Folks – we don’t often brag about all of our amazing and cool friends… but we are going to right now.
We have invited some of the coolest and most rocking of bands to Comatopia to party with us in Bandit Town this August. If you are sick and tired of us and our boy band hi-jinks… well, come and enjoy some real, gritty, true-blue music from our awesome friends.
You can check out the lineup (with color commentary – just scroll down a bit) here, or you can just peruse the beautiful flier Alex made below. You can also check out selected videos from all the bands here… Your choice.
See you there!… after you buy your tickets right here.
Full disclosure – I am writing all of this many days after it has happened. My recollection of all but the best espresso is dim and shaky and not to be trusted. We are currently making the drive from Omaha Nebraska to San Francisco.**
Last night, we drove 2 hours after the show to get us to Grand Island, NE (note: it is neither Grand, nor an Island) where Tour Manager / Mr. Manager Henry got pulled over by deputy Wayne… and let off with but a warning.
This morning up at 8:30 to get Phil to an airport so he could fly home. We, meanwhile, drive. The upside is that we’ve had 2 nice espresso stops today.
One in North Plains, NE, and one in Laramie, WY. Here’s the espresso machine at Cold Creek Coffee in Laramie. A truly beautiful thing. My dream android would be this, self-powered, on wheels, with the added capabilities of an R2 unit (i.e.- it would also help me fly my X-wing.)
But when our story left you all, we were breathing the sweet air of peace, and were sleeping in Troy, Illinois. So that is where we shall pick up our tale.
We woke up in Troy, and headed to Evanston – a suburb of Chicago. My heart and mind were filled with thoughts of deep dish pizza… alas, dear reader, this was not to be. Maybe next time, Chicago (pause to wipe the heavy, single tear from my eye).
The drive was not memorable, nor was the espresso.
Space, the venue in Evanston, is notable for its hospitality and fully-rigged recording / rehearsal studio attached to the venue.
When the show was over, we ripped some pretty tasty funk jams in said full-rigged studio… Funky, that is, for a bunch of suburban white kids.
We went to bed, and slept the long, weary, hard-won sleep of people who have been driving too much, sleeping too little, and finally are looking forward to a short drive day.
Where did we get espresso the next day? Who knows. It’s all a blur when it isn’t superb.
We drove to Madison, Wisconsin the next day… I think it was Thursday. I never could get the hang of Thursdays.*
Madison was our second date playing with our new band-buddies, Trout Steak Revival. They are awesome players and even more awesome people. Some of the more cynical people of the world claim I only say this because they let me sit in with them playing electric guitar… pshhh. I mean, come on! Pshhhh, I say again. Harumph, and piffle, and the rest of it.
As I was saying, we were playing our second show with the wonderful Trout Steak Revival (who have excellent taste in guitar-players, as I believe we’ve mentioned) – and we were in Madison, Wisconsin – which, it turns out, is a beautiful, lovely, and very pleasant place to take a long walk for coffee and sunset-viewing. I’ll gloss over the show this night… was it us, Madison? Was it you? Was there something you wanted that we couldn’t give you? More bass solos, perhaps? Whatever it was, we were like ships in the night. If you get the Madison Weekly, when it comes out next Wednesday, you’ll see the personal add we posted after the show. It’s posted under “Missed Connections.”
You – the audience in Madison, Wisconsin. Us – The Brothers Comatose. Sorry we missed each other. See you in the Fall. We promise more bass solos.
We sacked out in a nearby motel which probably had a number associated with it… probably a 6 or an 8… and it was another reasonable van call to get to St. Paul, Minnesota the next day. Again, I have nothing to say about the espresso we had this day. One of the doses came from a Whole Foods, which is always disappointing. No local flavor or vibe when you’re at a massive, nation-wide chain.
The show was super fun. The Minnesotans were bad ass, and they got rowdy with us, and it was a great party.
The venue – The Turf Club – had some kind of crazy Minnesota underworld connection, and through a series of phone calls, secret hand shakes and palmed bribes, we stayed at The Radisson. You may notice that the name of that hotel didn’t have any numbers in it at all. Or the words “rodeway, travel, econo, discout, budget,” or any such thing as part of their name. A real, legitimate, hotel.
We had made it.
Not necessarily because we wanted to, but merely to do our duty according to the contracts we all signed when we sold our souls for Rock N Roll, we trashed the rooms.
I know that Ben and Alex left their beds completely unmade. Kyle and I each used 2 towels for our respective showers, and dropped the wet, used towels right on the ground. Ryan and Phil left their empty pretzel bag and apple core in the trash can in their room. Henry threw the TV straight through his 11th story window, and scraped “BROCO FOREVER” into the bathroom mirror with his straight razor.
The last show of our short run with Trout Steak Revival took us to Iowa City, and The Yacht Club. It was also prom night, and saturday night, and we were in the most college of college towns I could remember being in.
The show was a good rowdy time, but no where near the spectacle and experience that was the line for late-night pizza slices. It was awesome. If you ever fear for the future of America, just go get pizza at 1:30am in a college town on a Saturday, the weekend after finals. You’ll come away knowning that everything is just the way it’s always been, and that we’re all just the same savage animals we’ve always been. Our progress as a nation can be measured by the cultural diversity in the toppings.
We said our teary good-byes to our new Trout Steak buddies, promised to stay sweet, to never change, to have a great summer, and went our separate ways into the balmy mid-west night.
The last show of the tour was going to be in Omaha Nebraska. We drove the drive. We must have had espresso, because I am still alive and able to type this to you right now… but I don’t recall where it was…
Omaha Nebraska on a scattered-cloud, warm Spring Sunday afternoon was exquisite… and deserted. I was taking photos of the sun-setting city scape in the middle of the main streets at 6 o’clock… with nary a car in sight. I was wearing sunglasses with polarized lenses… and this is what my eyeballs were seeing:
Despite the ghost-town like emptyness of the city streets, we had some great and goodly folk roll out for the show. We frolicked and sang songs and drank Nebraska beer, and ended the tour in warm and welcome company.
That night began our long and sleepy drive home… which brings us full circle to the beginning of this blog entry.
One more epic drive to go.
*This is not true – I’m great with Thursdays. It’s Wednesdays and – mostly – Sunday afternoons that I struggle with. But never pass up an opportunity to quote Douglas Adams – that’s what my writing teachers would have been wise to say… though they didn’t. Mostly they said things like “This seems tossed off, and written last night in a blaze of procrastination-fueled inspiration. Take your writing more seriously, try proof-reading once in a while, and sit up straight.” They were very observant teachers.
**Editor’s note – we made it from Grand Island, NE to Elko, NV in one day. 18 hours in a van, over 1,000 miles. Insanity. We are all going mad.
Dear Tour Diary,
shit shit shit shit shit shit.
We have another full week of touring, and things have gotten bad. The tit for tat, eye-for-an-eye mentality of this band has turned mean. Real, real mean.
I’ll try and catch you up, Tour Diary.
After a day of tense, never-let-your-guard-down driving, we slept at a Super 8 in Topeka. It was, for a Super 8, quite lovely. We slept well. Ryan – the only member of the band without a vendetta and score to settle – was in charge of the keys, and (despite my bribary attempts) he maintained the moral high ground and the evening was peaceful and uneventful. We rose not too early, and headed out to find coffee and food.
It is worth noting, tour diary, that even in the midst of blood feuds and smoldering vengeance, there is an unassailable unity of purpose in our morning need for caffeine. For the brief drive to the cafe, we were a band again, and there was peace.
The brief cease-fire was broken, as poor, sweet, neutral Ryan – our Switzerland – innocently sipped his morning coffee. On sip, and then – PPPPHHHHHTHHHH – he spat it all over our surprised faces, and ran to the bathroom gagging. In the uproar that followed, it was revealed that Ben, retaliating for the stolen bedroom (remember, tour diary?), had tried to spike Phil’s coffee with salt, mayonnaise and onions. Phil, being on his guard, had done a Princess-Bride-Esque drink switch with Ryan (assuming his neutral status would give him relative safety in this passive-agressive touring guerrilla war). We were noisily ejected from the cafe. I barely managed to finish my espresso.
The drive from Topeka to Columbia, Missouri, was fraught with danger and bad vibes, tour journal.
I don’t think I’ve ever needed a second cup of coffee so badly as when our ship of ill-will landed at The Rose Music Hall that afternoon.
I raced, by myself, out the door, down the block seeking espresso, safety, and a friendly face. Leaving my gear behind with my not-to-be-trusted band mates was, in hindsight, a mistake. But the need for good espresso overrides all my better judgements, as you well know.
Tour Diary – if you ever find yourself in Columbia, Missouri, get thee to Fretboard Coffee. It will make you happy; it will bring you great joy; the atmosphere and company will lift your spirts, and their deep, dark, lovingly roasted espresso will sooth your soul.
Conveniently, just upstairs from this espresso-slinging oasis was a comic book shop.
Just down the street was a used bookstore, where a book-loving, music-loving photographer/book-clerk and I chatted on the finer points of book-clerkery (as you know, tour journal, I too am a ~former~ bookstore clerk), comic addiction, and record collection.
I was in such a happy place as I walked jauntily back to the venue, the dark espresso still pumping strongly through my veins, holding my new books and comics close to my chest, that I was totally unprepared as two men in ski masks jumped me – darting out from behind alleyway dumpsters.
Thank goodness, tour diary, for all of those Kung Fu movies I watch. In mere moments, one of the would-be thugs was running in fear back down the alley, and the other was crumpled before me, confessing all. They had been hired, tour diary – HIRED – by Alex, still intent on his revenge. (Never would I have thought pretzels to be so important to anyone…)
My espresso-sweet reverie was broken.
This was war. I thought on my suitcase – my bass – my gear, all back in the van; back with those mean savages.
When I got back to the venue, all hell had broken loose.
My bass was being doused with lighter fluid by Alex, while Ben and Phil and Ryan, each with a broken bottle in their cut and bleeding hands, were slowly circling one another in a deadly stand-off. Henry and Kyle were tearing up each other’s suitcases, spilling them all over the road, screaming at each other all the while.
I had nary a moment to take this in. My bass was in danger, tour diary. I sprang into action.
I had just tackled the fire-wielding Alex, stopping his bass-inferno, when the police came.
The venue had been observing our antics, and, wisely, had taken their own measures.
The police station of Columbia Missouri is spacious and accommodating, and the officers were rough, but polite.
Being locked in separate cells gave us all a chance to take a long, hard look at ourselves, and our petty grievances. Apologies were hollered and accepted down the concrete halls of the jail. The Rose Music Hall lobbied hard, and we were released in time to make our set. Dani, my bookstore-clerk-friend, came by and took some pictures, and a great time was had by all.
The night was capped with $1.00 pizza slices, and a late-night drive to a Motel 6 in Troy, Illinois. Today we head for Lou Malnotti’s pizza in Chicago. Someone is claiming that we also have a gig to play in Evanston, but I say that they have their priorities severly backwards, tour diary.
It is raining. The truce and reconciliation from the Columbia Jail still holds.
I have high hopes for the rest of this tour.
But I’m still not leaving my coffee anywhere near Phil.
Dear Tour Diary,
We have been enjoying some fairly unheard of R&R mid-tour here at Antelope ranch in the gracious and kind care of Annabel and Lyric. I’m typing outside, at a table enjoying my panoramic view of snow-capped mountains, sipping espresso, and the breeze is soft and cool. The snow stopped yesterday (Sunday, if you forgot, tour diary) and the weather has been comical in its 180 degree flip from the ice and snow and cold of earlier days.
The show in Denver Saturday night was sold out, had delicious BBQ, and had the vibe of playing music in a hunting lodge from the 70s. It was awesome. The people of the crowd were delightful.
Sunday broke clear and sunny, and we made brunch at Annabel’s. We feasted!
We had the entire day off, and our new friends, lead by Kelsy, invited us over for dinner. We lounged, recuperated, read, wrote, climbed, ran, went to town for coffee – the usual indulgences of a day off on tour.
We were all headed to dinner, replete with wine, beer, and whiskey. Henry graciously offered to drive. We were all thankful, and imagined a band dynamic where bygones were bygones, affronts were forgiven and water babbled happily under bridges.
What naïveté, tour journal!
The dinner was lovely, the company was delightful, and the evening was great. We thought only that Henry was being his usual Tour Manager self when he rallied us all out to the van to be driven home. In our blurry haste, we never thought twice when Henry said we needed gas on the way back.
We were all happily buzzing away in the van, never suspecting a thing when Henry asked Alex for help – to run into the shop and grab a receipt.
Suspecting nothing, Kyle – our trusty sound engineer on this run – offered the already snoozing and snoring Alex to run inside in his stead. As soon as the van door closed and Henry saw a dimly lit figure headed for the shop…. He peeled out, screaming the tires and van engine down the streets of Boulder, cackling madly of vengeance and justice.
It was a serious shock, tour journal.
It was also a very hectic and bouncy ride – so bouncy that Alex was jostled awake. And he complained loudly from the backseat. At the sound of Alex’s voice, Henry screamed, and slammed on the brakes. The rest of us sprang into action. I restrained Henry, Ryan restrained Alex, and Ben drove the van back to the gas station to pick up the now furiously angry Kyle.
Ben had to restrain Kyle, and there we were in a weird, 3 person stand-off. We had to pay the 76 station attendant to drive us back to Antelope Ranch (where Phil was busy stealing Ben’s room, bed, and had locked himself into his pirated accommodations).
Ben nearly kicked down the locked door to his room when we got back, which was tricky, because then Kyle got loose.
It took a lot of beer to get everyone to finally go to sleep and forget – for the evening at least – their grievances.
This morning was another sunny and beautiful Colorado treat.
We spent most of our time trying to clean up after ourselves. We then loaded up into the van and have been driving for the last 10 hours. Our destination is the Super 8 in Topeka.
So far we’ve only been putting out small fires in the van. New rules have been put in place. We have to use a neutral buddy system anytime we leave the van (to ensure no one else gets left). We also only give the keys to the driver after 2 different sources have confirmed that all band and crew are in the van.
Additionally, Phil and I are not allowed to throw anything away, and may only ask the newly formed garbage committee to throw things away for us.
There have been several near disasters. Phil’s fiddle was found placed dangerously behind the rear tires of the van at one stop. I still think Alex tripped me on the way into the dinner stop restaurant – he claims I didn’t see a bump in the sidewalk.
The plots are still forming – no one is safe, tour journal. I’m afraid for the long days ahead.