Reagan Youth is touring Europe a week from today. This motivated me enough to post this version of events from my first international tour with the group. Two months later, here is what I remember from the north country, Canada way.
“UP THE DAYGLO YOUTH PUNX”
When Reagan Youth was asked to play Pouzza Fest in Montreal, we booked a four day tour of Ontario and Quebec with the Dayglo Abortions .The day before we left The States I was in Philadelphia staying with Tibbie and Nico. While packing I mentioned that flying overseas was quite an ordeal. Nico reminded me the flight was only for two hours and maybe went over one of the Great Lakes. The gravity of the tour set in right around that moment. I mean, passports meant overseas right?
This is a tale involving spiritual growth, better understanding the world in which we live, learning other’s customs, struggles and overcoming one’s self, the plight of the working class in a quasi-Socialist government, and anarcho peace punk muscle car rock n’ muthafuckin’ roll baby, all night long till the break of dawn…
Louisville to Philadelphia via Cincinnati, Columbus, Pittsburgh, & Harrisburg
Su’z and I caught a bus, etc… you know the deal. We had a lot of loose ends to tie up and made the cab with two minutes to spare as a torrential downpour destroyed Louisville. We met a friend’s step-dad on the bus, slept, fell out, woke up, nearly missed every transfer… repeat… the usual business of hanging on by a thread. Cut to the city of Brotherhood and Sisterhood.
We had a day and a half till we split to NYC. Su’z and I celebrated May11th and Mutter’s Day. We then spent the evening at a punk show with half of the Gash crew throwing dice and giving out punk names to the sleepy kids of North Philly. The next day, Nico lent us the car while Tibbie rode separately with Hit to the gig at the Rock Shop. This was interesting ‘cuz the two people from the Midwest drove alone to NYC without a GPS or directions, looking for Brooklyn from the Turnpike.
New York City
We entered Manhattan from the George Washington Bridge, and as you may or may not know, is as far away as one could be from Brooklyn. I pulled over in uptown Queens, admired the set from Death Wish, trying to figure out where we were. The tunnel to Brooklyn was shut down and found the bridge instead. We made it to the gig and all in all, managed to avoid the thirteen dollar toll to get into lower Manhattan. This was a colossal success if you ask me.
We met on the sidewalk where Paul was wearing an incredibly clean Mets jersey given to him by a long lost family member who showed up at the gig to say hello. The jersey matched his new white guitar provided by Schecter as part of a sponsorship. Good signs, everywhere are signs. This would be my first gig with the band since February. Here goes nothing.
Jeremy and Dan showed up and blasted us with great photographs. As always Lake showed us more love than anyone. We opened with New Aryans and I did a leap off the stage and into the crowd the moment the song kicked in. This got things going immediately, per usual. Great show as always and being the day after Monday, we asked what was Johnny doing out on a Tuesday night…? Diggin’ that commie pinko Reagan Youth nonsense, that’s what.
The last memory of that Big Apple before leaving for Canada was appropriate. Su’z and I were driving towards the Jersey Turnpike as we take a scenic route to admire man’s attempt to grace the heavens – the skyscrapers of New York. Seven years ago I went to the city for the first time and left with a sore neck from gazing upwards. Once you see the city, no other compares. Cleveland is the size of downtown Brooklyn ya dig?? She was feeling the type of way I felt, absolutely blown away by the endless array of building after building. Thus is NYC.
Towards the Holland Tunnel we took a rest stop in a small, well lit park on a corner near the dock that host the boat rides to Governor’s Island. It appeared a reasonable place to pull over. Plus there were no other bathrooms in downtown at 2am. Moments later she came back. There was a man shooting up in one stall and a crippled man sleeping next to the other handcuffed to his wheelchair. We assumed he had once been robbed of his means of conveyance and this was a deterrent. We decided this was in fact, not a reasonable place to stop.
I love the city.
ONWARD TO CANADA aka ONTARIO HO!!!
The next day I was thrown into Nico’s car while still asleep and Tibbie and I were driven to the Newark Airport. I was changing clothes on the curb by the passenger drop off area when I looked up and saw a man looking at me. He was close enough to where we could communicate and he motioned to Tibbie and asked if she was Miley C. I said “yes of course”. Nico, Tibbie and I should be on Instagram for that one. We left for the terminal, met Paul and Stig, then caught a brief flight to Toronto.
So here is why going thru customs is like a hole in the head.
There are laws and methods in place to ensure people, (specifically people from the United States) do not enter Canada, make money, and then take it back home. We had the necessary documents saying we were in the country only to play one festival for free. Tibbie was in charge of said documents ‘cuz she is boss like that. Her and Paul go ahead to the same window. Stig and I follow when we were stopped and told one person at a time. Great, just great. Stig and I look at each other with dumb looks on our faces, then look at a woman in front of us getting reprimanded by two customs agents for lying on her work visa ‘cuz she applied as a visitor only to arrive as a laborer. Then Stig and I look back at each other with even dumber looks on our faces.
I was flossing while in line. While on tour one tends to change in airport terminals or, for example, floss in line while going thru customs. As I was called to the next available window the agent saw the floss as it hung from my mouth between two teeth. She told me I was disgusting, then said to wait while she went to get gloves before touching my documents. Fair enough. At the window I watched the same woman still trying to talk her way into the country to no avail. Then Paul called us to the window where him and Tibbie stood. We were then welcomed into the fine city of Toronto as I saw the agent, gloves in hand, look around for me with a dumb look on her face.
Toronto & Hamilton Ontario
We caught a cab to the city moments after landing, unsure what to really expect. I certainly did not expect the motel room to be built for three people and not four, having a twin bed and a half twin. Was this relevant to the metric system? Later that night the band dug Queen St. as we awaited to meet The Nasties and Dayglo Abortions the next day..
We walked all over the street trying to coordinate our pick up from Willie Jak, the bass player and Jim from The Nasties. We boarded a white van to be greeted by two of our road dogs and a box of merch they picked up for us. Our understanding of the situation in Canada was that we were to have had transportation provided by The Nasties in return for litres of gasoline. I fell asleep in the van and awoke in Hamilton, ON, the city on the hill that overlooked lake Ontario. We were dropped off and were reminded riot grrl, was indeed, not dead. Introducing Panty Christ. Jen was our gracious host as we awaited for the first gig to start.
Being morbid rockers from the States, we all wanted to buy cigarettes with diseased lungs on the pack. Before the gig, I visited a store to score a pack. Behind the counter were plastic shutters to cover up the cigarettes to avoid impulse buys or shopping with your eyes. I assume this was believed to decrease potential buyers. Nice try parliament, but this did not slow me down. Burnt throat and all we were picked up by Jim, our driver, and went to This Ain’t Hollywood as the drizzling rain began.
At the club, which was wood paneled inside, I tied a turban on my head and went inside and set up merch. We don’t know who ordered and paid for the shirts to this day. Who said socialist tendencies are a bad thing?? Here I met the rest of the bands we were touring with and chatted with the locals. I learned how the Central Canadians felt politically regarding Americans and their own situation in a global economy. It was a constant in all four cities that America’s influence on the west was regarding b the north not o much as animosity, but one of envy. “Big dogs on the block” was a term used. Great, and I thought I was getting weird looks because of the turban.
Dayglo Abortions are Canada’s longest running punk band, playing since 1979, and had never stopped. We were headlining in another country, which meant all eyes we on us. Played a good set to a cool crowd who attentively watched, but no slamming into each other or sing-a-longs. This always takes me aback ‘cuz I gotta do the whole set by myself. I then thought about that pack of smokes and the diseased lungs that were getting smashed in my pocket. Afterwards the band retired to Jen’s where we slept in Panty Christ’s practice room. The darkness and ringing in my ears made it easy to sleep.
We waited on Jim to arrive the next morning. He and the rest of The Nasties drove back to their hometown. It was hours away and in the same direction as Toronto to then drive back and pick us up. This made little sense but we went with it. After a two hour drive, we were dropped off in the heart of Toronto at this bougie ass hotel. We assumed the promoter put us up but we had no idea. Socialism at work yet again. It was a seventeenth floor suite with a balcony you could walk out on and see the tiny people and cars below. Stig and I smoked a cigarette, despite the dead organs on the pack. I admired the view while thinking “there’s no way this would fly in the States, too many people there jump outta fuckin’ windows” much less an open balcony.
We were having trouble getting a ride to the venue. Our driver seemed over it and we assumed the ridiculous hotel courtesy of an unknown benefactor did not help matters. I could see it lookind bad. A band staying in a bougie ass hotel they couldn’t afford, for free, but still needing a ride. We caught a cab to the venue. There was a line out the door. We went through the front entrance and greeted by a staircase. Upon climbing it we entered a shoulder to shoulder crowd. You can imagine our surprise when we were told we had to be onstage before we could set up the merch table. The second band out of five just finished their set, and we were headlining. Well, we thought we were headlining.
We had trouble locating our breakable equipment because no one wanted to help us find the van. So after we plugged in the guitars, there was a small slot to play our set. I don’t wanna say this was the best gig out of the tour, because that is up to opinion. However this was the largest and most enthusiastic crowd we had seen in Canada. I tied up the turban and took stage with the band all while being rushed along. The show was amazing. Truly one of the biggest, most professional Aerosmith-esque shows I had ever played. So you can imagine the shock we felt when halfway thru our set – the first and possibly the only time we would play Toronto – we were told we had run out of time.
Afterwards I met some Toronto punx and talked politics and hardcore music outside the club. I was asked why we basically opened the show when we were the top name on the physical ticket. Not to come off like Steve Tyler or anything, but we had never been to this city before and figured we would have had more than twenty minutes to play. We caught a cab back to that ridiculous bougie-ass hotel room and back to the seventeenth floor. I lingered around the dead streets of Toronto in the wee hours of the night, feeling as if I had accomplished something greater than I alone ever could, despite any expectations we may or may not have had.
Paul spent the night out and Tibbie, Stig, and I awoke that morning to discover we were without a ride the to London, which was about four hours southwest. The hotel was insisting we checkout, which made sense checkout was hours ago. For whatever reason, and it doesn’t matter at this point as I’m sure we were becoming a burden, but no one wanted to help us with transportation as arranged. I went back asleep as Tibbie ensured Jim would pick us up. She made this tour happen I promise you that much is true. The ride to London was short for me, I fell asleep again due to frustration from the company and poor communication (or indifference). Also a chunk of money from the club’s payout was missing and we had no luck recovering it. Once in London we checked into a hotel of aviation decor and rested before we played the Under-Fucking-Rated Fest.
We arrived at the APK. I walked the streets instead of checking in the venue. I needed a break from the neon lights and amps. As I was fumbling with some loose Canadian bills with the Queen’s face looking at me when I noticed a man on a bike headed in my direction. As anticipated, he asked if I wanted anything. It was a broad question, but I told him “I don’t need to go to jail in another country”. Probably not the best answer but it seemed like a safe, nice city. “I’m not a cop” he said, as once again anticipated. I recalled a tip I heard once regarding oral hygiene and differentiating undercovers. I told him “you’re teeth are too straight, you gotta be a cop”. He looked frustrated as he rolled his eyes and quickly pedaled off. I assumed then and there that the rumor is in fact true.
The Under-Fucking-Rated Fest had us as the final band on the bill, which put us playing very-fucking-last. This meant most people went home drunk, it was too late, or simply few cared that we were playing. We played to a small, late night crowd. Loyal RY fans and drunk Canadian squatters (much cleaner than the crusties in the States) were left standing. We played the set on a small small stage, which meant a lot of floor action for me, took out a kid with the mic who kept yelling I wasn’t Dave Insurgent as he pushed me over and over… met some cool punx afterwards…drug out by Paul and Stig ‘cuz I was caught up in conversation with some cats after they loaded up and were waiting on me… then went to sleep… etc etc.
Pouzza Fest & Montreal, Quebec
The fest in Montreal that initially brought us up to Canada was a much longer drive than any of our flights from home. We overslept breakfast and almost our ride, as we slept more in the van where Jim drove us to a house somewhere none of us recognized. We awoke in a driveway were guided inside. We slept even more on the couches. This began a disaster of a journey to Pouzza in Montreal.
Hours later we were awoken and escorted into another van that was full of equipment we assumed was for us to use. I’m talking full drums and rigs. Our personal belongings and bags were left in the other van we thought we would be re-boarding. We got word along the way another box of merch was at the airport in Montreal. For whatever reason it was shipped there. I guess ‘cuz it was a neutral location, I dunno. We spent all of our money on gas driving to Montreal and more driving to and around the airport. We went into the terminal, where they directed us to a warehouse. The doors were unlocked, however it being Sunday, it was a ghost town. Paul, Tibbie, Stig, and I ran all over the long corridors until we gave up. Paul spotted another warehouse adjacent where we finally found a person behind the front desk. At this point we were so tired and any obstacle would have immediately derailed us. Then the man greeted us in French. Fuuuukkkk……
We all started saying four different ways in English we didn’t speak French. Then he began telling us in English that he was bilingual but had to greet us in French. Quebec custom and law. We happily signed for the box of merch. As we walked the hallway to the warehouse, I noticed there was a sign on the bathroom door that said “do not clean animals in sink”. Interesting.
We were dropped off at one of the many venues that held the fest, where we discovered the gear in the van was not ours to use. Another reason for the oil war in the Middle East! Our bags were somewhere in Jim’s van, and this was important since my meds and other personals were inside. I went to go find the van, I think, or decided to walk around, or both, right then and there. The town was very European, or at least in my idea of what constitutes as European. I ate some poutine like the tourist I was as I admired the city and it’s open usage of pot. Ha! I went back to the fest where we waited in the backstage area. Here I met my bag, meds, and some of the same faces I had seen along the way while in Canada. Turns out we weren’t the only ones who toured the country in search of Pouzza. We laughed and chatted till it was time to play.
I brought a top hat that was fashioned with the stars and stripes of the States. Mick Jagger wore one in the Gimmie Shelter movie. This wasn’t Altamont but then again the doorman did lift two buttons from the merch table as he walked by like it was nothing. I ran after him out of principle. Well security was fuked so we may have been headed in the right direction. I heard someone remark “That’s Montreal for ya”. What was that supposed to mean?? We took the stage to play the last show of the tour and the reason we were in Canada in the first place.
The A chord of New Aryans drug on until we got enough heads to look our direction. The crowd was too much. I kept getting lifted in the air as I played from the floor. We played most of our songs as we ran through the usual set. As we left the Montreal Punx chanted “Reagan Youth! Reagan Youth!” This had never happened to me before so we did what anyone would have done, played two more songs. We did a third song and I suppose a second encore and closed with “What Will The Neighbors Think?”. This was every song RY had played as a band. We then retired to a dorm. The students of whichever school it was were out for the Summer. I was out too as I fell asleep on the floor.
Back To The USA
Tibbie and Stig caught a cab as Paul and I caught trains as to save our money so we could pay rent when we got home. The main bus terminal downtown has swings in place of benches. One of the marvels of the modern world if you ask me. We caught three trains to arrive at the airport only to separate. The guitar case I packed as a suitcase was in shambles at this point. It seemed a better idea on paper I swear. We ended up all meeting at the same time in the terminal. Turns out the cab was cheaper than the trains. Finally the downfalls of Socialism!
We said our goodbyes. I left Canada and flew into Motown to transfer back home, where I caught Su’z in the terminal and went back to normal civilian life. Always remembering I remain a soldier ‘cuz the war is not yet won.
“Peace, love, anarchy, unity, and ain’t it fun?? 2014”
This is what I recall and thought noteworthy while touring Central Canada.
Wanna blast me or the band online and the message boards are simply not enough??
Wanna chat NYHC or discuss the average rainfall of the Amazon Basin??
Or simply just to chat or say hello??
Feel free to find me at:
Up Profane Existence, Reagan Youth, Paul, Tibbie, Staten Island Greg aka Stig, Dayglo, The Nasties, Landon & Covert Booking, Nico, the struggling masses, the new Republican Party that took root after Nixon was impeached, the haters (for keeping us relevant) and the lovers (for keeping us even more relevant), and you. Why?? Because we love you!!