We played on June 8 at Des Moines, Iowa, a pleasant little city. It took all of thirty minutes to see its sites. Our show at the Vaudeville Mews was totally fine — we played with an emo-fied Justin Timberlake look-alike in a Mookie Blaylock jersey and an Interpol-lite band featuring a pudgy singer wearing a bad suit and lots of mascara who performed the entire show with his fly down. Afterward, we went to this house where a bunch of high school grads and high school dads were sitting around playing acoustic guitars. We tried to join in, but it was apparent they were far more talented than us. One kid showed us a video of his Limp Bizkit-esque band, Reality’s Flaw, playing a Battle of the Bands.
Thursday we had an open day, but we managed to jump on the bill at a place called Duggan’s Pub in Lincoln, Nebraska. We played a very brief set and indulged the crowd of forty-year-old bikers to a rousing rendition of “Proud Mary.” A blues band featuring a sixty-year-old guitarist played after us. Following the show, we crashed at our UPS-working friend John’s house, where he burned us at least twenty CDs, including Guns n’ Roses’ The Spaghetti Incident.
The next day we drove to Lawrence, Kansas, a college town almost too cool for its own good. Our show was at the Jackpot, and it seemed like there was absolutely no promotion, so we had our doubts. Things did turn around, however: we got to play with the best band on the tour so far, Tempe, Arizona’s Reindeer/Tiger Team, a guitar-and-drums duo featuring two of the most charming men we’ve come across. The place filled out somewhat for our set, and even more so for the headlining band, a group of high-school musical prodigies who sucked. Their fifty-five-year-old “manager” gave us his business card. After the show, our newfound friends Tara, Melanie and Steven Reker and Eddy Crichton of the Tiger Team, hit up a ridiculous college party on Indiana Street (where Ron Klaus wrecked his house). A very friendly Indian coke dealer named Sssyam took care of us and showed us some sick Bhangra moves.
Next stop was Wichita, where we didn’t have a show but were going to meet the man who painted the cover for one of our favorite records, The Embarrassment’s 1983 opus, Death Travels West. We had gotten in touch with him to see if he’d be willing to do the art for our record, and he was psyched to do it. So we wanted to stop by, give him some records and take him out to dinner. I was envisioning him as an obese hermit living an isolated existence, but in reality, Eric was an incredibly generous, handsome young man who welcomed us into his Spanish atomic-style house, while his wife, Sara, showered us with snacks and his friends asked us about our travels. By coincidence, Reindeer/Tiger Team was playing Wichita, so we attempted to get on the bill. For no discernible reason, the aged owner of Kirby’s wouldn’t let us play, but we stuck around to support the boys. They were great. Kid can drum.
Sunday we drove across Kansas toward Denver. We played a fun show at a place called Hi-Dive. Dan and Adam almost got into a fight when some meatheads “moshing” to the opening band knocked Dan over. The bar next store gave us great Cuban pork sandwiches. We also got to party into the wee hours with our old friend Aaron, who passed out while burning us thirty CDs of god knows what.
After Denver, we had a sixteen-hour drive to Couer D’Alene, Idaho. Driving across vast stretches of remote Wyoming was amazing, and we stopped many times to take pictures of nothing. Around 10 p.m. we stopped for gas in Big Timber, Montana (apparently where Michael Keaton lives) and then noticed a glowing bowling sign down the street. We checked it out, only to find a pristine, frozen-in-time six-lane alley leftover from 1973 and an adjoining bar. Mardi, the spunky forty-something grandmotherly bartender, let us bowl some games (at two bucks a piece) and kept topping off an endless supply of pitchers. We hung out with a slew of charming locals, got wasted and ended up closing the place and passing out in the parking lot.
Yesterday we arrived in Couer D’Alene, in the panhandle of Idaho. Since we played to a grand total of six people (including two ten-year-old members of the town’s finest punk band, Wasted Youth/Black Rose), the highlight was the excellent two-dollar burgers at Hudson’s. Tyson, the man who ran the tea store/head shop where we played, let us spend the night, and we had a nice time watching Annie Hall and sleeping on their many couches. Next stop is Seattle, where we’re meeting up with buddies the Narrator and a thousand loving friends.
Part 1 of Oxford Collapse on tour
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