After Dark: Warped tour vet unplugs for Bug Jar show

05:00 AM, Jan 31, 2013

Brian Marquis played Warped Tour with his former band, Therefore I Am. (Provided photo)/

Written By Jeff Spevak | Staff music critic

If you go

What: The Vans Warped Acoustic Basement Tour with Brian Marquis, formerly of Therefore I Am, Thursday’s Geoff Rickly, Vinnie Caruana from I Am The Avalanche and The Movielife, plus A Loss For Words and Koji.
When: 7 p.m. Tuesday (Feb. 5).
Where: Bug Jar, 219 Monroe Ave.
Admission: $12 in advance, available at; $15 the day of the show.

Some days, Brian Marquis is a mover. “I just moved the bassist for Whitesnake,” says this employee of the Los Angeles-based Real Rock ‘n’ Roll Movers. “The owner used to be a touring musician. He knows how hard it is to keep a job while you’re on the road. You work, and when you have to go on tour, you just go, and the job’s waiting for you when you come back.”

With that reassurance, Marquis is back on the road again, with the Vans Warped Acoustic Basement Tour, which comes to the Bug Jar on Tuesday. It’s a handful of rockers from the summer’s Van’s Warped Tour, trying out their acoustic singer-songwriter souls: Thursday’s Geoff Rickly is the headliner of the event, joined by Vinnie Caruana from I Am The Avalanche and The Movielife, plus A Loss For Words and Koji. And Marquis, formerly of Therefore I Am. And as the creator, organizer and manager of the event, Marquis is now a mover and a shaker.

Marquis’ Boston hardcore band Therefore I Am played Warped Tour twice, including the full tour in 2009. “I started going when it first started in the late ’90s,” he says. “I fell in love with it then, and I still love it now, even though I’m a little older. Even though I’m a little more behind the scenes of that punk rock circle. Open-minded people, all of the nonprofits, the camaraderie.”

The band broke up the following year and Marquis moved to Los Angeles. He laughingly calls it one of “those LA moments” when, in October of 2011, he had a breakfast meeting with Warped Tour creator Kevin Lyman, who was a bit of a fan of Therefor I Am. Marquis proposed adding an acoustic stage to the next Warped Tour, and he’d be glad to run it.

We’ve tried it, it’s never really worked too well …,” Lyman said.

That afternoon, Marquis was calling every hard rocker he knew, putting together a lineup for an as-yet nonexistent Warped acoustic stage. “Everybody was stoked,” he says. Three days later, Lyman hired Marquis to run the stage for the 2012 tour.

It was a little stage, just two large tents side-by-side. Perhaps the shade made it popular, but it was also impromptu acoustic performances by main-stage bands like Yellowcard, Anti-Flag and John Nolan of Taking Back Sunday. Marquis was not only learning rock-tour accounting and logistics, but how to deal with kids suffering from heat exhaustion and how to point people to shelter when a tornado was approaching.

Warped fed Marquis’ travel jones. “That’s my ulterior motive for playing music,” he says. “Trying new food, meeting people. I love the woods, the outdoors. Rafting in Idaho and Utah, where you’re out in the wilderness with no cellphone and no laptop. Sky diving. Things that make me feel alive.”

And cycling. In the summer of 2001, Marquis finished his internship at Universal Music Group in New York City and bicycled with a friend across the United States. It takes about 11/2 months. “It’s the hardest thing I’ve ever done,” he says. “It physically hurt, mentally hurt.” They rode right into Glacier National Park and through the Rocky Mountains, “going downhill 50 miles an hour, 100 miles straight, just hanging on.

Riding through North Dakota, just as the sun was going down, we just kept going, because there was nowhere to pitch our tent, the fields were all stubble from taking the corn off. There was a harvest moon out, which is any biker’s dream, because it’s cool out, and there’s light. And we kept seeing these lights from cars veering off the road, then getting back on the road. Then another one doing it. Then we realized the pastime there was to get drunk until you drove off the road and through the cornfields.

They threw stuff at us. We decided we’d had enough and hitchhiked the rest of the way through there. We caught a ride from an 18-wheeler. I still remember his name. Orville Wilson. He talked our ears off.”

It was a year of markers for Marquis, personally and nationally. Cross-country bike trip, and 9/11. “Now I kind of look at my life as ‘Before bike trip’ and ‘After bike trip,’ ” he says.

The Warped acoustic stage — which Marquis will run again this summer — also lined up where his own music was going. Marquis’ urge for the singer-songwriter life was driven by “experiences with myself, and music,” he says. “I had things I had to get off my chest. It’s been therapeutic.”

A close friend was killed when his bicycle was hit by a car. And, “I’ve had some family issues,” Marquis says. “My parents got divorced late in the game. My father was estranged for a while. Even though I’m 31 years old, it still feels like I’m a kid, it has that kind of impact on you. There’s 40 or 50 people in my immediate family, and everyone’s tight, so there’s no getting away from it. It makes you appreciate what you have around you.

The crux of it is needing a different creative outlet, a different way to express yourself,” he says. “There’s something satisfying about having complete control over what you’re doing. When I travel, it’s me and a bag. When I make a hundred bucks a night, I make a hundred bucks.

For better or worse, it feels like the music is new again for me. I get nervous when I play, it’s a whole new feeling. I feel vulnerable.”