It's been a weird couple of days. It seems all we've done is sit glued to the news channels, hoping to hear something positive. Johan and Andy have a flight to catch from JFK on Monday and as it is right now, the airline company is telling them their flight is still on schedule and that they have to be at the airport to catch it otherwise they'll have to pay for new tickets for another flight. With the looming menace of Hurricane Irene causing the city of New York to effectively close down, the chances of us being able to even get them to the airport on Monday night are rapidly diminishing. If we have to pay for new flights then financially, we're fucked on this tour. The problem is, the news on the hurricane is constantly changing and we just don't know what's going to happen. On top of all this is the very worrying thought that my wife is holed up in a hotel in Chinatown, just waiting it out. With the news coming through today that New York is closing all of it's bridges and tunnels, our choices are made slightly simpler. We either wait it out in Pittsburgh, long clear of the storm, or we drive to Syracuse and play the show we're booked to play. We know by travelling to up-state New York we're risking putting ourselves into the path of the storm, but it feels like it's worth it. If New York gets hit bad then Johan and Andy's flights are going to be cancelled anyway, and the show tonight in Syracuse is of great personal importance to us since it's our close friends, Another Breath's farewell show, in their home town. It really would have been gut wrenching to miss it.
We leave Ben and Aubrey's place around eleven am. and treat ourselves to a hearty breakfast before we leave Pittsburgh and drive the five hours to Syracuse in up-state New York. It's an early show tonight so we need to be there for six pm. We get some breakfast at this great vegetarian diner in the Bloomfield area of Pittsburgh which sets us up for the day. I attempt a country breakfast burrito but it's so huge that I only manage two thirds of it. Matt is shocked. He's always on my case about how much I eat, he's even changed my nickname for this tour from Tea Bag to Snacks. Snack is no match for this burrito though. When we get into the van and I'm so full I feel fucking weird.
We haven't even travelled five miles out of Pittsburgh before we hit a huge traffic jam. Totally backed up. We move three miles in just over two and a half hours. All of a sudden we're going to be very late for the show tonight. What amazes me is that when we actually creep up level with the cause of the traffic jam it turns out to be no more than a few workers re-painting lines on the side of the motorway. Matt loses his rag, “Fucking line painting?! Are you fucking kidding me? You choose the busiest travel day of the week to paint fucking lines on the road?” This brings a smile to my face for the first time today.
To add to the stress caused by the uncontrollable circumstances in New York, we're now going to have to load in and play as soon as we get to the venue tonight. Great. The next five hours roll on in near silence, disturbed only slightly by a chuffed snigger when I place Johan in check mate for the third time in as many days.
We pull into the car park at the venue in Syracuse just as the band before us on the bill starts their set. It's a dark and chilly night in the north east. We'd phoned Scotty earlier in the day, to let him know about our traffic situation and he seemed a bit pissed off, but when I talk to him on arrival I quickly understand that he's just in a delicate emotional place with this being the final ever Another Breath show. I know how he feels, I went through it all with Speedhorn. I remember High Whore, the last song in the last ever set list, me and Gordon crying our eyes out as we played it. We jump out of the van, relieved to finally be here, and we're greeted by hugs from all the AB guys. I feel guilty for even pondering the idea of blowing this show off.
“I think they're going to make it...” is Johan's cryptic reply, nodding his head looking content. By now we're all holding our stomach's laughing.