This December I had the opportunity of a lifetime: to go on tour with my favorite band – Jump, Little Children. Now it just so happens, my fiance Evan is IN my favorite band so that would explain why I was presented with said opportunity, but also, they’d decided to reunite after 10 years of being apart. It was bound to be an adventure, and adventure it was – including moving to Charleston for a month, styling the band, riding on a tour bus across the Southeast, getting engaged and watching a community of individuals come together in one big cloud of love, nostalgia, frenzy, and song – all in the name of Jump, Little Children.
FALLING IN LOVE (AGAIN)
My first Jump show was in 2000 at the Georgia Theater in Athens where I grew up. I was riding the high of sneaking into a rock club underage for the first time so I could be romanticizing the feeling a bit, but I remember knowing that what I was experiencing that night was truly special. I distinctly recall Matt belting out Body Parts and my 17-year-old, sheltered brain thinking, “Wow, this exists?!” I moved to New York soon after where I would see Jump shows a couple times a year – they had a small but loyal following there. I might’ve seen a show in Atlanta once when I was home for break, and I made it to one of the beloved acoustic Dock Street performances, as well.
I’m setting up this context to put into perspective how little I’d actually seen the band in their natural habitat of the Southeast. When the tour began, I was 100% taken by surprise – not just at how many people came to the shows from all over the country but also at how fiercely loving and supportive and HUGE the community is that has surged up around Jump, Little Children. There were so many stories I heard of just how important their music has been to people in so many different ways – through friendships, marriages, deaths, births, and breakups. Every show was packed to the gills, sold out, and a full-on love fest among friends that had met because of this band. It was magical – and overwhelming – to witness the nostalgic beast that this reunion tour became.
I saw Jump, Little Children in a whole new light. And I saw Evan in a whole new light. “That’s my man!!,” I’d think, beaming with pride every night. Yes, I attended every single show, marveling at how great they are as musicians, how impactful their creativity has been on so many people, how much Evan has changed as a drummer and how important it was for him to bring that to his music some 10 years later.
Evan and I met nearly 13 years ago at a Jump show in New York City. We were in and out of touch over the years, but it wasn’t until 2012 when I moved to Chicago that we reunited and fell in love. This month we spent in Charleston was momentous because we got engaged, right at the tip of the peninsula where the Cooper and Ashley rivers meet. It was special and private and happy. And Evan was able to introduce me to all of his friends and fans as his fiance, which was important to him as he embarked on this reunion journey.
GOING ON TOUR
That’s right, high-maintenance me hopped right on that tour bus and road along with the band for 5 days. I had a bunk all to myself that, when you pulled the curtain, felt just like a tomb. In the front of the bus was a kitchen/lounge area and a toilet. In the middle, 12 bunks, and in back another lounge with to couchy-benches, a TV and a closet where I hung my strategically packed garment bag filled to the brim with every outfit possibility I might need or want to consider for 5 nights of rock shows.
After a show, we drove all night and arrived at the next venue by morning. The guys had soundcheck while we mere mortal passengers would venture off to hang out with friends in that town or to shop. The highlight of the tour was waking up in Charlotte right in front of a movie theater where we stepped off the bus and into an 11am showing of Star Wars.
Tour Pro-Tips: Here are some rules of touring everyone should know: NO, ABSOLUTELY NO, #2 on the bus – under any circumstances. And DON’T flush the toilet paper, no matter the # you go. One more Belle-specific rule I can personally attest to is that if you plan to wear SPANX under aforementioned rock show outfits, wait to put them on in the spacious venue bathroom – not in the teeny-tiny bus bathroom where you might pull a muscle trying to stuff all your jiggly parts into some tight-ass spandex without falling into the toilet.
STYLING THE BAND
The last time the band had been onstage together was ten years ago. Being the pushy (and stylish) broad that I am, I insisted to Evan that we arrive in Charleston armed with a boat-load of coordinated accessories to dress the guys in for each of the shows. I had no idea if they’d go for it, but I was hoping that somehow, we might sneak the idea of a cohesive look into their minds. It was ten years later after all – they’d grown up and I thought they should look the part with a sexy-meets-rocker-meets-nerd vibe. So, I sought reinforcements at my favorite go-to place for men’s’ accessories, The Tie Bar. They are the absolute BEST for reasonably priced pocket squares, skinny ties, bowties, tie clips, boutonnieres, etc.
The Church and Queen tour website, logo and other branding were all in a simple black and red, so I thought they should keep that color palette going for all their accoutrements and hoped that they’d keep their clothing within those boundaries, too. I asked Evan to do my bidding by selling it to the guys in musical terms: Think of what we wear in these shows like improvising in a song. As long as you know the key, anything you play within that will sound good and purposeful. In other words, keep it black, white, gray, red, burgundy, pink or anywhere in between, and they were bound to look incredible…They bought it! And they looked amazing. Here is a sampling of what they each wore. You can click through to purchase any if you’re so inclined.
It’s highly likely not a soul noticed the coordination of the branding to the clothes, or even the clothes at all. But that doesn’t mean my efforts were in vain – it means they worked! The idea was to create a cohesive environment onstage, where all you saw and heard and felt was the band as one, amazing whole. Plus, who doesn’t like a gingham boutonniere?!
LIVING IN CHARLESTON
In order for the guys to reunite and practice, we had to move back to the scene of their crimes, Charleston, for the month of December. I loved every second of it. It was warm, friendly and chock-full of live music on any given day. It was a refreshing reprieve from the chilly winter of the Midwest, and several of our Chicago friends made it down to the shows to enjoy it with us.
Spending time in Charleston was also very important to me personally because of the history that comes with it. Not only is it now the place where we were engaged, but I wanted to get to know Charleston well since Evan had spent so much of his life there. This included visiting his favorite restaurants, meeting his friends, and seeing the church and other sites his father had restored.
But I also needed to get to know Charleston because of its role in America’s history. I studied slavery extensively in college as part of my American Studies degree and spent a small portion of my senior year studying in Ghana, visiting two forts that were the departing point for slaves being sent to North and South America. One of the places where those departing ships could’ve landed was at Fort Moultrie on Sullivan’s Island, just outside of Charleston. It was the largest slave port in North America and according to the museum’s literature, it is believed that almost half of all African-Americans would have an ancestor who would’ve passed through Sullivan’s Island. To have stood on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean at these departure and receiving points was an important journey I needed to make in my never-ending quest to understand this part of America’s history. I spent a day alone exploring the sparse sight, and also visited the slave mart museum, Boone Hall Plantation, and other sights in downtown Charleston. It was a quiet and meaningful moment in my life.
Needless to say – Charleston has become a very special place for me, and I hope it won’t be the last time we return for a reunion of the band. I’m sure I’m not alone in that sentiment.
Thank you for reading this ever-so-lengthy post. If you made it through – congratulations, you deserve a medal. Knowing this particular post might’ve attracted more readers than normally visit my blog, I’ll say to you that I do hope you’ll return for more posts to come and for all the style and beauty advice this modest blog already has to offer. Thank you to Jump for letting me force my stylings upon them and for sharing their music and personalities with us all.
Photo credit: NB Photography for all stage shots.