As I write this, I am sitting in a motel in Michigan, a number of days after the events I am about to describe occurred. I got a little behind and, once we hit Minneapolis, our 22-straight show streak began and I now see how difficult it will be to relay events as they happen.
So, the following is based upon foggy recollections and random notes found in my bag. Somewhere in between might lie the truth…
I hadn’t been to Canada in a couple of years but I couldn’t help but meditate way too long on the events of our previous visit to our continental neighbors to the north; and it worried me a bit.
The last time Phantom Family Halo went into Canada, we did so with forged papers by a booking agency that stated that we would be playing for free, for some charity, and that all of our merchandise would be promotional and free, therefore disqualifying us from any taxes when we attempted to return to the Unites States.
Of course, that is all true … if you give a shit and are somehow involved in Canadian immigration and/or border control.
Also, the last time we entered Canada, a particularly inspired member of the group insisted that we stop and make a final sweep of the borrowed van that we were using, just in case there was anything that might be questionable at the border. We hesitantly stopped to bed down whatever lingering paranoias and found a one-hitter pipe in the cushions of the driver’s seat.
That stop surely paid off ….
Border crossing itself was rather unpainful. We got a few questions, presented our papers, were asked to stand inside for a bit before being asked the same questions again by agents inside the building. Fortunately, we occupy a not-so-lucrative netherworld as far as merchandise goes as the agent in charge of commercial goods didn’t deem our modest pile worth her time and paperwork. We were told to have a good show.
I had never been to Vancouver despite all of the enthusiastic reports from friends about how great shows can be there for American bands. The city itself looks strange in a sort of foreign way, bordering on pseudo-futuristic mirrors and … something?
Canada is just detached enough from American life to have subtle differences that I cannot entirely identify. And I am OK with that.
We arrived at the venue which reminded me somewhat of a dinner club or lodge of some sort. The soundman, “Trouble,” was an older guy who was very enthusiastic about his job and resulted in no trouble at all, to tell the truth. He even commented on how much he was entertained by our exchanges, which were probably all rather peculiar jokes and references made at each other’s expense.
I walked around a bit and nearly talked myself into buying some nice clothes, which has been one of the more sore spots in my New York lifestyle: not being able to afford to look nice.
I decided against it, got stared at a lot, and returned to the venue.
Our set went pretty well. Those Canadians like to drink and party and we got them just as they were in the preliminaries. They seemed to dig it and we surely enjoyed bringin’ it to them
As kind as everybody was, we didn’t make any friends who seemed like they would be good hosts for us to stay the night. So, we packed up and headed back to the USA to stay with a friend of a friend’s in Seattle. We arrived sometime near 4 a.m. And it sucked. I slept on a couch that was just too short for me, am average height white male. I ached when I woke up.
Spokane was added to this tour while we in Kansas City. Of course, we’d rather play than spin our wheels and not make any money, so we were more than happy to agree to gig.
The drive there was nothing to speak of but I immediately felt a strange sort of déjà vu when we pulled into town as it very much reminded me of smalltown Oklahoma and places where I grew up. The people, the dead businesses, the overall grim gray to the whole place – it weighed heavy on me.
We were going to play an art space which meant that we would not be on a stage or anything. I, personally, love exceptions like that as it helps me to be on my toes AND those shows tend to be more energetic. We loaded in and a few of us went for a walk after that. Next door was yet another strip club with signs asking for bartenders and dancers. (So, if this gig didn’t pay anything, than we knew what we had to do to get paid.)
Walking around, I gotta’ say, was a little tense. I got yelled at a few times. I sensed that there was no way that I wouldn’t be noticed in such a small town. I retreated back to the venue after getting some groceries.
So, we set up and went to work. And it was great. They were a great, appreciative crowd and we had a lot of fun. Some video was shot at the very end of our set that I think captured a bit of the “party vibe” the room had:
When we were done, Acid Mothers Temple set up and went to work only to have the fire marshall shut it down within 20 minutes.
The crowd was super, super bummed. I felt bad about it all but I guess there wasn’t anything that I could have done. So, a few of us went down the street to drink a beer and decompress.
While there, we were asked to do karaoke, which, turned out to be a lot of fun when Tabata and Justin of the AMT crew came down. (Somewhere in the abyss of Youtube you will find me doing a very dramatic and sincere performance of Pink Floyd’s “The Final Cut”- but I sure as hell ain’t linking it.)
(Editor’s note: Insider Louisville made an easy 50 bucks off William by agreeing not to post it.)
A bandmate came to join us and gave an account of the nearby strip club. It had bummed him out noticeably. He mentioned that the girls dance for tips only and there was nobody else there. They just seemed desperate and sad. And that made me feel bad.
I returned to the art space to sleep to find that it looked like a Japanese Jonestown with everybody crashing in/at random points around the building.
I was tipsy and tired so I did little more than unroll my sleeping bag on the hardwood floor and went right into dreamland ….