Monday, September 26, 2011

Long Autumn Weekend [Part II of II]

… St. Paul …

I wake from a great sleep and feel absolutely amazing. Jason runs out for eggs and bagels. He’s stayed with Bruce and Anne before and knows their little nook of Logan Square pretty well. While he’s out, Bruce shows me where the magic happens and offers some of his fine label’s stock. Breakfast is eventually consumed among talk of workout routines, bike paths, and Wisconsin campsites. Unfortunately this breakfast is consumed in the back of their apartment and my phone is up front, buzzing away as Jason Zeh attempts to tell us he is in the vicinity. Eventually I remember I should probably have my phone on hand and notice Mr. Zeh on the porch where he informs me he has been sitting for a good half hour. Whoops.

We rearrange the car to accommodate the infusion of new gear and are soon on the road. I accidentally run through an I-Pass on the toll road – kinda hard to merge across four lanes to the one cash-accepting booth on such short notice – but otherwise the ride is much smoother than yesterday’s. Talk mostly centers around Zeh’s recent move to Indiana and how he’s dealing with splitting time there and his native Bowling Green, OH. When we get tired of talking, we listen to “Metallic Overdrive ‘85”, a gift from years ago that truly keeps giving. (Thank you, John Schoen.) After the raging, banging and a brief appearance from the Poser Death Squad, we find ourselves in downtown St. Paul an hour earlier than we expected. Despite our early arrival, our host for the evening, the wonderful Jesse Goin, is in the vicinity and we are able to quickly load in to Studio Z. Dinner options are discussed and I am relieved to avoid a fourth night of Mediterranean food in favor of some Japanese noodles.

After dinner everyone gets right down to business. Sounds are checked, people start filing in and before I know it, Jesse is giving a brief overview of the night and introducing Jason Zeh. Zeh’s set has taken a unique turn, discarding the cassettes and focusing on the sounds of the decks themselves. Dense layers of mechanical drone and electric hum swirl around the room for twenty minutes or so and it is absolutely enthralling. After Jesse’s introduction for Jason compliments the diverse fields in which Jason Kahn operates, Mr. Kahn proceeds to hammer the point home with another foray into harsh synth noise, not quite as loud as Columbus, but much more aggressive than Chicago. There are some amazing moments of radio synchronicity – “Now that’s how we party!” – but they aren’t enough to win over the crowd. I wrap things up (no opportunity to atone for last night’s duo this evening) with a set designed especially for the crow. After a frenzy of detuned guitar bowing, I play some non-improvised pieces, “Omicron Meditation” and “Omicron Serenade”, and both go over pretty well. At the last minute I decide to pull up an old patch from “Ko” as well because Joe from Small Doses is in the crowd. It’s my best set of the weekend even though it’s the one I least prepared for. Listening to the recordings umpteen times has hardwired them in the brain I guess.

There’s a bit of post-show scrambling as the twin cities seem to be repaving 70% of their streets. We eventually land at Hard Times Café and grab some delicious late night grub. Their vegetarian biscuits and gravy set the bar pretty high, their choice of grindcore for ambiance not so much. We get the food to go. We renavigate the construction maze and soon find ourselves at Jesse’s place. And he has a garage! (Not sure, but this may be a first in my decade-plus of touring.) No unload tonight. We can get straight to annihilating the take-out, conversing and passing out.

9.18 . 9.19
… Milwauke . Chicago . Home …

Jesse’s wife Allie procured breakfast foods in advance – even grabbing some vegan yogurt for Zeh – so we’re able to relax in the morning. Before we take off we get a chance to meet their pitbull who had stayed the night at a neighbor’s house. The prepare-for-the-worst warnings seem downright comical once Bodhi comes in, gives us each a sniff or two and proceeds to curl up and ignore everyone.

Back on the highway a discussion that starts with ins-and-outs of each other’s sets moves onto strange internet/social phenomena and eventually concludes with a story about ridiculous blog comments. Rain does its best to complicate our travels, but we still make it to Milwaukee earlier than expected. We’re dropping Jason Kahn off here for a few dates with Jon Mueller before he heads west. We eat, have some unfortunately brief hello-goodbyes with Mr. Mueller and part ways with Mr. Kahn. The rain comes down even worse between Milwaukee and Chicago, but we manage to arrive in a timely enough fashion. Jason transfers his gear and immediately heads back to the turnpike.

The three(-ish) mile drive from one end of Logan Square to the other is the only traveling I’ll do alone all weekend. It’s nice, calm, and too short. I quickly return to the apartment we dropped our passenger off at Friday evening and am handed a beer immediately. The drinking had been pretty restrained all weekend and I make up for it by keeping some form of alcohol in hand until I find my way to the sleeping bag several hours later.

I feel surprisingly good in the morning, but it’s a fake out, my stomach goes wobbly after I’ve been up an hour or so and I make my way to the bathroom to atone. I drive us – two non-musicians for the ride home, a grand trio – out of the city and then promptly hand the keys over, opting to sleep in the backseat instead. The next thing I know, we are in West Lafayette on the Perdue University campus. It seems like a great town, one that will require investigation at a later point. After "Korean fusion" lunch, we hit the Indianapolis bypass and the downpours start again so I retake the wheel. We make one last stop (post-lunch ice cream craving) and let Kanye West and Das Racist guide us the rest of the way. I’d like to say I finished the crossing line in some grand fashion, falling into my wife’s arms, but I am home no more than a half hour when Bruce McClure calls wanting to meet up to discuss the plans for his show tomorrow evening. Frying pan, fryer.

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