March 30, 2012
The alarm sounded at 8am and I hopped down from my bunk and rolled up my sleeping bag. Even after a solid 3 hours of sleep, it was just bizarre surroundings to wake up in. Many of the trucks that populated it last night had split, leaving only us and a few others clustered together in the saddest dirt parking lot I’ve yet to encounter.
Entering the store with my dopp kit was even sadder. I counted at least 10 living and 10 dead beetles doing their morning shopping (or dying) in various store sections. I brushed my teeth and washed my face in the bathroom sink, having to move twice to let other people wash their hands. This is always an interesting dance in whichever truck stop/rest stop/gas station it occurs in. It’s best to exchange as few words as possible - often just a grunt or “mmm-hmm” - and under no circumstances should one make eye contact. I trekked back across Beetle Gettysburg, found the saddest and most burnt coffee ever and filled my thermos. Arriving at a McDonald’s only 5 minutes later, I dumped the contents, excitedly refilled with it McCafe and inhaled a breakfast bagel (of course after braving still more beetles inside.) What is it with the fucking beetles in this town? And why are even the elderly people all methy? I don’t care if Roy Orbison was from here, I’ll go well out of my way to avoid it in the future.
I only had about 2 hours in me after last night’s haul, so I put McCurdy in when we stopped in Memphis, TX. The next 3 hours consisted of wonderful slumber as we blew through Amarillo and into New Mexico. A short while before Santa Rosa, I awoke and decided I should relieve Mick and take us the rest of the way. Town like Santa Rosa really excel at signs like this:
MIGHT GET HIT! (pronounced: Maht gee-yat hee-yat!) I also love the added ‘o’. Classic.
Even on the heels of Vernon, Albuquerque was just unsettling. I couldn’t really tell the good part of town from the bad or the non-meths from the meths. We got rooms at a nice enough Motel 6, though only for 2 hours to nap and (finally!) shower before heading toward the venue. We’d be departing right after the gig to shave some time off our drive to Los Angeles tomorrow. A quick, but delicious mexican meal happened and we arrived at Burt’s Tiki Lounge to settle in. We’d be playing second, which also meant last, as the third band - who unfortunately were also the drawing local - had recently canceled. Thanks a lot, whoever you were! Opening band Bearmouth, from Las Cruces, did their blues/rock thing which unfortunately was a terrible lead-in to us and seemed to lose the crowd as well. I’ve lost count of how many Black Keys-inspired bands we’ve played with on the tour. I love the Black Keys, but we will probably never, ever pair well with bands that channel them. In their defense, they were really nice guys and the clientele here seemed more into drinking at the bar than hearing live music at the time. Having said that, when we took the stage around 11:30 and started making our joyful noise, people started to leave their booths and barstools to stand on the dance floor. While it wasn’t more than 15 people of the 30-or-so there, I was supremely impressed and ecstatic with the results. Sure, there were a couple hard-drinking guys in scully caps who were an easy win, but the rest of them seemed outside of our target market and were having an absolute blast. We kept ‘em right up to the end of our hourlong set, sold a bit of merch and loaded out. It was time to leave and embark on the 2-3 hour drive toward home!!! Or not yet…they still had to close the bar for the night and tally receipts to calculate our pay percentage as there was no door charge. I hopped on the bus to nap for the +1 hour that process took and we were off with our $60 at the stroke of 2am. $60?!? Honestly, I’d have just given the band $60 of my own money to have gotten an earlier start on the drive. I was hoping to make it as far as Holbrook or even Winslow, AZ but we’d only be getting 2 hours down the road to (again!) Gallup, NM before I could go no further. As a band based in the southwest, playing Albuquerque will be necessary for us in the future. I can only hope we find a way to make it a better experience, though that also goes for many of the cities we hit on this tour.