In Flight: An Immortal Bird Tour Diary

Photo by Caroline Harrison

Noah knew the flood was over when the dove returned to the ark, but connoisseurs of dark art and smart, punishing, multidimensional songwriting received an even more heartening sign that some small semblance of normalcy might be returning to what’s left of our current lives when the mighty Immortal Bird once again alighted on a quintet of stages a couple weeks back with Witching, Pyrrhon, Lo-Pan, and others.

On the first night of the tour, Decibel reached out to Rae Amitay to see if the vocalist/composer/Berklee-trained multi-instrumentalist might be willing to document this long-delayed flight of sublime blackened death-grind madness. As Instagram videos and the following tour diary clearly demonstrate, the “stumbling toward catharsis” on this run was more like a full frontal assault.

Oh, and Amitay also sent along a killer Spotify tour van playlist as well, which. you’ll find embedded below. How cool is that?

Monday, November 29th – Columbus, OH (Ace of Cups with Lo-Pan)

Night one. Always an interesting choice to start a tour on a Monday. We drove in from Chicago, our tourmates Witching came in from Philly. Our good friends in Lo-Pan played with us and it was their first show back since The Before Times — They sounded killer and it was so great to see them all again. Witching absolutely destroyed and I listened to their vocalist Qui in total awe. Her voice is so versatile, I love it. I have a short attention span and I’m easily distracted — s/o Strattera! It’s not working! — but I was rapt for their whole set. As for us, I liked the way we sounded and we felt pretty good about how we played. After being blessed with a mini feast of vegan pierogies from Pierogi Mountain, we headed to our friend Chris’ house (of Lo-Pan), went in on some Taco Bell (fourth meal!), hugged his dog, and tried to get as much sleep as we could before our very smart and super geographically-minded drive to Brooklyn the next day!

Van Jams: Genesis, Flo Milli, Rico Nasty, Mavis Staples

Tuesday, November 30th – Brooklyn, NY (Saint Vitus with Pyrrhon)

I knew this show was going to be full of friends and it didn’t disappoint. I’ve known Doug from Pyrrhon since I was a college student writing album reviews and barely starting to think about starting something of my own. It’s been so cool to see what he’s created and taken part in throughout the years and I’m grateful our bands have been able to tour and play together as often as we have. Their set was electrifying and powerful — The chaos they allow you to witness is perfectly harnessed and intentionally released for the greatest possible impact. Witching brought their A-game as well, no surprise there. They have such a natural performance style, nothing forced or choreographed, and always engaging.

I also got to see Frank Huang (Maximum Volume Silence Live, Relapse, etc) who I met for the first time as a fill-in drummer passing through Saint Vitus with Mares of Thrace. I’m at an age now where I can look back on a decade of touring and the friendships that have endured since the start are more meaningful than ever now that we all know better than to take tour friends for granted. The show was a lot of fun, we had a vegan cheese party in the basement afterwards — then after a long farewell with Pyrrhon, we headed to KILLADELPHIA.

Van Jams: SBTRKT, Metric, Guided By Voices, Deftones

Wednesday, December 1st – Philadelphia PA (Kung Fu Necktie with Lastima)

John and I started the day off right by going to Grindcore House with Qui and getting some dank coffee, vegan breakfast sandwiches, and baked goods.

A crew of us then assembled and went to Triangle Tavern for vegan and non-vegan Philly fare. After a very chill day indeed, we headed to Fishtown. We knew the show was going to be good — it’s a familiar and friendly city to us — but Witching has hometown love and respect that was both heartwarming and thought-provoking to witness. KFN was packed. I think we all had a really fun time onstage and it was just a blast overall. We’ve always had good shows in Philly but I think this was my favorite.

Van Jams: Young Dolph, Nine Inch Nails, The Cardigans, Sunless

Thursday, December 2nd – Washington, DC (Atlas Brew Works with Skaldr)

Photo by Melissa Suarez

DC is my hometown of sorts — I grew up in Northern Virginia — and I was really excited to come back to Atlas Brew Works. They’re the kind of space that the DC area really needs and I’m glad so many bands have been playing there and having a good experience. Before we got there, we hit up the US National Arboretum and frolicked around some bonsai trees (respectfully) and had our picture taken by two people who were clearly tripping absolute balls. (This was made clear to us when we were later eating lunch outside and saw them caressing and kissing a tree.)

The show itself was cool, my brother and one of my best friends from high school came out and that was really special. This was a show where I felt, very strongly, that three band bills on weeknights are pretty damn sick. I also started to feel the Post-Tour Blues creeping in, as there was only the Pittsburgh show left. Those thoughts were soon obliterated when we got to my brother’s house and did about forty billion dabs. We started watching The Platform but I bailed before something happened to the dog. IYKYK.

Van Jams: MF DOOM, Mitski, Failure, Inter Arma

Friday, December 3rd – Pittsburgh, PA (Cattivo with Mold Farmer)

This show went through a couple of iterations before ending up at Cattivo, but we were happy it did. We played there at Steel & Bone Fest with Tomb Mold and Horrendous a couple of years ago and it was a great time. Our label (20 Buck Spin) is based out of Pittsburgh but for whatever reason it’s felt like a second home since we started playing in 2014. Lots of friends at this one, too, and I think we were all feeling pretty emotional about such a short and sweet run coming to an end. I was so into Witching’s set, and I was dreading their last song. They played beautifully and the crowd was SUPER into them. We gave it everything we had in honor of our tourmates, postponed our goodbyes as long as possible, and finally got ourselves into the van for a reflective little drive to our motel. We couldn’t have asked for better touring partners and I think we all needed this more than we realized.

Van Jams: The Mercury Program, Dinosaur Jr., Thantifaxath, Nasum

Observations on the elephant in the room (her name is COVID)

All of our venues on the tour had vaccine and mask requirements but the level at which that was enforced was inconsistent. Mask use was very low in certain places. Our full band would be wearing them and people would generally not put theirs on when interacting with us. The overall vibe at shows was very much, “COVID is over, the vaccine makes you immortal, everything is normal” and that was surreal. This is all still extremely precarious and I’m grateful that we had such an overwhelmingly positive experience. Not every band that has gone out in the last couple of months has been as fortunate. We’re not out of the woods, but we’re in them together — Get your boosters, kids.