No one in their right mind should ever desire to go on tour with an emo band. It’s hours in a cramped cargo van with unidentifiable smells, driving to a venue that looks like all the others, loading in impossibly heavy gear, soundchecking longer than your actual set, performing (fun), loading out your gear (less so), sleeping in a hotel if you’re lucky but just as likely a sticky punk house floor, waking up way too early, getting in the van, and doing it all over again the next day.

But no musician is in their right mind, and neither am I. Armed with earplugs and a few Kodak FunSavers, I joined Algernon Cadwallader on the road for a week to document their reunion tour.

For the uninitiated: Algernon Cadwallader, in addition to being a mouthful, is a beloved math-y band from Yardley, PA, credited with kicking off the first of many waves of the emo revival. Formed in 2005 and named for the first mayor of their hometown, the band started with Colin Mahony and Joe Reinhart on guitars, Peter Helmis on vocals and bass, and Nick Tazza on drums. Nick left and Matt “Tank” Bergman took over. Colin left and was irreplaceable, so they ended as a trio. (What that says about Joe, nobody knows, and I didn’t ask, because I didn’t want to be stranded in a Wawa parking lot.)

I never saw Algernon before they went away in 2012, but I knew about them. Everyone in Philadelphia knew about them. (Ed. note: And Scott knows everyone in Philadelphia, so that’s saying something.) AC built the stage for a generation of emo-y DIY bands to follow, an influence so palpable “Philly” became an indie rock genre unto itself.

I eventually became acquainted with members of the band over the intervening years via their various other musical projects (Helmis, Tazza, and Reinhart went on to form the short-lived but much celebrated Dogs On Acid with Snowing’s Nate Dionne) or just around town. My friendship with Helmis stems from long dwelling at the same bar where the bartender is overly generous with his pours.

Anyway, 10 years after they called it quits, the boys decided to get back together again and hit the road for a five-and-a-half week tour, traversing much of these United States and Toronto. After a few weeks of intensive practice in West Philly, joined by front of house sound engineer Chris “Doc Bag” Baglivo and tour manager Oliver “Carlor” Bunyaner, they were off. I tagged along for a few dates at the top of the tour—Brooklyn to Philly to Boston to Philly again (what did you expect?) to Baltimore and D.C. I had a blast; they even invited me on stage for our last show together to play the vibraslap.

But the tour was a gamble. Would people still want to see a band who hadn’t played in 10 years? A string of sold out shows to screaming along crowds answered a resounding “YES.” Ten years later, they finally played the stage they built.

Algernon Cadwallader performs live on stage.
They've been waiting 10 years for this, which is exactly as long as their adolescence lasted.

Algernon Cadwallader pose with some friends outside a venue on tour.
Tour is for friends! From left to right: FOH sound engineer Chris Baglivo, Greg Rutkin (Customer), Joe Reinhart (Algernon), Tank Bergman (Algernon), Mallory Hawk (Customer), Dave Medina (Customer), Nick Tazza (Algernon), Nicola Leel (Customer), Peter Helmis (Algernon), Colin Mahony (Algernon).

Algernon Cadwallader, a.k.a. David Gavigan, Peter Helmis, Joe Reinhart, and Tank Bergman, get hyped before the show.
Former owner of Philadelphia venue Everybody Hits (and current high school baseball coach) David Gavigan hypes up the band before the show. "Say a prayer before the gig, your band will last longer."

Tank Bergman and Peter Helmis of Algernon Cadwallader brew coffee on stage to drink after the show.
Hey, someone's gotta drink it! The band brews coffee on stage to drink after the show.

Algernon Cadwallader tour manager Oliver Bunyaner guards the van.
Ahh, time for a nice and relaxing scroll through our modern dystopia for tour manager Oliver Bunyaner.

Peter Helmis of Algernon Cadwallader poses with his mom before a show.
Peter Helmis' mom tore herself away from the Phillies game to see the show. She wasn't impressed.

Algernon Cadwallader's Colin Mahony plays guitar as Nick Tazza watches.
Just once, Nick Tazza would like the glory of being a guitarist.

Algernon Cadwallader's Tank Bergman poses with a cake with his band's record designed on it.
Cake is cool, but can you name three of their songs?

Peter Helmis takes a nap in the van.
When Peter Helmis said he would "sleep on it," surely this isn't what he meant.

Front of house sound engineer Chris directs the several hour soundcheck that occurs before every show.
Don't let your babies grow up to be sound guys.

Algernon Cadwallader's Peter Helmis checks the mic on Mr. Coffee.
Introducing the sixth member of Algernon Cadwallader, Mr. Coffee.

Algernon Cadwallader's Tank Bergman sings “Happy Birthday” to his daughter Frida at Philadelphia's Union Transfer.
Algernon Cadwallader's Tank Bergman sings “Happy Birthday” to his daughter Frida at Philadelphia's Union Transfer. (But, like, through his nose. It's emo music, after all.)

Days in the van and nights on the stage wreak havoc on the body so I gave Joe Reinhart a crash course in yoga.
We call this one "downward facing Joe."

Philadelphia’s finest guitar tech Kyle Laganella performs emergency therapy on Joe Reinhart's axe before the sold out show at Union Transfer.
Guitars need house calls, too. Philadelphia’s finest guitar tech Kyle Laganella performs emergency therapy on Joe Reinhart's axe before the sold out show at Union Transfer.

Peter Helmis refreshes with a towel to the face at Ottobar.
Baltimore's Ottobar is really a spa, if you think about it.

A shot of a busy highway taken from inside the tour van.
At least the trees look nice?

Algernon Cadwallader long-time fan Andy Kapinos poses with new band merch, featuring his face on it.
When you're a diehard fan, the band will put your face on their merch. It helps to have a handsome mustache, like a serial killer.

Algernon Cadwallader (Colin Mahony, Joe Reinhart, Nick Tazza, Tank Bergman, Peter Helmis) pose with a Yardley, PA flag.
Despite being removed from the "notable people" section of the Yardley, PA Wikipedia page, the band is still keen to demonstrate some hometown pride.

After a hot gig at D.C.’s Comet Ping Pong, Joe Reinhart drives head first into the beer.
Cooler heads prevail. After a hot gig at D.C.’s Comet Ping Pong, Joe Reinhart drives head first into the beer.

Peter Helmis leads the crowd at Warsaw in Brooklyn, New York.
It's rock 'n' roll, if you want it to be.

Algernon Cadwallader refresh the phone for that HOT, FRESH, content.
Are we on yet?

Tank Bergman and Peter Helmis rock out back-to-back on stage at Brooklyn's Warsaw.
Now that's what we call having your back.


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