Another Monday on the road, another Punk Rock Night at Uncle Fester's in Bloomington. PRN in Bloomington is one of the most golden of oases in the world of DIY punk rock touring: a guaranteed hot crowd on a Monday night, which is a dead zone in any other city. Playing shows on the road on a Monday usually result in the locals saying, "man, come back on a weekend and it'll be much better." Yes, because bands are able to magically route their tours so that they're only traveling on weekends and the rest of the time they're home in their beds. Someday transporter technology will render weeknight shows obsolete.
Anyway, enough rambling. Despite a sudden decision by the state of Indiana to adopt Daylight Saving Time, thus denying us the extra hour we thought we had to get to Bloomington from Lansing (seriously, Hoosiers, wtf? My world has shifted), we still arrived in town early enough to find the bar still closed. After consulting the flyer to note that there are only three bands on the bill (us, Sump Pumps, and a local called Landlord), we drove to Rob and Kyl3 Sump Pump's place to chill out. As we made conversation, we asked Rob about the other band on the bill; he knew nothing. He then brought up how our Milwaukee pals Terrior Bute contacted him to get on the bill, as they needed a show on their way home from Baltimore. Rob had referred them to Josh at Fester's (as had i), but had heard nothing since.
Then the phone rings, and Rob has a conversation with Josh. Suddenly we discover that 1) Terrior Bute have arrived, having never heard anything from Josh and hoping to hop onto the show, and 2) ON TOP OF THAT, Josh had allowed two other touring punk bands to hop on last minute before Bute even showed up. Suddenly we had gone from three bands to SIX on a Monday night show that normally starts at 11 and ends by 2 (the bar closes at 3). WTF.
We arrive at the club and starting giving Terrior Bute good-natured shit when we see them. Obviously this isn't entirely their fault; Josh never responded to their email, and they showed up understanding that if nothing else, they'd get to hang out at the show. Admittedly, we were a little annoyed at the prospect of smashing six bands together on a Monday night, but fuck it--that's sort of what punk rock, DIY touring is about. Plus, Terrior Bute are our pals and a great band, so of course we're gonna help 'em out if we can. No question. Arrangements are made to have all three of our bands (Bute, Pumps, and us) share our gear, and away we went.
Credit Josh at this point for running the show like a goddamn machine. He started the show a half hour early (10:30), and instructed the other two late-arriving punk bands to share gear and play 15 minutes each. And to their credit, the switchover was quick and painless and both bands were done by roughly 5 after 11. Suddenly we were back on schedule (especially considering Bute play for 20-25 minutes, tops). So credit the first two bands for being efficient (but don't credit the second band's singer for being a dick and throwing a bottle up into the second level area and almost hitting Kyl3. Douche move, Massengill).
After Landlord's solid Dinosaur Jr. cover, we set up our gear for Terrior Bute, and the boys do us proud, slamming through their keytar jams and easily winning the crowd over (as we knew they would--c'mon, a crowd that likes us and the Sump Pumps? No-brainer for Terrior Bute). We hit the stage and blasted through some new tunes for the Bloomington crowd (i think last time we came through we treated them to "Paulding Light" and some Hot Nuggets! songs, but i think everything else new we're playing was new to them as well), and the Sump Pumps just killed. Their new material is seriously incredible, as the CD-R Rob burned for us confirms. Just...wow.
The other amazing thing about Bloomington is that you can buy beer until 3 AM there. Thus, on the way back from Fester's, a last-minute run to Kroger's was executed before closing time so we had beers to consume at the house. We kicked back and had a few with Matt the BattleBot (Murder By Death's bass player, who lives with Rob and Kyl3) as we watched Lewis Black on HBO. Yup, real livin'.
And so, our first multi-day road trip with Rev.Ever ends without a single hitch. I think the dude can hang.
One important piece of information needs to be remembered during the recap of our time in Lansing this time out:
Tom and Jim from Red Swan built a still.
This is what sludgy doom balladeers in central Michigan do when they are not doing rock and roll--they distill their own hooch from whatever occurs to them on that given day. Upon our arrival, we were given some "Apple Jack" to sample--distilled 100-proof apple liquor. It was a little vinegary and a whole lot tasty, y'all (and as i am writing this, it's been over a week since i drank it and i can still see, so i think they know what they're doing). Tom at one point admitted to a desire to distill an entire Ceasar salad. I expect a full report when this happens.
When our bands arrived at Mac's there was an all-ages show wrapping up which featured the following bands (see if you can guess the prevailing genre of the musical acts at this show): Bloodlined Calligraphy, Dagon, Straight Line Stitch, Know Lyfe, and Among the Atrocities. If you're picturing a scenario where we're standing outside the club as inside we hear chugg-ch-chugg-a-chugg RRRRROOOOWWWWRRR wreee-nee-nee-nee-neener CHUGG, you're pretty much spot on. Once the show ended, i watched the kids haul their fancy road cases and fancy equipment out of the venue as i waited to load in my beat-to-shit duct-tape-covered drumset into the venue. I watched these kids, all decked out in their black jeans and black hair and black black black things, and i looked at my friends and myself--me with my salt-and-peppered hair; The Wizard and Tom with their male pattern baldness; Yale with his Sconni dude paunch, and i imagined these kids staring at us and being convinced that we were waiting to get on stage to play CCR and ZZ Top covers all night. And while that would be fun, that's not exactly what we had in mind for the club.
What we did have in mind was the usual hot rock, which was delivered despite a pretty nasty derailment during "Defenestrate Me" that wasn't able to get back on track because vocals really couldn't be heard on stage. There was some nasty bass feedback ringing through the monitor mix that kept us from really hearing each other, but we trudged through like troopers to positive feedback (heh) from the small but attentive audience. And Red Swan KILLED it. Duh. Those guys need to play out of town more often and share the awesome with the rest of the Midwest at least.
Let's pause for a moment to check in on our resident rookie and see how he's been handling his first major multi-day HiFi road trip. As i alluded in the previous entry, Chicago saw our Rev.Ever get loaded up on the whiskey and beers and pass out but good in the most contorted of ways on Zak Starcastic's floor. When we awoke on Monday morning after Sunday's Lansing show and subsequent Apple Jack consumption, i noticed a cut on the Rev's forehead.
"Um, dude? Where did that come from?"
"Uh, i don't know! Um...OH! I remember! Tom took me downstairs to the basement to show me where they keep their gear, and i bashed my head on the ceiling going down the stairs, i think."
Remembering that Tom went to bed before any of us, i looked over at Tom and asked, "um, Tom? Did you take him down to the basement last night?"
Tom looked at us quizzically. "No......"
It was eventually decided that Jesus himself must have come to the Rev in a vision that night and led him into the basement in order to, well, crack him on the head, i guess. Bad Jesus. Naughty Jesus. But maybe he was trying to tell Rev.Ever something? We'll never know, but we do know that the Rev was definitely in the basement at some point, because he accurately described it to Tom.
After a quick Mexican lunch and a stop at a music store for supplies (as we entered the store, someone asked us which one of us was the drummer, to which Ever motioned at me and answered, "this guy." Another rookie mistake! I had to then explain to him why no one in the band is ever allowed to identify me as "the drummer" in a strange music store ever again), we were off for Bloomington. Thanks again, Lansing.
"I noticed you put the recap for this show over on the Superstarcastic blog, where you are a regular contributor."
"Yes. Yes i did."
"What the fuck, man? You're neglecting the HiFi tour journals and pouring all your writing chops into something not directly related to the band? Where's your dedication to the music, man? Since when does some blog take precedence?"
"Dude, are you seriously questioning my dedication? You? New guy? Fine, i'll link the recap over to our journal too, and just for that, i'm gonna add how you got all tore up on whiskey and bierce, Karaoke'd on Demand to some R. Kelly jam, and passed out with your eyes half open."
"Dirty pool, Doc. Dirty pool."
A few months ago, after this show was booked, we heard a story from our pal Slater, of white wrench conservatory and Two Room Honeymoon fame, about the Inferno, the goth bar we were playing on this night, this night of our first ever mini-tour with Rev. Ever. Basically, the point of the story was that upon visiting the bar, Slater and his pal made a solemn vow and wrote a contract on a napkin, which essentially said, "We, Slater and [Slater's friend], being of sound mind and body, do solemnly swear to never again make fun of Club Anything." (Club Anything, aka Club ? aka Club Interrobang, aka Club Huh, aka Club Riddler, etc. is the local Milwaukee goth bar, which, well, is sort of a running joke in these parts for myriad reasons, including it being A GOTH BAR.) So we were prepared for GOTHIC MADNESS as we pulled up to the club.
Unfortunately, no such luck. Apparently they all know that on one Thursday night per month, our buddy Jake Crustacean books bands he digs and plays music he likes, so they run for the hills. So with the exception of a couple girls in back of the bar who inexplicably kept yelling at the bands to play quieter and turn it down, most of the 30-40 people in attendance were indie rockers and bands filled with indie rockers. Amongst the pluses: my little brother Kris, aka Skippy Awkward (yes, it's not a palindrome. Inside joke); old pal, ex-echo-static drummer and fill-in Brainerd drummer Chad Ovshak; and other old pal Eric Amble, who wanted to evaluate the new guy. Solid folk, all.
Openers Road Agent Spin played a competent set of catchy power-pop, the highlight of which was a rippin' cover of Thin Lizzy's "Cowboy Song." Brainerd headlined and totally fucking tore the roof off the sucker with loud as fuck Unsane-meets-Killdozer nastiness. And our set? Went over great, but it was "eh," i thought. Well, no, not "eh"--better than that, but we had some issues, notably Yale needing to borrow one of the Rev's guitars at the last monute as he hadn't realized that he messed up both his guitar's jacks in Minneapolis last weekend. So his guitar tone was a little weird, which threw me off. No biggie, really, and we still played well. Even if the ladies in the back thought we were too loud and one of the friends that Kris brought with him wasn't feeling it. Heh.
Instead of taking cash from the door as payment, we took what we made ($31!) and invested in a couple copies of Hot Nuggets! for the tour, via Jake. A pretty smart idea, as those six copies will gross over $60 by the time we get them sold.
Friday June 1st was a "day off" on the mini-tour (ha!) as we had been expecting the Superstarcastival to take place on this day instead of Saturday. Once that got shifted around, we really had no options for Friday night except for playing a quickie in Milwaukee, and frankly, we're playing too much in the town this summer as it is. So we rested up on Friday and awaited departure for Chicago Saturday.