Frank Turner Offspring Tour Diary Part 2 – Pennywise, Cold Beer And Border Crossings

The first night of the tour, in Canandaigua, had been a success, and after the show John and I headed back to Donny’s place in Buffalo. Being still subject to the fickle whims of jetlag, I managed to fall asleep in the car and then be totally awake by time we got back there and got into bed. Some kind of divine retribution for ceaseless international travel? Possibly. Nevertheless it was nice to wake up in the town we were due to play that evening.

The Offspring tour is, by my standards, pretty day-off-happy, so in preparation for this run we booked in a bunch of smaller headline shows, less amphitheater and more dive bar. Donny, our increasingly generous host, was the promoter for the first of these, booked in for Mohawk Place in Buffalo. Donny and I had met in Austin, Texas, during SXSW this year, at some point on the day which ended with me getting a fucking tattoo of the state on my arm. This meant that my prior memory of our meeting was a little.. hazy.. to say the least. Now that we were on his home turf, however, he was hammering home his hospitality, by stuffing me and John full of more food than seemed reasonable. It seemed that my admission that I’d never had Buffalo wings, let alone actually in Buffalo, might have been a rash one. We settled down and tried to eat 50 of the damn things between four of us, and failed dismally.

Mohawk Place is a classic example of the dive: the room that spreads like an ink blot over the divide between bar and venue, a vista for a thousand beautifully pointless rock n roll nights. They exist all over the world, and I feel like I’ve played in a significant number of them myself. It was a little bit of a jolt, moving from playing to 14,000 people to 100 overnight, but then these were people here to see me play, so it worked out. The show was great, the aftermath inadvisable, the sleep long and dreamless.


The following morning we got up slowly and painfully, packed the car and said a long and fond farewell to Donny and his family, before heading to the Canadian border. Crossing into Canada as a band (or one man approximation of one) is no fun. There’s a Kafka-esque process of form-filling and letter-soliciting to go through which can only have been thought up by someone whose love for popular music was killed off by Elvis. In particular, they’re very keen to tax you on any merchandise you might be carrying with you (the bastards). Having spent a few days thinking up ways of hiding everything we had inside the seats or in the fuel tank, we ended up grudgingly deciding on honesty as the best possibility, and prepared to pay out in small denominations and through gritted teeth. And then, suddenly, as if the King himself was smiling down on us, we basically got waved through by a disinterested border guard without paying any government so much as a dime. Result!

A brief stop at Niagara Falls (in short: water falls off cliff; big whoop) and a drive alongside Lake Oregon (much more impressive) we arrived in Toronto for the second Offspring show. Tonight’s enormodome was called The Molson Amphitheater, and held an impressive 34,985,735 people (or something), and was beautifully built on reclaimed land on the edge of the lake. Better yet, Pennywise were on the bill for this show; ‘About Time’ was one of my favorite punk albums many years back, so I was excited, to say the least. Showtime rolled around, and I had another good gig – I’m starting to lose the nerves I had about this before the tour started. The rest of the night was spent watching the bands, meeting Pennywise, and drinking some cold Canadian beer. Incidentally, it pains me to confirm national stereotypes, but people on this side of the pond really do keep their beer *cold*, and it’s a damn sight more refreshing for it. Dammit.

Our host in Toronto is Michael, a friend of Donny’s, who lives in a great house in The Annex district of town. We have two days off now, as it was hard to book any fill in shows over the Independence Day weekend, and the Offspring are off festivalling. A stage shout out at the show for something to do in town has led to a general meet up at the Horseshoe Tavern, which should be interesting. I’ll report back tomorrow.

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