Distaster stories from the road: Chapter 2

Tragedy, Blood, and Theft

st. louis
madison, IN
madison, WI

who'd have thought?

Our touring life hasn't been all that toury lately, I mean, we're playing gigs and all that, but after staying with J's folks in St. Louis and mine in Detroit, it feels more like we're on a family reunion trip.

We haven't killed each other yet, and we seem to be dealing with our daily adventures fairly well. Although after reading N's tour journal (suspiciously sent out before mine) I realize that I need to counter the huge lies and cover-ups. I mean, he didn't even mention our consistent drug use or the alien spaceship orgies.

But, lemme rewind to last week.

We left Spartanburg to drive through the mountains to Ashville. Once there we tried to pick up an extra gig that night. We drove to “The Kats Lair” (which sounded to me like an alternative club anxiously awaiting a hip industrial band like us) They were hosting a battle of the bands and we thought we might be able to slip on the bill. My first clue that I had guessed wrong was the confederate flags on every wall. My second was the use of bull's horns as their primary thematic element. Third were the cowboy hats, forth, fifth, sixth… you get the idea. I turned on my heal and walked out, but then I thought to myself “what the hell” and went back in to ask the bartender if “y'all we're looking for another band?” The gentleman informed me they were “clear booked up through August” After getting turned down at a second bar, N and J went on a date and I wired the bus to have electricity for my computer.

The next morning we woke up in yet another hotel parking lot. With nothing to do for three days, I suggested we go to Short Mountain, a gay men's intentional community in Tennessee. (note: not just gay men live there, but it is predominately gay men, and I've always thought of it that way.) We called, but they didn't answer, so we called another (predominately) queer community called IDA ( I.D.A. means something, but I forget what, except that I think the D is for Dandy.) They're sort of an artist's community right next to Short Mountain. The phone was answered by Maxine, an extremely friendly man who basically said, “sure, just show up.”

Easier said then done, IDA, while breathtakingly beautiful, is harder to find than the human soul. Maxine's directions took two pages in my notebook, and driving there was akin to daring fate to flip our bus down a mountainside. One of the directions was (I'm not kidding) “drive though the creek bed.”

Anyway, it was worth it. IDA, and everyone who lives there, rocks. They normally have 13 people, but only 6 were there when we showed up. When the membership got down to 5, we might have been able to pull off a hostile takeover if we were so inclined… well, maybe not, they had dogs too.

If there were IDA trading cards, this is what their bio sections would look like:

Maxine: A gentle soul. Quiet and dignified. Superpower: Gardening

Pete: A talented musician and planner with limitless energy. Superpower: Infectious Laugh

Lisa: Laid back, unaccountably friendly, supreme conversationalist. Superpower: Comforting Aura

Ruby: Precocious, intelligent, supremely wise, 8. Superpower: Magic pipe cleaner animals

Matt: Kickass, open, to the point. Superpower: Baptist impersonations.

Brett: Resident mystic, an eternal well of grooviness. Superpower: Mellowness beam

Our stay at IDA was so nice that it offset that we had to use an outhouse in 15-degree weather. We also got to have dinner at Short Mountain. A tip for all of you who have never been to these two communities and wonder if there are hot people who live on communes, I have a theory that Short Mountain and IDA screen (or maybe breed) for attractiveness.

In a word, damn.

In the middle of our visit we played a gig in Cookville TN. That night it snowed deadly. Matt from IDA went with us, which made the drive fun, but I kept thinking, “no one is going to show up at this gig, why are we going?”

When we arrived at the gig, the “bar” was a tin shack attached to a warehouse. We walked in and… I have to pause to let the chills run out of me… the place was, well, it was hell, hell on earth. More confederate flags, good ole' boys at the bar (looking at us like, well, like we were the freaks we were), country music playing, auto racing on the many many TV's. They were selling tee shirts that said “you are either with us, or you're with the terrorists.” I could hear Obi-Wan's voice in my head, “run Luke run!”

“Fuck this” I said.
“We can be back in IDA in less than an hour” I said.
“Sure lets stay, and why don't I just write 'Kill me' on my forehead” I said.

I was outvoted, impending death didn't seem like a good enough reason to block, so we stayed.

The bartender said, “the boys here wanna know what kinda music you play.” I didn't think they were down with terms like “industrial” or “techno” so I said, “Heavy Metal”

“Heavy Metal Rap” said Nexus helpfully.

A rather angry looking man in a cowboy hat looking me in the eye and said, “I can do without the rap.”

“I can do without the rap.”

I asked what he would prefer we play.

“I can do without the rap.”

Three times! He said it three times, all while staring me down! I once again went into a huddle with the band (and Matt) and tried to bribe everyone, “I will buy you all dinner, and give each one of you a crisp $5 bill, if we run screaming from here.”

I, once again, was outvoted.

The promoter showed up (two hours late) and I voiced my concerns about anti-war anarchists playing in such an establishment. I asked him if he even listened to our demo or read our lyrics. “why? how bad is it?” he replied.

I managed not to hit him.

Anyway, we played the gig, for no one. The place was empty except for Matt, the other band (who didn't even play), and a few rednecks who heckled us. I spent a good part of the show screaming “yeee-ha!” and suggesting that we were going to play rawhide. I did get the “audience” to shout anarchy with us. But some of them got confused and shouted, “Canada!”

During the show a fight broke out in front of the bar. The gig ended, and we got the hell out of there.

With great regret we tore ourselves away from IDA the next day.

In a weird, convoluted way, we were able to secure a gig in Louisville at the famous BRYCC house. Little did we know that fate had dark and sinister plans for us.

WE WERE ROBBED! robbed! stolen from! The horror!

Well, seriously. I lost my guitar and my hand drum, J lost a handdrum, and we lost a rug (why would anyone take a rug?) When we realized that it was all gone for good, I remember thinking, “I guess we're not a band anymore.”

I guess I'll have to put in the most crucial detail. We weren't exactly robbed in the traditional broke-in-the-bus-and-took-our-stuff sense. I guess it was more in the pulled-over-to-the-side-of-the-road-to-add-oil-to-the-engine-and-kinda-left-our-shit-by-the-side-of-the-road sense. I mean, given that context, we sort of set up a garage sale, but for free.

I mean, we only had driven away for like 5 mins and when we came back, it was all gone. It was sad, but also kinda funny. If I heard about us, I would point and laugh. Go ahead, you know you want to.

Long story short. I borrowed a guitar from another band and we played the BRYCC house show, which went awesome, they loved us. The next day I bought a new (used) guitar and J picked up another hand drum from her parents.

Life goes on.

Next we played a show in Indiana. Looking at the town, I said, “here goes Cookeville all over again. Yee-Haw!”

I was so wrong. The show was packed with punk rock kids who cheered when we put up our anarchist flag. I played my new guitar for the first time, and the show kicked ass. After we got done playing, I noticed that my hand hurt a bit, so I washed it and went on with my night (we all crashed on the promoter's Mom's floor, it was cute.) The next day we visited my parents, and I showed them my guitar. It turns out that the bridge was kinda sharp and when I played at the show, it cut me up. The bridge was covered in blood.

I may have lied about the drug use and the alien orgies, but I am so fucking punk rock.

Next Week: Chicago, Madison, Communes!

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