Thursday, 25 August 2016

Sick Sad World Tour Report

I’m back from tour and the comedown is real. Why aren’t there 8 other people also asleep on my bedroom floor, when are we loading into the van, and when are we having a hash browns party again? Getting to play gigs with my band The Potentials every night along with our mates Whatevers and Fomo all while being driven by top lass Kathleen (Scratch That Itch zine) was a proper dreamy holiday.
Organising a tour and asking people to put on 3 unknown bands from out of town will always be a big ask and we are dead grateful to all the amazing people who put us on, found us floor space to sleep on, fed us vegetables so we didn’t get scurvy, and promoted our daft Buffy songs and our shows, some of which were super last minute, we are super thankful.
In the weeks leading up to tour I was becoming a mega stress-head and trying to balance work stuff with all my non-work stuff was overwhelming and my health was super awful. Two weeks before going on tour we filmed our music video (coming out soon!) and I was hobbling around on crutches in a lot of pain on 3 days without any sleep wondering if I’d even be able to go on tour. Physical health was shit and my mental health was also not great. My OCD this year has been an absolute right dick and right on cue in the month leading up to tour all of my nervous patterns, tics, and weird rituals I do came together, and I was just in denial that tour was even happening!
Luckily the week before tour I came off crutches, and I’d taken a break from all the things making me anxious with a few days in Edinburgh eating vegan nachos, looking at nature, and watching Chris Gethard and I felt ready for tour!

On Sunday after not very much sleep and a hot as hell coach journey back from a pre-tour gig at Nottingham Queer Fest, it was time for first day of proper tour! The Potentials, Whatevers, and Fomo and Kathleen assembled at Veg Bar in Brixton to set up. Some of Fomo were ill, I was mega sleep deprived, and stressed although I really have no clue what I was actually stressed about. I think I thought I needed to be doing more as it was the first day of tour but I just ended up faffing around not really doing much. As the week went on you get in a proper routine of loading in, soundchecking, setting up merch, and playing, and it becomes automatic, but I hadn’t hit that point yet. It's great getting to play with people that you already know and like,but we were definitely on that first day of tour where we hadn’t gone through all the bonding yet, all the in-jokes were still to come, and there was still a level of shyness and nerves to break through.

Fomo played first. As soon as they finished their first song it was ridiculously obvious they should have been headlining the entire tour and an instant Fomo fanclub was formed. Facebook Cruiser was my best song of the night although I missed the end of their set (missing my soon to be favourite fomo song)  as ocd stuff was kicking off and my sleep deprivation was at its peak, so I went and did more faffing, rearranged the merch table, went for a walk, and had a word with myself, and all was good.

Whatevers were on next and after a week of watching them play every night it’s so strange to think there was a time where I didn’t have their songs firmly stuck in my head. Matching outfits were on point, and their songs are amazing and it feels like Seleena and Kandy are more confident at being popstars. Plus their merch, omg.

We play and it’s fun and we have our tour outfits on which stink after just one day. A week later and I want to burn our matching tour outfits and never see/smell them again.
And then Doe play and bust out their bloody amazing Spice Girls cover and I have a dance and don’t feel stressed anymore because tour has begun and there’s nowt left to do, and if the promoter in Bristol doesn’t want to return any of our calls or emails or facebook messages then there’s nothing I can do about that now.


The next day I wake up in my own bed and it doesn't feel like I’m on tour yet as there isn't anyone else sleeping on my living room floor. I pack my bag, say bye to Kyle, and make the 2 hour trek to south london (London is stupid) and meet up with the rest of the gang. I get there just in time for free breakfast and get my first hash browns of the week while people play Machi Koro and do some crafting. Kathleen introduces us to the Disturbed cover of Sound of Silence which becomes our weird tour anthem for the week.

A few of us head up to Aladdins cave to look round some junk and get ice pops. While walking down the street someone heckles us and calls us a ‘fucking excuse for the suicide squad’ which is now our new touring name.

We hop into the van and head to Bristol! Dj Jacky Knuckles is our resident dj as they have the longest legs and can reach the cd player and we get some right good singalongs to Sum 41, My Chemical Romance, Taylor Swift, and Spice Girls. There are some controversial moves as Flo’s favourite Avril Lavigne is pulled from the stereo only 2 songs in. The future of FOMO at this point is uncertain.

I don’t want to call anyone out or be a dick about it but 90% of the collective stress around this tour came from worrying about the Bristol gig due to some piss poor communication from the promoter. When we got there neither the amps that were promised to us or the venue manager are even there, but we shake it off and get set up and eat nice food and do the best we can.

My brother even comes along who I haven’t seen in about a year! Plus Michal and Amy, and Rosie who last time travelled all the way to bloody Brighton to see us, so I’m so glad we could actually play in Bristol for them this time!

Tonight I get to watch all of Whatevers and Fomo’s set all the way through and tonight is the first night that I tell all of Fomo that some of their songs remind me of Springsteen songs from The Rising and Magic era (and not just because there’s a harmonica) I then go on to tell this to Jack and Frankie every night for the remainder of tour.

Whatevers are ace and there are lot of Clueless fans in the audience getting excited. There’s also a girl in an old Potentials t-shirt that none of us know, and at this point I’m used to only my mates wearing t-shirts of bands I’m in, so it’s quite exciting!

We play and it’s maybe our worst gig of tour. I like to tell people that we are a hit and miss kind of band. Sometimes we are amazing, sometimes we are alright, and sometimes I fuck everything up and forget how to play for no reason, and tonight was one of those nights, sorry Zak and Shahnaz! I think I used all my musical ability in the My Chemical Romance singalong in the van. Oh well. At least the stress of Bristol is over.

We head back to a friend of Emily’s in Bristol, get offered a vast selection of herbal teas ( I choose womankind tea before bed and a peppermint and nettle tea in the morning), and we get given a blow up bed each so we’re all dead happy.


The next morning and we all meet up at Cafe Kino for my 3rd favourite breakfast on tour. Everyone is playing Alphabears and we get in the van (today’s dj choices include Blink 182 and bis) and head to Manchester where it’s surprisingly not the rainy city I usually love.

With the sun out, we head to Ice Shack in Withington for dairy and vegan ice cream and cake and we consider sacking off the gig and just staying there. I get a triple scoop of salted caramel, chocolate, and wild berry, with warmed up chocolate cake and I lose my fucking mind. It might be the sugar talking but Ice Shack is the greatest place on earth. There’s Mario Kart to play, a selection of Nancy Drew books, Settlers of Catan and other board games, and a total non-hipster selection of cheap vegan treats. Plus the guy working there is the nicest person ever and isn’t phased at all by having his cafe taken over by 9 weirdos aka 'the fucking excuse for the suicide squad'. He’s just dead lovely and we try to invite him to our gig but he has to work late and says he will look for us on youtube. What a bloody lovely un!

We get to the gig and Steve gives me a multipack of Irn Bru plus a Salford Zine Library tote for my birthday. I have to break it to him that I’m giving up pop for the week while my arthritic foot gets better as my doctor says my fizzy pop addiction could be making it worse. It’s a dark time.

Its the Whatevers homecoming gig and we all give a big round of applause as Alison arrives. Last year we toured with Yiiiikes featuring Seleena, Kandy, and Alison, and this year its just Whatevers as Alison has had a wee little baby, but its so good to see her again and we are all dead excited.

Fomo play and are just wonderful and its nice to get to that point where you can start to learn the words and sing along and have some feelings. A joke about 7-up goes wrong, but it's all part of the top quality bantz.
Whatevers play to an adoring audience, and tonight's Snob and a Half dedication gets a massive cheer. Plus everyone is going bonkers for their amazing merch! I love a home town show and all of their mates are there and everyone is so hyper and proud and excited, it’s brilliant to watch.
We play and we’re pretty good and it’s the first gig of tour where I’m genuinely having so much fun I don’t even care what we sound like. Poor Shahnaz starts to lose her voice but she can definitely pull off the Courtney Love voice so it doesn’t show.

After the show I get salt and pepper tofu with Frankie and Jack from the takeaway next door while poor Shahnaz gets a nasty injury with a cut on her leg. So glad to have a paramedic on tour with us though as Kathleen is straight in there with a plaster.


The next morning we assemble for my favourite breakfast on tour - toast, hash browns, beans, melon, strawberries, jus roll croissants and cinnamon rolls, plus plaintain. So good! Zak is taking a stance against all fruit and vegetables but decides he quite likes melon, and for a morning we all get into #wellness and #cleaninliving with a lush facemask and a bit of tour pilates.

I’m starting to get super nervous as we’re heading to Newcastle that night without Shahnaz. She’s staying in Manchester to watch Motion City Soundtrack play a super emotional reunion show and me and Zak are going to attempt it as a two piece instead. I’ve played lots of solo shows before so didn’t think playing in a two piece would make me nervous but for some reason I was shitting it.

Luckily Jack who happened to playing around on a bass while we did facemasks in the morning casually asked what the bass line for Friendzone was, and then went on to play it perfectly in a matter of seconds. Because Jack is one of those people that can just do that. And so they offered to play on a song with us that night in Sheffield making me a little less anxious than before.

We said goodbye to Shahnaz hoping to see her tear stained face the next day in York and set off to Newcastle. After going for proper nice lebanese food (the bread, THE BREAD!) and Frankie trying to make Zak eat vegetables we assembled for the gig. Its fair to say I’ve never felt gig nerves like I did that night and I felt like I was gonna vom or cry for some reason. Luckily we weren’t headlining this time at least. Newcastle was a late addition to our tour as our Glasgow date had fallen through last minute and Ally had very kindly offered to put us on in Newcastle instead. It was so nice to see some friendly faces and I danced out my nervousness to Fomo who were wonderful as always. I wish I could play drums like Flo. Whatevers were great and funny and everyone was chatting about Clueless after they had finished.

We played and Jack was amazing and joined us on bass for Friendzone and played and sang along having never played with us before ever, they even finished the set off with some completely uncalled for slap bass. To celebrate I then quizzed everyone on their favourite era of Gerard Way and I had some great chats with people about Buffy and concept bands in general and felt super happy after feeling sick with nerves all day long.

After the gig we went back to Jack’s mam’s house. The week before I’d been advised by the docs to give up fizzy pop for a bit while my arthritis was flaring up but I was feeling pretty good so cracked open the multipack of irn bru gifted to me in Manchester, and I went a bit wild and pretty much giggled myself to sleep.


In the morning we watched a bit of More than Meats the Pie docu-series about Greggs while Jack accidentally shot Flo in the face with a super dangerous fly swatter. First Avril and now this. Would Fomo even last the week?

We got in the van for a quick visit to the Angel of the North having missed it on the way up and then stopped for chilli curly fries at Ok Diner while Kandy tried coffee for the first time. We arrive in York and spend the afternoon in the York museum gardens. Jack and Shahnaz get to hold some bloody cute owls, and the rest of us put on our factor 50 sunscreen and do teddy bear rolls, crabs, and cartwheels and go look round some ruins. It’s dead lovely and Shahnaz spends most of her time with her legs sticking out of a bush while she has a snuggle with a sleeping stray cat.

At the venue Jack and I have a competition of the sexiest Bruce Springsteen video. Jack’s nomination is pretty sexy, but nowt is as sexy as this live version of Fire. High waisted jeans and some insane muscles and some dodgy dancing - it's a bit much.

I don’t know if it’s the sunshine, or being reunited with Shahnaz, or the leftover Irn bru still in my system but I’m in the best mood of my entire life! Not hyper and silly, just dead dead happy and content with life and so I end up just feeling pretty stoned and smiley at the gig. Fomo play and are wonderful and I'm fully singing along to all their songs now like they are proper chart bangers. Whatevers play and Seleena does a backbend while playing guitar and it’s amazing. And we play and its fun and I can’t stop smiling, even on our angry songs and we even end up playing Cibo Matto for the first time live in about a year! We dedicate Extra Flamey to Frankie and anyone else who met their first girlfriend in a Willow/Tara chatroom.

After the gig there is hot crush disco and I dance to Hole with Shahnaz and then end up dancing with everyone completely forgetting to pack up or do any of the loading out.

After the gig we head back to 1975 to Jamie Wilson’s fungalow and everyone is immediately soothed by the soft orange brown and mustard tones. There’s lots of cups of tea, Aunty Kathleen gets her wine out, and at midnight we sing happy birthday to Jack!


It’s Leeds day and we get excited about a wetherspoons breakfast but realised in our laziness we’ve missed it and so head out to Toby Carvery for a birthday roast instead. After a roast potato frenzy we head back to Kathleen’s for some robot wars and some first dates viewings followed by a birthday tea party for Jack including the most amazing party ring trifle ever!

We play girls just wanna have fun, give Jack the friendship bracelet we got in York, and eat trifle. Flo has made vegan m&ms and I spend my afternoon trying to make Stanley the dog fall in love with me. It’s a pretty amazing day.

In the evening we head to Wharf to set up and worry about people coming and trying to get a last minute amp in time but feel pretty excited for Fomo’s hometown gig. All the best people are there including Mel & Amy, Liev and Olly, and the super glamorous Shelly. Sadly Kathleen misses the Leeds show due to some real life crime happening in her street.

Whatevers play and there are so many Clueless fans there, including someone with a Clueless tattoo! During Whatevers I get a tap on the shoulder and see my Dad has turned up even though he’d told me before he wouldn’t be able to come to our gig! It isn’t a gig at Wharf chambers without my dad there.

Fomo are amazing for their homecoming show. I think I’m becoming their biggest fan on this tour, and my fave song gets dedicated to my dad who comes right over on cue after we’ve played to tell me how great Fomo are.

After we play the amazing Crumbs headline although I only really catch a bit of their set as I spend the rest of the evening having a big heart to heart and some massive life chats with my dad who’s having a proper shit time at the moment. It all gets a bit emotional and afterwards I’m a bit tearful and emo. Sorry to everyone in our van who might have wondered what was wrong with me, and thanks to Kandy and Shahnaz for being dead nice to me while I was being a bit weepy.  There’s usually one night on tour where things get a bit emo and it was Leeds this time. I shake it off for a quick gang dance along to Girls Just Wanna Have Fun and then it’s back to Kathleens and at dead on midnight Kandy celebrates her birthday by trumping away her trapped wind caused by some deadly ginger beer. Happy birthday Kandy!


Last day of tour! And although it’s Kandy’s birthday, what’s really important to remember is that it’s also the hash brown challenge. All week long Zak and Jack have been trash talking each others ability to eat more hash browns than the other and this morning it’s finally being put to the test. There's a surprising amount of macho bullshit for a tour of such lovely awkward people, but it needs to resolved through an eating challenge. Keano cooks us up a right feast and the rest of us get to eat a massive breakfast of fake bacon and sausage and tomato and mushroom and hash browns and toast. And Jack and Zak eat their way through a pile of hash browns ending in a lady and the tramp style shared hash brown. There are no losers, only winners.

Everyone plays some Epic Spell Wars and then after some mooching round Jack’s flat looking at what we’d like to steal, we go take some photobooth pix thanks to Kathleen and I drink bubble tea for the first time before we head to Sheffield where amazing mexican food awaits us.

We all get a bit of the last night sillies exacerbated by Jack’s belief that they are good at impersonating regional accents. We sing happy birthday to Kandy re-using Jack’s birthday cake and feel amazing and eat the awesome food that Emma has made us, which is when Kathleen gets a phonecall letting us know that we have accidentally loaded in a guitar that doesn’t belong to us and is now needed in Leeds. We all feel like DICKS. Kathleen hops back in the van and gets the guitar to leeds in time while we all feel absolutely terrible. We are sorry and Kathleen is a fucking superhero.

Jack cracks on with a terrible yorkshire accent impression for most of the night and the occasional Kermit voice as requested by Flo until its time for Fomo to play.  It feels like Flo is hitting the drums extra hard tonight and it’s so good to sing along to. It feels so strange that only 7 days ago we hadn’t heard these songs when now they are firmly stuck in my head and they all feel like massive pop hits. Rise/Fall is my fave Fomo song and I do a bit of a cry during the last performance of it because a) it’s so good and  b) It’s the last time I’m gonna hear it on tour. If you need someone who can get super emosh on tour then I’m your person.

Whatevers are next and it’s Kandy’s hometown gig and all of her rollergirls are there dancing along. The Whatevers race through their set, and I realise that Virgin Who Cant Drive isn’t even on the Whatevers ep so I get sad that I wont get to hear that song every night.
It’s over before you even know it and I do another cry because that’s who I am now.

We play probably our worst set in Sheffield but I’m trying not to care. It’s a mixture of tiredness and not being able to hear each other at all and me forgetting how to play and sing at the same time. I sound shoddy as fuck but it’s the last night and I just feel happy regardless. We dedicate Friendzone to a couple of Buffy mega fans celebrating their 10th anniversary together in the audience who also named their child after Xander. I’m assuming they wont raise their kid to be a slut shaming emotionally abusive dick though. We meet them afterwards and they assure me that they wont and it’s nice to have a Buffy chat with people that love it and are open to discussing the show’s politics. I’m then greeted by someone outside who told me they had to walk out of our set as Friendzone tipped them over the fucking edge and that they were fine until we started critiquing Xander and the friendzone aka sexist emotional abuse. The guy tried to mansplain the character of Xander to me and told me that song was fucking terrible. Ordinarily I would have either got really upset or got in an argument with him, but I was tired and didn’t have time for his shitty speech on why we were wrong about Xander and so I left him to go hang out with everyone else and eat leftover birthday cake and finish my Irn Bru and have a laugh.

We drove back to Kandy’s house while I danced in my seat desperate for a rave ( it now transpires that I have absolutely no clue what a rave is), put on Girls Just Wanna Have Fun again at Kandy’s while she opened her presents and we all had a lovely time.

The next day is like the last ever episode of Bug Juice where everyone goes home. We all leave in dribs and drabs but have a post tour breakfast of jus roll treats plus hash browns before going our separate ways. Zak offers half a hash brown to Jack as a peace offering but I eat it instead ending macho bullshit hash browns forever. We have a big zine swap, getting rid of all the zines we don't want to take home with us which is ace. I love having a zine distro on tour, more tours should do it and I love Kathleen for running it and suggesting it in the first place! Everyone is knackered and on the verge of getting ill and it’s all a bit sad saying goodbye to everyone even though I’ll be seeing everyone again dead soon.

Here are some things I learned on tour:

  • People are incredibly generous with their time
  • Everyone needs a Kathleen in order to go on tour properly.
  • Make a bloody checklist for loading in and out
  • I'm a hit and miss kind of musician and I’ve made my peace with that.
  • Playing without Shahnaz is terrifying
  • Nobody does merch like Whatevers do merch.
  • Putting on a tour is a lot of work but there's nowt you can do once it starts.
  • Flo is proper amazing and I’m so glad I got to hang out with them properly for the first time on this tour rather than the hi and byes we always do at shows.
  • I used to be really intimidated by Jack before this week but after hearing their piss poor yorkshire accent feel like we are actually mates now.
  • I suck at Alphabears
  • Plantain for breakfast all the time
  • I feel dead embarassed for getting all weepy on the Thursday night
  • I have this thing where I’m not good at eating in front of people that I don’t know that well, but totally did it on tour. Tour was good for a lot of my weird behaviours actually.
  • If I put a fresh bath bomb from lush in the same bag as my stage outfit then it doesn’t smell sweaty and gross. Thanks Lush.
  • I love Buffy but I don’t always wanna chat about it, especially with lads.
  • I wish Kyle could have come to more shows
  • Fomo should have headlined.

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