Wednesday, July 7, 2010
JULY 3 | Minneapolis, JULY 4 | Home
I always like going to Minneapolis. Fascinating city. Nice people. I fell in love for the first time there. A cool part of town called Dinkytown. Where else? But getting there from Madison had its own rewards. Last year, we went to a giant cheese chalet. This year, we stopped in Osseo, Wisconsin = Norwegian Central. Had to stop at the Norsky Nook so we could stock up on HONK IF YOU'RE NORWEGIAN bumper stickers and Ole & Lena Joke Books. Also found a great antique store with bargains galore, including an old Pluto Water bottle. Kwality stuff. The cashier there was possibly the only surly person I met on this tour. I chalked it up to bad timing on my part. Or maybe she was really counting on that bottle for her own collection. Well tough, that baby's gonna look sweet in our kitchen picture window.
OK—enough bargain hunting, back onto 94W to the Minneapple.
Kitty Cat Klub, Minneapolis
Until last August, I'd never had a good show in the Twin Cities (regardless of group), but, out of respect for the area, vowed that I would never stop trying. Last year, we played there with All Tiny Creatures and Ryan Olcott's (ex-12 Rods) terrific new band Mystery Palace and it was a ripping, end-of-tour night. It poured and poured outside and we didn't care; just a memorable night. A tour highlight. This year, the weather was downright Washingtonian and, again, we played with ATC. Ryan was also there, but only in his soundman and friend capacity. He did smoke cigarettes like a hipster, though. Aquarelle opened and provided mesmerizing, stereo soundscapes. The late-added Minneapolitans Wizards are Real finished things off with moody noir-like instrumentals featuring pedal steel and tenor sax. Very nice and unexpected.
Jeff, ATC's replacement drummer, took advantage in full of the cheap Bell's Two-Hearted Ales and wept openly at our performance of "Populations." It made him feel, he said, like we'd never see each other again. Of course, a man of Jeff's insane musical ability, lightning-quick sense of humor, and encylopedia-like knowledge of the UK Office will never be a stranger to The Caribbean's shores for long, but we all understood the end-of-tour bittersweetness. As ATC was to us last year, Jeff was a revelation to us this summer.
I had long thought—during one song in particular—that ATC's usual drummer, Ben, was irreplaceable—to the point of it being inconceivable that they would or could play this one song without him. But its a crowd-pleasing set ender; you can't not play it. Night 1 in Chicago, I couldn't help being amazed by Jeff's drumming all night, but noticed his hesitance during that one song (as if he felt the same way I did). Milwaukee, I was so drunk and blissed out by our own performance and reception, I wasn't interpreting details (except that ATC were great). By Madison—and I was almost entirely sober—I noticed that he'd taken absolute ownership of the song, playing off of Ben's cues but adding his own power and energy. In short, he did the impossible and, all the while, never stopped smiling. When I told him this, he (like Ben) was gracious and aw-shucks about being brilliant. If our rather simple-minded east coast notion that midwesterners are sooooo fucking genuine and nice is a stereotype, this tour—with people like Jeff, but also the hordes of strangers we met—only made us more insufferable in this regard.
Dave, a New Jerseyite and one not easily impressed by many things, was particularly effusive. Any cynicism he might have once had over the notion that midwesterners are sweethearts was sandblasted away by the sun-drenched goodness of the kind people we met. That we played shows with one band we love, some new bands we really dug, and delivered searing performances in Milwaukee and Madison made the week truly memorable. Throw in the monumentally awesome At Random and it's a week for the ages. And one could tell how special the week was in how the two Hometapes groups hung out drinking outside of the Kit Cat Klub until 2—just not wanting things to end. The Caribbean rolled into its digs at the Airport Comfort Inn at 3:15 am and I took the 4:30 am shuttle to MSP for my 6 am flight home so I could work today and, of course, finish this tour diary. Dozed on the plane and, then, dazed on my couch at home. Actually felt pretty good. Today (July 5) I feel like I was hit by a Martz Americruiser carrying Indianans to DC for the Independence Day festivities, but I don't care. Good tours make you feel just plain alive. Happy Birthday United States of Ameritel!
Gig + Hotel + Flight = Zero Sleep
Next weekend, the State of Georgia gets the treatment. Athens on 7/9, Atlanta on 7/10.
Posted by Jon at 11:01 AM