DJ Hostettler
Cultural Zero

Skirting Death with IfIHadAHiFi

By - Aug 25th, 2009 04:46 pm

12:36 PM 8/22 – Madison, WI

Hey, who loves tour blogs? Apparently the benevolent overlords at Third Coast CRAVE them, because when I told them I’d be out of town for two weeks embarking on my band’s annual “Why can’t you go on a vacation with ME” argument-starter with our girlfriends, Jon Anne and the dearly departed Amy Elliot (not dead departed, just moved to Detroit. I’ll let you decide which is worse) exclaimed “YAY TOUR BLOG!” And thus, you are subjected to my annual exercise in self-absorbtion. I’m sure I’m sorry.

This year we’re heading to the West Coast to annoy friends in Seattle and San Francisco, with a few stops along the way to essentially busk for gas money in bars. As I type we have disembarked for Minneapolis with about $140 in the band fund and 201,014 miles on the $800 Ford Aerostar we bought the day before our 2006 tour. (That it still runs is a shock to us all, but we’re not gonna argue.) The tour *technically* started last night in Madison, but due to a major scheduling failure, we needed to head back to the MKE last night so Rev.Ever could move house this morning. WTF. Dude blew it.

Fig.1: The Suit, complete with mood lighting

Fig.1: The Suit, complete with mood lighting

It’s a good thing that I don’t believe in omens, otherwise last night’s show at the Wisco would have me incredibly nervous about this roadtrip. We followed up solid sets from Madison’s The Suit and Minneapolis’ Self-Evident (with whom we’re also playing tonight) by stinking it up a little bit thanks to A) a number of tuning breaks that pretty much derailed any momentum we could get from running songs together, and B) Yale’s guitar amp dying during the second last song, leaving the rest of us to vamp stupidly on the intro to “No More Music” before awkwardly transitioning to our Mission of Burma cover to end things.

Thankfully our old pal and former label dude Michael Wo was in the house, and was willing to lend us an amp for the duration. Dude once lent us a van when the band member that owned a van quit a week before our first mini-tour. This guy right here, man. I’m telling ya.

Regardless, despite what I felt was a crap set, plenty of people dug us, and a random dude asked me to drum in his band (he understood when I turned him down after explaining that we’re not a Madison band and I wasn’t about to commute for band practice). Once again, I was reminded that the audience’s perception of the show means more than mine.

Once we get past Minneapolis tonight and are officially past places we travel to on weekends, it’ll actually feel like a tour. Until then, I just feel sleep-deprived on my weekend, which is never fun. Just hoping that last night was a warm-up and we’ll have our mojo workin’ proper tonight.

1:29 AM, 8/24 – Bismarck, ND

Current van mileage: 201,797
Current band fund: $302

 Fig.2: The mouse is the one in red

Fig.2: The mouse is the one in red

So once I took a nap in the van after the last tour entry, I started feeling a lot cheerier. Go figure. Adding to my optimism was our traditional stop at the Black River Falls Taco John’s, complete with ridiculous photos in front of the plaza’s ridiculous fiberglass animals. How someone *couldn’t* get cheered up by a classic Rev.Ever baller photo is beyond me.

 Fig.3: Rev.  Everballer photo #1

Fig.3: Rev.Ever baller photo #1

The show in Minneapolis was at a joint called Sauce Spirits and Soundbar, a new venue that was so swank and fancy that I was sure we’d be kicked off the stage within three songs. I mean, I was wearing my oh my god t-shirt with the nun and the pistol! I was so under-dressed! The graffiti outside the venue, though… slightly less classy.

Fig.4: Stay classy, Minneapolis

Fig.4: Stay classy, Minneapolis

The other interesting thing I kept hearing about Sauce was that it was a topless restaurant before it became a music venue. Which, AWESOME. I was almost mad that we were playing a place that turned a friggin’ TOPLESS RESTAURANT into just another music venue. The nerve of these people, to deprive tax-paying Minnesotans of topless service! But it was when I tried discussing this critical issue with our pal Steve Dude that he looked at me and said, “TAPAS restaurant. Tapas.” I simultaneously laughed at my own hearing and Minneapolis’ inability to be as rad as I thought it was.

The show itself was fantastic–we played well in front of a typically polite Minneapolis crowd who stood, watched, and clapped politely when we finished a song. What is it about Minneapolis that makes that acceptable? It’s like if the arrogant Chicago arm-folding crowd were less jaded but equally immobile. But still, our new pals Self-Evident packed the room (with help from closers Speed’s the Name, who were fine but were just edged out of the Worst Band Name We’ve Seen On Tour position by the Vaginal Blood Farts, who played with us tonight) along with our modest six or seven-person draw, allowing us to pocket a solid hundo from the door. Solid merch sales ensured us a take of $190, which will probably be one of our best nights all tour and will guarantee that we don’t lose money on our way to Seattle. I’m into it.

Tonight’s show wasn’t nearly the crowded cash-fest last night was, but what can you expect from a Sunday night show in a tiny, how-in-the-hell-is-this-a-state-capital town like Bismarck? The show was at a rad DIY art space called Project Noise, complete with a kitchen, chill-out room and air conditioning! (Look, the AC is a huge deal when the van’s AC conked out at the end of last year’s tour and you’ve been sweating balls all day.) For a good chunk of the night it looked like the entire crowd was going to be a trio of hyperactive 13-year-olds who were more interested in their own internal drama than in any bands playing. (They paid at the door but I’m pretty sure they sat on the curb consoling each other or something while the bands played. We ruled it, btw.)

Fig.5: Project Noise, Bismarck, ND

Fig.5: Project Noise, Bismarck, ND

Matt, the guy who runs Project Noise, was a champ of a host. He let us crash at the space, and his girlfriend (whose name I forget–minus 100 feminism points for me) made us sloppy joes while we rapped about the ins and outs of touring (because we’re such tour vets, us and our two weeks a year on paid vacation).

Only seven kids ended up paying to see the show, but hey, we knew middle America was gonna be rough. I expect something similar in Missoula on Tuesday. But first, a day off in a hotel room in Billings. Because we are baller.

0 thoughts on “Cultural Zero: Skirting Death with IfIHadAHiFi”

  1. Anonymous says:

    1 good night on tour is better than none!!! I will now laugh to myself knowing what I know. The laughter will turn to tears in minutes.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Great story. Thanks for sharing it on ThirdCoast.

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