PART I: CALIFORNIA
It was 88 degrees in Sandy Valley on the first day of the Stolas Headliner. A six-hour drive separated the band from their Las Vegas homes & their kickoff show at Anaheim, CA’s Chain Reaction, but an overheating engine brought us to a truck stop off the Mojave Freeway.
“We’re just gonna drive it ’til it explodes,” remarked an optimistically sarcastic Sergio Medina.
Despite the crippling heat & mechanical difficulties, Stolas’ Allomaternal Summer Tour started off in high spirits.
We arrived at Chain Reaction a few hours before our scheduled load in & were able to venture to a nearby Target for some last minute tour necessities; mouthwash, peanut butter, and beer. Back at the venue, we were greeted by Eidola & Artifex Pereo who will be sharing the road with us for the next six weeks.
As the doors opened, the lights dimmed down & the house music (A Day to Remember’s Greatest Hits) faded in. The crowd started to fill & the bands started taking the stage. Eidola was the first of the tour package to perform, fronted by the majestically bearded Andrew Michael Wells.
Backed by the powerful musical stylings of his band, Wells’ vocalings filled the room & were reinforced by the voice of the crowd, raising the energy for Artifex Pereo to take the stage.
Artifex, a six-piece rock outfit from Louisville, Kentucky, played a hard-hitting set of experimental progressive rock – reminiscent of the musical imaginings of a lover’s house on fire.
To further complement the theme of Intricately placed guitar lines over polyrhythmic changes & transitions, Stolas – the evening’s headliner & main attraction of the six-week voyage I’ll be documenting – took their places at the helm of the S.S. Chain Reaction.
Though the turnout had drawn less of a crowd than previous tours (having just finished two tours as a supporting act for letlive. & Dance Gavin Dance, respectively) Stolas guided us through 50 minutes of what kids these days have recently dubbed, “Swancore”. A slightly slimmer crowd did not stop the Stolas boys from dishing out the passionate, raw performance that they’re known for, but it certainly made the crowd singalongs more intimate & easier on the ears.
“You all sound so fucking beautiful,” remarked Carlo Marquez between verses.
The show ended & the vans got packed before Stolas left for their traditional post-show meal at Denny’s.
With the next show happening in Hollywood we parked next to Huntington Beach State Park & fell asleep to the sound of crashing waves. The next morning consisted of blankets on the shoreline & a walk along the beach to IHOP. The venue that night (garnished with ’90s album covers & decor that would have reminded me of my senior prom if I were cool enough to have gone) was in an 80-cap Los Angeles basement, catered with cold slices of Little Caesar’s & a 24-pack of off-brand water bottles. The rain was hardly enough to keep the smokers inside between sets – & it definitely did not help the fluctuating levels of morale – but it certainly motivated us to leave as soon as humanly possible.
We spent that night in San Diego & woke up with enough time for some trampoline shenanigans before load in. What started as a typical sunny morning in San Diego evolved into three vans double parked on 5th Avenue loading gear in frantically under a light drizzle.
The night came to an end & with a few off days ahead of us, we started our drive back to Las Vegas.
Morale may not be at its highest for some of us, but I know that for me, personally, laying down in the top bunk of the Stolas van & watching the clouds turn into rolling hills above a stampede of angry machines is the closest thing I have to a home & I couldn’t be any more excited for the next 40 days of my life.