North Carolina bands making the best of life on the road

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You might think it’s tough for a band on the road. Imagine being on the side of the road.

That’s where the van carrying Junior Astronomers broke down, right there along Interstate 95 in Delaware — on the way from Saturday’s show in Richmond, Va., to the Sunday night date in Philadelphia.

Fortunately, the guys in Junior Astronomers are touring with the four members of It Looks Sad, who were traveling in another van.

“They called us and since we had a trailer hitch, we went back and got them and the trailer,” said Justin Brown, the bass player for It Looks Sad. “Triple A towed their van, and we got them to the show. I was surprised we got there on time.”

This afternoon, the four guys in It Looks Sad and the four guys in Junior Astronomers — “and Terrence’s roommate, Rob” — woke up in Philly, piled into the working van and made the trip across Pennsylvania for tonight’s show at Garfield Artworks.

“Tuesday is a day off, so we’re going to have to come back across the state again,” Mr. Brown said. “It’s going to be kind of tricky, but we can do it. Besides, our show on Wednesday is in Brooklyn.

“The truth is, I’m enjoying this a lot. I really like traveling. It’s crazy to wake up in a different city every day. Sure, things happen, like with the van. But I have no problem with it.”

Both bands call Charlotte, N.C., home. Junior Astronomers — Terrence Richard, Philip Wheeler, Colin Watts and Eli Pittman — make up the more experienced group, having toured before, including stops in Pittsburgh. It Looks Sad is just leaving the nest.

“We did a short tour in January to South Carolina for three shows,” Mr. Brown said. “It went really well.

“This is our first real tour where we’re gone for more than just one weekend playing in more than one state. This is insane to me right now. A few days ago I was home working at a hotel near one of the malls. Now, I’m a few states away getting ready to play a show in my hometown.”

That’s right. Mr. Brown, who turns 22 on Wednesday, is from Pittsburgh.

“I’m excited about this show because I was born in Pittsburgh. The Homestead area, near The Waterfront,” he said. “I would visit Pittsburgh in the summers. My grandma and them now live over off Carson Street, so they’re all going to come to the show.”

The other members of It Looks Sad are lead guitarist Josh Wilson, drummer Garrett Herzfeld, and Jimmy Turner on vocals and guitar.

“I actually learned bass from the bass player with Junior Astronomers,” Mr. Brown said. “Beyond that, it was just a lot of practice and YouTube videos.

“We write our own stuff. I think we played one cover ever, and that was like our third show because we didn’t have enough songs. But we haven’t played a cover since. Everything’s original.”

Their sound would be described as “indie-pop.”

“In the beginning, a lot of the songs were heavily surfy kind of Beach Boy-esque,” Mr. Brown said. “We’ve still kept that aspect because we like that music. But it’s starting to mature. It’s not super rowdy music or dancy. But people do move to it. It’s not chill music.”

Joining the guys from North Carolina on the bill tonight will be musicians William Forrest Jr. and Ferdinand The Bull. It Looks Sad is slated to be the second act; Junior Astronomers will play third.

“They are the one of the biggest bands in Charlotte, so when we play down there, they’re headliners,” Mr. Brown said of Junior Astronomers. “We’ve known them for a while. They were one of the first shows I started going to.

“They decided to take us under their wing and help us out. Anytime they have big shows, they invite us to play.”

And when their van breaks down, they know who to call.

Tonight’s show at Garfield Artworks, 4931 Penn Ave., starts at 7.

There is a $5 cover and the bands are selling some merchandise — to help pay to get that van fixed.

Dan Majors:

First Published February 17, 2014 4:01 PM

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