Written by Farida Amar.
Los Angeles, CA − 2016 will be a great year for all Unraveled Artists. We have been developing Unraveled Tours since September 2014 and completed our trial tour in 2015. After many hours spent staring at mind maps, drawing sketches, making calls and sending emails, we’re right on track for launching our first major US tour this coming May.
The most important part of developing Unraveled Tours is in establishing and maintaining healthy relationships with likeminded humans. So Unraveled Founder Farida Amar, Unraveled Artist Vid Glass and assistant producer Benjamen Riggan hit the road last November to test drive our East Coast tour route and meet with venues, Unraveled Artists, likeminded collectives and friends along the way. Here’s our account of the journey. All the photos are unedited, because we like it raw sometimes.
24 hours of driving and a flat tire later we arrived. Late night. We showered and headed out. They have Uber in Austin. We started at Whisler’s (highly recommended). Whisky, beer and thai food. Then wandered the streets from the East Side towards Downtown. You can’t buy liquor after 9PM and you can’t buy it at all on Sundays. It was Sunday. Picking up a bottle of whiskey and heading home wasn’t an option. Along the way were some cute bars with outdoor lounges that looked like someone’s backyard. Austin can’t get enough of the string lights. We ended up in what they call the “Dirty Sixth,” mostly total trash. The next day we packed up and drove straight to Rockstar Bagel’s (rosemary salt bagel highly recommended). After coffee we had some time to kill before our first meeting and drove though a few neighborhoods. Pleasantly lost. It began to rain. Ended up taking advantage of the free wifi (and more coffee) at Brew & Brew (soooo many outlets).
The first meeting was at The North Door. Killer space, kind people. Been around for a long time. Large stage, black walls and floor, balcony area, projection areas. Little side bar with smaller live performance space, could also work for merch area. Care a lot about local artists and supporting independent music. Also host large commercial acts. Next up was Stubb’s which was recommended for live music and BBQ. We didn’t get any BBQ but their indoor downstairs venue was real cute. We heard later from locals that they have a bad sound system though, so we decided to pass. Then we checked out Mohawk. Huge outdoor space and small indoor space. Kind of like Stubb’s, but way better. All recently remodeled and done well. It’s cozy and welcoming inside and we fell in love with it. They’re not the most efficient in phone and email communication, so we were glad we got the chance to drop by in person. Then we had a quick drive to Hyde park to meet up with Brian of the Austin Blood Alliance at Quack’s Bakery (highly recommended). Brian made the whole trip with it and we are excited to be collaborating with him and his crew for our tour next year. Then we dropped in the Spider House Ballroom before driving out to New Orleans. Spider House is great! The wrong kind of space and arrangement for what we’re doing, but a quirky, fun, super-Austin type venue that we were glad we stopped to see. Go there to dance or laugh or eat or drink or even to shop… We gave Empire Control Room another shot as a last ditch effort on the way out, but they we’re still closed even though they said they would be there to meet us. So, we won’t be working with them in the near future.
Learnings: Austin is blah during the day and alive at night. Locals hate SXSW. There’s a lot going on, but it’s all below the surface. Can be cute if you look in the right places. Not dangerous anywhere. Masters of coffee. They actually don’t really have an appreciation for whiskey in Texas and you can buy a whole glass of Bulleit Burbon at a bar for $5. Don’t drive into the state building driveway, it pisses off the cop on duty.
↓ URTOURS Austin Show Info ↓
Sunday, May 22nd, 2016
Mohawk (912 Red River Street)
Facebook Event Page
NEW ORLEANS, LOUISIANA
We arrived in New Orleans the following morning around 5:30 AM. Ophelia met us and let us into her home. Turns out no time is too early for a medical professional studying for her board exams. We just found out that she passed! Congrats Ophelia! We rested and headed out to meet with the Second Harvest Food Bank. The girl we were supposed to meet with blew us off so we headed into Bywater and awaited the arrival of Delaney and Jay of New Orleans Airlift for our second meeting. Delaney and Jay were by far some of the most amazing humans we’ve ever had the pleasure to meet. It was an instant love connection on our end and we are honored and excited to announce that we will be working with them and their creative family of outstanding local artists on our tour his year and hopefully in years to come. In less than an hour they had swept us off our feet and taken us to their workshop location which is nothing short of amazing. Shortly after we met with them we went to a local cemetery and played with the dead.
The rest of the day we hung out in the French Quarter. Found cute girl parking. Walked back and forth. Visited voodoo shops, ate gumbo, drank absinthe, went to a show at Preservation Hall (highly recommended), went to the harbor and ended up on Frenchmen Street with the lovely Ophelia. The next day we went to visit Jay at his home in Bywater and were allowed to view and wander though a personal guided tour of the remaining pieces of The Music Box. After tea (and other herbal remedies) we headed to the Garden District and had GIANT po’ boys then went and looked at a few homes for sale in the area that we considered buying. Just before heading out we stopped at PORT to meet Pam and explored their large warehouse and had a great time with her. We’d love to host shows with them in collaboration with New Orleans Airlift.
Learnings: New Orleans is the most magical city in the United States full of passionate local artists that we want to work with. The French Quarter is pretty cool as far as tourist areas go and a must see if you are in NOLA for the first time but otherwise unnecessary. Frenchmen street is better for drinking and partying and where the locals prefer to kick it. Overall, Bywater (aka the Upper Ninth Ward) is the place to be and where we plan on spending most of our time. There are lots of warehouses turned art spaces, studios, cafes and kind locals working closely with the community to use art as a kind of experimental healing process for the city.
Atlanta really surprised us. We fell into Marilyn Chen’s condo around 7AM with no idea how our next two days were going to unfold. She stumbled around the apartment wrapped in a bed sheet, meowed like a sleepy cat and went back to bed. We were so exhausted that we seemed to really understand her cat signals. Trey Ehart of Entertainment was there to greet us, but was surprisingly sleepy for a vampire. He made sure to show us where every single light switch was before going back to bed. When we woke up, we realized we were surrounded by Marilyn’s adorable and slightly inappropriate collection of stuffed animals, her albino pet snake and jeweled headdresses that refracted the sunlight across her whole ceiling into beautiful patterns. We rushed out and over to meet with Jason of Waveguide on his lunch break which was more like our breakfast. As he walked over to us in his sharp suit, we struggled to use words and eventually were able to utter “coffee… we need coffee.”
After coffee and lunch/breakfast with Jason we drove to our first meeting with a retail commercial space called The Byrd’s Box in downtown Atlanta. The women who run this space, AC and Nina, are drop dead adorable. We all fell in love instantly. Galavanting through Little Five Points followed and Farida found the perfect outfit to wear at the Drag Factory for the show Trey was DJing at Mary’s (one of the oldest gay bars on the East Side) later that night.
We headed back downtown and met with Eyedrum. Priscilla had arranged for many members of Eyedrum to sit with us and talk about Unraveled Tours. We ended up discussing life, love, Atlanta, Eyedrum’s history and current state of development, the lifestyle of an artist, integrity, and many other topics that we all seemed to agree on. There was a tour of their massive space which ended on the rooftop of a large garage also attached to their building.
We went back to Trey’s apartment, got dressed and headed to the drag show. This is where we met Bari Donavan for the first time. This is where we flirted with all the drag queens. Where we danced and made friends with our friend’s friends. Where we watched the baddest bitch masturbate on stage.
This evening was followed by a late night Waffle House run where we made even more friends and then a second sleep fest at Marilyn’s place. The next morning Marilyn and Trey showed us around Atlanta. After brunch Marilyn had to go to work and Trey came with us back downtown to check out a few more spaces recommended by AC, Nina and Priscilla including Murmur and Mammal. Murmur happened to be hosting a zine fest where we pleasantly ran into Priscilla of Eyedrum once more.
We still wanted to shoot the interview film with Entertainment and after failed attempts to schedule a meet with Bari in the city, we decided to just show up at his house which was the best decision we’ve ever made. The night took a swift turn – loads of drinks, snacks galore, good friends and debates over which songs to play next on YouTube, a tiny herd of Dalmatians, and of course the introduction to Carla the hostess with the mostest who ended up naked within the hour and the return of Marilyn who showed up with a bottle of milk determined to make her first ever White Russian. Bari was very helpful in setting up an impromptu film set in his basement. We finished our interview, had to say goodbye to this beautiful Atlanta family adieu, and began our 12 hour drive to Philly.
Learnings: Atlanta was very welcoming to us. We were not expecting to find much there, but instead we found lot and lots of cute spaces filled with adorable, friendly people. Atlanta is very crafty, very DIY, and a little trashy in all the right ways. The gay/drag scene is alive and well and bathing in it’s own glory. Tons of cute little shops and cafes, oh and… Waffle House as Bari would say, is “the Mecca” of ATL.
↓ URTOURS Atlanta Show Info ↓
Sunday, May 22nd, 2016
Eyedrum (88 Forsyth Street SW)
Facebook Event Page
Philadelphia is a great American city full of great American vibes. We can smell how American it is as soon as you arrive. We drove to straight to Unraveled Artist Caitlin Dagle‘s house in Northern Liberties and stole one of her donuts. She was excited and exhausted and seemed like she had everything under control for our Unraveled show, Life & Death, later that night. So we left and checked into our Airbnb, changed and drove over to the Asian Arts Initiative for load in.
The dancers were all gorgeous, well prepared and did a great job on their performances. Unraveled Musician Corey Pace and Truong Ta arrived late for the show and gave us all a series of little heart attacks but the crew stayed calm and it all worked out. The Life room, designed and choreographed by Caitlin Dagle assisted and accompanied by Emma Arrick and Tess Kunik was decorated with string lights, little old televisions, house lamps, articles of clothing, and old film photographs. It was colorful and eerie. The girls wore white lace and interacted with each other and the audience using body language. The Life room was playful and affectionate.
The Death room was designed and installed by Unraveled Artist Marina Kec who performed alone. She understood Death as a solo experience. Her performance was eerie, dark, heavy, reflective and at moments she felt actually dead or possessed even. She created film clips that were cut together and projected into the space as a representation of memories. A kind of life flashing before your eyes or a nod to the time your brain remains active post mortem.
After the show, we all went out for drinks at Win Win which was super packed and Vid disappeared. Later I found him sitting outside in the cold saying he felt sick, so we left and put sick Vid to sleep which is where he stayed for the rest of our time in Philly. That night Ben and I snuck out to visit with long time friend and collaborator Jade Heshmatpour for good late night conversation, a little Christmas decorating in her new flat and a really unnecessary trip to 7 Eleven where we bought way to many snacks.
The next morning Ben and I went scouting. We started with Eastern State Penitentiary. Then headed to OX Coffee, PhilaMOCA, and ended up eating dinner at National Mechanics before heading back to the Asian Arts Initiative building for the second showing of Life & Death. After the show, musicians Corey Pace and Truong Ta accompanied Benjamen Riggan and I to Frankford Hall where we had as much beer as possible before heading home.
The next morning we stopped at Little Berlin, a co-op exhibition space in Kensington with the cutest landlord ever, and Hazzard Hall, an underground venue running out of a bike rescue repair shop also in Kensington, before hitting the road for the 2 hour drive to NYC.
Learnings: Don’t get sick in Philly in the winter… it’s the worst. Cars are unnecessary, you can call an Uber/taxi or take the metro anywhere. Parking is miserable. Philly is a huge DIY epicenter made of old industrial buildings repurposed to function as spaces which are filled with young experimental artists. Reaching them is best by word of mouth. Philly is a place of friends of friends of friends.
↓ URTOURS Philadelphia Show Info ↓
Tuesday, May 17th, 2016
Hazzard Hall (Kensington, RSVP for exact address)
Facebook Event Page
NEW YORK CITY, NEW YORK
We arrived in NYC just in time for our meeting with House of Yes. Justin was there to greet us and we had to weave through a group of dancers stretching on the floor of their new gorgeous performance space to get to their bar area to talk about what we dreamt of doing with them. House of Yes was outrageously cool before they moved, but now we are in complete awe of them and their ability to continue to grow and develop as an independent performance based experience in the heart of Brooklyn hose art scene is notorious for stunts and quick turnovers.
After the House of Yes we met up with Karna Ray, a good friend and talented artist who used to curate for Unraveled. His girlfriend Kim joined us for some really good beers at Bed-Vyne Brew. We all lost track of time and had to bid each other adieu.
The next day began with walks around the city which led us to Brooklyn again. Vid and I visited Unraveled Artist Tarra Thiessen of Sharkmuffin at her apartment. She was a magical whirlwind of a time and space where the universe collided. Getting dressed for a photo shoot, packing a bag, welcoming traveling guests (not us) into her home, catching up with us and making the time to have a drink at Muchmore’s around the corner (where her band has a drink on the menu named after them which has coffee and wine in it….amaze) all at the the same time. Needless to say we were impressed by her yet again and thankful she made time for us. She even signed one of the Sharkmuffin vinyls for me and I felt totally spoiled.
After she left Kaitlyn Hamilton, good friend and also a past curator for Unraveled, walked through the door at Muchmore’s to meet us and head over to Dead Leaf Echo‘s rehearsal studio space in an old industrial building at the corner of a dark sketchy alley. Kaitlyn, Vid and I were the first outsiders Dead Leaf Echo had allowed into their space during rehearsal. Saying we were honored would be an understatement. After their practice, we shot a short interview video with them and literally almost lit the whole building on fire.
The next day Vid and I traveled to Central Park to have lunch with the lovely Callan Kapush! I was stoked to finally meet this talented creature in person. She was as kind and inspiring as I had imagined and we spent a lot of time talking about her passion for selecting music for TV/Film.
After lunch Vid and I went back to rest our completely exhausted bodies and overly inspired brains for a couple hours before heading out to meet up with Alex and Manny of Nova and Liz, Manny’s girlfriend in Manhattan. We ended up having dinner at a diner in The Village then headed to Fat Cat for a little jazz. Ran around the streets for a few more hours and ended up at a bar where we deliberated about love, music, and real estate before heading to meet up with Ben and our friend Brian at The Box for Marilyn Chen’s performance. We stayed for as long as possible until they let too many people in and some fights broke out and we had to leave. But we did get to see her hanging from some fabric twisting around like a human chandelier above the bar before we left.
The next day was Thanksgiving and our last day in NYC. We enjoyed an unexpectedly gorgeous dinner with friends designed and hosted by our friend Casey and her dog Luna who were letting us stay with them while we were in town. There was too much food and too many drinks followed by quick naps, packing and driving off to a city we threw into this route at the last minute… Detroit.
Learnings: NYC can be the best place in the world if you are there with the right people. We felt blessed to be surrounded by Unraveled Artists and close friends on this trip and look forward to seeing them again. They really made this trip worth making.
↓ URTOURS Brooklyn Show Info ↓
Friday, May 13th, 2016
Muchmore’s (2 Havemeyer Street)
Facebook Event Page
Story coming soon.
↓ URTOURS Detroit Show Info ↓
Friday, May 6th, 2016
Tangent Gallery (715 E Milwaukee Street)
Facebook Event Page