September 21, 2015

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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.

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“We’re just gonna drive it ’til it explodes,” remarked an optimistically sarcastic Sergio Medina.

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Despite the crippling heat & mechanical difficulties, Stolas’ Allomaternal Summer Tour started off in high spirits.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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“You all sound so fucking beautiful,” remarked Carlo Marquez between verses.

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The show ended & the vans got packed before Stolas left for their traditional post-show meal at Denny’s.

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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.

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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.

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The night came to an end & with a few off days ahead of us, we started our drive back to Las Vegas.

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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.

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