Dude Fest was one of the best shows so far. The turnout wasn't as ample as we had hoped, but there was enough people for a good audience and they seemed pretty happy to be there. We came in right as Young Widows was setting up and I watched their set with glee, only taking a short break to skateboard in Sweet Cobra's van. Yes. Skateboard in Sweet Cobra's van. Sweet Cobra played next and were punishing as usual. We did our thing and had a blast in the process, rocked some faces and blew some minds. I watched a few songs of The Dream Is Dead, and then was pried from their majesty by Mat, Grumpy and Aaron who were heading over to the bar down the street which prominently displayed a sign in the entrance claiming NO WEAPONS were allowed, a rule we scofflawed, because the might of our deadly riffs is enough for national alarm. After waging war on a few Millers, we went back to the show in time to see Coliseum claim their headlining spot at the show with all the force of an alpha male gorilla. I hadn't seen them with their new drummer yet. It was a sweet treat. The best drummers are the ones that make you yell out loud in awe. I yelled and yelled. We drove back to Louisville after the show with Young Widows and Coliseum, met up with Chris Owens and hit a bar before retiring.
Next day we got up and talked Europe logistics with Evan over a massive breakfast. We'll be touring Europe for 4 weeks with Young Widows in September/October. After gorging, it was over to Chris's recording studio (which was just as messy as a tour van) across the street from our show that night, and where we're currently planning on doing some recording next year. Unbeknownst to us, the show started a bit early and right when I was planning on heading back over to see the opening band, a mildly irked Evan came in and half politely, half sarcastically asked us if we were going to be performing that night. We ran over, set up, and rocked the shit. Stan and Chris definitely poured beer on me, and I definitely spit water in Stan's face. Young Widows and Coliseum played again, and I snatched a video of Coliseum playing a song. Note the beyond ridiculous drumming. After the show we drank beers in the studio and played around a bit with some recording. The results were an embarrassing sloppy mess that was recorded forever, and will probably be considered by many as the best material we've ever carved out in a studio. Hours later, after realizing that the only thing that could come of more recording was endless embarrassment and the possibility of black mail, we went out again to the bar where Tony works and gawked at a short, drunk woman playing pool who had some of the most ridiculously enormous fake breasts I have ever witnessed. They weren't the biggest I've seen per se, but in proportion to the rest of her stature one had to wonder what the fuck she was thinking. It was like she had to keep walking or else fall flat on her face with the weight of such monstrous boobies. Aaron made the astute observation that she must live like a shark, constantly moving, in fear of being dragged to the ground under the hulking weight of her obtrusive mammaries.
Next day was off to Cincinnati, the beginning of a four day stretch through Ohio that we would come to call "morale exploder", or "fun stabber". The show was at an arts warehouse, and more people came from Dayton with the opening band than actually came from Cincinnati itself. There were some power issues, we blew two fuses in succession and almost called it quits 3 songs into the set. It got sorted out after an awkward break and we finished up. A girl at the show had a thrift store shirt with a great white shark on it, mouth agape. It looked big enough to fit me and I offered to pay her $50 for it. She must have realized the majesty of such a garment, and did not budge. It occurred to me that perhaps she thought I was being a creepy, hairy, molester and was trying to get her to take her shirt off (not the case!), and so I then offered to pay her up front and then pick up the shirt the next day when she had ample time to change into anything else besides that damn shirt. Alas, I was denied again. We concluded Cincinnati with a visit to White Castle, spurred mostly by Aaron's curiosity about "flavor explosions" described in Harold and Kumar go to White Castle. I sincerely hope it's the last time he takes advice from "stoned" actors in big budget advertisements dressed up as Hollywood comedies, because the only type of "explosions" we experienced were well after the meal was over. We left the show and went with our new buddies in the first band back to Dayton to play monopoly in an apartment hotter than hot. It was a second floor apartment, and I liken climbing the stairs up from the heat of the summer night and into the baffling incindiary haze of that room to riding the Mr. Toad ride on a hot day at Disney Land, only the ride stops in the "hell" room, roasting you in your little cart. Nevertheless, we persevered and kept ourselves cool with cold beers and a frantic game of monopoly that lasted until 6:15 am. Monopoly can be a dangerous thing. I have never witnessed a "game" that so quickly turns it's participants into raging assholes and conniving weasels. I am no exception to that observation, exhausting great measures attempting to intercept property trades and slyly offering trades of my own in the heat of rent exchanges. Nat was able to secure some serious property via trades that involved talked-up sums of cash and cigarrettes from one of the players, a smoker who had nothing to smoke. His nicotine addiction was too fierce to heed my warnings about never trusting jews, and Nat scored the first monopoly. Luckily I managed to land on some property that posed as a good trade for another player, which we traded and soon the flurry of houses and hotels began, a veritable shit storm of investments and curses as less fortunate players landed on our bloated stretches of red and green plastic. After hours and hours, I tied the game with one of our hosts. We both had enough property that each turn resulted in the exchange of massive wads of little colored bills, neither of us gaining any financial ground on our opponent. We threw in the towel and I slept in a sea of my own sweat, half naked on a messy floor.
We had an air conditioned breakfast at Waffle House the next day and continued on our way, the taste of victory still fresh on my pallet. We were going to meet up with our buddies Genghis Tron for a short stretch of shows that night, an exciting prospect for me as the last time we were touring together I was extremely ill and didn't get much of a chance to hang out with them while shivering and coughing in the back seat of the van. Again, the show had spotty attendance but it was awesome seeing the Tron dudes again and we raged afterwards, showing them the exciting times to be had with punch game. Michael and I even exchanged slaps across the face. He was a bit sauced, the only reason I think he agreed to so quickly get involved at such a high level of punch game. He asked if I was going to hit him hard, and I responded affirmative. A drunken cheer went up as I slapped, open handed, right on the meat of his face. He spun around and almost went down. It was my turn next. I didn't see him wind up, choosing to close my eyes and let the hit come. I was told in the aftermath that he wound up like a side arm pitcher and slapped the living shit out of me. My defeat wasn't nearly as dramatic as his, I held my ground and muttered a humble groan of escaping pride, but his slap was low and hit my jaw. The ache of my jaw being rammed to the side still sits with me as I write this over a week later, a reminder of drunken comeradery, of dudes being dudes in the company of dudes, of tour. Punch game continued into the night. Nat and I tagged out after trading hits to the stomach, which hurt our wrists much more than our guts.
The next day was again, hot as balls. And again we were at Ms. Nature's mercy and without air conditioning. We spent a few sweaty hours in the house, completely miserable, then decided to head over to the mexican restaurant for AC and some fruity girl drinks. Mookie, Hamilton and I shared a pitcher of strawberry dacquerie. The show that night was 45 minutes away at The Red Parrot Cafe in Toledo. In attendance that night was a very young group of rag-tag punk kids, the kind of kids I hated having at shows when I was a young rag-tag punk. One of them, a very young man that couldn't have been older than eleven, was wearing a Misfits shirt and smoking ciggarettes like he had been at it for years. When he was reportedly confronted by one of his friends that he shouldn't be smoking at eleven, he supposedly threw his cigarrette to the ground with rage and said "Shut up you bitch!". Later in the night, I was watching an embarrassingly bad opening band and fighting off sleep from the free pizza I had enjoyed, when suddenly the group of young punks all formed into a little crowd at the table next to mine. Intrigue hit me like an avalanche. I craned my neck and peered over, utterly blown away by what I witnessed. A squat, young girl, slightly overweight with shoulder length hair and gobs of eye liner (it's all the rage these days) was quietly sitting down, a look of complete shock and horror on her face, as one of her peers pierced her lower lip with a safety pin. I watched the mock body modification artist pause just before he clasped the pin shut, beaming with pride in his own bad-assery, and his words were lost under the grunting and out of tune sonic travesty coming from the stage as he mouthed the words "I told you it would hurt". I'll never forget the look on her face as she tongued the safety pin, blood running down her chin, gazing into the faces of her friends in a desperate search for admiration and acceptance, her eyes silently screaming "Holy fuck this hurts, but I'm finally cool... Right?" The pin looked so awkward in her mouth, diagonally pierced through the lip, clasp end scraping up against her teeth. I don't know what will suck more, the raging infection that no doubt has inflamed her face into a red throbbing catcher's mit, or the hellfire that must have rained from whatever parental guardian caught the blunt of her angst. After the band played I was outside relaying the horror I had witnessed to Mookie as the piercer and a few of his cronies left the cafe, muttering about how they need to get some more safety pins. I did a fair amount of stupid shit when I was younger, but watching these young Ohians rage in their youthly fashion made me feel like goddamn Doogie Howser.
The last Ohio show in Toledo was just like all the others. Too hot, sparsely attended, and no real excitement from the audience. We did meet a few employees from Lumberjack Distribution who were kind with their praise and invited us by the office the next day. I was seriously dehydrated playing that night and felt pretty queezy the entire time on stage. It looked like my amps had shot water onto my body instead of blistering rock, my shirt was soaked. We went to our new friend Chris's apartment and watched the audio commentary from Arnold Schwarzenegger and John Milius on the Conan the Barbarian DVD, and then stayed up until day light playing Nintendo, featuring Kung-Fu, Contra, and Mike Tyson's Punch Out. Hamilton won much respect from the onlooking audience with his mastery of Punch Out.
Next morning we went to the Lumberjack office and had pizza for breakfast, which I think was my fourth straight meal consisting of pizza, which is half a complaint and half elation. Thank christ, we were leaving Ohio and heading back to the warm bosom of Chicago, morale thoroughly demolished. The show was at the Beat Kitchen, which is a sweet sounding room. Genghis Tron sounded amazing, despite their self proclaimed sloppy performance. Indian was savage and jaw droppingly loud, as usual. We kicked out the jams and laid waste to the room, a fun show. We retreated to the Flaster pad once again, where we quietly hung out and listened to Boston until all passed out.
Next day we left Genghis Tron to play in Bettendorf, Iowa at a comedy club called Penguins, which was attached to a crazy casino in the Quad Cities area. We waited to get the show started while a middle aged comedian with a Fender Squire apparently thrilled the audience with witty banter in between shoddy renditions of classic rock riffs. There's only so much "Whole Lotta Love" I can take being played through an off brand combo amp, so I went to the casino where we had caught rumors that if you showed your ID to the right people, gamblers were given a five dollar bill, no questions asked. The rumors were true. We showed ID, gave some fake addresses, and walked back to the bar with a fresh, crisp five dollar bill in our wallets. Sadly, it didn't last long. The show went super late and we played from 1:45 to 2:15. The bar shut down the show before Meth and Goats had a chance to rock our faces, and we rebelled by packing up and leaving. I was so tired that night I went to bed almost immediately after arriving at our host's apartment.
Next day was Milwaukee, and our last show with Genghis Tron. The turn out was great and the support bands were all pretty good, most notably Father Phoenix. We had some technical issues during the set, Aaron's amp was making an unhappy buzz and my cables kept coming unplugged which caused an ear scorching scream to come from the speakers. It was a good time though, and after the show we went to party with the locals. Someone had the ludicrous idea that a bon fire in August would be nice, so we corralled in the yard around a fire pit on a hot summer night. The usual hap hazard drunken antics occurred when fire and drunk people mix: reckless jumping over the flames, long walks to find more shit to burn, somebody throwing a huge cardboard box on the fire to see how big it could get. On one of the walks to find wood, someone happ'd upon a box of porn in a dumpster.
Porn boxes are an interesting phenomenon. Porn is usually accrued while a male is single and/or living alone or in the company of other single dudes. The collection grows as the content of each film becomes memorized with repetitive viewing and new porn is acquired for a fresh look at the same thing, also allowing the last film to be forgotten, therefore more exciting when put in for a nostalgic screening. Then, something happens where the male feels the need to purge the porn. This is usually caused by moving, either into a place where private porn screenings are not possible, or into an environment shared by an intimate partner, therefore rendering the necessity for porn obsolete and/or risky. The result then, is the accrued collection of porn being discarded along with common trash, and every so often being found by the next single male giving him a jump start on his collection, or in our case, a party of drunk people rooting through dumpsters looking for shit to throw on a bon fire.
Needless to say, there was a screening of the porn that night. I am usually violently against the viewing of pornography in any form while on tour. The male sex drive is a thirsty, rampaging beast, and when denied its periodic supplication can become a veritable behemoth, a 'Taz' mid-spin if you will. The images that course through a healthy young man's head after four weeks in a van with stinky dudes need no explanation here, nay, they would render this author at risk of federal persecution. Introducing the uncommonly graphic and bestial imagery of pornography to a young male in this state is similar to waving a raw steak in front of a starving bear, enticing a toddler with an ice cream cone, or calling Marty McFly a chicken. It's something I'd rather avoid, because a month without sex needs no external tantalizing. I like my balls. I'd rather they didn't explode. However, despite the testicular risk at hand it's hard to avoid the urge to see what treasures lie in a film called "Big Booby Boat Butt Adventure", so the party moved to the apartment and we started watching porn. It didn't last long. Nobody was really surprised that even though the name hinted at some golden and hidden comedic treasure chest waiting to be discovered, it was just regular old porn, made that much more awkward by the presence of females. We quickly changed it to Family Guy, and went to sleep shortly after.
The next day was a hasty and groggy good bye to Genghis Tron, made easy with the comfort that we'd be seeing them in a few weeks when their tour brought them to Seattle. We were off to Minneapolis for an early show at the Triple Rock, one of my favorite clubs to play in America. The Triple Rock is owned and run by the dudes in Dillinger Four, tour veterans who show they know what a touring band wants out of a club by treating their visiting bands extremely well. Free meal, free drinks, and friendly staff. The show was an early all ages deal, not our choice but the only spot available for the show. Enough people came to make a decent effort at bringing the rock, a good time was had, and after the show I spent over $5 on Simpsons pin ball while Nat was tutored in disarming knife wielding assailants by Triple Rock security.
Next day was off to Fargo. Not much to report other than low attendance and a late set. I couldn't stop thinking about how Godheadsilo used to be from Fargo, and I kept asking people if they saw them 'back in the day'. Only one guy said he did, and it turns out he saw them after they had moved, so it didn't count. I also kept an eye out for the car dealership that William H. Macey's character worked at in Fargo the movie, but didn't see anything too familiar.
Next was a day off. We drove to Missoula and rolled in around 4am, crashing with our friend Josh who runs the fabulous label Wantage USA (quality bro!). Crashed in his office aka basement, and got up the next day to enjoy a smattering of sitting around and watching crazy asian movies. The crown jewel was called Naked Killer. If you like lesbian assassins who make out, kill dudes, and cut off their wieners, then I highly recommend it. The show was at the Raven Cafe. It was a good time. Some dudes rocked out, but most of the audience did the folded arms dance that people usually do at our shows. We retired back to Josh's and watched Red Dawn, an Akimbo tradition when staying at the Wantage house. The movie is fantastic, worth it just for the scene where Patrick Swayze is crying and accidentally blows a snot bubble. That was the last show of tour. Next day was a relaxing drive home to Seattle, mission accomplished, where I now reside, work, and contemplate topics for the next rant.