Evolution of New Orleans’ Stoop Kids: Part 4
Hitting The Road
Words & Photography by Katie Sikora
In the French Quarter of New Orleans there is a dim venue soaked in red light called One Eyed Jacks, and in April of last year, Stoop Kids played a show there opening for another local band. The green room at this particular club is a narrow stretch of room located behind the stage with a leather sofa, round light bulbs suspended above a long makeup mirror, and isn’t green in the least. At some point during the second set, I made my way to the green room and found all five Stoop Kids huddled in a somber pack, staring at Patrick as he spoke quietly to the rest of the band. The heavy tone in the room was palpable but after backtracking back out onto the wings of the stage, the moment dissipated, never to be mentioned again.
Not. A month and a week later, I would find out exactly what had been discussed in that secret meeting in the green room at One Eyed Jacks.
Out Of Time
The five boys of Stoop Kids graduated Loyola University New Orleans on May 9, 2015. Against his wishes, Pat’s mom insisted he take graduation photos and he hired me.
He and I had just wrapped the shoot and were walking out of Audubon Park in Uptown New Orleans, heading to our respective cars, when he turned to me and said, “I just wanted to let you know that I quit the band.” He continued on to tell me that he would be finishing out their booked shows through the middle of summer and that the new bassist taking his place would be a long time friend of the band, a talented musician named Sam (I told you we were getting there). It was sad news to hear, but for two reasons I remained calm. The first reason was that as the journalist documenting the reality behind the glossy exterior of this band, I needed to remain neutral and simply photograph the things that were actually happening versus a preconceived story molded into a pretty package. But the second reason was far more important. I knew that as one band member took his leave, there were four other Stoop Kids having to say goodbye.
Two days later, I was climbing into a 15-seater van with the first and last rows taken out to make room for gear and a futon mattress, otherwise known as the Stoop Kids’ primary mode of transportation. One person driving, one person in the passenger seat, two in the backseat, and two outstretched on the floor with all the musical gear in back and a myriad of backpacks, shoes, and pillows filling the rest of the open space in the van.
We drove three hours to our first destination, a bar and music venue called Luna Live in Lake Charles, a small city in western Louisiana. This was only my second time leaving New Orleans with any artist but compared to what was in store the following night, Luna was a relatively tame show. I napped backstage during the opening act, the boys played their set, we stole a small fortune of beer from the club, and the van got re-loaded. We left Lake Charles at two in the morning, driving over the border into the enigma that is Beaumont, Texas.
Stepping into the Logon Cafe is like stepping into an alternate universe. Everything you think you know about the state of Texas disappears. I have met some of the most incredible, creative, and arguably insane people there, most prominent of which are one of the owners, a brilliantly crazy and beautiful woman by the name of Chantell, and her boyfriend, Eliot, who to this day is one of the smartest people I have ever conversed with. Chantell is the face and lifeblood that keeps it breathing. She books all the shows and events and hosts every band that walks through the doors in her own home on the Neches river. On this trip, however, the river had flooded an inordinate amount, preventing anyone, including Chantell and Eliot, from accessing it. Stoop Kids had already played the Logon multiple times up to this point and had thus built an impressive following for an out-of-town band in this Texas border town.
One of those fans turned friend is Tack, a self-trained makeup artist with a genuine heart and an unprecedented style, and at 4:00 AM, we piled out of the van and into his house, crashing on whatever semi-soft surfaces we met first.
We spent the day of the show eating breakfast at the Logon, making the obligatory trip to Guitar Center, bumming around Tack’s yard, and stopping to hang out in a playground (grownups, am I right?) And then the time came to head back to the Logon for the show.
Traveling to Lake Charles and Beaumont with Stoop Kids was not eye-opening. But that’s only because my eyes were already open. I began this project with a rough idea of what I wanted to accomplish but at all times kept my opinions neutral. When Patrick broke the news to me in the park three days earlier, one of his main concerns for me was how to it would affect my work. The answer is it would not have. Pat could have walked out of the park that day, hopped onto a motorcycle and driven away into the sunset and it not have been a detriment to the final product that I have been presenting to you in pieces these last four months. And that is because the reality is the story.
I am not creating this tale, I’m simply telling it so that readers feel exactly what those moments felt like. And that night, when the five boys took the stage at the Logon and I looked around to see just how many people were there to see them and how many of them were considered friends, I understood what Griffin had told me in the van the day before, “When we go to these small towns, it’s more like a family reunion than a show.”
I think because the lifestyle of a traveling band had become commonplace to them, they were unable to recognize just how special the things they are doing are. Playing a show in your hometown with your friends and people who know who you are in the audience is infinitely easier than packing up all your gear and driving x amount of hours away to a small town where the people have no incentive to support or even like you. It is your job to make those people like you. It’s slightly terrifying when you think about it, but that is exactly what these boys are doing. There is something not quite right about Stoop Kids, and by embracing that weirdness and making it their own brand of normal, others are also welcoming it as normal. These tiny towns have some of their biggest fans and it’s magical to watch. Having the ability to forge relationships and bonds with people because of something you have created is powerful. Stoop Kids have that power.
The Last Show
The end of the set in Beaumont led to an celebratory after-party at Tack’s house, ending at no-one-remembers in the morning so waking up a few hours later was an ordeal. There were Legos and gold glitter everywhere (what did I say about grownups?), but the house was eventually picked up, showers were taken, and five very tired boys and their very tired photographer got in a van and drove four hours back to New Orleans, stopping only for pancakes at Cracker Barrel. The weekend was a brand new and exciting experience that I won’t forget, but it wouldn’t be until much later that I would realize the real importance of that trip: it was the last show I saw Pat play as a member of Stoop Kids.