FARGO: I walk into the venue and head straight to the urinal where I make the mistake of not looking directly into the drain beforehand, and as a result 500 gnats fly into my underwear. The opening band "DOESN'T HAVE A NAME YET" is so bad they are great. At one point the singer calls for "less of that bright red light in the monitor," and after three failed attempts to get through the first verse of Devo's "Girl You Want," (introduced as 'this song's called Devo') the singer sarcastically says to the guitarist 'Hey Dave, why don't you plug in your iPhone and let everyone listen to it a couple times.'" For the last song, they say "Have ya'll seen the movie Demolition Man? Well, this song is FUCKING ABOUT IT," and end the set with "Sorry." We play to five people and stay with the opening band's bassist. Susanna and I both sleep head to foot on a love seat to with our feet jutting up into the air. Getting out of the shower in the morning I get one of my favorite sensations in the bathroom: damp feet onto spilled kitty litter on a dirty lineolium floor.
MINNEAPOLIS: A highlight for us in Minneapolis is to hook up with our friend Matthew of the Birthday Suits who is an amazing sushi chef at Fujiya, and another is playing with the excellent band The Blind Shake. As they colaborate with my favorite Minnesotan musician Michael Yonkers, I am forever hassling them to tell me new stories about him. They tell me about how he is obsessed with Old Country Buffet and eats one huge meal there EVERY SINGLE DAY, and that once, while defending his habit, he explained "My family gives me a lot of grief over the amount of money I spend eating here every day, but when you look at the amount of food and amount of nutrition I get from it, I can't afford NOT to eat at Old Country Buffet."
Also, while complaining about the lack of audience in Fargo last night, I'm told '"It could be worse; years ago Tortoise played there, and the entire bar formed a Conga line and circled the stage chanting 'YOU SUCK!' during the show. On the way to the house we crash at, our host calls and says he's bringing five Meat Pile Pizzas home. When I ask for one vegetarian, he asks how many of us are vegetarian, and I tell him four-and-a-half out of five, he increadulously exclaims MAN YOU GUYS ARE SERIOUS ABOUT IT HUH!? Another band is staying there too, and they smoke so much my lungs seal themselves together and I wheeze my way to sleep gasping out the only crackable window.
MILWAUKEE: As I've recently fallen off the veggie wagon, I get a text from my dad saying '"When you are in Wisconsion if you eat a cheese burger it will be the best one you've had in your f'ing life. That's just a fact jack!." I'll see him his burger and RAISE him DEEP FRIED CHEESE CURDS. Then I walk straight to the E.R. to get my stomach pumped. The show is decent; I'd give it a soft thumbs up, but the best part is staying at our friend Kevin Mistreaters's house, which has an amazing 60's style rec room basement with huge light up bar and beautiful record collection and beautiful painted floors and beds and cool kids and great breakfast. JACKPOT! His son is a lil' wild man and sneaks into the basement and asks us to pile all the mattresses on top of each other so he can ride his plastic three-wheeler off of it. I comply, and just before takeoff he says "I'm not supposed to do this,'" and flies off and lands directly onto the top of his skull and my stomach drops, but he pops right up and says "Hi-five pal!" He also gives us a new inside tour-joke when his baby sister cracks her eyes open from a nap in her swing and he balls up his fists and chants "GO-TO-SLEEP-GO-TO-SLEEP."
Martini & Manicure in Chicago
CHICAGO: The Chicago bill is weird with pop punk bands and gets described as "the fuckin" Warped Tour or something' by a pair of kids that came to see us. Did I mention that the GORIES are playing at our favorite venue the Empty Bottle the same night? Did I mention that we absolutely love the Gories? Did I mention that the Empty Bottle wanted us on the bill? Did I mention that they tell me that they offered our booking agency more money than our guarantee at the "Warped Tour"? INFORMATION I WOULD HAVE LIKED TO HAVE HAD! Ah well, the bands and venue are really great to us and playing is fun and we get to rush over and see the Gories destroy after all. Groady Tour Observation #39487459387: Gentlemen, what is the deal with pissing all over every single toilet seat on earth? There was a nice green room backstage with two nice clean bathrooms just for the three bands to use. Both seats covered in urine. Pardon me sir, but just like DEATH, won't the need to sit come EVENTUALLY? Just kick that toilet seat up with your foot, then when the next touring musician with dissentary (or god forbid a FEMALE) rushes in he/she doesn't have to swab the deck. THANK YOU!
We have a great breakfast at Big Star Tacos and get to overhear a hilarious debate over a controversial Halloween costume:
Guy: Man my worst costume ever was as a cool black dude and I thought I was just going to a party but we had to stop at a party store and everyone in there HATED me.
Girl: I can't believe you went to a party in black face.
Guy: It's not like I was singing 'Hey Mammy.' I had speakers in my jacket that were playing N.W.A. I was just a cool dude. From the 80s.
Girl: I hate you so much right now.
KALAMAZOO: I've set the bar as low as it can go for this one, but it is the birthplace to The Spits, so it's already more musically important than the entire continent of Ireland. The place is great and the morsel of a crowd is very enthused and noodle dancin' funkier than a Phish concert inside Dave Matthews's Tour Bus Septic Tank. A nice guy offers me some of the whiskey bottle he hides in carcass of the burnt-down gas station across the street (I pass). In the morning, we awake to a stray roommate grouchily asking "Where the mattress that goes to this cot?" I'm not sure, up your butt next to the stick? He realizes he sounded like a douche and gives us a box of Cheese-its. EVEN STEVEN.
Kalamazoo is a cool little town and has some great shopping. I have to pass up a fringe leather suit but get a great vintage swamp monster costume for cheap. Unfortunately, this is the night that Dean Whitmore from Unnatural Helpers calls to tell me the awful news that our great friend Andy Kotowicz passed away in an automobile accident. I loved Andy, and am so sorry for his family and friends. He just had an undeniable light and kindness emitting from him. Please contribute something here.