Ed. Note: This past weekend, Houston alternative/screamo rockers The Last Place You Look opened for Unwritten Law in Lubbock, Odessa, and Austin, and invited Rocks Off's Matthew Keever along. This is his first of three reports.
It isn't even noon, and we are already getting pissed on.
That isn't some metaphor for the state in which traveling bands often find themselves; The Last Place You Look's members and Rocks Off are literally being peed on. By cows, no less.
Halfway to Lubbock, in a van traveling 70 mph down the road, we have found ourselves stuck behind a trailer transporting livestock, and we can't seem to make our way around it.
We turn on the wipers and trek on.
Just a few hours before, at 5 a.m. Friday, the band met up at bassist and backup vocalist Kevin Pool's apartment in the Montrose area. By 5:30, we were only missing one member of the band: guitarist Derek Young, who wasn't answering his phone.
The Galleria area wasn't on the way to our intended destination, but Young left us no choice but to retrieve him from his home. We drove to his complex and, after realizing no one remembered the gate code, guitarist Richard Sherwood hopped the fence to get him.
A little before 6 a.m., Young emerged, still wet from a shower he probably wasn't supposed to take since he was already running late, and he's all smiles. In just a few minutes, the rest of the band is, too. We're getting on the road an hour late, but the delay really isn't the end of the world.
Rocks Off had never been on tour before, but we've been on enough road trips with our friends to know what proper "van etiquette" entails, and save for offering to drive - because no one in their right mind would give us that much responsibility - we knew what was expected of us, and we did our best to make our tag-along tolerable.
By the time we arrived in Lubbock, the entire band was starving and, against everyone's better judgment, decided to go eat at Casa Ole. Young was, by far, the smartest person eating, because he ordered chicken fingers, fully aware of what Mexican food can do to a man's stomach.
TLPYL finally took the stage of a dark bar at 8 p.m. to a handful of enthusiastic listeners, who were swept away by the Houston-based five piece and their heavy-hitting sound, laced with soft, sweet melodies.
It was a new market for them, and while they didn't sell as much merchandise as they would have liked, enough people signed up on their mailing list that if they return, the band will already have a handful of fans.
These gentlemen aren't afraid to put in the legwork to impress, entice and maintain fans. These days, people's interests are fleeting, which is why the band's most aggressive salesman, Sherwood isn't afraid to make the sale when he has the opportunity, in the most direct way he can.
We remember one girl, in particular, who won't be forgetting the band any time soon.
Upon approaching the merch table, she guardedly looked over the albums and T-shirts, only to tell Sherwood that she'd probably hold off and buy the album from iTunes later.
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"Don't you lie to my face," he said with a big smile, his shoulders cocked back. And before she had a chance to pull the I-don't-have-any-cash excuse, he fired off another one-liner. "We accept cards, too!"
You do what you've got to do to get gas money for the ride home, and TLPYL earned every dollar.
Later that night, Rocks Off found ourselves in one of Lubbock's hot-spot bars, or so we were told, listening you a older, black singer/guitarist with the voice of an angel. Put more aptly by drummer Mikey Garcia: "If I came like he sings, I'd come honey."
We couldn't have put it better ourselves.