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Tour Diary: Mean Siders

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The DUMP HIM Fall tour was life affirming for this scruffy bunch of goons. For seven days, we adventured down the East Coast to scream on dive bar stages, spread feminist ideals, sprinkle glitter like goddamn fairy powder, and eat copious amounts of pretzel rods. We collectively read passages from Inga Muscio’s “Cunt” and had band-wide discussions. We mapped out everyone’s astrological charts. We played with AMAZING bands. And best of all, we connected with so many new pals after each set, sharing our glitter and experiences. Here is a peak into our journey.

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New Brunswick

When Shannon and Katie arrive to meet their other halves (John and Mike) in New Jersey, the band is united and the tour has officially begun. We are greeted by a true mega babe, our giant 15-seater black van, named Phyllis (FYI we did not give her this name—she came with it!) With two full benches, a built in XBox, and extra trunk room to spare, she is truly the MILF of all vans.

After lots of hummus, a last minute trip to the music supplies store, and a couple of back rubs (John’s girlfriend, Maggie is training to be a massage therapist and gave us a free demo), we are ready to roll into our show at Pino’s Gift Basket Shoppe. With a name like that, we have no idea what to expect. It takes all self control not to blow up our bar tab on gourmet chocolates, fancy wines, and cheese spreads.

On the stage we screech and shred and jump around. Even though this is our first official night of tour, our off-stage vibes are pretty chill. Mike’s getting a cold and since we’re waking up early to pack the van, no one wants to get trashed.

Drink of choice: Seltzer + orange juice (get that vitamin C)

Phyllis van keys

Philadelphia

Before we get on the highway to Philly, we pull over in a CVS parking lot so Mike can pick up cold medicine and Shannon can sage the van. We’ve acquired an extra long audio cable so that we can DJ from any seat. To set the mood, we start off by blasting Bikini Kill, Bratmobile, and Childbirth.

We arrive in Philly faster than we expected and suddenly realize we have nowhere to go. It hits us that this will be a recurring characteristic of tour lyfe(™). We head to Clark Park for a picnic of hummus and pita that we’d packed before we left. Afterwards we wander around the city admiring the architecture (everyone has a porch and a balcony!! So many opportunities for potted plants!!) and at one point sprint after some runaway dogs who seem determined to hang out in the street. By the time we arrive at Kung Fu Necktie we’re already sweaty but itching to play.

We’ve been excited for this lineup since we booked it months ago and it does not disappoint. We can tell we’re in a good spot when members of multiple bands join us for our pre-show ritual of painting our faces with glitter. Susie Derkins, AllegrA, and Dog Tears all stir us with lofi vibes and lovely lyrics both hopeful and sad. We stay out later than intended chatting with all our new pals until we suddenly realize that it’s late and we are all starving. We manage to scrounge up some 3 AM Chinese food before heading back to Shannon’s cousin’s dreamy apartment to shoot the shit and eventually pass out.

Drink of choice: Natty Bo

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Baltimore

We spend the afternoon at Goodwill before the short drive to Baltimore. John gets some cool orange pants (still waiting for him to bust those out). Mike gets a printed fish shirt, Shannon finds her elusive leopard print skirt, and Katie searches in vain for a bathroom (3 AM chinese maybe wasn’t the SMARTEST idea we’ve ever had).

We roll into Baltimore just in time for load in at Downsquares, which is the basement of a pizza parlor. Because of this, our contract has FREE pizza written into it, and we order a giant (vegan!!!!) pie that Katie happily eats most of. We majorly vibe with both Infinite Pizza and Honey Whitlock, two rough and tough femme-centric groups with homemade merch and lots of distortion. It’s one of those nights that completely affirms what we’re trying to do with our music. We feel a sense of belonging with these raucous rockers who tonight have turned this basement venue into a makeshift sanctuary of pure riot grrrl.

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Tonight we have the pleasure of staying at Feed The Scene, which feels like visiting some kind of hall of fame. The kitchen is covered with notes left from the hundreds of bands who have come through before us. Though our stay is brief we feel honored to have passed through and, at this point, unspeakably grateful for our four individual beds.

Drink of Choice: A single shot of whiskey

DC

In true introvert fashion, this is the point of the tour where we all need a little alone time (except Katie and Shannon, who continue to be inseparable). We stay at Shannon’s childhood home (come on childhood photos yaaas), play with her cat, and look at her dad’s racecar. Shannon and Katie wander around her old neighborhood and kill the afternoon hanging out on a swingset talking about life.

We’re especially invested in tonight’s gig because it’s a benefit to raise funds for the Friends of Puerto Rico, a local DC charity providing hurricane relief. Hexgirlfriends, Ezra Mae and the Gypsy Moon, Forever Crush, and The Fun Boys all donate their time and talent to bring people together for the cause. Even our sound guy for the night has agreed to work for free so that no one takes a cut of the door. We’re overwhelmed by the turnout and donations–we raise over $900 in a single night!

Drink of choice: seltzer (obvs)

Richmond

As a former Richmonder, Shannon thinks it’s only right to give her bandmates the *ultimate Richmond day* (because they have never been here, what the actual fuck). We eat at her forever-fave spot, Kuba Kuba, thrift (again) where this time Katie literally buys the whole store while Mike gets nothing and Shannon picks up pink glitter, and wrap up the afternoon with a sunny nap on Belle Isle next to the James River.

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Playing The Camel tonight is a dream come true. Leslie Hong of Haybaby is a welcome familiar face to us misplaced Brooklynites. Having seen her rule the stage with her band in Bushwick so many times, we are entranced to rediscover her in her solo project, Grandma. The Smirks have us reeling with sharp words and searing guitar solos. AND they trade us a sweatshirt for some of our own merch—a true blessing because Katie left her sweatshirt in Baltimore and has been freezing ever since. The night is filled with old and new friends, happinesses and all the fuzzy feelings.

Drink of choice: PBR + a shot of whisky

Raleigh

Arriving in Raleigh, our van magically parks in front of an amazing vegetarian/vegan spot. (Raleigh’s food is consistently dank AF this whole visit).

We find ourselves once again (literally) homeless in the park killing time. Mike wanders off to find some old pals. Katie runs around climbing trees, Shannon reads in the van, and John practices guitar laying out on the grass.

Tonight’s show is in a long and narrow dive bar fittingly named “Slim’s.” Between load in and soundcheck, we find a diner where Shannon decides to live her best life and orders three kinds of pie for dinner. We also find Katie’s sister who’s seeing us tonight for the first time!

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After our set, Katie is faced with a crusty dude who tells her all about his glory days playing music, back when he “got all the girls.” (Ew.) He tells us how much he loves “chick musicians” (double ew) before it comes out that he didn’t even see our set. Aside from this one dude, the crowd at Slim’s is maybe the friendliest room of people we meet all of tour!

Drink of choice: FREE PBR (thanks, Slim’s!)

Harrisonburg

House shows are our forte, and we are especially amped to play this one. The show room is tucked away in the basement, a concrete cell with debris everywhere. Every part of the basement is covered in cigarette butts and empty beer cans. On the front porch sits an uncapped bottle of half-drank tequila. We all become swept up in nostalgia for the gritty garage shows we attended growing up, housed in similar spaces with similarly low standards of hygiene. (No shade Harrisonburg, we love you!)

Playing in this environment is all too natural, and this is by far our most effortless show, partly due to the setting and partly due to it being our 8th show in 9 days. Cramped together in a concrete room underground, the crowd screams and moshes with us. The ceiling is so low, it holds us like a womb as we jump up and down, messy, loud, and writhing with energy.

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After the show, we are filled with the bitter-sweet feelings that this is the last night of tour. We keep the party going and try to soak-up as much as we can. A sophomore boy loops Shannon and Katie into his conversation about movies. He’s exhibiting all of our least favorite qualities: he asks people questions and then interrupts them loudly before they can finish answering and tells all of us why his favorite movies should be ours too. We roll our eyes as he tells us he’s taking a sociology class so he knows all about sarcasm. He asks us if we’re freshmen, and we both burst out laughing before telling him yes. It takes about a second for us to be over the joke, and his cis-white male privilege is obnoxious, exhausting, and all encompassing. He goes ballistic, tells us not to get him started when we combat him. He tells us that he’s taking a gender studies course and learning all about the patriarchy. We can’t “use it against him.” “I know about feminism!” he announces to the entire room.

Long story short, we kick this dude out of our Harrisonburg house party. And then we finally get some sleep.

Drink of choice: PBR and whisky (can you sense a trend? lol)

From start to finish this tour was a giant dream, and driving home is a groggy prolonged awakening. We all wear exhausted grins as we pull once more into New Jersey. Now that we’ve conquered our first tour as a band, we’re already excited about future possibilities. It’s bittersweet to say goodbye to the road, but we’ve missed you, Brooklyn!

Back in Brooklyn, you can catch Mean Siders on Thursday, November 30th with Ellen and the Degenerates at The Well.



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