’t start. It was hell on earth. I got a message from Jarvis at 4:30 AM, saying they were on their way to get me. “Get ready for some stories”, he said.
And indeed, they had stories from the Vancouver gig, which by the sounds of it was their most successful gig of the tour so far, in terms of turnout, crowd response and merch sales. I was delighted for the guys but at the same time felt extremely upset that I wasn’t there. You might think I’d be tired of seeing Night Demon and Raven by now, but there was absolutely nothing I wanted to do other than be at that gig. “But wait, it gets better”, they said. According to them, a guy kept heckling Jarvis through their set, saying something about the backdrop, to the point where he rushed the stage and tried to punch Jarvis, in response Dustin jumping out and knocking that dude off the stage. “Fight Demon” pumped up the crowd even more with this incident, as the guy was escorted out of the venue, and made it a memorable gig for those in attendance. Besides, they told me about some Indian congregation which held them up for a while on the way to the gig. When they needed a legit Indian in the van, they didn’t have one. Such was the irony of this day on both sides of the border.
Day 35 (11/02): Back In Business
After a hearty early morning Denny’s meal and a few hours of shuteye in the van, we drove to Seattle, showered for the first time in four days and went to Studio Seven for the gig. I’ve been paying close attention to the ‘No Smoking’ signs in the state of Washington where recreational marijuana usage is legal, and it’s hysterical how strict the signs are in comparison to states where it’s actually illegal, as you can see below. It makes perfect sense though, as they need to assert greater authority to control people. And speaking purely for myself, I’ll have to say it’s not even half as fun smoking pot in a legal state.
The gig itself was another killer one for Night Demon, while Raven had some issues to deal with just to get to the venue. Border crossing into the US took a while for them, after which their vehicle broke down and they had to rent a mini-van to haul themselves to Seattle. They ended up arriving at the venue after all, and used Night Demon’s amps to play their set. They actually sounded really killer, and for the sake of the audience that paid money to see Raven, I was glad they made it, and all of this lent a sense of uniqueness to the gig. We left Seattle the next morning on a long drive to the next gig in Boise, Idaho. After experiencing the North-West for the very first time, I have just one question. Does it ever stop raining?!
In the next part of the blog, I’ll bring you up to date with events from Boise, Salt Lake City, Denver, St. Louis and Columbus. In the meanwhile, keep an eye out on my personal and Metal Assault social networks for on-the-fly updates. And yes, I still don’t want drinks on the display board, I don’t know where the restroom is, and I don’t have a lighter.
[Read Part 7 here]
Remaining tour dates:
11/03: Boise, ID @ The Shredder
11/04: Salt Lake City, UT @ The Lo-Fi Cafe
11/05: Denver, CO @ 3 Kings Tavern
11/07: St Louis, MO @ Fubar
11/09: Columbus, OH @ Shrunken Head
11/11: Kansas City, MO @ Riot Room
11/13: Indianapolis, IN @ Headquarters
11/14: Akron, OH @ Empire Rock Club
11/15: Toronto, ON @ Hard Luck
11/16: Chicago, IL @ Reggie’s
11/17: Fort Wayne, IN @ The Brass Rail
11/18: Detroit, MI @ Token Lounge
11/19: Syracuse, NY @ Macs Bad Art Bar
11/20: Pittsburgh, PA @ Dead Horse
11/21: Brooklyn, NY @ St. Vitus
11/22: Philadelphia, PA @ Dobbs
11/23: Baltimore, MD @ Metro Gallery
11/24: Richmond, VA @ Strange Matter
11/25: Raleigh, NC @ The Maywood
11/26: Atlanta, GA @ 529 *
* = Night Demon headline show