Sunday, July 30, 2006

Tour Blog #4 (7/20 - 7/28)

We spent a groggy and relaxing afternoon at the Flaster household, arriving about 11am and dozing in the basement until 4pm. The load in at Subterranean was a less than pleasant haul up two flights of stairs. The show was to be with Elders (Scott's new band), our deliciously good pals Lords from Louisville, and the mighty Sweet Cobra. After a complimentary meal from the kind people at the club, we had a joyous reunion with our friends and got ready to rip the lid off of Chicago. We're gonna rip the lid off of it!!! I'll spare you the details of the show on this blog, but for anyone curious you can check out our friend Jesse's review of the show on punknews dot org right here. I may not have chosen the same verbage, but the energy and might of the show is easily captured in his review. Thank you Jesse.

The ensuing activities at Scott's house are somewhat hazy. I'm not really sure how it came to be, but it was a platonic yet physical act of brotherhood and comeradery, a dance of friendship, a physical manifestation to interpret the mutual trials we share as traveling bards. Me and Stan took turns punching each other in the arm. Sometimes referred to as "punch game", "the widow maker", or "death match", the rules of the game are simple. Two trained combatants exchange punches in the same spot on the opponent's arm, continuing until one of the players gives up, at which point all kinds of demasculating comments ensue, the kind of stuff we got called in high school as we blazed between classrooms with our heads low to avoid our athletically enhanced yet intolerant colleagues. Well, unlike Stan, I'm not friends with a ninja kung-fu dude that knows how to kill a person with strategic blows to pressure points, so needless to say I was at a slight disadvantage. I tagged out early, but drank enough to start up again a few minutes later. Chris Owens also got involved, and when I say that I mean he started punching me for no reason completely out of turn. I don't know how much those dudes learned from their wise ninja black belt friend, but they definitely took notes on the punch maneuver that causes massive horrific bruising. I woke up the next morning to find the most heinous blemish in the shape of Stan's fist advertising my sissy defeat at punch game, prominent on my outer right bicep.

The bruise is name worthy, although it has no name. He's like any other gay friend you have, never content with one outfit for too long, always changing colors, gets way more attention from women than you do. Like a sexy, painful chameleon. Actually it looks way worse than it is. Unfortunately blogger is not cooperating and I'm unable to upload any of the pictures I've taken of the baby nebula on my arm, so you'll have to trust me when I say it's kind of like a hyper-color Piccasso under my skin.

The show that night was to happen in Lansing, Michigan. We presumed there was a large time consuming errand to run before we could leave, being that Aaron needed to get a temporary residence visa to play our one show in Canada. We're not smart men, and Scott's internet was down literally paralyzing our ability to acquire knowledge, so I hiked a few blocks to the nearest public library and got the necessary information to clear Aaron's name and get him over the border. This information also included the fact that the Canadian embassy in Chicago does not provide this service, so instead we got breakfast and hit the road, planning on attempting to acquire said document in Buffalo.

The turnout in Lansing was a bit upsetting, as our last show there was well attended. Lords were with us again, as well as the other two bands from the previous night in Chicago, as well as some more. It was Hood Booking's last show in Lansing, so Steven was throwing a barbeque. Apparently cheap beer, awesome music, and cheese burgers aren't enough to get the rockers to come out in Lansing, but we did our thing nonetheless. During the last song Stan, being the aspiring gentleman that he is, threw an empty beer can at me from two feet away. He chose a prime moment to assail me, because as his arm came down to hurl the spent beer, my head (in full rock star glory) came down in a most crucial headbang and the bridge of my nose connected with the beer can before it had the chance to leave Stan's grubby little mitts. So, instead of tossing a harmlessly light empty alluminum can in my direction, the effect was that of being punched in the face with a metal coated boxing glove, leaving a cute little bruise right between my eyes. After the set, punch game made a triumphant return, only this time we were slamming our fists into each other's stomachs as hard as we could. I already got the lecture from Maria so please spare me another dose of morality laced with maternal "you should know better". I know it's stupid, but it makes for a great internet video. It starts with Stan, Nat and I trading blows outside of Mac's, then moves on to the house party where Remis of Sweet Cobra gets involved (an opponent I shy away from with great reverence), Chris and I trade some chest punches, and Stan picks up Nat (maybe the gayest thing that happened all night). In addition to more than enough beer to sufficiently equip a fraternity for seven super bowls, the house we were hurting each other at also happened to have all the leftover meat from the barbeque. So, what else do real men do after drinking beer and fighting? Eat steak. We cooked up a whole mess of steaks and gorged. I think that night was the closest I will ever get to traveling the plains of Brythunia with Conan and his men. Beers, punching, eating the flesh of other living creatures. An eve I will treasure for many years to come. Perhaps one day when I have a son it will be his right of passage into manhood, to punch his father in the arm, drunk, with a beef flank stuffed into his cheeks. The night came to a close with Nat using a discarded Super Soaker to clean some of the meat bits off of Stan's face before he went to sleep. Friendship.

The only thing that was missing from the mayhem were our buddies in Elders who had shacked in a hotel that night. They only get honorable mention because I was informed in a flurry of text messages that they almost out-partied us, ending with one member sleeping naked and another member waking up to find he had shit the bed. Truth? I can't say. Only the four men within those hotel walls will ever know.

The next morning we found that someone had lost their steak into our host's shower over the course of our slumber. A picture is not necessary. It was fucking gross.

After a sad farewell to Sweet Cobra and Lords, we made the jaunt over to Buffalo. The show didn't go too hot. We played with Gongtopia, which was a dude with a bunch of gongs playing pieces that he had written. It was pretty cool, and a welcome change from standard rock/metal band with brutal mosh part x after thrashy speed part y, but didn't do much to bring out the locals to the show. The other band had potential. I think they were called Divine Machine. The dudes dressed in Target bought Jawa outfits, and the promoter had told us that they sound like Goblin (70's band that composed original instrumental rock/funk/ambient soundtracks to a whole mess of absurdly great and timeless horror movies). It seemed like it was a shoe in for a good show, but alas I was saddened at the realization that sounding like Goblin, and wanting to sound like Goblin are two very different things. They opened the set with a cover of the theme to Return of the Living Dead, one of my all time favorite zombie movies. A great song, and a wise choice for a cover. However, one thing I've noticed over the years of touring and playing shows is that more often than not a band's cover of someone else's song is usually the best number they'll play that night, and this was no exception. My excitement quickly waned as their set plodded on, and by the time they were finishing up I was outside slamming a Miller in preparation for another show in front of an unenthusiastic handful of people who probably think I'm an arrogant pre-madonna. After the show we met up with Sarah, a friend of Juan Montoya who plays guitar in the gut wrenchingly good Torche. He had told her to come see us, and she offered to put us up. First we went to a party, where Nat carried the punch game torch with Sarah and another slim, fragile looking female at the party. One would normally be wary of a guy like Nat trading blows with small women, but for some reason everyone was okay with it. I don't want to insinuate any of that girls are weaker crap, I think there are plenty of girls who could take a punch from plenty of guys and hardly flinch. It needs to be stressed that these girls both had the frames of 12 year olds. It just didn't seem like a good idea. This was immediately evident when Nat delivered his first hit in the middle of the party room, and a raucous, drunken dance party went instantly silent with shock, all eyes on the strange man with long hair who had just punched a super model in the gut with the force of an umberhulk. However, they both clocked him good in return and he seemed genuinely throttled. After the party Sarah cooked us grilled cheese sammiches and biscuits with eggs. I fell asleep in the living room watching the Super Mario Brothers movie, which I had completely forgotten is the most insane and nonsensical film ever to be released.

The next day was a day off. The consulate general in Buffalo that was to provide us with Aaron's visa was not open on Sundays, so we were completely shit out of luck. I guess Canadians hate getting their faces rocked off by loud bands from Seattle. Sarah offered to put us up another night and we happily obliged. We got beers and hung out on the deck all afternoon. Yoni took some great pictures, Aaron gave Sarah guitar lessons, we listened to Skynrd, ate some Taco Bell, and Maria and I had an intense phone discussion about the merits of M. Knight Shyamallamma's various works after she saw Lady in the Water. I still say Signs can eat a dick. Sarah's male model roommate was generous with his weed, resulting in me spending a relaxing hour and a half before I fell asleep listening to my ipod with a shit eating grin on my face.

Our next show was in Massachusetts in some shit college town called North Brookfield. We were 4 hours on our way when Michelle called with the heart wrenching news that the show was cancelled due to things getting rowdy at another show that had happened a few days earlier, resulting in everything getting cancelled regardless of the notice needed to give touring bands time to find something to do. We called up our old buddy Nate Shumaker of Dopamine Records / On Fire fame and scheduled a ferocious bro down like the olden times. He knew exactly how to welcome us, hugging us outside with a 30 case of PBR in one arm. I made a run to the store to get some bratwursts, and we beer'd and barbeque'd. Yoni and I closed the evening with a screening of Anchor Man, the best movie in the world.

We hung out in Nate's apartment for most of the morning, then bailed to Boston for our show at Great Scott with Disappearer. The show went really well, and people showed up and stuck around despite our playing at 1am on a Tuesday night. After the show we stayed with our friend Kerry who used to live in Seattle, only we actually slept at her friend's apartment that was being moved out of the following week. The place was a mess, everything all over the floor in preparation for being moved, complete with little bugs and beetles scurrying across the floor from junk pile to junk pile. The last thing you want to see when you're going to sleep in someone's house is insects crawling around on the floor, because invariably those of us that don't sleep in the van or get a couch will be down there with them. In the shit. The front line. Once we stayed in a house that in all seriousness had an ant trail moving through the middle of the living room. The only option when we find ourselves in this situation is to drink so much we fall into a deep, fairy tail slumber as soon as we hit the ground, otherwise your thoughts are plagued with visions of the bug pit scene in the King Kong remake and every little twitch you feel on your skin, be it a hair on your arm brushing against the blanket, the sleeping bag settling against your body, or a pregnant cockroach laying poisonous eggs in your ear will send you into a frantic covulsion of slapping and brushing. We drank and watched Ghostbusters, revelling in Rick Moranis, and by the time I had consumed enough alcohol to blind-side my phobia of waking up in a cocoon I retired to my little gap I had made between boxes, furniture and shelves. It was right next to the wasp nest, just a few feet behind the termite mound.

The next morning we were woken by Yoni who had slept in the van. Yoni has Pancreantitus and his health is constantly fluctuating. He had been in pretty bad shape for a few days and wasn't getting any better. He needed a ride to the airport so we got up and took him to Logan. It was a huge bummer losing him, but he was pretty uncomfortable and it was the obvious best choice. We miss him and hope he's doing better.

The three of us continued down to Darien, Connecticut for our show at The Depot. It was pretty disappointing. The Depot is a teen center that does live shows, similar to Ground Zero and The Old Firehouse where I was lucky enough to see live music as a thirteen year old, resulting in me sitting in this here van and recklessly traveling America instead of doing that job thing or that school thing. I have a huge soft spot in my heart for places like this, but as an adult in a touring band it's not the place Akimbo should be playing. Those type of places are for nurturing young musicians and giving them a platform to create their own environment, to take ownership of performing and setting up shows. Those places are not for rock bands with 20 amps that will knock the windows out of their frames. They are not for borderline alcoholics who enjoy a beer or twelve with each performance. They are not for touring bands that can't afford hotels and rely on other bands and people to put us up after shows. The result was us announcing during the set that we need a place to stay, which was 85% a joke, and 15% a depressingly genuine request. I concluded the announcement with "as long as you don't live with your parents" which apparently was completely disregarded because the only offer we got was accompanied with "I'll have to ask my mom." We were assured that she was "cool", which wasn't too comforting. The "cool" factor varies dramatically from 16 year old son in his punk phase, to 25 year old adult filthy from weeks on the road, unshaven, bruised, tattooed, and starving. Miraculously, we were approved, and I can only imagine the regret that must have coursed like the Nile as we entered her clean, air conditioned, febreezed home. Whether or not sheer terror seized her at the sight of us, we were welcomed with an unnecessary amount of hospitality as we sat around her patio table with a few of her son's friends and enjoyed a late meal of ice tea, veggie burgers, pretzels, cheddar cheese combos, and (I shit you not) pigs in blankets. Slightly awkward, but very pleasant. After the kids who didn't live there took off, we were shown to our own bedrooms and everyone went to bed. Yup. We were put to bed. Lights out! I tucked in and watched the making of Jaws on my lap top and had a restful sleep in a guest bedroom under a plaque that said simply in large bold letters: INSPIRE.

We woke up around 8am and were fed coffee and blueberry muffins. I didn't really know how to engage in any kind of casual conversation with these people (my vernacular for bullshitting revolves entirely around video games, horror movies, and marine life) so all I could do was thank them over and over again for being so generous and hospitable. I wasn't being sarcastic or anything, it was completely genuine. But, it was pretty much all I could think of to say besides discussing the best freeway to take on the way out. We got directions and moved on, leaving our host to scower her house in search of any missing valuables and hose down the beds.

The drive to Pittsburgh was long. We got lost in New York and ended up driving all the way through it, out the bottom end and back up to Pennsylvania through New Jersey. The drive through Pennsylvania was gorgeous as usual. The freeways travel through long stretches of green hills, a cool drink of water compared to the dry nothing of the mid west and the 2000 mile strip mall on the east coast. I love driving in Pennsylvania and always offer to "man the carriage" as it were when we're going through it.

It seemed the show in Pittsburgh was doomed from the start. We were up against three notable shows all happening in the city, the worst of which was a free Don Caballero show happening in a small bar in a much more "hip" area of town. We were also informed by one of the local bands at the show that in addition to the hype worthy competition, there were also a few smaller shows happening with local heavy rock bands, so even the troglodite metal dudes that aren't constantly clicking refresh on the Buddy Head gossip column would be spoken for. Only two people came. After two bands they were refunded and the show was called off. The promoter was very professional and still paid us, fed us, and alcohol'd us, and we were grateful for that, but it was a huge bummer. One of those nights where Lady Fate puts on her bitch pants and shits on your face. We packed up, and then Aaron and I waited around while Nat and the promoter talked about jews, being jewish, judaism, and jewish day school. After the jews finished jewing about jewness, we admitted complete defeat and drove to the free Don Caballero show that stole our audience to meet up with John, the drummer of the first band who had bailed after playing so his other band could open the Don Cab show. HIs directions were somewhat spotty, and that combined with three dudes all arguing over which way to go gets you very very lost. We eventually arrived and waited at the bar for the show to finish. I was completely glued t the TV watching that Japanese game show they play on Spike TV. The one where people dress up as bowling pins and get slammed with a giant bowling ball, run up a hill with giant fake boulders bouncing down at them, and run across the pond on floating pads that fall out from under their feet. People always fall over and get hurt, and we all know there is nothing in the world funnier than people getting hurt. You may have seen it. It's called "the best show on TV since MacGuyver". The show ended and we went to John's where I immediately crashed, despite the lack of air conditioning. We had to get up early the next day for Dude Fest, and that is where this post ends and the next begins.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Tour Blog #3 (7/16 - 7/20)

Leaving Seattle was kinda rough. It's always so good to see Maria and Max again and even though I knew I'd be leaving the next day I had kind of settled into the "home again" phase. Alas, rockery awaited and we bailed early to get to Boise. The drive was not something I would describe as fun, relaxing, or comfortable. Lots of time spent on tiny two lane highways going through miniscule towns, just going to prove my theory that Wyoming actually starts 60 miles east of Seattle. It didn't help either that I got our directions from Google Maps on this tour, which we were morosely disappointed to find is like taking direction from a blind 4th grader.

Nature won another notch on the score sheet against me in Boise. The dry heat pretty much killed the discomfort we skirted against in California. I hate the sun. It's the only thing that can completely demoralize me in the amount of time it takes to exclaim "Holy fucking christ I need some ice cream." The show was in an odd bar that didn't seem too accustomed to hosting bands of our ilk and volume, but ended up going really well. A lot of "hat metal" dudes were there pretty early, you know the type. Baggy shorts, t-shirts displaying sports teams, clothing brands, and various ironic muses about drinking, fighting, and/or copulation. I ran into an old tattoo artist of mine that did the lines on my forearms. The reunion was joyous. The post show hangout was also a zinger, smoked up with Saviours in a tattoo shop and then retired to a house that one of the dudes had wrangled up. Thankfully we had a moderately cool basement to sleep in, but it smelled ferociously of cat urine and someone thought it'd be a good idea to keep coming in and turning on music for us to sleep to. Scott of Saviours fame had his first real sleep in 2 weeks that night and I have never heard a more vicious and awe inspiring snore. It woke me out of a deep, mystifying sleep fueled by weed and beer, a feat in and of itself. At first I was irked at being jolted from my rest, but my irritation quickly dissipated into wonder and adoration for the majesty of Scott's snore, an intimidating yet magnetically curious sensation that I imagine young Bilbo Baggins had felt as he clambered into the chamber of the sleeping Smaug. It was like a heaving beast in the dark, but what made it so wondrous and horrific was how hard he was breathing. Imagine a brutal snore, like something that would come out of John Candy, but sped up so that the noise belched every second. This was my lullaby in the early hours of the morning.

Salt Lake City was lame. Too hot and the club didn't even put the support bands on the posters for the show. We had a stage hand type dude who had all the enthusiasm of a Chotchky's employee sans flare, and while we weren't offered any pizza shooters or extreme fajitas, we did get some excellent shitty chinese food, a personal vice that I readily indulge in whenever possible. The club was cluttered with TVs hanging all over the place, there's even two at the front of the house on either side of the stage. They had the audacity to play live DVDs of other bands while the real bands were playing on stage. Trivett of The Sword was awesome enough to turn them off while we played, only to have tight faced employees come over and turn them back on. It's kind of a bummer to be playing to a barely populated room, look up and see Killswitch Engage doing backflips and ninja kicks in front of a packed house, and then look down to see the dullards in the room watching the band on TV instead of the real band on the real stage. Why did you come to the show? That night we joined The Sword in their hotel and drank like it was revenge on the heat and the show.

Up early again for the drive to Denver, which turned out to be much more pleasant than I had anticipated. The altitude in Denver is a silent oppressive blanket that hangs in your head and coats one with sloth and the fierce desire to take a nap. No naps were had though. My plan was to ignore the effects of the high altitude and thin air by drinking. It kind of worked, a bit. It worked well enough that I don't really remember much happening after the show other than making an enthusiastic stop at Wendy's and falling asleep on a carpet that was in dire need of a thorough shampooing.

And once more, we were up early to get to Lawrence, Kansas. Sadly this would be our last show with Saviours and The Sword. This was also the hottest day I have ever experienced in my 25 years of flipping off and cursing at the giant, flaming asshole in the sky we call the sun. It was in the upper 80s in our van with the air conditioning raging at full blast. Leaving the marginal safety of said air conditioning would result in your body practically shooting sweat like a million tiny super soakers. When we pulled up to the Granada around 8pm, we saw the temperature displayed on one of those electronic reader boards attached to a bank. 108 degrees. At 8pm. The sun wasn't even high in thee sky anymore. This is obvious proof that world is indeed going blow up soon, or melt, or something. Frankly I'm glad. The less time I have to spend in that kind of weather the better.

The Granada was huge, a little unnecessary for our bands, but it's fun to play big stages like that and pretend the place is packed with rabid fans, topless bikini babes perched on their shoulders. Here's a video of the bands doing their thing, complete with sugues provided by Yoni's illustrious dancing Mexican friend Fritz. I took a bunch of video of this dude who was standing in front of JD while The Sword was playing. Sadly, it was too dark to make anything out. He was pretty stoked. He would steadily rotate from screaming the lyrics with arms raised, frantically playing air guitar and head banging, and then stopping and staring at the band with childish adoration.

The post show hangout while we were loading out was bittersweet and ripe with bromance. We said our goodbyes and farewells, and drove all night to Chicago. Nat was a goddamn champion and single handedly guided us for 11 hours into the warm and inviting bosom of the Flaster residence. Scott and Cara Flaster, who run Seventh Rule Records and put out our "City of The Stars" album, were our gracious hosts as usual. They're kind of like a spare parents house, they have washing machines and almost always feed us. I crashed out in the cool basement and slept like a wee babe.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Tour Blog #2 (7/11 - 7/16)

San Diego was spent mostly indoors. We sat on couches, benches, chairs and other sitting devices, placing our bodies on them and resting accordingly. I got a six pack of "Shark Bite Ale" as a treat for myself, a welcome break from the Millers and PBRs and random van heated beers that get neglected, then found, then downed in a bittersweet celebration, hitting the pallet like a mouthful of fizzy beer flavored spit.

The show that night at Brick By Brick was a little disappointing. We got a free dinner from the restaurant attached to the venue, which is always welcome and an exciting little flirt with success. The service was so slow it was hard not to let out my inner Larry David and start complaining. The complimentary Stella kept me subdued enough to wait it out, but it was silly how long it took to get our food, which was altogether baffling as we were quite literally the only people eating. The result was a 40 ton lead brick of food crammed into my stomach 10 minutes before we were supposed to play. Performing with that much extra weight in your body is not ideal. It's hard to look enthusiastic when it feels like you're running a marathon pregnant with an elephant fetus frolicking in your bowels. There were a few times in the set when I'd burp between yowls and get a little taste of barf, or "vurp" as the kids called it back at Enatai Elementary. During the set Nat busted the head on his giant kick drum, grabbing the feeble momentum we had mustered and dropping it right on it's ass. I wasn't much help in the stand up comedy department either, I just wanted to take a nap, and stood there like I was waiting for a bus while Nat got a new drum from Scott. Two songs later Aaron broke a string and we were back in the same double fish tank, the audience watching me, me watching them watch me. We finished up the set and started partying.

Saviours were great. The Sword was great. Unfortunately people only really started showing up around 10 as Saviours were getting started so we got the dirt end of the show. Afterwards was a hushed hangout at J.P.'s house and then sleep.

Next day was Los Angeles at Spaceland, with Karen (Nat's special lady) officially on tour with us. We arrived really early and roasted in the sun while we waited for the bar workers to show up and open the club. Karen, Aaron and I took a walk and found a tiny little mexican restaurant boasting tour friendly prices on neon signs and I revelled in a most glorious pork burrito, giggling as a shirtless, muscular gentleman burst from beneath a pond and surprised an unsuspecting woman with enormous lips on the Mexican soap opera playing in the corner. I took a hint from past waits on tour and didn't do any heavy drinking before the show. Just some light drinking. It was free slurpee day at 7-11 so I got one and enhanced it with the giant bottle of Malibu rum that Yoni has been nursing for a bit. It will never stop being hilarious that Yoni has a giant bottle of Malibu.

The show ended up being sold out, and the only thing better than a sold out audience is a sold out enthusiastic audience. And the only thing better than a sold out enthusiastic audience is a sold out, enthusiastic, punctual audience that is there to see the opening band, which is what we got. The Spaceland show was easily the best so far and I felt really good about the set.

After the show we went back to Jared's house where he was preparing some hot dogs and beer for us. We walked in and I took a seat at his little patio table where him, his roommate Andy, and a few other people were hanging out. And now a tangent that will make sense soon...

A few weeks earlier a coworker and I were talking about various brilliant things like talking cats and shirtless anger incarnate. We had just done some work on the new Garfield video game for Nintendo DS and I had heard through the grapevine that David Yow from the Jesus Lizard had done the graphic design for the Garfield 2 movie, which is what our game was based on. Yeah. If you didn't know, David Yow lives in LA and does graphic design for movies. Apparently years of getting naked on stage, yowling your voice out of its throat, throwing pint glasses at the audience, bleeding, shitting, and encompassing one of the most violent rock personalities that has possibly ever existed gets a dude the necessary notoriety to break into the field of redesigning shitty cartoons for boring Hollywood marketing. He made it. I'll be happy if I can just get to the point where I realize I need to get a real job before my ear drums disintegrate. Old man internet couldn't confirm that he had worked on that particular movie, but I did get a good look at his IMDB profile that has a current picture of him where he looks kind of like a pissed off Bono without all the makeup and the shit-eating "hello, I am an enormous asshole" sunglasses. The picture looked...

...exactly like the dude sitting next to me. Holy fuck. I had just picked a spot at the patio I knew so well and looked over to see my favorite rock vocalist of all time. The guy that all the other "crazy dudes" try to out-antic and just end up embarrassing themselves. David Yow, next to me. I have one chance to say something here, the only challenge is not coming off like a complete douche or annoying fan-boy. Right as I admit defeat and realize the only possible thing to do is casually hang out and introduce myself if the opportunity arises, the opportunity gets up, says good bye and walks out the front gate. Oh well. Now I get to tell everyone I "met" David Yow on tour and it will be our little secret that really I just sat next to him on accident, mentally shit my pants, and then sat there frozen with terror for thirty seconds before he got up and left. But the hot dogs were exquisite.

Next day was up to San Francisco for the show at Slim's. I wasn't expecting the amount of people that showed up and again we were privileged with a punctual audience. The show was fun. We had played Slim's before and it didn't go as well. We were on tour with the Blood Brothers at the time and it was one of those shows where the room was packed with people who didn't really care about us at all. The reception at this show was much better. I was also stoked on the show for another reason besides the elated roar of 500 bearded metal dudes after each song, because I got my first foosball challenge of the tour. It came in the form of a heckle between songs saying they could kick my ass at foosball. I got so pumped to get rolling with the game after the set, but sadly it was just a dude from Kill the Messenger challenging me on the behalf of his friend who wasn't even there. This didn't comply with any of the rules for foosball challenge so a game didn't happen. After the show we crashed with the amazing Seth in his amazing small apartment.

Next day was stressful. Here's the summary:
Wake up early to run errands. Takes us way too long to get out of the apartment. Nat accidentally locks his keys in Seth's apartment. Yoni is missing when it's time to leave and we have a very uncomfortable wait in 96 degree weather in the van, which we had unknowingly parked right in front of some kind of soup kitchen/needle exchange/methedone clinic/place where crazy cracked out drug addicts hang out on the street and stare at you while they talk to themselves. Find Yoni and drive to Seth's work in the middle off downtown San Francisco at 12:30 on a work day. We travel 10 blocks in 45 minutes. Get Seth's keys, go back to his apartment, get Nat's keys. Try to find a Guitar Center on the way to Seth's work and can't find it. Back to Seth's work to return his keys. Go to East Bay to pick up merch from Alternative Tentacles. Get back on freeway to find the 101 North to go to Eureka for a show that may not be happening. Get turned around in the tornado of confusion that is the Bay Area freeways and go the wrong way on 580. Don't realize we went the wrong way until we hit I-5. Give up and drive to Medford for another evening with the Schrags.

Stacy is the only person to our knowledge (besides me) that has an Akimbo tattoo. It's a huge compliment personally, and he also picked one of my favorite designs we've ever used. Here's a picture. It's on his wrist.

Yoni gets us up early to drive to Portland the next day. Get to show way early and hang out for hours at Dante's leeching off the free wireless. Played Mario DS and got to world 8. Said "fuck" close to 100 times in the process. After the show we partied on a roof. Passed out in the van, homeless style (shoes still on).

Next day we're up early again to get Aaron back to Seattle for an orthodontist appointment. I get dropped off at home for some quality one on one with my favorite girlfriend Maria and our little furry friend Max, and am bummed but not surprised that all she wants to do is watch Project Runway and talk about fashion. Great to be home! We make lunch, I do laundry, shower, play with kitty, and then its off El Corazon for load in. Maria and I pregame a bit over at the Lobo, and then return to the show. Seattle was a huge blast. It was my first being on tour and being home at the same time.

Monday, July 10, 2006

Tour Blog #1 (7/6 - 7/10)

Tour started with a quick jaunt down to Portland to pick up our illustrious roadie Yoni Kifle who had some photography up in an art show, and was delaying our punctuality hob-nobbing with various Oregon high brow 'artists' over bree and wine. Actually, he was getting drunk at The Tube while his art show was happening a few blocks away. Too cool for his own party indeed. We met at said Tube and indulged in a few delicious and welcome Hamm's tall-boys before heading over to see the art show, and by "see" I mean milling about the entrance of the crowded strip watching people smoke and nodding our heads in the vicinity of conversations about smart things like "films" and "body modification" (a fancy term for shoving pieces of metal under your skin in an attempt to look like the mutants in Total Recall). It was a good time though, and since there wasn't a show that night we could afford to hang out and take a drive break. Yoni joins us on all the tours and is an incredible photographer.

After trying to poop and failing, Yoni got his things together and we hit the road down to Medford to stay with our good friends Stacy and Kimbo Schrag for the night. The drive was long, dark, and extremely scary for me because we haven't adjusted the headlights on our new van and they point down towards the ground at an angle that incites fear and surprise with only about 40 feet of road illuminated in front of you. Fortunately, death did not find us that night and we rolled in around 1:30 am, thirsty and ready to bum out our hosts who had to get up early the next day. Luckily, Kimbo and Stacy were ready to hang out though and we raged proper. Thanks for partying in the face of responsibility and jobs, we had a blast.

Next day was a haul down to Oakland to play our fist show of the tour at the Stork Club, a cool little bar on Telegraph. The weather could be described as "hellish", or "swimming through the devils colon". If there's one thing I hate it's a brutally hot day, especially when combined with not being in the shade or in front of a fan with an icy cervesa mashed against my crotch. We could feel it when we got up that morning. Mother Nature (evil slut) was cranking the shit up in an attempt to piss me off and make me cranky. Well, fuck you Mother Nature. We now have air conditioning, a razor sharp sword that I wield against your fiendish desires with all the righteousness of a 17th level Paladin in the din of battle against undead masses. I will cleave your whorish sun rays of ultra violet hate and bask in the holy glory that is the humble black vent next to my thigh, spitting it's cool refreshing love into our little traveling geo-dome.

I got a speeding ticket just north of San Francisco. I was trying to outrun heat.

The show at the Stork was a good time. Thankfully no racists were present, as we were led to believe could be the case by some local friends that were boycotting the club due to the owner being a man of ignorance and racial prejudice. But he wasn't there, and all the money that comes in goes to the bands, so all they boycotted was rock. A most heinous offense. Did an interview with Sound Scene Revolution before the show that should be up for podcast pretty soon here. The show was fun, saw some good friends, and played a spotty set that I would refer to as a "warm up". After leaving a few stupidly awesome drunk messages with my friends trying to score a place to stay, our booking agent Michelle took pity on us and figured she wasn't going to make much money off us if we started the tour bruised and junk-sick from a night on the streets and begrudgingly took us in. Stopped for some mission burritos on the way back to her place, and I force fed my road burn on some unsuspecting fools on Mario Kart DS before retiring to bed, champion racer of the mushroom kingdom. Party at Peach's house after the ceremony. Bring your own fire flowers. No lakatus allowed.

Next day we got up and shambled around Michelle's apartment, successfully weirding out her roommates enough to make them stay in their room and not say hi. Got some coffee with Michelle and talked business for a bit, shot the shit about mutual friends and japanese rockers, drank some wine, and hit the road to Santa Barbara. Thanks for putting us up Michelle. You are now officially bound to hosting us at any time we decree it necessary. Sorry. It was in the contract.

The ride to Santa Barbara was typical... It took place on a road. We sat in a van. We did things like read, sit in front of the air conditioning vents, look out the window, and erupt into a chorus of bitter opinions whenever the doors were opened while stopped. The show happened at Casa de la Raza, a hispanic youth center where we had played with Torche and Black Cobra a few months prior. The room that is used for shows was unavailable due to a Quinceanera that was happening. I guess it's a big deal for hispanic girls to throw a huge party on their 15th, kind of like a coming of age type thing for the parents to remember the days of collecting Bratz stickers, a celebration of life before shot-gunning tequila in youthful rebellion. Well, they had the whole building, which meant we got the patio. A show attendee made the astute observation that the show looked like it was taking place at the brothel patio seen at the end of Way of the Gun, sans fountain, pissed off dudes shooting each other, and naked babes running for cover. We also were there considerably early and I made a b-line for a taco truck that had served me a fucking glorious carne asada burrito before our last show. Unfortunately, the taco truck was of the mobile ilk and had moved to a more profitable location. Fortunately, the liquor store next door did not have wheels or an engine and was still in the same spot crammed with all kinds of delicious drinks. We stocked up on entertainment for the next few hours and went back to the van to start entertaining ourselves, the highlight being when Nat said something ridiculous and made Yoni laugh so hard his rum pineapple cocktail (out of a styrofoam cup) came out his nose and back into his drink, which he continued drinking. Craig and The Fucking Wrath dudes showed up and we pretty much turned the block outside the birthday party into our own little punk rock frat row.

The show was weird, as you would imagine a show in a patio at a hispanic youth center would be. The attendance was decent though, and The Fucking Wrath ruled pretty good, and we had fun. Sadly, the members of Akimbo had been partying a little too hard for a little too long, most notably Aaron, who blundered through the set with all the grace of a stunned gorilla. That's not to say Nat and I didn't have our fair share of forehead slappable bloopers, but Aaron had single handedly polished 75% of a fifth of Jack Daniels and you could hear the drunk in his amps. We were a conjoined machine of slop, producing new versions of our songs that sounded like we were 3rd graders playing along to seven different punk albums all at the same time. Ok, it wasn't that bad. I'm embellishing on the behalf of literary frolicking, but once again Akimbo was the embodied uppance that comes with drinking too much before the set. You think we'd learn one of these days.

Immediately after the show we found an In n' Out Burger and gorged in the manner assumed normal for alcohol enhanced appetite, then rolled to Craig's house for the night where we watched an instructional video on how to bar fight like a white trash judo instructor.

The next day was the highlight of tour thus far. We joined Craig, Ox Vs. Thunderbird dudes, The Fucking Wrath dudes, and the Santa Barbara party fun crew for their visigoth games, which are frighteningly close to LARPing in that people dress as vikings and other children of Cimmeria. Sadly, we had to leave before the real games started, but we did see a "Conan", an archer shoot an arrow at a tree, and a few pirates. We also spent a good hour sliding down a hill on blocks of ice, which was possibly the most fun I've had doing anything since I saw Starship Troopers for the first time. You can watch the video here, or just go to Maria's blog because hers is way smarter than mine. We will be submitting this to a yet unnamed soda company to try and get an extreme sports beverage sponsorship.

The show in Riverside wasn't too eventful. It was a blast seeing and hanging out with the dudes in The Plot to Blow Up the Eiffel Tower again, and laughing while they made fun of Willy. The show was in a huge, empty, concrete warehouse and the sound was horrendous. There was so much echo all the bands sounded like a wash of indistinguishable noise, which only fueled the drinking and desire to get out of that weird town. We drove back to San Diego with the Plot and now we're hanging out waiting for load in. Tonight we meet up with Saviours and The Sword for the next 10 days, and I'm eager to get the ball rolling on the mega rock that is sure to be... mega.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Leave for tour today

I leave for a big ol' month long tour today in an hour or so. I'll be using the blog to keep an online diary going which will hopefully document the straight shot success of Akimbo rising to the title of 'even better than rock gods'. But most likely it will be an amusing telling of our latest journey through disaster and social mockery.

The other day Maria and I had some cream puffs. They were pretty disgusting as you can see. But I wouldn't be honoring the Weisnewski family crest if I didn't eat it anyways. Shit was delicious.

Max helped me finish the last few bites. He's a good cat. He's in my lap purring right now. I'm pretty sure when I get up to leave I will be bleeding.

I almost gave up. Those things were awful. They tasted like snot cakes. But at the last minute Maria shouted words of bravery and encouragement and I rose to the task. I couldn't let her down and just leave the cream puffs to rot in the garbage. A hungry homeless person might get them.

That's right. Don't fuck with me. This could be you.