Blog What Inspires You? A (Sort of) Tour Diary

What Inspires You? A (Sort of) Tour Diary

Posted Oct. 10, 2013, 1:03 p.m. by Aaron H

KFAI - Undead


A couple weeks ago, I went on a trip to the middle of the country to see my favorite band, AFI, play shows up and down the midwest. Some of my time there was spent writing my thoughts and daily activities down. This is the first half, the September half, of the tour diary. I'll be posting parts of it over the next few days before I leave again to write more in a couple weeks. Thanks for reading!

What Inspires You? A (Sort of) Tour Diary: Sept./Oct. 2013


            "What inspires you?" When it came time to begin planning for this trip, the idea didn't thrill me. I knew ahead time that a small trip to Chicago would turn into a road trip across the Midwest. Summer came and AFI announced their tour. My best friend and significant other, Sarah, had planned it all out before I even had a chance to process in my head that this band--this group of individuals that have had a larger impact on my life more than anything--were back after 3 years. Excitement hit... and then dread. Why would I be opposed to seeing this band, damn near every night, for nearly two weeks? I'm not entirely sure. There are bits and pieces to the puzzle that form the answer though.

            Sarah asked me one day if we could go get some journals to document the trip. I said, "sure," but I didn't plan on getting one for myself. We get to the store and I help her find the perfect one for her writing needs. While browsing, I came a across this expensive, little, journal booklet with an orange owl embedded on the cover. I turned it over to find the words, "What inspires you?" I thought to myself, "not a whole lot anymore." However, these words did. It was at that moment that I decided I would do this tour diary.

            These days, I'd say my two primary sources of inspiration are Sarah and AFI. I've been writing music for nearly half my life, but I've never done anything with it. It's no coincidence that I've been listening to AFI as long as I've been writing music. They're still my biggest inspiration, along with many others, which we'll get to later. Fast forward to September. AFI announced they'd be doing a show primarily for their fan club (which I undoubtedly am apart of), at a small club in Hollywood--The Troubadour. Needless to say, I lost my shit. My favorite band in one of my favorite venues with my favorite people...again?! Yeah, I was excited beyond belief. The last time they did this was in 2007, and it's still one of my favorite show experiences. Correction: was! AFI's show on September 10th, is a night I will never forget.

            Nothing could shake my excitement. Not even going over 24 hours on no sleep. The night before we had gone to L.A. to see, someone I'd like to call "a friend's" band, Dear Boy, for their record release show. He doesn't know it, but in recent events, he has served as an inspiration as well. I'd like to thank him for it. Following their show, Sarah, our friend Addie (who had flown in for the night), and I went straight to the Troubadour to begin our wait. Our nineteen hour wait. The fans were in great spirits. Most of all my best friends were in attendance with smiles on their faces. Some that I haven't seen in years. It's a wonderful feeling knowing that there's still something that can bring us all together.

            As time ticked down, everyone's anxiety kicked in. What would they play? How would they perform? Would it be as energetic as in the past? Well, the setlist was full of surprises, despite it being spoiled for a few when a fansite for the band got a hold of the setlist and shared it with the internet before the band even came out. Luckily, it was not spoiled for me. Anticipating their setlist is one of my favorite things about AFI shows. When guitarist, Jade Puget, played the opening chords to "The Last Kiss," it prompted me to yell, "holy shit" about seven times. And had I known beforehand that they'd be going straight into "Brownie Bottom Sundae," after "Cruise Control," all the magic would have been lost. The band, which hadn't performed in over 3 years, played with hardly a misstep. There were a few hiccups here and there but no one's perfect. The So-Cal crowd was as powerful as ever. Everyone sang every word at the tops of their lungs. When the show ended, I couldn't wait to get home, catch up on sleep, and then fly out two days later to do it again.

Great Lake, I Don't Need a Great Escape: Day 1

            Back in April, I was fortunate enough to catch a short, last minute, Lawrence Arms set at Hollywood's legendary, Viper Room. The band doesn't get out to the West Coast very often. It was my first time seeing their show, and that night still sticks with me. I was sick, had work early the next day, and the venue was an hour and a half drive from my home. Regardless, I made my way out for their 35/40 minute set, and I still don't regret it. That night after the show, I went home and all I could think was, "yeah, my music sucks. I can do better." It's a notion that hasn't left my mind yet.

            Now, I find myself on a plane to Chicago where I'll be attending Riot Fest. On the flight, at this very moment, I'm blasting The Lawrence Arms to get pumped for their set on Saturday. I haven't felt so privileged to get a chance to catch their show again. It's a shame I don't have my guitar with me, because I know the second they walk off the stage, I'll be ready to write every chord that can swim around in my head. For now, I'll continue to sail across these skies while I await for the descent into O'Hare. Meanwhile, the lyrics, "Your life spins like a carousel. Your hopes are buried in a wishing well," are melding into my thoughts.

            We arrived at the hotel later than we had expected. Addie had picked us up on her way down from her home in Milwaukee. Tim had been waiting 4 hours in the lobby by himself. It's a small lobby clearly visible from the counter, so I imagine the concierge found it confusing as to why this lanky fellow had just been sitting there for so long. I had never met Tim before. Every one of us that would be together for the weekend were drawn together by the same band, so when we finally met, it was like I had known him for years. Everyone else in the group was delayed for one reason of another. For the time being, it's just me, Sarah, Addie, and Tim. We decided to head over to a Subway across the street. For every AFI event in the past, we have bought Subway. It's become a tradition amongst the core group of friends that travel together.

            As the night dragged on, the others slowly started to file in: Vikki, Nick, Logan, Ally, and Casey. Casey's another one of my best friends and the one I've known the longest. It'd been awhile since I last saw her. Thanks to this amazing band, she became a good friend. She helped make me a better person. She's taught and brought things to my attention that I probably wouldn't have thought twice about if it weren't for her. It's also because of her that I know any of these people. Without her, I probably never would have met Sarah. I'm very grateful for her, even if we don't mingle like we used to.

            Sarah and I tried to get some sleep while the others went out for the night. A sign of getting too old for this? Maybe, but I'm pretty sure we were just exhausted from all the traveling and lack of sleep over the past couple of days. We didn't get much sleep at all, if any. By 4am, Sarah, Addie, Casey, and I made our way to Detroit.

Stay tuned for Days 2 and 3 next...


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