It takes a great deal of determination and love for your craft to wake up everyday and go share your dream with the world. Dream chasing is no foreign concept to myself, so to see a group of guys travel thousands of miles to put on the best performance possible and interact with the fans that connect to their vision is a powerful sight to see.
With the first show of the tour under their belts, we loaded back into the van and hit the road to University of Wisconsin - Stevens Point, which showed me the full college experience I never had. Pre-show accommodations included cheap beers in the student run cafe and a stack of cheese pizzas that solidified our surroundings. Emilie Brandt, a dark and gloomy alt rock vocalist, would warm up the room before the guys hit the stage. Within the first few beats of their retro inspired opening sample, The Millenium instantly switched the vibe from the darker end of musical spectrum to their signature golden feel.
Following yet another enthusiastic performance from the gang, we were welcomed into the home of a fan who direct messaged the guys on twitter to crash for the night. See as it was a Saturday night in a college town, we were determined to find some action for the night. Half of us would venture out and find a wall-to-wall packed house party, complete with an amazing jam band rocking the basement. The cops showed up twice, but with no concern to our legally drinking selves. The night was completed with an extremely sloppy journey to a Taco Bell that serves until 5 a.m. which was just as big of a hot mess as one might imagine.
Next up was the journey back to Eau Claire, where I noticed that with each mile traveled seemed to fill the hungover group with an upbeat and comfortable energy to be en route to their hometown. With support again from Whosah plus John Chuck & The Class, the evening was all lined up for a high energy showing. The guys were completely in their element, chatting with familiar faces and seemingly relaxing in a space they had gotten to know very well.
The stage was set, with the addition of a speaker wall capable of rocking a medium sized nightclub that was necessity for The Millenium's massive live sound. Each opening act seemed to perform with more enthusiasm and energy than the few nights prior. Maybe it was just the vibe of the night, but everyone seemed in great spirits for a Sunday. The guys took the stage and fed the worked up crowd just what they had been waiting for, hitting them with a perfect balance of new music and crowd favorites that hadn't been seen live since their massive New Years Eve show in the very same room.
Eau Claire was also home to an intensely talented photographer and fellow Millenium collaborator, Kyle Lehman. Any Millenium fan has been subject to his work, having been used by the guys for both album artwork and live stills. I had been a big fan of Lehman's art for a long while now, so to finally meet him in person was a great experience. Being able to hear a fellow photographer attest to the same trials and tribulations of the field and catch a glimpse into his personal journey was a truly inspiring conversation piece.
After three straight days of getting to document this crew of guys, I was gaining a very deep insight into how much of a family they really are. Their balance of exuding professionalism and personality is undeniable, as Casey often would tell me, they pride themselves on the "work hard, play hard" mentality. I found that to be an extremely genuine statement.
For once, I was surrounded by a collection of people that are all chasing a dream and putting their heart and soul into presenting it. We are all artists with a different medium, but the objective is still the same. We all get out of bed every day because we love what we do. We are all professionals trying to make a living off of the skills that excite us; the work that brings us true happiness. After a few days off, I would rejoin the goon squad for a monumental show in Chicago that would see a new chapter in this band's journey.