By Andrew Bansal
Following a slowish week in the mid-West, the Night Demon made their way to the US East Coast for the final shows with Raven on this epic journey, and in this installment of my ‘On The Road With Night Demon’ tour blog, I capture a very eventful week for you all. But as always, I must point out that you should read parts 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7 and 8 first.
Day 51 (11/18): Detroit Snow City
We left our Fort Wayne, Indiana host’s place in the afternoon on the 18th and set out for the gig at Token Lounge in Detroit. It was freezing cold throughout the drive, and as we were still trying to figure out the optimal air-conditioning settings to maintain heat inside the van, there was a discrepancy between the front and back seats. It was so cold outside that rolling the windows down was never an option and even farts had to stay inside. Brent and I were sitting in the back and the floor of the van felt like an ice cube to us, freezing our feet by the time we got to the venue at around 6. It took me quite a while to start feeling my feet again and it didn’t happen until after Night Demon finished playing another successful set. Headbanging with four layers of clothing on you really does wonders in cold weather. Afterwards, we had pizza for the 800th time on this tour from a Crusty’s joint next door. On the post-show drive from the venue to a friend’s house for overnight stay, we listened to KISS’ ‘Detroit Rock City’ and even though Detroit didn’t exactly feel like a rock city on this day, the song somehow felt appropriate and despite what anybody might say about the current image of their main band members, KISS will always be synonymous with timeless rock ‘n roll.
Day 52 (11/19): Warp Riders
We departed Detroit in the morning, and heeding strong weather alerts, took a longer alternate route to get to the next gig at Macs Bad Art Bar in Syracuse, New York. Despite Buffalo getting a deadly snowstorm that buried in a year’s worth of snow in a mere three days, we managed to escape the aftermath. But it snowed for the entire day, and this time Brent pulled off a marathon drive by handling most of the journey while Jarvis and Dustin grabbed some shuteye in the back. Snow was hitting the windshield horizontally and head-on, making it look almost like we were moving at warp speed, which was quite a psychedelic experience.
The show itself in Syracuse was another good one in the books, with first local opener Coston, a cover band featuring Roy Coston on guitar and son Gunnar on drums, played a solid set, their rendition of Scorpions’ ‘Bad Boys Running Wild’ particularly delightful, complete with the lyrics pronounced exactly as they should be. For Night Demon, it was not only fruitful to win some new fans here but they were also excited to have Garry Bordonaro of The Rods in attendance.
But in contrast to our relatively smooth and prompt arrival, Raven faced vehicle problems yet again and made it just in time to play the gig, reaching the venue at the start of Night Demon’s set. Their woes didn’t end there. After playing a righteous and well-received set, as they prepared to head out, the air lift in their RV got iced and stopped functioning. They tried everything they could to get it going, and after a while, they borrowed Jarvis’ blow dryer which did the trick. Both bands were going to stay at Roy Coston’s house for the night and the off-day that followed, and the prospect of spending that much time with Raven in one house was intriguing for all of us.
Day 53 (11/20): A Day With Raven
I woke up to the sound of Joe Hasselvander chatting away. I hung out with him for the first time on this tour and for quite a while, discussing all kinds of topics ranging from music to paranormal activity. The man overflows with an endless number of cool stories and can literally talk all day. We were fed very generously by the Coston family and staying indoors was just about the best thing to do on this cold, snowy day. A good chunk of time was spent on the television. The whole group watched the movie ‘Bad Grandpa’ and the Raven guys were laughing extremely hard. Roy Coston being a huge KISS fan, there was a Paul Stanley signature acoustic guitar in his living room and Joe starting strumming on it. He proceeded to jam with Gunnar Coston in the family’s practice room in the basement. As the night wound down, yet more food and drinks were consumed and it was John Gallagher’s turn to play that guitar. He and Mark made a list of songs they wanted to cover and jammed on them for well over an hour. There were pictures of Raven from the old days on Roy’s walls, and in his kitchen were the Gallagher brothers jamming acoustically. It was such a trip. Being in that kitchen, as the Night Demon guys also joined in on the fun, was special and unique, and certainly made this one of the best days of the entire tour.
Also, Roy’s massive CD and record collection floored all of us, Dusty Sweatpants in particular laying his hands on some of the cheesiest hair metal from Roy’s stash and burning eight CDs onto his computer and in turn on his iPod. When he’s driving the van and has his iPod playing, at most times it’s hard to tell whether it’s his iPod or the actual on-air local radio station, such is the amount of glam and butt rock in his music collection. With these new additions, his iPod sounds even more like the radio now.
We bid goodbye to the awesome Coston family and continued on our path, the next destination being Saint Vitus Bar in Brooklyn, New York. The drive was easy, temperatures had risen and snow was appearing to be moving away. But the last few miles to get to the actual venue were the hardest. People living in or visiting LA invariably complain about traffic and parking, but based on my first experience of New York, I’ll have to say it’s much worse than LA and the city is filled with extremely bad, arrogant drivers.
Saint Vitus Bar is a place frequented by plenty of touring metal bands, so I’d heard the name a lot, and hence this was one of the shows I was most looking forward to as soon as I saw the schedule for this tour. It’s a tiny room and it got fairly packed. Aside from the sound guy’s insistence on all bands sharing back line and drum kit, Night Demon very much enjoyed their first ever NYC gig. Raven’s RV broke down, again, and they rented a U-Haul to try to make it to the gig. An hour after Night Demon’s longest set of the tour ended, Raven arrived. This being a Friday night helped Raven tremendously in this situation as people were able to wait it out to see them. They went on to play a short set but it was one of their best performances of the tour, perhaps an outlet for the frustrations they had to endure during the day.
The Night Demon merch has been selling really well on this tour, and as a result, stock started to run really low at this point. For people whose sizes were no longer available a particular design, I had to either convince them to buy their size in a different design or get a smaller/bigger size in their design of choice. I definitely took my salesmanship to a new level at the Saint Vitus Bar. After the gig, Dustin drove us straight to Philadelphia, and a strange day awaited us.
Day 55 (11/22): GTFO
We drove to Philadelphia’s ‘legendary’ Dobbs to set up for the show, and despite having been to some very small venues on this tour, we were a little taken aback by how tiny the downstairs room was, a narrow enclosure with a small stage, and the bar taking up half the room’s width almost all the way through. Merch was set up on the other side of the wall facing the bar, and that left even lesser room for the audience. But behind the Night Demon merch table I had absolutely no space to work with, and I’m seriously amazed at having pulled off a busy merch night without knocking over the table. I had to crawl, kneel, twist and move in all kinds of directions. I know I talked about being flexible as a merch guy in the previous blog, and this gig required it more than ever. It was packed, hot and toasty inside this place, to the extent that I almost passed out at one point before taking off most of my layers and returning back to normal.
As many as four local openers were on the bill, so it was an unnecessarily long night, and the sound quality of the room was downright atrocious. Night Demon finally went on at 11:15, and the venue was trying to cut their set down to less than 30 minutes which was beyond ridiculous. Besides, most people in attendance were behaving in an extremely rude manner. Working the merch was frustrating. Dustin, originally based out of Bangor PA before he moved to California, got to see a lot of his family members at this show and it was an evening he was definitely looking forward to. But other than that, it was probably my least favorite show of the tour. The only two good things about the venue were, a $1 bar discount for anyone who bought band merch, and Lamb Of God being played on the PA between sets, affiliated with this city perhaps mainly due to ‘Killadelphia’. ‘Get the fuck out!!’ yelled the security dude, very aggressively and repeatedly as soon as the show ended. It would be totally appropriate for PA to have that phrase on the welcome sign for their state line. The fondest memory I’ll have from this evening is eating this enormous slice of pizza from a place across the street called Lorenzo’s.
Day 56 (11/23): The Showdown
Before we set out to leave Philly to head to Baltimore for the next gig at Metro Gallery, upon Jarvis’ recommendation I decided to try out the famous Philly Cheese Steak at not one but two places Pat’s and Geno’s, fierce rivals located across the street from each other. The name of the WiFi network at Geno’s came up as ‘Pats sux Geno’s D’, and I’d have to say Geno’s makes tastier Philly Cheese Steak. The gig in Baltimore on this Sunday evening was uneventful but wasn’t bad by any means, and my highlight of it was dinner and an interview with the Gallagher brothers at an awesome science fiction themed restaurant called Lost City Diner, down the street from the venue. Even after eating such obscene amounts of food, I was somehow completely awake and alert at the merch table, simply because I just love doing it for this band. The mind controls the body in ways that never cease to amaze.
Day 57 (11/24): Feels Like Home
After the Baltimore gig we ate at a place called Double T Diner at 2 AM and then Dustin drove us straight to Richmond where we stayed with Twisted Tower Dire/Volture guitarist Dave Boyd. Dustin managed to stay awake on the drive by air-drumming to Accept’s ‘Metal Heart’, an album he forever wears on his arm in the form of a tattoo, even as everyone else was passed out and I was only waking up intermittently to check whether he was awake on the wheel.
The temperatures as well as people’s hearts were relatively much warmer in Richmond. It was 75 degrees out and everyone was nice. It felt like California. Every time I think of Richmond, Virginia, Lamb Of God frontman Randy Blythe announcing the band’s hometown as ‘Richmond motherfucking Virginia’ comes to mind straightaway. Strange Matter, the venue for the gig, emanated a welcoming vibe right from the outset, and it turned out to be a pleasant experience from start to finish. We ate at a Five Guys before load-in but since the venue fed us for free and I was in pig mode, I tried out their vegan buffalo wings sandwich and it was delicious. I also did an interview with Joe Hasselvander which was as great as expected. Opening bands Twisted Tower Dire and Humungus were both beyond excellent with some righteous old-school metal, and in terms of the quality of musicianship from all bands on the lineup, this was easily the best show of the whole tour. Night Demon certainly hopes to work with these bands again. Ryan Waste of Municipal Waste, and Nick Poulos, Ryan’s band mate in two of his other projects Volture and BAT, came out to attend the show and hung out with us in the after-hours till the night drew to a close. Richmond was legit. On a side note, headbanging with food in your mouth is injurious to health.
Day 58 (11/25): Parting Ways
Night Demon’s 42nd and final show of the Raven tour was finally upon us, and took place at the Maywood in Raleigh, North Carolina. Pre-show meal at the Pit Authentic BBQ put us all in a food coma but we had plenty of time on our hands. It was a good gig for a Tuesday night in a town like Raleigh and hometown traditionak metal warriors Widow put on an excellent show, but it was all about Raven and Night Demon saying goodbye to each other, and the Raven guys clearly showed their gratitude towards their touring support act, rushing the stage for some goofy pranks during Night Demon’s set, and then later inviting the guys on stage during their own encore to sing ‘Born To Be Wild’. This gig had a bitter-sweet feeling to it, at least from my perspective, because I now need to get used to not seeing Raven every night. It’s been a pleasure touring with these great gents and I’ll certainly miss them.
But, our tour is far from over and at the time of writing this, we are on our way to the 529 bar in Atlanta to come full circle at the very same place where it all started. Raven have showed us how to ‘rock until you drop’, and the final installment of the blog will capture the events of the two final Night Demon headline shows on the way home as we do our best to follow that motto.
Remaining tour dates:
11/26 – Atlanta GA @ 529
11/29 – Las Cruces NM @ Green Room