GUYS CHECK OUT PART 1 first!
Wednesday, August 17th: Chicago
At one of the rest stops on the way, I shelled out a hard-earned dollar (and by hard-earned, I mean ‘in-my-favor wrong change incident from the merch table’… just kidding, O!) for a copy of ’18-wheel Singles,’ a newspaper for of the lonely hearts of the trucking set. Some people have their Friendster or their Match.com or their Oneida show for hooking up (as if, O!), while others have their tuck-stop newsprint broadsheet. Now I’m all for the kitch and ironic, but there was something emotionally painful about the desperate pleas and poorly mimeographed, blurred photographs of the 18-wheels singles. It wasn’t pity, more an acute and self-loathing shame in looking for an easy laugh amongst the sincere (if alien) and malapropos missed connections. I couldn’t even get any enjoyment out of the ‘Incarcerated’ section. I know, woe is me. Boo hoo hoo. I guess I should find solace in the fact that I’m not a jailed 50-year-old triple divorcee trucker looking for love from my jail cell.
At another rest/gas stop, there was a ‘Truckers Chapel of Faith’ which was a 24-hour church located inside a converted shipping container at the corner of a truck stop parking lot. Which is a great thing, because with a 24-hour chapel, you can just go ahead and get married to that truck-stop floozie and there’s no need to waste 50 cents on the condom machine in the bathroom. Hell, they probably have 50-cent wedding ring machines in the chapel bathroom.
Needless to say, all of this got me a little concerned about the state of romantic relations in the trucker world and got me wondering if this segment of the population was the ‘canary in the coal mine’ bellwether of social trends to come. And could this signal an approaching catastrophe for all those hipsters hooking up at electroclash shows and heavy metal karaoke nights? Because aren’t they our greatest concern?
T.C. (after successful joke): That’s Comedy.
Venue Report: The Empty Bottle
Drinks: B+. Tickets, but a fair amount of them.
Food: A-. We got free meals from the connected/associated restaurant next door. But we weren’t allowed to eat there. Which was understandable, if a little odd. But good eats…
Space: B-. It was a big place, but broken into two separate rooms. One had the pool table, video games, and merch place, and the other had the bar and the rock, but the connection was a doorway and little hallway, meaning you couldn’t see the show (or really hear the rock) from the non-stage room. So I didn’t see much of the show. It was packed, though.
Bathrooms: A. Secret bandroom bathrooms. Clean! With lights! And Door! And Locks! And paper!
Sound: B. Manned the tables so I didn’t see much of the show, so this grade is similar to when the 5th grade teacher gets sick of reading about pirates and just starts handing out random grades. Though, on second thought, that isn’t the greatest analogy. Who gets sick of reading about pirates? This grade is probably similar to when the teacher gets sick of reading about Texas steer at feeding time.
At the club they had a Playboy pinball game. Bobby and I gave it the old ‘softcore’ try. While it seems like a fantastic idea to have a Playboy pinball game (with all the Tommy/pinball wizard double entendres and whatnot), I can say this game was a complete bust. Not the good kind of bust you see in Playboy magazine. The bad kind of bust associated with a shitty pinball game. What a terrible game. This game completely took the tit out of titillating. Though the idea of handling a ‘joystick’ is probably closer to the spirit of Playboy magazine than slapping steel balls with flippers (which is more in the spirit of seal fetish erotica or something), the smutsters of Playboy video gaming enterprises weren’t even clever enough to take advantage of the silly synergistic opportunities (yes, that’s right, I said synergistic). Instead of, say, ‘Tilt!’ couldn’t you get the video game to say ‘Thrust!’ or something. Or couldn’t you do something with the ‘double ball play?’ Or some sort of video nudity bonus? Worthless.
Stayed with FOB Jessica. She had an old videotape of Oneida doing a musical kids show on Chicago public-access television which was one of the funnier things I’ve seen. The O: White Power Kiddie Funk!
Thursday, August 18th: Cleveland
Got some breakfast before hitting the road. The idea was to go to some polish place the band had been to before, but it was closed. As were a number of other places we tried. So Jennifer ended up taking us to a place which served, according to her, ‘new breakfast.’ Everyone knew exactly what she meant, and I thought that was a funny and apt term even if she didn’t invest it with the same derisive scorn I would have. I guess I’m an old breakfast fan, because I’m just not down with paying 7 dollars more for someone to put my egg on some greens and serve my coffee in a fancy mug. So don’t get me started on ‘new breakfast.’
Now we’ve all heard a lot of jokes about Gary IN, but I swear the water tower saying ‘Welcome to Gary’ was located behind the wastewater treatment plant.
Having gone to school near Cleveland, I’ve got a certain appreciation for that fair city. It gets a bit of a bad rap, what with the river fires, horrible urban blight and so on. But it’s never going to be easy to defend a town whose professional NFL franchise is named the Browns. Nothing is going to rally the fans around your team like the dynamic, exciting name of… the Browns. Hell, how about The Cleveland Blands? Or the Cleveland Insignificants? You just can’t win, Cleveland.
Venue Report: Beachland Tavern.
Food: A. The club only made wraps. I was totally down with this, but I’m a big fan of throwing a bunch of crap together and then wrapping it up in something. There’s just a certain sloppy indifference towards cuisine in that practice that suits me well. Any food named after its process of creation is good in my book.
Drinks: D-. Tickets, all of which were used with my meal. Which means only one thing: Tour Tolerance, meet whiskey shots.
Space: B. Good sized room with a bar along one side. The bathrooms were sorta around and behind the stage so you could stand and watch the band from the side or even from behind, which was kinda cool. Apparently there was some crazy dude who carried on a one-sided conversation with all the drummers while they played. Cleveland has no lack of very weird dudes.
Bathrooms: C+. Stipplicon sticker verified.
Merch Table Happenings: I always love it when people tell you about how they are huge Oneida fan as they paw through the merch, all WHILE THE BAND IS PLAYING! I mean, you obviously like them so much you don’t even have to watch the show you paid to attend. You also sometimes get the sense that people are lying to you about which records they claim to already own. It’s a sad life if you’re lying and/or bragging to the merch man. These are the type of people who feel the need to impress the workers at the DMV.
We’ve been playing with Kinski the last couple of nights. They’re great guys (and girl) and their new record rocks (as do their live shows). But the last couple of nights I can’t stop saying “Oneidas and Kinskis is gonna be a’brawlin’!” in a real slurred redneck voice (being from the South, my use of the redneck voice is not considered culturally insensitive (by me)). Kinski are such nice, unassuming people that pointing a finger in their chest and saying this really amuses me. And nobody else. Is this ‘amusing me and nobody else’ becoming a theme? The longer the tour, the greater the likelihood.
We stayed with FOB Lawrence who lived down the street from the club. On the walk home, we happened upon a police cruiser with its windows down. Needless to say, a bunch of drunk dudes who happen upon an empty cruiser with its windows down at 4am are going to need to commandeer that vehicle for official O business. Never before have I so badly wished to be able to hotwire a car. I tried to get a picture of Jane in his yachtsman’s hat sitting in the cruiser, but camera operation was never one of my strengths. The whiskey kept my stubby fingers from properly working the micro-digital camera. Then some random drunk dude hanging out with us tried to climb in the cruiser and accidentally leaned on the horn. Smooth move, Ex-Lax. We all sprinted home.
T.C.B.: That’s what T.C.Be (though not with camera).
Lawrence’s place was wall-to-wall books. It was nice to sleep amongst so many books. I think I used a Karl Marx tome as a pillow. I woke with a nasty hangover and super pissed off at that damn bourgeoisie.
Friday, August 19th: Detroit.
Tour Tolerance had been soundly defeated by whiskey shots the previous evening, which was a battlefield success. However, vehicular operation the next day was soundly defeated by whiskey shots’ delayed counterinsurgency as I missed about 4 highway exits. That booze is a clever tactician
T.C.: Tactician, confused.
Everything they say about Detroit is true! No matter what they say!
The club ended up being right down the street from the Detroit Tigers stadium and while we were sitting in the club’s backyard there was a huge fireworks display over the stadium. Apparently they have this display after every home game. Win or lose! The team is in such sorry shape that they shoot off fireworks just to get people to come to the game! That’s amazing and seems like an amp metaphor for Detroit.
Venue Report: 2500 Club.
Drinks: C. I had to get a full-scale Motor Rock City on my hand as the band beer discount. Was it worth the Pabst? Tough to say.
Sound: B. Small space, so it was plenty loud.
Bathrooms: F. I think you know what F means.
Merch Table Happenings: None whatsoever. This was a poorly attended show, probably the worse of the tour. Oneida claims that in Detroit, everyone is in a band so nobody feels the need to go out and see bands. I find that to be a persuasive argument.
Space: D. The club seemed like it was in the middle of nowhere, but I guess most of Detroit is like that. They didn’t have smokes, which is fine, but they didn’t have matches either, which is pretty lame. I had to walk a block to buy smokes and numerous people warned me that it wasn’t worth it, safety-wise. Crazy. Also, the club had a bucket in the middle of the room catching some kind of liquid draining from the ceiling. Real classy. I hope they charged the bucket admission. The bucket bought no merch.
We stayed with FOB Rob. He and his bandmates (from the band Paik) lived in one of those crazy huge former warehouse buildings in which you have to be careful where you step or you might end up on a different floor. They hosted a bit of an afterparty. I talked to someone who apparently was in a band that made $35,000 worth of merch on their European tour. I said The O had sold at least 35,000 pennies work of merch on our American Tour. Hey, the O doesn’t sell out. Merch or otherwise!
In the basement of the place, they had a full bar with video games and a pool table. The band crashed pretty early, but it was my last night on tour, so I was all up for the partying, and there was no lack of that in Detroit. So I stayed up all night shooting dollar games of pool and getting loaded with strangers. Good times.
Saturday, August 20th: My fair departure from this fine tour.
Woke early (or for some of us, never went to sleep) and the O dropped me off at the airport, from which I was to fly to points south for a little R&R (having worked so awfully hard on tour). So I missed the last two shows. But a long record of bad maple syrup jokes meant there wasn’t a chance in hell the Mounties were letting into Canada anyway.
Thanks again to Oneida for taking me along. It was a blast and I’ll do it again, anytime. Free of charge. (And I’m still waiting for that check. It’s in the mail, right?). And thanks to everyone who provided food, housing, and hospitality.
T.C. (at end): Tour Concluded.