You know how I’ve always dreamed of loading out behind a club in an alley in Wichita, Kansas next to a large puddle of vomit right by the van backdoors and everything? Well…that dream finally came true!
Yes, Diary, the college kids of Wichita sure love their drinkees. Needless to say, it makes them witty, charming, and a delight to be around. Coors Light is a magical, magical thing…that’s for sure.
Anyway. To start at the beginning of the journey: We left Chicago around 9AM and drove straight through. It took about 11 hours. The Middle West right now looks all Field of Dreams and shit…you look out on all those rolling corn and soybean fields and half expect Ty Cobb to poke out his head and give you “the finger.” At first I felt a little bummed to be doing nothing but driving and sitting in a van doing nothing but scarfing down Cheddar Cheese Chomperz or whatever the hell junkfood I had for lunch, but then I realized that going on a nice long drive is exactly what I want to be doing. I hate Chicago this time of year. You can never underestimate how little I give two runny malt liquor shits from the ass of a trustafarian krusty bumming change in front of the 7-11 about Pitchfork. Now until Labor Day, Chicago is just a shit show of tourists, lunatics, boring music festivals, and homicide. Oh, and rats…
So yeah–sitting in a van redolent of smoky mesquite flatulence beats the same old b.s. back home. Plus, I get to play on my birthday, and there isn’t much I’d rather be doing on my birthday. I’ve played on my birthday a few times in the past–my 18th was at the Wekiva Cove Clubhouse back home in the Springs of Altamonte, my “thirtysomethingth” birthday was in Pittsburgh one time. It’s nice. So yeah–this birthday–I’m in Wichita for the very first time. We’ll get to stay there for five hours before we have to leave and drive straight back. (As the funny bumpersticker says: “Work sux, but I need the bux.”)
We played the Wichita Psychedelic Festival. We played outside on a stage in front of a large patio with tables and chairs and benches and an outdoor bar. It was a nice mix of carefree college kids, townies, music fans. All the tribes of musical sub-genres all hung out together, it seemed, as it usually goes in smaller towns. Nobody used the term “normcore,” and that in and of itself was refreshing as fuck. There was a dude there that used to work at Delilah’s, so we told stories from “those days,” the ones we can remember anyway. I can’t really remember any stories from the times I used to go to Delilah’s, because BOOZE! HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAOHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHMAN!
Played the set. The drums and cymbals were singing, even if I can’t afford a new drumhead for my rack tom and it sounds like paper. At one point, I informed the audience that it was my birthday. Please buy me a shot. They just smiled and mouthed “Happy birthday.” That’s not what I asked for, Kansas, but that’s ok. I didn’t need it. It was 72 degrees and everything was pretty much perfect…
The last band really drew the collegiates. They played a kind of psychedelic shoegaze disco where an acoustic guitar was playing out of a laptop and large vertical lights were in sync with the quarter notes of the bass drum pound. They covered The Stone Roses; a party brah in the audience went up front turned around to face the crowd, raised his hands in the air and flashed devil horns with both hands. Diary: THAT. WAS. AWESOME.
Then we loaded out around the aforementioned vomit. I had had a bunch of whiskey and cokes by that point and was therefore brilliant. At the very end of the night, around last call and such, it got a little bit, I dunno–douchey?–the way most bars are at last call. We had to get back on the road immediately after, and I started thinking about the scenes in “Gimme Shelter” where people are freaking out on drugs…and I thought it would be funny to act like I was having a “bad trip,” since it was a “Psychedelic Music Festival” and all. So I started laughing real loud and maniacal like, paced in circles, bugged out my eyes, took off my shirt then ran. I didn’t think I was doing a very good job of this, so I ran out back and got into the van and waited until it was time to go. Clubby club types walked past…everyone’s walking barefoot because it’s summer even if the alley is covered in puke and so much more…
Fell asleep, had ok birthday dreams revolving around the theme of “hey, things aren’t that bad right now, ya know?” Woke up somewhere in Iowa to thousands (not literally) of wellwishers taking to social media hoping that my birthday is you know happy. Delirious from not really sleeping much, “Car Talk” was on NPR, and I started imagining what it would be like if Click and Clack hosted a sex-positive podcast instead of a radio show about auto repair. This amused me until we crossed the Mississippi.
Into the Land of Lincoln. We take 55 and get out at the California exit and go north to the practice space. The street scenes were like a montage of everything wrong with the city…sirens, accidents, arrests, shitty driving…all it needed was a flaming barrel with a bunch of bums around it singing doo-wop. Summer, late summer, is exhausting and annoying.
We drove 22 hours in about 26 hours. Everyone was teetering on incoherent exhaustion. But there was no time to sleep, Diary. It was my birthday, and I had already made plans to meet up with friends at a place that serves drinks. I walked there, listening to the Who album “It’s Hard,” and while powerwalking past the summertime idiots of Milwaukee Avenue, I remained convinced that this still wasn’t a very good album.