Editor’s Note: Welcome to The Last Show, a new Vanyaland series where we talk to performers about their last traditional live appearance before the pandemic hit. As we slowly make our way out of this mess, and a return to stages appears to be coming (eventually), here are the stories of bands, artists, comedians and others who performed their last live gig in front of an audience around this time last year. These are their shows, their stories, their memories.
Vanyaland: When and where was your last show before the pandemic?
John Brookhouse, singer/guitarist of Worshipper: March 15, 2020 — Growlers in Memphis, TN.
Who else was on the bill?
Weedeater, The Goddamn Gallows, and a local opener that I am struggling to recall the name of (sorry guys!)
What was notable about the show?
It was the last night of our tour with Weedeater. We somehow made it through all of the dates we were scheduled to play with no cancellations. When we started the tour in Philly, it was like “maybe wash your hands more,” and by the end of it, we were hyper aware of every little thing we were touching and wondering if we were actually going to be playing the show that we were driving six or more hours to get to. A lot of the shows we played were the last shows most of those clubs had. It was only a day or two after we left that my phone started blowing up with “wtf are you still doing out there?” texts from back home and major stuff started getting canceled left and right. The attendance overall was really good, even for this last show, considering the bartender told me that only five people came to the show the night before because people were starting to get scared about the virus. Apart from the stress of the whole situation, it was one of the best tours we’ve done yet. It was truly a strange thing to reconcile, mentally.
What do you remember the most about the show?
Oh, where to begin… Growlers used to be Elvis’s dojo before it became a club, so we were tripping out on that a little bit. They had an entire room of amazing vintage pinball machines that either we couldn’t play or thought better of using. I stared longingly into that room, for sure. The opening band invited a bunch of their friends up onstage and said “well, I guess we all have coronavirus now!” They were nice guys, but I remember that making me feel extremely weird in the moment. Also, after our set, I got a text from a co-worker (at the time, I’ve since been laid off) saying that our office was closed for two weeks because someone there had COVID. The whole thing was bizarre and amazing wrapped up in one. Our drive back to Boston started the next morning and felt like an eternity. On top of that, we drove through all of the recent tornado damage around Nashville, which added to the super-apocalyptic vibes.
If someone told you live music would be going away for at least the next year, what would you have thought?
“Well, at least we got this tour in.” We didn’t know what to think about how anything was going to play out with live shows then, and it still kind of feels that way. I remember thinking we would still probably play the two festivals we had lined up in May and June.
If someone told you live music would be going away for at least the next year, what would you have done differently?
Like I said, we’re lucky to have gotten to do one of the bigger tours we’ve ever done. It kind of felt like we had gotten away with something, in a way, because a lot of our friends hadn’t hit the road yet, but were planning to and didn’t get to go out at all last year. Honestly, it would have been nice to try and get to Europe again, so maybe we would have tried to make that happen had we been able to see the future.
What do you have coming up or coming out?
Well, we just recorded a Deep Purple cover track with Chris Johnson for a compilation that will be out on Glory or Death records sometime in the near future. That was fun to be in the studio for a day, despite the whole mask/trying to social distance/general anxiety situation. We may also put out the audio for the live video we did for the Mutants of the Monster virtual festival one of these Bandcamp Fridays coming up. Other than that, we’re trying to get back on the horse with writing new material for the next record. That’s really our next big priority.
Purchase Worshipper music via Bandcamp, and listen to their latest single “Slipping Away” via Spotify.