There’s nothing like a killer tour diary. Or better yet, an unconventional one. And so when Evan Greer, Greater Boston’s self-described “friendly neighborhood genderqueer riot-folk singer” asked if we were interested in publishing some pics and excerpts from a recent trot across Europe, we naturally nodded. Best of all, the tour ain’t over. Catch Evan tomorrow (Tuesday) night at the Break the Chains dance party at Community Church of Boston.
THE FOLLOWING IS A GUEST POST BY EVAN GREER EXCERPTED FROM A COMPLETE TOUR DIARY:
“Dear god did you charge the iPad?”
On my most recent tour of Europe, questions like these were sink or swim. With two musical acts, twelve shows, four adults, and three kids ages 3, 4, and almost 12, there was no room for error. A dead tablet, misplaced headphones, or a forgotten stuffed animal could make for an impossibly long high speed train ride. A missed bus or broken guitar string could upset the delicate equilibrium of our down-to-the-minute itinerary, which included things like “Get off train and walk to playground (10 minutes), falafel on the way, then bus (20 minutes) to venue by 4pm for sound check.”
My co-conspirator for this four-countries-in-two-weeks DIY bum rush was Taina Asili, an immensely talented Puerto Rican singer, songwriter, and activist based in New York. These days she wins awards and headlines festivals with her 6 piece Afro-latin reggae rock troupe La Banda Rebelde, but I first fangirled her when she was the frontwoman for the legendary late 90s punk band Anti-Product. She’s also deeply involved in work to free U.S. held political prisoner Mumia Abu Jamal.
I’m Evan Greer, Boston’s own friendly neighborhood genderqueer riot-folk singer. For whatever reason, my music got a bit more popular in Europe than it ever did in the U.S., I can draw more people in Cambridge, England than in Cambridge, MA. So I try to make it over there when I can. There’s nothing quite as exhilarating as being thousands of miles from home and having a room full of people who you barely share a language with screaming along the words to all your songs. I try to play it cool, but honestly I live for that. In fact, this was my 4 year old’s second tour of Europe, his first one I booked while he was in utero.
The tour was called Break the Chains, named after Boston’s very own all-gender queer liberation dance party, which I happen to organize. In fact, the next one is this Tuesday, July 14, 6pm at the Community Church of Boston, headlined by Taina Asili and legendary Navajo rebel punk band Sihasin, (who are touring with their kids too!) It’s our “home from tour” party, and you’re invited!
Some of you might be wondering something: what the hell made us think that bringing three kids on a DIY punk-infused tour of Europe was a good idea? The answer? Revenge. The mainstream narrative among twentysomethings about parenting is that once you have kids, your life as you knew it before was over. There’s no more time for playing in bands or trying to overthrow the government, it’s all just diapers and making lunches and an endless cycle of Dora the Explorer books and toys for the rest of time.
But that’s bullshit. And we were out to prove it.
In the process, we wanted to give visibility to queer parents, and help push for a better music scene that accommodates all kinds of voices. The Break the Chains dance party is all about bringing down the walls of oppression that keep us apart and using music to bring people together. The tour had the same goals, but required some next level logistical magic, including my co-parent coming along as a nearly full time childcare provider.
Along the way we soaked up the music, food, and politics of revolutionary Europe, and took about a bajillion pictures. Below I chronicle the journey in photos with (hopefully) witty commentary interspersed. I hope you enjoy, and that this article encourages some Boston soccer moms dig that bass guitar out of the basement, buy a used van and hit the road.
We kicked off the tour in Ireland, partly because having someone named Erin Fitzgerald and a kid named Saoirse along with us make for a speedy customs experience, but also because we freakin love it there.
Our first show of the tour was in Belfast, in North of Ireland that’s still under British occupation. We played a lovely little LGBTQ friendly pub called the Sunflower, to a ragtag crowd of young queers, old socialist Republicans, (if that sounds like an oxymoron to you, read up on Irish politics) and punks.
There were a few kids who got kicked out of the show for having fake IDs. I played for them outside on the sidewalk. This is my official policy in such situations, for future reference.
In Dublin we played at Tenterhook’s Gigspace, a new explicitly queer and feminist DIY music venue. It was our host’s birthday, and this pretty amazing thing happened after Taina’s last song.
The next morning we were up at 6am and headed to the airport. We had a gig in a different country that night, and had a flight, a bus, and four trains ahead of us before we got there. One word: coffee.
Through no small feat of luck and logistical prowess, we made it to Bristol, England. The activists who were setting up the show met us at the train station and we walked through beautifully painted alleyways to the venue. Bristol is a graffiti hub for all of Europe and there is incredible street art everywhere.
We made it to the Kebele Social Centre, a formerly squatted community space, cafe, venue, and library in a bustling, mostly Sikh, neighborhood in Bristol. Here the two younger kids are chilling out in the space while we got ready for soundcheck and dinner.
Once again we had a totally packed house, and Taina and Gaetano had everyone dancing like crazy to their revolutionary Afro-Latin rhythms.
I always hate playing after them, but the crowd greeted me by practically screaming along all the words to my first song, and I knew I was among friends. I left the microphones and played unplugged in the middle of the room and it was great fun.
We mostly stayed with people or at the venues we were playing at, but we got a cheap hotel in London that had a loft bed for the kids, and it was worth every penny.
After the trip, when we got back to the U.S., we got off the plane at JFK and immediately headed for our favorite vegan restaurant. Saoirse, who had been a total angel for the whole trip, asked me, “What country are we in now?” I said: “Brooklyn.”
“I will never forget that trip we just took,” my four year old told me. I smiled. We may not have much money. We may not have any record label backing us, or a booking agent, or pre-sold tickets, but our kids are growing up watching us pursue our dreams, and hopefully it will inspire them, and maybe some of you, to do the same.