Sunday, September 16, 2012

Europe/Fest/US: Part I

Before we dive into your regular scheduled Elway blog programming (dick/fart jokes, descriptions of vegan meals, braggadocios [and unnecessarily verbose] explanations of how drunk we got/are getting at shows), allow me to get cheesy for a second.

Sometimes, when the trammels and various ennuis of being a 20-something college student weigh particularly heavy, it can seem like a good idea to forego monetary comfort, professional success, and personal hygiene so that you can play in a traveling rock band.  We all took the plunge, and I am pleased as punch to say that I can earnestly tell this blog's readership (all 8 people) that it has been various shades of totally fucking worth it.  As a good friend of mine says:  "Don't mistake this for complaining 'cause I'm satisfied."  Almost exactly five years ago, on September 20th, 2007, 10-4 Eleanor practiced for the first time.  It might surprise me if I could hear how much we've improved since those days, though I fear that I might be giving us a bit too much credit.  We drank and played shows in living rooms and basements and dive bars, did some touring, recorded a few records, made tons of amazing friends, and so on...  The point is that playing in this band became a sort of cathartic escape from the idea of having to get our shit together, but never did it ever seem like the kind of thing that could take us to another state, let alone another continent.  The very fact that I am writing this from an apartment in Wiesbaden, Germany is a testament to what we've managed to accomplish with what was essentially a distracting hobby.  We have you guys to thank.  If it wasn't for the people interested in our band, I would be handling clinking fistfulls of piss and blood viles, Brian would be stalking some laboratory wearing a respirator over his old Link 80 shirt, Joe would be counting fucking blades of grass on the government dime (a job he actually did), and Garrett would be trying to fix your broken serpentine belt with only bike tubes and shoe goo.  Instead, we get to be across the world for the next 6 weeks or so.  That's pretty cool to me, so thanks.


9/8/12: Fort Collins, Colorado
Tour kickoff day.  Our last day in town for 2+ months.  For most of the day, the excitement of playing what was shaping up to be an awesome show at Road 34 was quashed by a towering anxiety monster that seemed to constantly bellow "You're going to forget something, you fucking dick pig!" or "You're going to ruin this tour for everyone and wind up working at the adult bookstore."  Turns out the anxiety monster cowers pitifully in the shadow of the much-mightier booze monster, because once we took to drinking, it seemed like we couldn't fuck anything up.  A.M. Pleasure Assassins opened the show, and I'll be fucked if it wasn't one of the best sets I've seen from a Fort Collins local in what seems like forever.  Think Fugazi+Fifteen+Braid+Flaming Lips.  Huzzah.  Next up were super friends Sour Boy, Bitter Girl.  I spend an awful lot of time hyping these guys, and I will continue to do so forever so long as they persist in exceeding my expectations of what an amazing band should sound like.  Dudes played a great set, jussayin.  We played next and it was truly great to see such an energetic and rad crowd.  One of the very greatest hometown shows we've ever played.  Goodbyes were said, shots were taken, a few tears shed, and we packed our shit into Vanzig and went home for a few hours of sleep beside our significant others, or beside two very drunk dudes who homoerotically wrestle the night away and accidentally break your computer (Garrett), or beside your treasured canister of hair product (Joe).  We woke up bleary-eyed with hungover sights set on Omaha.

9/9/12: Omaha, Nebraska
We arrived in Omaha well ahead of show time, so we spent a while thrift store shopping for last minute tour needs and scoping out a pretty rad skate part where a couple of BMX riders were doing shit that seemed fucking impossible to me.  We jetted across town to Benson, where we met up with Andy and Angie of Hear Nebraska.  We sat in their back yard and drank beers and bullshitted until it was time to go to the show.  The opening band was called The Shidiots, and they played a Guttermouth-y, NOFX-y kind of 90s punk rock peppered with drinking references and lyrical insistence that people who shop at Whole Foods are dicks for some reason.  We played a quick, semi-tight set to a thin crowd consisting of Andy and Angie and our PayPals (They work at PayPal, get it?) and a few stragglers.  Good times and alcoholic beverages were had.  Elway blog alumni Letter Z, a man who gets far too drunk to be a lawyer, yet is still somehow a lawyer, made a welcome appearance, though we were in too much of a hurry to get on the road to stay for a few highly stoned rounds of Jeopardy.  Elway has a storied history with the city of Omaha, in that it has historically been where we stop to play an underwhelming show on the way to or from Chicago.  That, we are continually reminded each time we play there, is an unfair assessment.  Yes, it is true that we've never played to a huge crowd there, and this show was no exception, but we have managed to make some very excellent friends.  To them, we say "thanks, brochachos."

9/10/12: Chicago, Illinois
We found ourselves in that now very second nature Chicago scenario wherein we ascend the stairs to Matt "Shaboy" Marti and Rachel "Richard Gere" Rolfsmeier's apartment in the morning after a drive that could only be aptly described as "total bullshit."  We knew something was amiss when we entered the apartment with the air completely devoid of Thin Lizzy's The Boys are Back in Town.  "What the fuck?" we pondered.  It's the way we've always done things here in Chicago, but Marti and Rachel had job things to do (whatever) and we showed up late because the suburbs decided to take a gigantic traffic shaped shit right there on the 88.  It was time to eat brunch, goddamnit.  When considering the bevy of seriously awesome locales to stuff your face full of delicious vegan brunch in Chicago, I'd say that though there are several other places that are comparably good, the Elway seal of approval goes to Pick Me Up on Clark St.  We gorged ourselves on delicious vegan food, and shit was right again.  The story from there is familiar.  We played our third show at The Beat Kitchen, which is quickly becoming my favorite venue to play ever, with three totally ripping openers.  Devon Kay and the Solutions, Dowsing, and Sass Dragons all managed to nicely sate the musical palate in different ways.  The show was super well attended given that it was a Monday night, and we played yet another super-fun set in America's super-best city.  Post show drinks were practically inhaled at The Gingerman Tavern, courtesy of Katie Jegroote and I'm pretty sure I should have thrown up.  Standard.

9/11/12: Never Forget Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
The incessant honks in support of the Chicago teacher's strike shook us out of a sound, blackout slumber. Our stomachs churning with the unforgivable combination of whiskey and a heart-seizing portion of Wrigdog cheesefries, we skipped over our brunch rendezvous and set our sights on Pittsburgh.  6 hours later, with pockets horrifically gouged by toll fares, we checked in at 222 Ormsby. This we be our second time playing here, and we were amped to revisit the house turned venue complete with plenty of floor space, a lounge, and a loud as fuck PA system.  We dropped off our gear and masterfully steered Vanzig down the narrow hills of Pittsburgh like a Maddog 20/20 sponsored bobsled team. The prize? Some pretty passable vegan grub at Over The Bar, a bicycle/bar food themed restaurant. The show was awesome. Kids sang along and another timid tuesday night in Pittsburgh was transformed into a tantric punk rock noise orgy. Not bad. After the show we slammed some Yeunglings and seared our palates with habanero veggie burgers. The denouement took place alongside the river confluence, our beer bottles glistened in distant city lights while we were consumed by conversation atop the wreckage of an abandoned yacht. Pretty. Fucking. Awesome. 

9/12/12: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Our excitement to arrive in Philadelphia, eat some killer sammies at Govinda's, and hang with hometown heros Luther, Rob Lately, The Holy Mess, and One Win Choice was punctuated by innumerable traffic lights and haunting habanero farts from the previous late night. We received our variable feast of vegan pepper steak and faux chicken Philly cheese subs and ate among bestest friends Drew, Anika, Dave, and Dan who drove down from Brooklyn for the show. Once satiated by good food and great company, we headed to the Cracker Factory in order to drink, sing, and sweat in a musty basement with our buddies. The handsome dudes in Cry Baby played first and set the precedent for a night of rocking tunes. Rob (shaboy) Malloy upped the ante of attractiveness and musical amusement with his solo project Rob Lately as his crooning acoustic songs of new found love provoked gushy sentiments in a 90s-alt rock fashion. Downtown Struts upped the punx with a Rancid cover while the gents in Luther closed out the night spectacularly with their thrashing. The evening that followed was dangerously drunk and fun. Just ask Garrett, who woke up in some random parking lot with dicks and lighting bolts sharpied all over his hungover facade. The next day we woke up at Greg's (of Menzingers fame) and sought out pizza. Our final task before leaving for Europe was to sucker somebody into giving us a ride to JFK. Luckily, stoned to the bone Andy from Luther was kind and stupid enough to brave traffic and bordom to help us out. Eight hours, some inflight boozing, and a handful of Lorazepam later, we made it to Frankfurt, Deutschland.   

To be continued...

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