William Benton's tour journal: Packed house at the infamous First Avenue in Minneapolis; wide-open spaces in the great American West
Tour Journal: Drive Day, Minneapolis, and Madison.
Drive Day through Northern United States
(Assembled from cryptic notes and foggy memories.)
I woke up around the same time as everybody else which made for a chaotic scene of all 12 (both bands combined) scrambling, packing, and loading up to leave.
I believe everybody was a bit groggy but maybe that was just my own, groggy perception of things. It was a misty, cool morning. I walked next door to procure a cup of coffee and, much to my surprise, found that the barista/counter person was the same person who was serving beers at the karaoke bar just a few hours ago.
That lady has an intense work ethic!
She thanked us for coming in the prior night as it is typically slow there. She even said that she enjoyed our singing … which leads me to believe that she mighta’ been a tad dishonest. (Aren’t they all?)
She gave me free coffee. So she goes down as a ‘hero’ in my book.
Thus began an epically LONG drive through the remainder of Washington, through the lengths of both Montana and North Dakota, and a chunk of Minnesota before arriving at our next show in Minneapolis.
This, at the quickest, is about a 22 hour drive. So we decided a general area to get a night’s sleep at a hotel- somewhere in between. I don’t remember where.
One of the first things to catch our eyes in the high desert was Wild Horses Monument near Grant, Washington. We could see the giant, iron horses at the top of some hills and, despite our tight driving schedule, decided to stop and make the steep climb.
It sorta’ kicked our collective asses getting up there but, once we reached the top, the view was well worth it. (Descending was more difficult, actually.) I made a bouquet of wildflowers.
The drive continued and, at one of our fuel stops, in walk Acid Mothers Temple. Twas nice to see our Japanese wizard tourmates in the wilderness. We posed for a lot of goofy photos and got a lot of stares.
Past that, it was a long day of getting over half of the drive under our belt. In the evening we began the epic, online search for a motel along the well that wouldn’t cripple our finances, wouldn’t give us bedbugs, or find us robbed and murdered in the night. (They don’t elaborate on these things in Yelp reviews.)
Relief came at a place appropriately named The Oasis. We were rather surprised by how nice it was. The following morning was the best continental breakfast I have ever had at a motel: fresh fruit, decent pastries, juices, coffee, and hard-boiled eggs (the safe way to go with these grab and go meals when involving eggs, for sure).
Up early and on the road. Not much to speak of in-between The Oasis and Minneapolis but wilderness and cool weather. We hit some cool rain as we entered the city which seemed to be hopping for some reason- I think a sporting event.
We were to play the Seventh Street Entrance of the infamous First Avenue. I was a tad excited as it is the home of “Purple Rain” (both scenes from the film as well as live songs that were used on the album).
It goes without saying that I wore my “1999” shirt for good luck, even though I wore it under my usual black uniform – which has me looking something between a Vietcong trooper and/or a fascist caterer.
Minneapolis itself is one of those cities that has been very important to me: Mystery Science Theater 3000, Amphetamine Reptile Records, Husker Du/Bob Mould/Sugar, and even the oft-debated first punk band ever, The Trashmen (“Surfin’ Bird”). Twas a happy honor to be back and at such a great venue.
The stage we played is the small stage of this massive complex – and the big stage had been usurped by a MASSIVE show that had been moved from a venue that had exceeded capacity. I had no idea who that band/performer was but it brought out a very cheesy “white” crowd who drank fruity drinks with umbrellas and danced badly. Bless ‘em.
A special treat was an old Louisville friend, Mike, coming by with his girlfriend. Mike and I worked together at UPS for years and he, as well, was involved in Louisville music for years. I surely appreciate his stopping by.
I really, really had a great time at this gig. The crowd was while. When you can pack a room that size … the energy is just so great! We did the Hawkwind cover again and people went nuts for it. Someone has since posted some video:
We broke down and Acid Mothers Temple continued melting the Minneapolis crowd’s faces. As always, they delivered.
I wandered next door to find that the pseudo-hippie, pop party had adjourned and a dance party had commenced. I was just tipsy enough and, having sat on my ass in the van for many, MANY hours over the previous two days, I partook for about 20 minutes – or, long enough to notice how young a lot of the crowd was.
These younger people were the young ladies wanting to “engage” more than the others. Then I observed the “X” on hands and sloooowly put together that, yes, this was an all-ages dance thingy.
I was a creepy guy in his mid-30’s in the middle of it. I decided to retreat into our green room/basement and resume my life as an old fogey, drinking light beer and reading.
Morale was high. Everyone had a good time and felt good about the level at which we were playing. It was a good night.
Up, at ‘em, and on to Wisconsin. I can’t say it was another unremarkable drive – but I don’t remember a damn thing about it. Have I been in the city so long that I miss it, finding all this nature boring?
I am finally getting into the rhythm of things enough to read more.
I am currently reading Will Self’s “Psychogeography” (fantastic reading for travel), Dennis Cooper’s “Ugly Man” (which I am not liking at all – “shock writing” for shock’s sake … yawn), and rereading Knut Hamsun’s “Hunger” as a personal experiment with Kindle on my iTouch. It’s … weird. I can’t seem to invest myself for very long with the Kindle thing. It seems, to me, to be what watching porn is to actual sex. Some prefer the former to the latter in both areas…
We pulled into Madison and found the venue. We parked in a handicap spot just long enough to ask about load-in. Minutes later, as I turn the ignition key, there was nothing but a “click” – and nothing. Repeated attempts but to no avail. We weren’t going anywhere.
Of course, a guy pulls up and yells “Do you see that that is a handicap spot???”
I said, yeah, we know and we’re stuck in it waiting for a tow-truck. He pulled out his tag and said “Well, I’m handicapped! I should call on you.”
Great. Making friends already.
AAA was called and we soundchecked. Eventually the van was taken away and the diagnosis was that the starter was out. It would be a hefty price tag. Damn.
As our set began later in the evening, we were to find that it just wasn’t our day/night as far as hardware goes: broken string, broken monitor, broken van … bah! We still played a fairly good set that people seemed into but it’s hard when you know it can be so much better. We sold some records, so it couldn’t have been that bad.
We got a room at the Best Western across the street and I went straight to bed.
Our remarkable show in Minneapolis had found an immediate counter-balance in Madison and I wanted to bury it as quickly as possible.