On Tour with Baby Yaga: January 2024 (Photos + Recap)

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  • 16
    #2089
    sgmgmt
    Participant
    Rank: Crisp Air
    Points: 83.5

    On Tour with Baby Yaga: January 2024 (Photos + Recap)
    Published: March 8, 2024

    With Baby Yaga at Ace’s Pizza in Brooklyn, NY. Photo by Sarah Grace Sherbondy (@sg.mgmt).

    On August 19, 2023, I met the long-distance (Charleston, Asheville, and New York) members of Baby Yaga when they performed at Extra Chill Fest at the Charleston Pour House. Soon I convinced them to let me take the position of booking agent and to tag along as tour manager for a few dates of their January 2024 East Coast tour. 

    The don’t give a fuck fem-rock four-some has historically come together once a year for a week-ish long tour, and I was delighted to join them for these dates.

    This piece includes quotes and references from Baby Yaga’s drummer, and my roommate Alex Brouwer, whom I had the chance to sit down with for a one-on-one interview, to give me his perspective on the tour and some inside scoop on details exclusive to the band. 

    Be prepared for some witty remarks from this guy.  

    Charleston folks-  lead vocalist Presley Randall and drummer Alex Brouwer of Baby Yaga will be performing at Extra Chill’s The First Cut Is The Deepest (a 90s tribute show) at The Music Farm on April 5th. 

    Tickets and more info here

    Arriving in New York (January 3,2024)

    Alex, Presley, and I, who made the trip from down south flooded in a couple of days before the first show of the tour, making room for some rehearsal time and plenty of New York shenanigans.

    Upon arrival in the city we (Brouwer and myself) were quickly humbled by the reality of navigating the train route from our hotel in Manhattan to the rehearsal space in Brooklyn. 

    Never underestimate travel time when it comes to this place– especially after you’ve smoked a joint (or two).

    While we treated our directional disorientation with a cigarette on the corner, we found ourselves on the Upper East Side. After almost two hours of being ambiguously lost, we eventually mustered up the brain cells to [swiftly] reach our destination– Red Note Rehearsal Studios

    The band– Avery Greeson (guitar), Presley Randall (vocals, guitar), Gee Peralta (bass), and Alex Brouwer (drums)– were now united, and the tour was in full swing. 

    Baby Yaga rehearsal in Brooklyn. Photo by Sarah Grace Sherbondy.
    Baby Yaga rehearsal in Brooklyn. Photo by Sarah Grace Sherbondy.

    After making it to rehearsal by the skin of our teeth, we made the obligatory rounds to a few respectable Brooklyn spots, including bassist Gee Peralta’s workplace (one of many) at Ace’s Pizza

    The evening consisted of many bottles of red wine, conversing over details of the upcoming week, and ultimately taking full advantage of a city where the bars close at 4 am. 

    Taking precedence the next day were the necessary stops at local thrifts, record stores, and Good Hands Drum Shop– adjacent to Madison Square Garden.

    January 5th – Brooklyn, NY (Gold Sounds Bar)

    Now that our tourist thirsts were quenched, it was time to make way to Brooklyn to prepare for the first show of tour at Gold Sounds, a dive bar located in a quaint area of Bushwick.

    Pre-performance antics were held at the apartment of our friends from Whitehall (including Avery Greeson of Baby Yaga), who were the secret guests on the lineup that evening. 

    Tequila shots were taken, invitation texts were flowing, and while the bathroom remained occupied for some last-minute shadow-shaving from the boys– it was time to make our trek to Gold Sounds.

    When our crew of Charlestonians and former Charlestonians arrived at the venue, we were pleased to find that it had everything we could need to feel right at home– a pool table, stocked bar, a stage, and green room. 

    But we were missing something: the sound guy. 

    In definitive tour manager fashion, I proceeded to make my rounds politely lighting a small fire under the asses of venue management– while Paddy of Whitehall was “very surprisingly smoking everyone at pool,” said Brouwer. 

    After an hour or so of slight panic, the long-bearded sound guy walked in nonchalantly, did his thing, and I could breathe again. No beef, he was a really chill dude. 

    Show goers arrived to the venue later than anticipated, so we decided to push showtime an hour later, with Whitehall kicking off the bill at 10 pm. 

    Whitehall

    After opening a total of sixteen dates with the Goo Goo Dolls on their Chaos in Bloom Tour back in 2022, these guys had an elevated aptitude for craftsmanship since I last saw them perform at the 1770 Records Boat Show in Charleston (2019). 

    The group performed an array of tracks, stretching from their 2018 record Ocean Fiction to their forty-minute LP Maizy, which was released last May. Setting the bar high for the night.

    Whitehall – Live @ Gold Sounds (Photos)

    Photos by Sarah Grace Sherbondy (@sg.mgmt).

    Baby Yaga

    Headliners, Baby Yaga, didn’t take long to coerce the sociable crowd to engage with their distinct, patriarchal-challenging vivacity. 

    But not without some first show nerves: “I was a little intimidated,” said Brouwer as he inhaled his cigarette, “it took me on drums several minutes to really get my nerve about me,” as he talked about following the act. 

    Listeners were treated to lead guitarist Avery Greeson’s (also of Whitehall) seizing riffs – not to mention the endless supply of hair-flowing snapshots, Gee’s simultaneous silent echo of every lyric, Randall’s blunt songwriting, self-taught guitar technique, and gritty stage presence, and of course, Alex Brouwer’s shirtless drumming.

    Aside from two broken guitar strings five minutes in, the tour was off to a notable start.  

    Baby Yaga – Live at Gold Sounds (Photos)

    Photos by Sarah Grace Sherbondy (@sg.mgmt).

    Hailey’s Comet (Photos)

    We kept it tight-knit for this show and asked Whitehall’s neighbors, Hailey’s Comet, to close out the night. The Brooklyn-based heady fem-punk group was a definite highlight of the night, peaking the capacity of the space with their many friends who showed up to support. Not knowing what to expect without the newly-formed band’s music on platforms, I was beyond impressed. To put it minimally, they fucking rocked. 

    Leaving New York in a Snowstorm

    Hungover or not, it was time to say goodbye to first-show-glamor. Philly was the next stop– and a snowstorm hit New York at the exact hour the designated 10-person van was heading towards departure. 

    I was on my separate megabus journey, traveling to D.C. early to spend some time with family and friends, and would meet back up with the group in Asheville. We all battled the snowstorm getting out of New York, and the band continued on with shows in Philadelphia, D.C., and Nashville.

    Brouwer noted how New York had already salted the subway steps to prepare for the conditions, before the storm had even arrived. “That’s when my southern mind clicked that these guys know what’s comin’, and that we have no idea,” he said. “There was some occasional seriousness while Avery was manning the wheel, but we made it to Philly eventually.” 

    January 6th –  Philadelphia, PA (NEON JUNGLE)

    In Philadelphia, Baby Yaga were set to perform at Neon Jungle, an iconic venue known for its authentic punk pull, in terms of the locals that remain loyal to the DIY basement concept– even during the peak of a heavy snowstorm.

    “You could tell that the people who were there were the people who REALLY knew about it– We received kosher Philly underground punk rock treatment,” Alex said.  

    January 7th – Washington, D.C. (The Classroom)

    Approaching the tail end of the first leg, the band made their way to Washington, D.C.

    Baby Yaga’s first time playing in the city with drummer Alex Brouwer, calling the show “the most special house show we’ve ever played.” 

    D.C., in particular, was a key point in the tour in terms of DIY show culture. 

    The Classroom is a homegrown venue in Hyattsville, MD – a little brick house in the suburbs outside of the city. A hub I discovered in the deep depths of Instagram during the process of finding a spot to book in the area. 

    Baby Yaga were pleasantly surprised about the venue, and found themselves well accommodated.

    “I mean this place was intensely furbished,” Alex recalls. “The basement was a designated green room, nice backline gear, and high-end equipment to live stream the entire show.” 

    His face lit up, “Uniquely the people there were 100% there for the music. There wasn’t a lot of room to dance or go crazy. It was more encouraged as a listening room.”

    “It was amazing – the host would usher people in the room when it was time to start each set, and they all just sweat off the band’s body heat.”

    “Personally and culturally as a punk-rock musician, it’s a place that feels like home,” he concluded.

    The show was also live streamed, and family members of the band including Presley’s grandma were able to tune in. A rare occasion that made this night in D.C. even more special. 

    See the live streamed show below, with Baby Yaga’s set starting around 1 hour and 6 minutes. 

    Live @ The Classroom (Massie, Baby Yaga, Eyefish Ink)

    Baby Yaga – Live @ The Classroom (Photos)

    Photos by Keith Colón (@filmic_standard).

    Day Off in D.C. – Jan 8th

    The band had the following day off, and were excited to spend some time in Georgetown, where some family members were putting the crew up. “My uncle really treated us. We were introduced to D.C.’s version of southern cuisine and ate our body weight in ribs,” Alex recalled. 

    While the band prepared to hit the road for the next stop, Nashville, the weather forecast again took a turn for the worse. As if one storm encounter wasn’t enough, there was another system moving through.

    However, feeling revitalized from some family time and familiar foods, not to mention having already battled a snowstorm in New York just a few days prior, the group was ready, and the van hit the road again. 

    Another Stormy Travel Day – Jan 9th

    “It didn’t take long into the drive for us to pass a couple flipped cars and multiple EMS,” Alex recalls. “The radar behind us was turning purple as we were traveling south… It got scary.” 

    With conditions worsening, tornadoes and blizzard conditions on the radar, and not likely to improve until morning, the band made the decision to pit stop at Presley’s house in Asheville for the night.

    Alex knew they were home as the van approached the Bojangles in Asheville. “There was a break in the storm and a beacon of light peeking through the clouds,” he paused to reminisce on the memory, “It was pretty goddamn scenic.” 

    However, Bojangles was closed, and they settled for Waffle House instead. “Both equally respectable,” he clarified. 

    January 10th – Nashville, TN (The Cobra)

    The next day, the storm had cleared up and the band was set to play at the hole-in-the-wall punk bar,The Cobra, located in East Nashville. They woke up and drove the remaining five or so hours from Asheville. 

    While arriving at The Cobra  just in time for sound check, the gang reconnected with friends, some new and some tracking back to high school. Similarly to New York, I wanted to keep the bill composed of a friendly circle, if possible– so we asked some local homies from Hell Frog and Pierce Alexander to join the Wednesday night show. 

    Pierce Alexander in Nashville. Taylor Flynn (@taylorkflynn).

    Recent ex-Charlestonian Pierce Alexander opened up the evening, and Alex was pleased to report that Nashville seems to be rubbing off on him. 

    “Pierce played a Depeche Mode tune and murdered it. There was a different edge to his music I noticed now that he’s out there in Nashville,” Brouwer said. 

    Baby Yaga @ The Cobra (Photos)

    Photos by Taylor Flynn (@taylorkflynn).

    January 12th, 2024 – Asheville, NC (Static Age Records)

    Another day off followed the show in Nashville, and Baby Yaga spent it traveling back to North Carolina. Then, they proceeded to get maniacally drunk on organic tequila and have a dance party in Presley’s living room. 

    “Responsibly, of course, because the next day we were finishing writing our new track, ‘XBOX,’” Alex concluded.

    The morning of the Asheville show enfolded around decent showers, a brimful breakfast of bacon, eggs, and mimosas– along with booking a rehearsal space to tighten up the new song.

    This space was none other than Sound Space, where drummer Claude Coleman Jr. of Ween is an advent member within the community of Asheville. “I wrote the drum parts of a Baby Yaga number on the drums that were used for Ween’s Chocolate and Cheese album (1994),” Brouwer reminisced on the experience.  

    The North Carolina music scene is special in its own right, with bands across the state willing to travel to the various districts, permitting a certain intertwined show culture.

    The evening kicked off at the multi-communal space that runs synchronously as a record shop and live music venue (with a bar)– Static Age Records, located in the heart of downtown Asheville. 

    Paper Pills @ Static Age Records (Photos)

    The AVL local alt-rock group Paper Pills opened up the show and proved to be a recognizable emo staple in the punk scene, with fervent vocals that apprehended maximum excitement from the [younger] crowd.

    Photos by Sarah Grace Sherbondy (@sg.mgmt).

    Baby Yaga

    The touring four sprinkled in their newly finished single “XBOX,” a tune written by Randall about wanting to break the Xbox of a fling who couldn’t quite figure out the appropriate ratio of time to spend with the girl in his room versus his Xbox– a tale in which far too many women are seasoned. 

    “It was one of the more widely, prolifically perceived tunes we’ve played in a while,” said Alex. 

    Their set that Friday was the most concrete from the tour. It was obvious that even while being divided by distance, they’d still surpassed the peak compatibility that Baby Yaga reputed so effortlessly.

    Baby Yaga @ Static Age Records (Photos)

    Photos by Grace Kreider (@grakhopper).

    Local NC psych-fuzz group Rugg closed out the night– a band I was connected with through a fellow booking agent in Charleston. 

    We held the after-party at Presleys with no shortage of organic tequila, couch sleepers, or a good time. 

    The next day was the last stop of the week-long tour. 

    January 13th, 2024 – Raleigh, NC (The Wedge)

    The drive to Raleigh was a different kind of challenge compared to the last few—this time with pinnacle sunlight and potent hangovers. 

    The point of the tour when remembering that the people you’ve been in a van with for the last 10 days are some of your best friends is key. 

     A few of us pulled up to a hidden cul-de-sac near the campus of UNC Raleigh and arrived at our destination, The Wedge—or so we thought.

    We saw around ten dudes setting up a tarp behind this giant elevated stage with light racks nestled against the street. We gave each other the ‘holy shit’ look as this setup combined two houses, likely bringing the total capacity over 900. 

    After more than twenty minutes of puzzlingly helping them set up, “We look around at the people going in the house and realize these people aren’t coming’ to see us,” Brouwer laughed at the awkward moment. We had arrived at the frat party by mistake. 

    Eventually, we got called over by the host of the venue across the street and brought back to the reality of a DIY house show. We were relieved to see a familiar hardcore setup. 

     With a frat rager happening directly across the road, we were a little nervous about what the turnout would be like, but we were quickly reassured when the masses rushed in twenty minutes before the first band’s set.

    Hound

    The fourth band (Woah) got a flat tire on the road and had to cancel their appearance, so our Charleston friends from the heady punk band Hound ripped the first chords of the night instead. 

    “I had to really switch my mind,” Brouwer recalled, “going from playing Baby Yaga tracks all week to getting behind drums with Hound.”

    The first round of crowd-surfing was checked off the list, and Baby Yaga took the stage with an exuberant audience, ready for whatever came next. 

    Hound @ The Wedge (Photos)

    Photos by Studio Eterna (@studioeternaofficial).

    Baby Yaga

    With the host already calling the lineup “the most hardcore we’ve ever had,” Baby Yaga hit the platform.

    The touring band played classics like “Dog House,” a personal favorite of mine, and cranked out their most recently recorded single “Pretty Boy.”.

    The crowd was fully engaged, missing the perp who took it upon themselves to cash in at the merch booth, getting away with merchandise from some of the bands

    After thanking the energetic audience for coming out, Baby Yaga could now commemorate yet another successful tour—minus a stolen t-shirt or two. 

    Baby Yaga @ The Wedge (Photos)

    Photos by Grace Kreider (@grakhopper).

    Caelifera

    Being the band that had the most merch stolen from them, they had an elevated, rapturous rage and didn’t take long in setting off the crowd by chanting “fuck you” to the loser who did it. 

    Caelifera capped the angsty set with an Iggy Pop edge while also exceptionally pulling off covers like Limp Bizkit’s 1999 hit “Break Stuff.” 

    Testing the capacity of the venue, we had reached the highest number of tickets sold on the tour—around 200. The Wedge is a notable venue that deserves serious recognition within the Southeastern House Show locale. 

    Caelifera @ The Wedge (Photos)

    Photos by Studio Eterna (@studioeternaofficial).

    Going Home

    The next day was delegated to making sure everybody had the right gear. Bags were packed, and Baby Yaga went their separate ways back to their respective homes — until the next tour.

    0
    #2227
    JerryGarcia
    Captain Trips
    Rank: Droplet
    Points: 16.5

    What an awesome tour writeup! Love to see how you not only booked the tour for this band, but joined them on the road and documented the experience. This is the kind of stuff that immortalizes the music for generations to come.

    I for one (the ghost of Jerry Garcia) would like to see more of this kind of content from Extra Chill!

    Also notice how when I reply to this article, it gets pushed back to the top of the list! How cool is that for a way to continuously promote articles?

    0
    #2267
    sgmgmt
    Participant
    Rank: Crisp Air
    Points: 83.5

    JerryGarcia said:

    What an awesome tour writeup! Love to see how you not only booked the tour for this band, but joined them on the road and documented the experience. This is the kind of stuff that immortalizes the music for generations to come.

    I for one (the ghost of Jerry Garcia) would like to see more of this kind of content from Extra Chill!

    Also notice how when I reply to this article, it gets pushed back to the top of the list! How cool is that for a way to continuously promote articles?

    Thanks so much, love to see this type of article connecting with people!

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