Skirting Death With IfiHadAHiFi (Pt. 4)
1:05 PM 9/2 — I-70 East, barreling out of Colorado
Current van mileage: 205,444
Current band fund: $134
Our friend Nate from The Bismarck unwittingly named our tour during a hilarious anecdote in Seattle in which he discussed a couple he knows and how they prop each other up with their vices. But instead of “Fucked-Up Substance Abuse Voltron Tour 2009,” perhaps our tour should merely be called the “Let’s Raise Money to Buy the Van New Tires Tour 2009” because after pushing the band fund to an unprecedented $650 mark, a stop at a tire dealer and a few tanks of gas have us pretty much back where we started. Life on the road!
But I should back up. Our good financial fortune is due to the overwhelmingly sexy men and woman of Mount Vicious, our San Francisco BFFs with whom we played four shows across the Midwest in July. Saturday was their CD release party, which they waited to schedule until we would be out there to party with them. Friends helping friends.
As it turned out, we survived our wobbly trek down I-5 and met our pals at the Hemlock Tavern, a small, hip little room in the middle of Oh-Jeez-I-Don’t-Know-Which-Parts-of-San Francisco-are-Which (hell, I still have a nasty habit of saying I’m in SF even when we’re in Oakland, which drives Bay Area-folks crazy). Wisconsin descended on the Hemlock in a serious way on this night; several friends of ours relocated to California over the past couple of years, and they were all out in force: Haven and Mike, our old Green Bay running buddy Evan, Lindsey (aka former Brewcity Bruiser, Mae Killya), and Jessie (aka ex-BCBer Pistolero) were all there to throw up a scream when we got onstage and promptly exclaimed, “GOOD EVENING, MILWAUKEE!”
After a “We’re IfIHadAHiFi from Milwaukee, WI or what you people call ‘Flyover Country,'” it was on. It was classic, messy, high-energy HiFi — tight and in the pocket despite some sloppy equipment issues and punk-rock mishaps, like Yale falling off the small Hemlock stage during the noise solo bit of “Black Holes Resonate (in B-Flat), Baby.”
All I saw was Yale fall off the stage, at which point a bunch of the MV kids scrambled to help him back on stage and get his guitar plugged in again (which he did in perfect time before the last chorus). What I didn’t see until after the show was the huge cut on Yale’s lip and the bruise on his arm from colliding with Chris from MV’s hi-hat next to the stage.
Apparently, at the time, people were asking if they should get ready to take him to the emergency room for stitches because he was bleeding EVERYWHERE. No stitches were ultimately needed, although Yale has not shaven since for fear of reopening his face.
As wild as our set was, though (complete with guest tambourine during “(The HiFi vs.) Potential Energy” and another guest vocal during “Certain Fate”), it didn’t hold a candle to the last two songs of Mount Vicious’ killer set. A pair of guest musicians — namely, Adam and Richie from Police Teeth, who flew down from Seattle for the show — were on hand, and so my drums and Yale’s amp stayed on stage so they could play along on the MV crowd favorite “Steroid Unicorn.” Of course, every HiFi member ended up on stage singing along with vocalist Conan Neutron, meaning that roughly 11 people and two drum kits were crammed onto the tiny stage. Fricking chaos.
The answer to this is “yes,” because at the end of the show, Mount Vicious promptly broke up. NOT COOL. Apparently, their month-long tour took a serious toll that the band never recovered from, and with three-fifths of the band sold on moving to New York after playing there, they called it a night. BOO.
If there’s a bright side to the breakup, it’s that MV had no reason to hold onto any money from the door, which resulted in us pocketing a solid amount of cash on the night. Like I said earlier, this show put us over $650 in the band fund, a level it hasn’t seen in some time (or at for long, as it turned out).
From there the van swayed and bobbed to Chris from MV’s apartment for an afterparty that featured, among other things, Rev.Ever and Adam inventing a drink called a
“Juggalosa.” It’s made out of Miller High Life and Joose, with a white saltine cracker garnish. Forget Faygo, Juggalos — the Juggalosa is the new fuel of the Dark Carnival.
With the three best shows of the tour out of the way, we spent Sunday hanging out with all our Bay Area pals at Evan’s house, where he hosted a karaoke BBQ that was considerably more karaoke than a BBQ. While we laughed it up watching the Rev get wasted and duet with R. Kelly on “Sex Weed,” I could suddenly feel myself fighting a serious case of homesickness. OK, the shows we came out here to play are over; can we go home now?
Contributing to my state of mind was a storm of stress about the van’s steering issues and Chris Vicious’ constant insistance that the drive to Denver through the Rockies was “so gnarly, dude.” I think I was convinced that we were going to die if we didn’t get the tires looked at before we left. On top of everything else, we parked for the night on a stereotypically steep hill outside our friend Lisa’s house, which had me channeling my grandmother’s paranoia. There’s gonna be an earthquake and the van’s gonna carom into Lisa’s neighbors’ house, just you wait. Somewhere in my head, I think I’m convinced we’re cursed. It leads to a lot of sleepless nights on tour.
But despite my internal meltdown, the van stayed put all night, and on Monday morning Lisa took us to her favorite tire shop, where we dropped $350 on new tires and alignment service. Wobble = GONE. This purchase, combined with an unwise late-night pizza delivery the night before (to the tune of $50!), brought the band fund back to earth. But it eased our minds as we embarked on the “gnarly” drive through the high altitude to Tuesday’s show in Denver. We’re on our way home.