Saturday, October 9, 2010

August Phoenix Tour - Backtrack

In regards to the Phoenix tour in August, it was ah-maze-ing.  I'll try to make this short.  After going to the sold-out House of Blues show in CHI for free w/ 3 friends, I missed the St. Louis show as I was recuperating from being out until dawn.  On Tuesday I drove out to Des Moines.  There, I met a bus driver (Bobby), Tour Manager (Matt), and Stage Manager (Cedric! with his magic hat) after the show.  I had been thinking of trying to go to the Minne show but I knew it was sold out, and I didn't want to drive the van all the way up and back when the next show was only 2hrs west of DM, so I was going to try to rideshare and if that failed (which it did) I would hop a $50 one-way Greyhound.  After the DM show I saw who would turn out to be Cedric waiting in the loading trailer, and went up and introduced myself and told him that circumstance.  I stated I was more than willing to buy a ticket in Mnpls, I just needed one available (as there are always reserves for the band).  He said not to worry, that I'd be on the band's list :D  I gave him my cell# and although I did not hear from him to confirm before I'd bought my bus ticket, he did contact me en route to verify that I was coming.  Oh, and I spent the night in DM in Bobby's hotel room as the drivers only use them for a few hours before they have to leave - awesome!  Bobby also offered me the rest of his rooms for Mnpls & Council Bluffs.

State Theater marquee in Minneapolis
 Upon arriving in Minne that night I had the most delicious meal with Bobby at a pizza/after hours place downtown.  The next day I biked around downtown (I brought my folding bike), visiting the farmer's market and then gorgeous Loring Park where I sat for hours, writing in Aletheia and taking pictures.  When I was done I went back to the Best Western Normandy where the drivers/etc were staying to get ready for the show.

Loring Park - white crane
Loring Park - fountain

Sure enough, Cedric had put me on the list!  I was in awe when I walked up to the ticket booth, past the people looking for extra tickets, and said my name and was handed a ticket.  The venue was so beautiful (the usher for my row looked just like a 20yr-old Conan O'Brien hehe), the show was astounding, and I hung out afterward outside meeting others (including Patrick, who was playing w/ Toro Y Moi and let me use the backstage bathroom), taking pictures, and chatting.  When everyone had pretty much dispersed I walked downtown for a bit, running into two pretty 19yr-old girls drunk off their asses, and chatted with one for a bit until going back to the hotel in the early AM.

State Theater interior close-up
State Theater balcony

I stayed in Bobby's room after he'd left at the Best Western Normandy, where I also met Daniel from an English band that was touring in support of Hot Hot Heat (he and his bandmates came into the hotel drunk as I was sitting in the hallway downstairs so as not to disturb Bobby's sleep, uploading videos from that night's show, and Dan got on the elevator and came back down as they'd recognized me from the Phoenix show because of my blue sparkly Doc Marten's and good looks lol).  We chatted for a good long while and went up to the room to finish some wine he had, enjoying some PG-13 comforts.

 I caught a cab to the bus station at 5:30am (as it was raining hard) after staying up all night and made it with 3mins to spare (as I do).  Back in DM it was hot as all hell, and muggy - ugh.  My van was still parked where I'd left it at the last hotel, and I decided to just start driving to Council Bluffs although I was feeling icky from the 90degree+ heat.  A few miles down the road I was feeling rather tired so I pulled over into a rest stop and crawled up in the top bunk to nap, the open windows letting in a nice cool breeze.  It turned gray and rainy and the wind carried the moisture in through the screen, spitting little flecks of rain on my face and arms.  But I had a decent rest and continued on.

The show in Council Bluffs was at Harrah's, a casino with an outdoor venue called Stir Cove.  I was tired once again from the drive and little sleep so I took another nap and got up to get ready for the show when I heard Toro Y Moi start their set.  Cedric had once again put me on the list (!) so I again picked up my ticket at the counter feeling so thankful and awesome.  As I was walking in to get my ticket he also sent me another text:  "Do you want to sit on the stage?"  !!!!!  Hell yes!

So I go in and make my way to the stage where they're setting up and catch his eye.  He jumps down, gives me a hug and leads me behind the security and to the side of the stage where I sit on the gearboxes taking pics/video and generally feeling ridiculously happy.  Matt (Tour Manager) saw me and came over, shaking his head, and gave me a fist-bump/hug, in awe that I had not only come out once again but was on stage lol. 

 (This backdrop later had to be taken down as it was too windy and it actually blew the backdrop like a sail into the vertical light stands you see in front of it, knocking one over and sending gear boxes careening across the stage!)

Phoenix takes the stage
Pretty good crowd turnout, they covered the entire lawn!

I stayed there the entire set and was joined by Toro Y Moi later on (all 3) and after the set we all hung out backstage and in Phoenix's hospitality room, and I showed Patrick a sauna in the women's bathroom (where we also spied Matt showering - oops! lol).  Christian came into the sauna to check it out and in his heavy French accent told us to remember "We need to Make Love, not just have sex, be romantic in your ways", and other such sentiments (although Patrick and I were just drinking beer haha).

 Later on I shared a beer w/ Cedric and showed him my van, and he was quite tickled that it is the 'Chateau' model - "Eet ees yor leeetle cassell, no?"  The band/crew had to leave at 2am to make it to Denver, so Bobby once again gave me his room key and also a bunch of food comps for the hotel that were $10 apiece - woot!  Toro Y Moi were not opening for Phoenix anymore so they all raided the food Phoenix had left behind in their hospitality room and found 4 more room keys that Phoenix would obviously not be using (all registered to Matt) - they were soooo stoked!  Usually it is the 3 of them plus their manager (total of 4) in one room, 2 to a bed, and now they all get their own rooms.  Sweeeet. 

Patrick raiding the catering.
So we all hang out for a couple more hours, checking out the casino (it was 24hrs) and using food comps for ice cream and appetizer samplers, making a hideous concoction of everything we could find on the table that no one would dare eat.  The funniest part was when Patrick was going on about how Phoenix had all these rooms registered for them that they didn't even use when the four of them got only one to share, and Jordan (their manager) cut him off and said, "Patrick, Phoenix won a Grammy.  They can have as many rooms as they want."  The way he said it was priceless!  When we were done at Ace's Diner we all retired to our respective rooms, while I opted for company that night.  After taking advantage of a private room, he left around noon and I stayed and wandered.

I was now in Council Bluffs with $50 of food comps to use and a van to sleep in as long as I wanted, but I needed to get back to CHI.  I ended up staying for 2 more days, eating steak, shrimp, salmon, and a buffet of other goodies.  Sooooo cool.  Nom nom nom.  But it wasn't all fun and games.... That first morning, I felt sooooo low, so depressed and alone.  I sat in the buffet writing in Aletheia for 4 hours (to make the most of my $10 comp haha) and talked with my friend Nathan for an hour and a half or so about all sorts of things.  He gave me perspective on how I was feeling and why and I was able to work out reasons for the sudden and massive drop in emotions as well, but in the end it didn't help.  After wandering around all day keeping a happy face on, I retired to the van around 1am and just cried.  I think it was because I felt not only alone, but useless.  Everyone I'd spent the last week with was gone, with plans of their own and things to do, places to be, and what the hell was I doing with my life?  What were my plans now?  This trip was over, and I felt over too.  Man, that was no fun feeling that way.  Of course I came around and got over it - once again with some help from good ol' Markus (who also helped me when I was out in PA buying the van).  And Cedric sent me the funniest text that made me laugh/cry - "Tasha where are u we just finished.  u are not here.  must be something wrong.  no I'm joking.  just to let you know that denver mile high is a cool festival.  see you."   :)

On the drive home I stopped at Iowa-80, the World's Largest Truckstop.  They have a museum there that is free (give 'em a donation), and it was really interesting.  Lots of old historic trucks, gas pumps, and information. 

As I was driving the last leg of the trip back to CHI, doing about 80mph in pitch black darkness, my headlights went out.  Holy - Fucking - Scary.  Then they came back on.  Then went out again.  Not flickering, but completely.  I pulled over and got out to poke around under the hood, and everything seemed alright - no loose wires, etc.  The lights were waning and then coming on at this point, as if struggling to stay on, before becoming steady.  A cop comes out of nowhere and leads me to the next exit, driving slowly on the shoulder (which was scary enough, all the garbage and truck tires we bumbled over-yeesh).  Then, doing 30mph, he took me through a very small rural town to a Park & Ride that fit no more than 10 cars and was paved with gravel, about 3/4mile away from a 24hr gas station, where I could spend the night.  I finished my steak and garlic mashed potatoes I had left over from the fancy schmancy steakhouse at Harrah's and walked over to the gas station, where I bought a 40 and a pack of cigs and charged my cell by the bathroom as I wrote in Aletheia.  The next morning I drove to Ames and found a mechanic, and they tightened the loose battery terminal connectors, swearing I'd be fine.  Luckily, I was entering CHI and the interstate was lined with lights as my headlights went off and on again.  I slowed to about 60mph and took it easy until I got home.  A couple of days later Charlie was dead, so I took the battery and alternator to be tested.  Both were fine, so after buying a new, tighter set of battery terminal connectors all has been well.  But man, I never want that to happen again!!  Cruising along at 80mph in your future home in pitch black darkness, the memory still sends shivers down my spine.

And that concludes the adventure that was my first official 'road trip' with Charlie and Phoenix.  :)

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