We’ve been fans of Dialects for ages now and were lucky enough to catch them at this year’s Strangeforms Festival in Leeds where, for this observer at least, they played one of the standout sets of the weekend. That show was the last night of their first tour for a while so we got Conor from the band to give us a few thoughts from the road.
Glasgow to London. A tough drive for any band on a UK tour but thankfully it’s one we’re prepared for… Except Sy, who misses van call by about an hour. This becomes a regular theme for the tour. We end up giving him the obligatory “golf clap” when he does finally come out his cave.
The trip to London flies by. We expected to be there for around 15:45 but actually arrive around 13:15. This results in a long wait at a garage that very politely allowed us to remain in the parking lot for a while. After some lunch, we head off to the Old Blue Last for load in.
It always seems to be that just reaching your venue in London seems difficult. Once you get to within a mile or two, the capital has a fantastic way of weaving you round every street possible before allowing you to reach your destination. Load is smooth and we bring the new merch board that Ali has created. It’s an absolute beast and we soon realise that this will take up most of the view in the merch area. Not entirely a bad thing though as it means people will see our stuff, as well as the multi-coloured lights surrounding it…
Toska arrive and we do all the introductions. Really cool dudes, and we can tell straight away from first impressions we were going to have an awesome tour.
The gig itself was epic! It was a free entry show that hit capacity and every band was guaranteed a good crowd. A few things to consider though when playing the Old Blue Last:
1. Gear share is must, change overs are rapid and the storage space upstairs is small so don’t expect to take a stadium worthy setup. The last time we played there was crazy due to the amount of gear, however this was far less stressful.
2. Push your gear to the back of the stage as far as possible. You might like your amps close but the monitors are perfectly adequate.
3. Prepare your gear before going on the stage. Again this is mostly due to changeovers.
Even following all of the above, we still had no room for all of us to get on the stage and sadly Ali had to take the floor. This turned out to be quite cool as he ended up playing the set in the middle of a mosh pit. It was an awesome first show to be fair. Toska unsurprisingly hit the ground running and smashed their first set of the tour.
*Gear Fail of the evening: Steve’s power ports on his pedals getting smashed to bits when someone opens a door too quickly and breaks them. Solution? Tape them up and hope for the best.
*NOTE: The Old Blue Last has an epic green room in which some of the most thought provoking messages you’ll ever read are on the wall. Definitely worth a photo or two.
That night we end up staying with our friend Alex from Waking Aida. He even left us breakfast. What a lovely man.
After a fantastic breakfast, we leave sunny London for Birmingham. Tonight we’re playing “The Flapper”. A few of our friends have advised that this is an excellent venue and it certainly does not disappoint. Plenty of stage room and a great sound engineer set the foundations for this to be a good show.
Your first show of tour is always the hardest. You’re not fully into the routine of everything and it is usually not the best set of the tour. Our second night is a much tighter set and we seem to go down well. I highly recommend The Flapper as a good touring location for bands.
*Gear fail of the evening: Dave from Toska somehow broke the inside of his bass the night before and after some clever solder work backstage he’s up and running for their set in the evening.
Our accommodation for that night was a bit different. Most bands will sleep on the couches and floors of friends or promoters’ homes, however tonight we sleep in an disused college. I am informed that it was somewhat of a custom for bands to be put up there. Although the college is not used for educational purposes, it has in fact been turned into a home. The local council selected caretakers look after the building and reside in the many class rooms that are not converted into homes. I think the idea is that the building can be someday repurposed into another educational facility or perhaps something else, but don’t quote me on that. We end up bumping into a friend of ours who is driving and tour managing another band on tour and I caught this hilarious photo of him in the morning as a sweet goodbye before we head home.
A hometown show as part of a tour can be a bit of a nerve racking experience. You want to ensure that the people who come to see you have a great time and I always feel that the pressure is on to make it the best night of the tour. Ultimately these people helped to get us where we are so far, and I always want to make sure that they see the best of us and enjoy it.
I was a little anxious about playing The Attic as previously it’s been a terrible experience, however the folks at The Garage have really invested into it. It has a new stage, new sound system and an improved sound desk. A welcome surprise.
We have a great time playing and afterwards we head to Sleazy’s for some drinks. We are joined by Bea and Dan from the Toska touring party. The highlight of the night is when Bea gets asked how often he is compared to the guitarist from Dorje. Those who know Dorje will know that all members of Toska are in fact members of Dorje. Queue the most excellent, awkward moment. Totally innocent but really funny none the less.
Day off. I slept and ate takeaway food. Nothing noteworthy to report.
Our final show with Toska this evening in Newcastle. It’s our first time playing there and we get a fantastic crowd. The whole night is a celebration but we can’t help but feel the run of dates with Toska should have been longer. Thankfully the guys feel the same. Hopefully we can set up something with them in future as we had a fantastic time touring with them.
Dialects have a tradition of trading shirts with bands that we tour with. I don’t know if every band does this but we always feel it’s a nice way to end a tour. That night we sport our new Toska threads and celebrate with a few drinks.
The tour with Toska was over and we got an excellent tour photo to wrap everything up. That night we stay with our friend Jamal from “Lost Ground” who we highly encourage you to check out. He has some serious drum skills. They’ve played with us a few time and are always a joy to watch and listen to. FFO: TTNG with the some clever riffage chucked in. Great formula.
Although our run of shows with Toska was over, the tour for us still had one more show in store. The glorious “Strangeforms Festival” hosted by Stewart and Kerry Ramsay of “Bad Owl”.
I’d been looking forward to this show for quite some time. There are too many fantastic bands to mention on this line and many of them are now our friends from touring, playing together and watching on the many shows we’ve been to within this community of music.
Couple of highlights for me at this festival that I’d like to mention:
1. The organisation of this festival is fantastic everything runs smoothly and it really does cater to the musicians playing it.
2. The food was outrageously good. You could also make charitable donations for an excellent cause as well. I loved this idea personally.
3. The staff: Everyone working this festival was delightful to deal with, a lovely mixture of our friends and new friends keep everything running like a well-oiled machine.
4. The people: Everyone attending the festival is extremely respectful, and like me, they’re passionate about this kind of music. The event sold out which is a testament to how great a line up it was and how much this scene has grown in the last five years. Our set seemed to go down very well and it’s the most fun I had playing the whole tour. Special thanks to the sound engineer for all his hard work on the day.
5. The location: I think that with Strangeforms growing we could see it potentially reach a different venue next year. Although I hope they do expand as this festival deserves a bigger audience, part of me found Wharf Chambers, and the nice seating area out back, quite a relaxing and tranquil part of Leeds. I wonder if we’ve maybe been lucky enough to catch the last of the original setup for Strangeforms…
Overall the tour was a humbling experience. After not being on the road for so long and focusing on festivals, it was nice to get out for a slightly longer stretch of dates and spend some time away. The tour blues hit me the second I was sat in front of a computer at work thinking of all the people we hung out with whilst away.
We need to get back out again soon. Like real soon.