Smile Politely

Tour Diaries: You & Yourn in the upper midwest

Monday, Nov. 16, was a drive day to get from Brooklyn to Grand Rapids. We left NYC early that morning, drove for about 12 hours, and eventually crashed at a motel around Toledo, OH. Tuesday we drove on to Grand Rapids, Mich., for our show at Cave Café — a popular restaurant/student hangout in the commons area at Calvin College.

The following night we were in Madison, Wisc., for an intimate Wednesday night show at an art space called The Project Lodge. In our conversations from stage, we discussed the opposition to a proposed commuter rail. An article we had seen in the Isthmus said that Vicki McKenna (a radio announcer in the Madison area) thinks the commuter rail is “about those damn liberals trying to micromanage everyone else’s lives.” A guest on McKenna’s radio show (Republican Party spokesman Bill Richardson) even suggested that a commuter rail would turn the city into the Soviet Union or East Berlin. Damn liberals. Fittingly, we also learned that Stalin’s daughter lives in Madison.

Next we traveled north to Menomonie. Sadie got sick while we were eating lunch, resulting in a mess throughout the van, a stop at Shopko to find carpet cleaner, and driving with the windows cracked despite rain and cold temps. Nonetheless, we made it. Opening for LOW at UW-Stout was certainly a highlight of this tour. It’s a huge honor to open for a band you admire. We played for 35 or 40 minutes, and then LOW was on. One of our favorite parts of the show came during LOW’s encore. It went something like this:

Alan Sparhawk of LOW: Are there any questions I can help answer?

Girl in Audience: What should I do with my life?

Alan: How much have you traveled? Where have you traveled to?

Girl: I’ve traveled quite a bit. I’ve been to the West Coast and to Colorado.

Alan: Oh, a Phish fan.

Girl (with a hint of defensiveness): No, not that at all. I lived out there and then moved back here.

Alan: Well, you should go to Holland, and then travel down to Barcelona. Be careful in Barcelona though or else you’ll get mugged… Have you considered theology?

Girl: No.

Alan: What are you studying right now?

Girl (dodging the question): This is getting a little personal. How about I just go to Holland, then to Barcelona, and I’ll figure it out from there.

Alan: Well, ok. And Tel Aviv. You should go to Tel Aviv. So start in Holland, then after you get mugged in Barcelona, go to Tel Aviv…

We drove to nearby Eau Claire after the show and stayed at our friend Pakou’s apartment. Before leaving town on Friday, we accompanied Pakou to a lunchtime Chris Koza concert at UW-Eau Claire.

Our final stop on this tour was in Ames, Iowa, where we were able to connect with our friend Phil and play a fun house concert. (Some of you may remember Phil as the pedal steel/guitar player who sometimes sat in with Casados.) Phil recently scored a nice lap steel at an estate auction, and we gladly gave him a reason to try it out. Saturday night’s house party was complete with food, drinks, and lots of music (us sandwiched between six local musicians). It turned out to be the rowdiest crowd we played for on this tour, but we were able to engage them and had a really great time. Honestly, we can’t imagine a better way to wrap things up.

All in all, the tour was excellent. We’re approaching some time off around the holidays, with a handful of Midwest shows throughout December. We’ll keep you updated on our plans for 2010. Thanks for reading!

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