This Week in the Mercury


Monday, July 22, 2013

Sama Dams Tour Diary: Northampton to Philadelphia

Posted by Sama Dams on Mon, Jul 22, 2013 at 5:16 PM

Portland band Sama Dams is currently on tour across the US. They dropped us a line from the East Coast for this first entry in their tour diary, courtesy of the band's namesake, Sam Adams. Check out Sama Dams' excellent music and follow them on Instagram.—Ed.

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Northampton to Philadelphia—The Midway Point

It’s hard to sleep comfortably on tour in the summer. Every water particle hanging in the air in the day seems to be desperate for a warm body to sleep on once the temperature drops and the skeeters come out at night; the result is a sticky patina of DEET, sweat, and general road filth that you can never quite get used to. Our tourmate Catherine Feeny and the rest of the crew had done a good job arranging ahead of time for as many comfortable crashing points throughout our seven-week trip across the country—air conditioned or not—but last night outside Northampton, Mass., we ended up under the stars camping along the Connecticut River along with the band And the Kids and their cohort of young hipster transients.

Hannah, Becca, and Megan and their tribe triple-handedly saved us from playing to the bar staff at our late-afternoon Sunday show at the Elevens. They were stalwart fans of Catherine’s and accompanied by a couple of tall friendly indie dudes—apparently filmmakers who’d been working with them that week. The local support was a post-retirement exercise of an ex-member of Sebadoh, who was passively abusive to his band as well as the sound man (who had brought his preteen son to help with the setup). Frustrated dad-grunge songs about buffalo burgers and punks smoking pot did not wake sleepy Massachusetts—a sad story.

We had a great time with our small attentive crowd, and after we opted for some late-night Chinese food, we careened down the gravel roads leading to their camp. Here the girls had rented a POD mobile storage unit, and with the aid of one brave orange extension cord to nowhere, converted it into a practice space where they could make “electric music” until all hours of the night. Much Franzia was imbibed, and many Tostitos were dipped, safely guarded by a cow-like Great Dane named Boone and a tangle of poison sumac, poison ivy, and stinging nettles.

While I was initially tempted to worry myself with country-time pagan sacrifice and a few misperceived, knifey looks by one of the male campers, I recognized that the fatigue of the long week had turned me into a quiet crank, unable to give back the kindness shown to me in any significant way. And the Kids played two apparently drunken but extremely impressive songs from their upcoming album, before I withdrew to my tent during the following synthfreak jamboree that our manager Sebastian joined with the girls. Cool sounds—but I was desperate for the day to end. As I laid out, the dudes in the tribe had forced into the practice space and commandeered the instruments for their Death-meets-Chuck Berry bro jam. I drifted in and out of consciousness amid their incessant woodblock and Boone’s howling protests.

The morning by the river was beautiful, but came too soon. On the long hot drive to a house show in Philadelphia, we unsuccessfully tried to sneak an unpaid dip into a New Jersey YMCA pool. We lasted long enough for a well deserved cold shower before being sent on our way. By nightfall, we arrived at the home of our fave Philly band, Banned Books, and back into the musical world of half empty Yuenglings, BO, black mold, stoner metal, and shadows of roaches loitering outside.

On tour, you just can’t get clean when you play good shows. It might seem as an over-generalization, but the most receptive people we’ve met this tour have been in the dirtiest, sweatiest places: communities where art not only overrides polite pretense but also the denial of mortality that lingers underneath common hygiene. I’ll keep my toothbrush handy, but it looks like we’ll be out here for a while playing mystic dirty math for the mythic dirty masses.

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