Friday, February 14, 2014

The Winter of our Discotheque: Part III

Chapter 4: Return to Innocence II – Inland Enigma

1/29 – Spokane, Washington (garrett)

About a half hour into our drive we were greeted with Seattle rain turning to Washington mountain pass snow and a dreary tundra landscape with a solid inch ice blanket draped over everything. A double length bus ride later we arrive in Spokane – a city with the highway that runs over it that if only passed one may think a city of solely gas stations and Taco Times. Fortunately we got to experience the true beauty of Spokane starting with a bar/venue called Carr's Corner boasting a wall full of wacky penises sketched on dollar bills and an excellent stripper shadow mural. After a snowy load in we learned RCR had placed their van and trailer into a ditch of snow off the side of the highway and was currently getting winched out by a tow truck. With the mood for the night set we headed out to find somewhere to eat.

We decided to take our patronage across the street to an originally projected highway marker – Taco Time. It was two dollar veggie burrito Tuesday with a ready-2-garnish salsa bar complete with three different types of ranch and thousand island dressing. We ate our burrito du jours and felt immediate regret settle into our stomachs cuing a stomach grabbing line at the bathroom beginning with Jared who puked a pink cotton candy like cloud into the toilet. Completely satisfied with our “It's always time for Taco Time” experience we returned back to the venue.

A very comforting “I think there is money at the door, so you can drink whatever for a while” bar drink deal explanation assured us that the show to come was going to go smoothly and professionally. After we ordered our whatevers we met a number of characters who were already well familiar with the bar and decided to grapple us with their arms and their repetitive slurred words. The show began and was attended by a dozen and a half folks, some of who were still trying to grapple us on stage, and one photographer who decided to walk around on stage and do whatever the artistic process inspired him to do. RCR arrived in the nick of time to slay and receive a similar greeting as us. A solid 40% show and we were on our way to a house that had “98 beers” waiting for us.

In attendance of the party were the dudes from the first band, their wives/girlfriends (one of who we were told “did not want us there”), and some stoked guys. We B-lined it to the fridge and started the beer count down when we were asked what food we wanted. Grateful I responded for myself “anything vegetarian!” which initiated a long conversation of yes - veggie dogs/burgers are real, and no – just because I don't eat meat doesn't mean my beer is non-alcoholic. More beers and a few Taylor Swift songs later pizzas were had and a deal between Danny and I went down that if I ate half a dog cookie he would drink a shot of olive oil. Feeling like courageous fourteen year olds and 98 beers nearly depleted we passed out.

1/30 – Boise, ID (Garrett)

Wake up amongst party wreckage. Cigarette filled beer bottles. Cold chickens forgotten on the grill. Head out. More snowy bullshit. Do quick math in head of the amount of miles I travel in a year and the probability that we will die in a vehicle before the end of this band. Roughly equals likely. Arrive at the Shredder in Boise. Immediately love it. Nineties pop culture references pasted all over the walls. Bar has dollar beers and Four Loco. Arcade machines. A fucking half pipe inside. Someones notebook sketched high school fantasy of recreating Shredders Lair from Ninja Turtles and having punk shows actually came to fruition. First Band. Opens up with pretty good Hot for Teacher cover. We play. Shows can't be bad when someone is shredding a half pipe while you play. Dollar drinks over time multiplied by end of show time equals many beers. Half pipe seems like a great idea. We all try. We all fall. Joe falls hard three times. Joe's relentless determination to accomplish not eating shit puts him on skateboard again. Joe eats shit. Skateboard flies out from under him. Skateboard launches off half pipe. Skateboard is airborne. Skateboard clears safety nets set up to prevent this very thing from happening. Skateboard nose dives on other side. Skateboard goes through a pinball machine. Glass shatters and turns into more of a liquid consistency seeping into all the tiny pinball machine components. Clenched assholes. Bar owner is super bummed. We pathetically make it up to him with a free t-shirt. Run away to escape in bus. Bus won't start. One dozen drunk dudes standing around trying to figure out how to jump a bus. An hour later the bus starts. Retire to Boise dude's house. Pass out. -

1/31 – Salt Lake City (Joe)

I never framed my college degree. The testimony of scholastic achievement has been sealed in a manilla envelope and woven itself into the dust and decay like a haunting apparition. I exchanged a well paying job and a stable future for a fringe-lifestyle of world travel and playing music with my best friends. We've worked hard and our livers have worked harder. When an unceasing gauntlet of adversity presents itself the scales of sacrifice and satisfaction are set to balance and teeter playfully along the line of equilibrium. When will the collapse come, if ever?
The overwhelming encroachment of self-doubt and defeat are countered by hazy recollections of triumph and embracing every moment as on opportunity for stupidity and fun. My mind returns swimming in the Croatian Adriatic, standing at the base of St. Basil's Cathedral, the child-like joy of our first basement shows, and imbibing in whiskey-gingerales. The recent hardships inspired a 250lbs, 6 foot 3 inch, 27 year old grown-ass-man to escape into a roadside Burger King play place. If you tried to contact Tim recently, sorry, he crushed his phone in a head-first dive down the swirly-slide.
One bottle of Jim, two 30-racks of warm Icehouse, three pizzas, and an original Nintendo; well...fuck yes, Salt Lake City! We were stoked to play with SLC-staple, Problem Daughter, again. Those dudes rip! Direct Hit! perfected their one-lines jokes, Elway drank and did stuff, and RCR was flawless. Thanks to Megan for another great show!
The perilous weather forced us to depart early from the city. Tim conquered three hours of driving while the rest of us goons rang in Danny's birthday with a bunch of cheap beer and legdrops in the back of the bus. A laughably cheap motel room was reserved and we fell asleep watching a captivating documentary about salt or can-making...or something...I had given up by that point.

2/1 – Fort Collins (Tim)
If the I-80 were a person, it'd be one of those girls who just haunts a full decade of your life, being super shitty to all of your friends, having insane mood-swings, and being terrible and unavoidable. We've traversed the 80 dozens of times from coast to coast, and I just cannot fucking stand it sometimes, but like with the type of girl mentioned earlier, I just can't help but fall into dysfunctional love. This bullshit, icy highway; flanked with boring, featureless expanses of land and shitty truckstops staffed by the dregs of rural America, takes us everywhere. It'll probably be the death of me.

Garrett: Do you have any fruit or yogurt or something like that?
Wyoming fast food store manager: Uhhhhh, we gots a ice cream.

So after watching 350 miles and dozens of flipped over cars buzz by, we arrive in our hometown. We immediately head to College Cafe, where we gorge on a bounty of just terrible for you Chinese food. After that, we cruise over to Road 34 and load in. The show was spectacular, like it always is in Fort Collins. I took it upon myself to erase what memory I had of the day's garbage drive with use of draft coors and at least 3 types of illicit substances. We retired to mega babe Chris Love's compound and proceeded to absolutely flood our brains with dopamine and adrenaline by way of both manmade and natural chemicals. It was the caliber of partying that carries with it a sort of “what the fuck do I care? We're only driving 60 miles tomorrow” attitude. What could possibly go wrong?

2/2 – 2/6 – Denver and the lonesome death of Beelzebus
We left for Denver early after being instructed by the venue to show up well ahead of the goddamn super bowl to load in and what have you. We were just north of Longmont on the short drive that is absolutely second nature to Elway when the bus just up and quit. No screeching tires, no explosion, no dramatic wreck, just a permeating silence that fell on the I-25 like the aftermath of a hanging. The rope creaked and moaned with the weight of the 10,000 lb automotive corpse dangling below the valance of foothills and the staggering, pitiless rocky mountains standing stolid as an executioner. Toss a skeleton of gear, merch, and personal necessities into 3 different vehicles we frantically called to the scene > wait for tow > bring to shop > shop can't work on van > tow 2 blocks to another shop for a quarter of a thousand dollars > they look at the van for four days > They say it is fixable > we cancel Omaha, Kansas City, St. Louis and Moline > we have to leave for Chicago in a rented minivan to make the show > We have to leave Dan Case in Denver to retrieve the bus and meet us in Lincoln a few shows down the line > we have a vague plan of action...

We show up to the venue utterly defeated, but not as defeated as the Denver Broncos were in the super bowl. Tons of idiot bros pour into the streets of lower downtown Denver where we played. The venue was ¾ full of punk kids and ¼ full of these knuckle-dragging simians, dead inside because their shitty fucking football team let them down, and thus they weren't able to get their obsolete masculine impulses out by shouting in victory. Shit was primed to be weird. False Colours was rad and warmed up the bummed out crowd. Direct Hit kept momentum going and did well, despite the day's hardships. We had a great set (except for the having to stop a song to break up a fight), and Red City Radio capped off our tour together in glorious revelry. Garrett Dale played a guitar solo while sat upon a passed out bronco-(and probably alco-)holic man on stage. The bouncers beat the piss out of some drunk idiot, and both sides were too drunk and macho to listen to reason and not resort to utter stupidity. Fuck this shit, let's go to Joch's house and pass the shit out.

The next few days were a nightmare. Direct Hit flies home. We wait and wait and wait. I don't care to talk details, so let's just say it was pretty much Elway as a collective staring at our reflection in a gigantic, career-ending knife. We got our shit together because we had to. It's hard to do it any other way. Thanks to Joch, Stacey, Staci, Aaron, False Colours and everyone who helped us with everything. Fuck.

2/7 – Chicago, IL (Garrett)

A your-mom's-brand-new-2014-minivan ride from Denver landed us in Chicago sleepless but stoked/surprised to have made it late morning. I submitted to a nap in Tim's/Typesetter's warm windowless hallway womb that incubates dreams of heavy rock and ecstatic dancing and drugs and boobs and stuff. Upon stirring from my fantastic slumber we had just received a call that, as best as I understood, was “yeah so there's a small thing that fell into the big thing of your engine and it's all melted and stuck or something so we gotta open up your whole engine and get in there at it.” to which we responded “well how much would that be?” and they responded “like a billion dollars so get fucked.” Now that the bus was officially just a really ugly gigantic piece of steel gutted open and laying in a garage, a mission to find a van to use for the rest of tour ensued. Some frantic phone calls, facebook posts, tweets, and sheer arms over head panicking later the heroic, benevolent, and extremely attractive Direct Hit lent us theirs.

Now, I've never been one to believe in curses or witches or God or anything silly like that – but when a band whose van and all of their gear had been recently stolen just after their practice space burnt down lends their van to a band who had two and a half breakdowns and multiple blizzards/ice storms/locust plagues (well might as well be locusts) within the past few weeks – you may be moved to pray. A confusing push and pull of emotions to relentlessly thank Direct Hit or curse them for inevitably letting us die concluded with us sucking it up, eating some noodles, and heading to the show.

The Beat Kitchen hosts one of our best shows on every tour. Mix this with the oblivion seeking gulps of ice tub beers and whiskey in toast to the completely uncertain shadow of the future and you have a show that's kind of like that scene where the diesel locomotive's throttle is jammed flying uncontrollably through a barren landscape at full speed. The conductor, who was previously feet up on the dash hysterically putting all his weight on the handle, calmly steps down and turns to embrace death. He climbs up on the roof of the unit, plugs a Gibson guitar into the input jack that directly feeds into the trains engine and out to all the Marshal cab stacked trailers buckled behind him, and proceeds to mouth open hair whipping shred while crashing through miles of lined up cymbals.

After the show boasting great sets from the lovely Please and Thank You's and Typesetter we returned to the house. We were followed by a party of people that poured through the doors like a Beastie Boys/Katy Perry music video (depending on your generation). Make out sessions, bicycle messengers, punks, and art school dropouts abound I stuck to a small area of kitchen linoleum having an exclusive iTunes dance party with the a power trio of Rachel, Lauren, and Erica. The thirty-racks dwindled, I reached my tipping point, escaped the kitchen without goodbye, found my way back to the womb hallway, and passed out.

2/8 – Madison, WI (Tim)

A white-knuckled drive across a frostbitten northern Illinois and we arrived in Madison. I spent all day wrestling with a deluge of involuntary defeatist annotations. 2014 is Elway's 7th year as a band and we just killed our 5th van. I mentally parse our history out into eras based on the piece of machinery that we were destroying in increments. The '77 Econoline that could scarcely bring us to Denver without vapor locking followed by the brown Astro van that needed a bungee cord to keep the sliding door from whipping open on the highway followed by the conversion van I bought off a Juggalo without a title that sprang a fatal oil leak 3 days before tour in 2011 followed by Vanzig, who took us across the country 3 times before violently colliding with a semi truck on the fucking I-80 in California, effectively ending it's life followed by the late Beelzebus laying disassembled in a Denver truck shop. What unlucky automobile would be next on Elway's hit list? Going further – are we to eternally persist in the pursuit of playing music the world over for an ever-diminishing return? We can scarcely afford to pay our own bills, let alone pay for a new van every 1.4 years. Could I blame the diminution of the music industry for our misgivings? Do we lack the chops to ever become a successful band? Should we throw in the towel while we're still young enough to lie in a job interview and say we spent the last 7 years working at ungoogleable places of business in faraway cities? Stress and uncertainty speak in low, insidious voices which corrode the volition that allows me to stave off what I ought to be doing in trade for what I love to be doing.

These thoughts are quieted in Madison, and we spent the night hanging out with a cast of great humans. The boys from Masked Intruder and Direct Hit, along with familiar Wisconsin faces like Bernie (who is the best), Kate, Christina, Nicole and others filled any extant lapses in sanity with the type of drunken merrymaking that made their state famous. The show was fun, and for a moment the waiting demons were relegated to silence.

We spent the next day transferring our gear into Direct Hit's van, coordinating our rendezvous with Dan Case in Lincoln, as he would have to rent a box truck to deliver the remaining gear, returning the only van we've ever driven but not destroyed, and making way toward Des Moines.

2/9 – Des Moines, IA (Tim)
The swathes of despair that seemed to encompass every facet of my sober conscience in the previous entry, though admittedly borne of a rationality that is worth giving credence to, began to annoy me today. The thought of quitting this band or music in general and submitting to a life I positively revile because we lost a fiberglass box with wheels is some serious pessimist bullshit. 'Let these vehicular misgivings distill your commitment to live as you please,' I thought, and so I will. The alternative seems too much like catatonia.

The show was our second outing at Gaslamp, and it was alright. Des Moines continues to prove itself to be a tough city for Elway. I love our promoter Kevan, though. A total stand-up guy who epitomizes the kind of mindset that enables bands like ours to do what we do, even in towns where it can be a tough sell. We headed to Kevan's house after the show and ate spaghetti, played his upright NHL Open Ice arcade game, and got a good night's sleep as we prepared to head west to meet up with poor, embattled Dan Case, The Menzingers, and Off With Their Heads.