Tour Diary: Broken Field Runner does Canada

Broken Field Runner is a band that I feel immense joy in talking about. Sure, there are a handful of fantastic bands to come from my local scene (see: State Champs, Drug Church), but there’s something different about Broken Field Runner. The music is soulful and passionate, and jumps back and forth between being political and existential. It’s pure punk attitude with a profound pop sensibility. 

Recently, Broken Field Runner did a brief tour throughout Canada. We’re excited to bring you their tour diary from those few days in the land of Maple Syrup and fake bacon. You can read their tour diary below. 

Thursday, October 8th – New Bedford, Massachusetts → Albany, New York → Rochester, New York

Jo Jo Rose [bass]: I made decent time on the back end and rolled into Albany on time, met with Nick and Tony at [the College of] St. Rose [where Nick Cavin attends college] and felt that comfort that comes with the message ‘crisis averted’ after successfully remembering songs from both the album [“Clear A Heaven So This Earth Can Breathe” available here] and new songs learned just 4 days prior.  But Next day I woke and went to my favorite spot in Albany, Iron Gate Cafe.  Phoenix. Rising.  

Nick Cavin [drums]: The car ride out went like every other drive through Western New York, nothing of enough interest to remember the trip. Rochester felt almost completely identical to Albany, which was welcoming.

Jo Jo: My anxiety melted when we pulled into town.  It’s taken many years for me to finally let the preparation take over and not worry about what I’ll sound like.  Time and effort.  I thought we rocked Rochester pretty hard after playing after solo acts.  

Tony Bucci [vocals/guitar]: We were able to catch Drive Me Home Please, and Rosehip, but the real standout was Rochester’s own Druse. There were ambient moments, creative use of pedals and amp mods, and mathy, creative use of silence and noise that begged to be head banged to.

Jo Jo: Druse was after us and provided the following day’s soreness in my neck.  

Nick: After we arrived at the venue I finished having a brief anxiety attack trying to figure out the gear situation. We were borrowing almost everything since we didn’t, and couldn’t, really take much over the border.

Tony: The band was really great and was nice enough to let us use all of their backline. Thanks again!

Jo Jo: After a ‘garbage plate’ and a proper shit at the Bug Jar, we were passed from our original Rochester host (love ya, Tim [Avery of Secret Pizza]) to some friends of his, thus kicking off maybe my favorite night of our journey.  Phil and Amanda were great folks, fun and real (and real fun), and their friend Laura (?…damn) and straggler Matt (not sure if they actually knew him) added color to the crew.  

Tony: We ended up at a married couple’s house drinking Guinness in a gathering of PhD holders and post-graduate researchers. At different times we discussed the “Chitlin Circuit,” a holocaust survivor’s memoir, and which was the best Flaming Lips Record (consensus: “In a Priest Driven Ambulance”).

Nick: I honestly can’t remember anything about them aside from really liking the Flaming Lips. Thanks fam.

Jo Jo: Shout out to the best sleep I’ve had at least in the year 2015. PERIOD.

Friday, October 9th – Rochester, New York, U.S. →Toronto, Ontario, CA

Nick: After finally getting ourselves out of bed, we rolled out to find some food. That’s when it happened: we encountered someone wearing the dress [in public]. Definitely blue and black. 

Tony: As none of us had ever been to Canada before, we weren’t sure how crossing the border was going to be. As a lifelong New Yorker I had heard horror stories about people being turned at the border for having driving infractions or being pulled over and searched, so we brought no merchandise or drums and made the trek in a sedan.

Nick: When we got to the border we were ready for them to give us hell, but they could’ve cared less about what we were doing, kind of disappointing for some odd reason.

Tony: It took the entire weekend for my mind to adjust from miles to kilometers, from ounces to milliliters, and from gallons to liters, but somehow we were able to make it to Toronto without having to pay $90/120 kilometers.

Jo Jo: The hills were rolling, seemed like basic middle America, then we slid right into Toronto’s gullet and all views from the highway evaporated into familiar urban landscapes.  Buildings, street art, train tracks, crowded streets, mom and pop shops… [it felt like] we had driven 4 hours Northwest back home.

Nick: Toronto had a cool vibe, currency conversion was a bitch and a half though. I finally had my first bar experience [EDIT: Nick is only 19 years old]. I found it more relaxing than exciting which was fine with me.

Jo Jo: We stopped into the Intergalactic Cafe which, outside of a split-flat [screen] display showing [flight] departures [to different planets], was disappointingly earthly.  I probably couldn’t handle another planet anyway.

Tony: The city was engrossed in America’s pastime so it was hard not to feel the loss with them when the Blue Jays were defeated by the Texas Rangers in inning 15. We helped them drown their sorrows in Pilsner (both the type and name of their beloved beer), bacon covered poutine, and spicy cauliflower sliders.

Jo Jo: I had the bacon poutine…naturally.  

Nick: Our performance that night was less than okay, but again, for the most part was still pretty well received.

Tony: I acted like a child because the entrance and exit to the room ran right through where the band played and my patience thinned quickly as folks couldn’t decide whether or not they were coming or going. People didn’t stop walking through, I grew increasingly more agitated, and my playing reflected my frustrations. I sold a CD for the equivalent of $4 USD and we drove to Jesse [Fellows from Shared Arms]’s place on the other side of town.

Jo Jo: Afterwards, [we checked out] the hip hop beat show a la Low End Theory (event not album) [at the bar downstairs which] was cool.  

Nick: The crew made its way back to Jesse’s place to crash for the night, after us New York boys almost got completely lost in the middle of downtown Toronto. Somehow [after getting separated for several blocks, our car] ended up right behind them again. I’ll just say it was my instinct. Who needs luck?

Tony: In attempting to appear as quick and easy visitors, we not only didn’t bring equipment but didn’t bring pillows, blankets, or sleeping bags either. I swear that I’ve been on tour before! We stayed up late drinking with Shared Arms and learned how easy it is to obtain Erectile Dysfunction medication in Canada whether you need it or not. I fell asleep on a mattress with a towel draped over me.

Saturday, October 10th – Toronto, Ontario, CA → Windsor, Ontario, CA

Jo Jo: [We] stayed with our bros in Shared Arms and got up early enough to sort of take it easy on our trip to Windsor.

Nick: My mother gave me some old Canadian money she had from the 80’s ($1 and $2 bills), which is apparently very rare and the cashier wouldn’t take because she was afraid it was worth too much money, some older guy swiftly swooped in to trade me the modern currency, which is presumably worth less than what I traded him.

Tony: Nick traded in Canadian currency from the 1970′s for its current value only to learn from Shared Arms that there are certain rare bills worth thousands of dollars.

Nick: I needed that sandwich and coffee, so who’s the true winner here? Ha.

Tony: I got a parking ticket and we drove to Windsor.      

Jo Jo: Windsor started as incredible as the night became.  Went down to the lake and were able to see Detroit from downtown Windsor.  Peace to Joey from Shared Arms for the hospitality.

Tony: Windsor is right across a short river from Detroit, [Michigan, U.S.] so close in fact that a drunk guy with dad-bod swam to Detroit and halfway back on a dare only to be stopped by the Coast Guard over the summer. We took super cool promo pictures as the sun set and ate at a Thai Restaurant that came off like a scene from a Mafia movie (aged wallpaper, classical piano versions of popular songs, and a completely empty restaurant).

Jo Jo: The Windsor Beer Exchange was awesome.  Best show that weekend for sure.  I wish I knew the name of the opening band because they were channeling Nirvana in a major way, with some success.  The energy was palpable; a guy shook his Montreal Canadians jersey at me after Tony introduced me as being from Massachusetts.  The Bruins had lost to the Canadians that night.  I was playing music in a club across the lake from where my favorite NHL team resides.

Nick: This crowd seemingly came out of nowhere. One of the bigger crowds I’ve played to, and full of energy too. It blew my mind that we could make these people who have never heard of us before, and have no obligation to care, move around and pay attention to what we’re doing.

Jo Jo: The end of ‘Wrong’ rushed at us and we took it on.  A couple guitar issues and knocked over in the pit while playing and we were done with the set.  It was that fast but 3 times that great.  Our communication was on point, we felt the love and fed off it, and performed very well.  

Nick: [It was] absolutely a blast.

Jo Jo: Shared Arms followed us and tore the roof off the spot!  They never let up on the crowd and vice versa.  Their rhythm section was razor sharp.

Nick: Shared Arms played a phenomenal set, so much energy and just all around fun, love those dudes. We ended the night by wandering around [to some] of the bars, [seeing atmospheric Windsor hardcore band No Hands], then going back to Joey’s to crash for the night.

Jo Jo: After their set we went to a spot called Phog where Jesse’s boy was performing with his band No Hands (i think).  It was excellent and I left the experience at the two venues, and maybe Windsor in general, very impressed and drawn to Canada, Ontario specifically.  Can’t wait to return; a deep thank you from me to you.

Sunday, October 11th – Windsor, Ontario, CA → Albany, New York → New Bedford, Massachusetts

Tony: We woke up the following afternoon, made another stop at Tim Horton’s [which is everywhere], and drove through the evening listening to everything from Thundercat and Flying Lotus to Tony Molina and Washed Out.

Nick: After crashing on the floor, my body beaten and sore, like some kind of generic lyric, it was time to depart. As we set off for our long drive home, I felt like I was ready for another night and to keep going, it made me sad to have to go back to the predictable college life. I’ve been wanting to experience touring for years, even if it was only for a few days to get a taste of it, it lived up to what I’ve been wanting. I love the harshness, and unpredictability of what each day holds, and when the next time I won’t smell like ass sweat is.

Tony: We made it across the border, spent almost an hour in a line for Chipotle in Syracuse, and made it back to Albany just in time for Jo-Jo to drive another 3 hours to New Bedford and the comfort of his own bed. Oh what a time to be alive.

Nick: Showering at long last never felt so good.