Skirting Death with IfIHadAHiFi (Pt. 5)
IfIHadAHiFi: The Voyage Home
11:30 AM 9/5 – St. Louis, MO
Current van mileage: 206,413
Current band fund: $253
Other things we learned during the two-day hell drive:
-Driving through Nevada’s alien landscape is enough to convince me for at least a few minutes that maybe we DID fake the Moon landing.
-The Red Garter Hotel and Casino is a great place for touring bands to stay on a non-show night. Hotel rooms are $32 after fees, and the diner has a filling $2.99 breakfast special.
-The Fucking Wizard has the magic touch when it comes to truck-stop casinos, winning a big fat dollar during one of our pit stops.
Our first show on the way home was in Denver. It was a Tuesday night with not many people in attendance, so it was mostly unremarkable. Well, except for the truly brutal bout of altitude sickness we started to feel as we were leaving Wyoming, when the altitude was just shy of 9,000 feet, according to a sign Yale spotted. We sucked down water all the way from Nevada to Denver and it didn’t stop our stomachs from doing the most vicious of backflips. Fortunately, Old Curtis Street Tavern, the venue for the night’s rockin’, also served Mexican food at half price for bands, so we attempted to settle our stomachs by actually putting food in them. This worked for a little while, until we started hauling in our gear, becoming instantly fatigued and wobbly.
Still, we had friends in the audience on this night, including our host in town, M’ris (who brought us some chlorophyll drops that were left at her place a month earlier by the Mount Vicious guys). The drops were supposed to help us process oxygen more efficiently in the higher altitudes — all I noticed was that my poop was discolored for a couple days after drinking some. So we were determined to suck it up and give it our all despite the ook. As it turns out, playing the drums like it’s your last day on earth is a good way to pump enough adrenalin to counteract altitude sickness. Let that be a lesson to all you touring musicians — if you want to survive playing a show in Denver, PUT ON A FRICKING SHOW. Standing still = death. Literally. (Yes, literally — you will collapse dead unless you hop around on stage like an epileptic with Parkinson’s.)
On the way to Wichita, we began to realize a never-discussed truism about the energy drink industry: it is batshit bonkers. Check out what we discovered at a truck stop between Denver and Wichita — OLD GLORY ENERGY DRINK, the “official” energy drink of the United States National Guard. Um, seriously? We want our national guardsmen and women jittery and constantly urinating while quelling domestic insurrection? Although to be fair, if I were a rioter in downtown LA and some dude in riot gear started screaming at me and peeing on my leg, I’d probably knock it off and find some other town to loot. Later in the tour, we also discovered Playboy Energy Drink, as well as DRANK, an “anti-energy drink” designed for “extreme relaxation.” “Slow your roll,” it instructs. Sigh.
Anyway, the Wichita show, despite it being on a Wednesday, was exciting to us for two reasons: 1) We were playing at Kirby’s Beer Store, where we played four years prior. The tiny hole-in-the-wall dive bar in a strip mall has a TON of history in its walls (old posters indicate that bands like Superchunk and Poster Children played here in the early 90s); and 2) we were playing with polarOPPOSITEbear, friends of our label dude Dan and our labelmates Waxeater.
As soon as we met pOb, the good-natured ribbing and shit-talking flowed like water, a sure sign that we were going to instantly hit it off. There were only two bands playing, so Matt, their singer, asked us “so, do you want to set the bar for us to smash, or should we blow you off the stage first?” We eventually decided to play first, instructing our “roadies” in pOb to help us load in. Instant pals!
The one strike against Kirby’s on this night was that it only had two mics to work with, when we need three. With two mics, we can’t really play “Black Holes” or “Success” or a lot of the rest of the Fame By Proxy stuff (well, we can play “Black Holes,” but with me singing the Wizard’s lines, and that’s sort of dumb). Few things aggravate me more than a club that assumes that two mics are enough for any band that might come through, possibly because as a singing drummer, I take personal affront to the idea that singing while drumming is such a novelty. Whenever I meet another singing drummer, I give them an instant high-five. We need to stick together, because club owners be hatin’.
In addition to the lack of mics, the stage was so tiny that the Wizard and Rev.Ever switching instruments would have been cumbersome, so we basically stuck to a primarily No More Music-based set, which actually ended up being pretty fun. The packed house (picture Circle A or the back room at Sugar Maple crammed full with 20 people, and you’ll understand the Kirby’s idea of a “packed house”) dug us, and dug their local heroes even more. PolarOPPOSITEbear have a pretty great Dismemberment Plan/Les Savy Fav, French Kiss Records thing happening, complete with a drummer that mics his kick and snare drums and runs them through echo. I don’t think he heard me call him a pussy that needed electrical enhancement to sound like he was playing hard, but I didn’t really mean it. Dude can pound.
After the show we crashed at Matt’s place, where he showed us a pair of their videos. They’re pretty swell:
Fig.6 polarOPPOSITEbear videos for “Crewsolidate” and “Are You Fucking Kidding Me, I’m 14”
After Wichita, it was time to head to Warrensburg, MO, a small college town outside of Kansas City that previously was the setting of one of our most humiliating nights on tour ever. Five years ago, we played a coffee shop called, The Setlist, where the owner offered us a place to stay after our 10-hour drive, only to then freak out about our volume level. He urged us to keep it down, and (after we complied, much to my disgust — since then we’ve just resolved to play like we play — fucking loud — and if anyone has a problem, they can kick us off the stage) recant on the crash space (“um, the other band is staying with me, and I don’t have as much room as I thought”), forcing us to sleep in the van before driving to Madison. Because of these sore memories, I was determined to find the location of the Setlist and take a healthy dump on its doorstep. However, when we located it, across the street from the site of that night’s show, Bottomfeeder Bay, we discovered that it had long closed and was now some Christian outreach that was holding a youth fellowship meeting that night. Decorum got the better of me, and I decided that taking a dump on the Christian outreach’s doorstep was maybe not the best idea. “Don’t mind me, young fellowship! This steamer is intended for someone who doesn’t occupy this space anymore! Resume your witnessing!”
Bottomfeeder Bay is one of those kickass punk bars in the middle of nowhere that doesn’t care about making money as much as they do getting wasted and showing the bands a good time. When the band that helped us set up this show, Them Damned Young Livers, failed to show up (we still don’t know what that was about — did they forget or something?), the bar owner said, “Meh, whatever, we’ll still have a good time.” And sure enough, a good time was had.
Once again, a venue in Warrensburg had some volume issues — Bottomfeeder Bay’s very cordial sound guy asked us to turn down twice before we finally looked at him the third time and said, “You know what, we’re done turning down, and we have one song left anyway, so deal with it.” I thanked him afterward for being a good sport. The audience was about halfway split on whether we were any good; half of the crowd danced and made noise and loved it, while the other half turned to each other, asked “What the hell is this crap?”, and bailed. Hey, we’ve been around nine years … that’s what we’re used to.
After the show we planned to drive the three hours to St. Louis to stay with our friend Carlin, who had made the trip out to Warrensburg to see us. Unfortunately, we had to contend with a drunken Wizard, who was determined to dance the night away with pretty ladies until Carlin and Yale, the two drivers for the night, laid down the law. While the Rev. and I waited for said law to be laid, we took BALLER photos with Bottomfeeder Bay’s Jagermeister pool table. Who can argue with the greatness of a Jagermeister pool table?
Still, as the evening wore on I began to get a little irritated that we hadn’t yet left for St. Louis, although I must admit that I was mostly sour because a screw had fallen out of my kick drum pedal, necessitating a trip to a hardware store before we could play our St. Louis show. Eventually, I realized that what I needed to do was turn lemons into lemonade and take video of the Wizard doing his best drunken-white-boy shimmy with the ladies of Warrensburg.
Fig.9: The Wizard A) wants the funk, and B) has to have that funk
Fig.10: Here we see the Rev.Ever delivering The Wizard’s $5 straw hat to really bring home the white-boy-ness
Damn, this Google G1 phone I bought before tour is the smartest band-related purchase I ever made (aside from the near-brilliant group purchase of our still-running $800 Aerostar three years ago).
Eventually, the Wizard was round up by our drivers, who finally decided that we needed to make our way to St. Louis. We pulled into Carlin’s place roughly around 6 AM, ready to collapse and recharge for our showdown on Friday night with one of the most brain-breaking bands I’ve ever seen, The Conformists.
NEXT: The Conformists in St. Louis and Beati Paoli in Des Moines! TO BE CONCLUDED!