Halloween: It’s Gonna Get Weird

It’s been a few days since a post straight from behind the merch booth; so why the hell not deliver a fresh, hot, live post straight from my gut to your brain? I already have a couple on my computer, ready for publishing, so I’m going to skip ahead a few days and go straight to last night.

Halloween.

We had pulled up next to the venue in Charlotte, NC sometime hours before dawn, having driven straight from Atlanta. I was the first one awake, which has been happening lately and I don’t know why. My internal clock has been completely unwound and built anew on this damn tour, it will be hell getting back on my normal routine, but no matter.

When you’re on the road in a van or RV with 6 other guys, you learn to live out of gas stations. First, they are everywhere. Second, they always have coffee and horrible, food-like processed substances that fill the hunger. Third, there’s always a bathroom and dear Lord, is that a sweet, sweet thing.

After a few days, the gas station routine becomes so regular they turn into a personal kitchen. You just roll out of bed, throw on your flip-flops and stumble your way towards the heavenly caffeine. Nevermind the 50 year old Southern man behind the counter casting a suspicious eye in your direction. Ignore the nice, Christian family staring at your tattoos and bedhead while you wipe the sleep from your eyes, cursing the sun and asking yourself just where in the hell you’re at. Just another morning in America, thanks Ronnie.

Only on this particular morning, the gas station was out of coffee and didn’t have a public restroom, but the lady was kind enough to point me in the direction of a Bojangle’s Chicken restaurant a quarter of a mile up. The air was crisp and quickly brought my senses back into reality. By the time I was at Bojangle’s, my gut was growling for biscuits and coleslaw, which I promptly ordered. With food in hand I made my way back to the RV, stopping for 20 minutes to hangout on a brick building stoop to watch the pedestrians and crackheads walk by.

Gronk! And Jesse were the next to make their way out of the RV. I grabbed my computer and went inside The Tremont Music Hall to charge my electronics and do the journalistic work for the morning.

The Tremont looks like an old warehouse, complete with loading docks, separated into two rooms with the largest holding somewhere around 900 people. The floors are spray painted with “attack lines” and “safe zones” and the walls are adorned with a couple decades worth of pictures of the various acts who have graced the stage.
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Gwar was up several times along with Iggy Pop, Green day, Rancid, Hank 3, Death Angel and many, many more. Painted above the front, bay door it read, “Enter At Your Own Risk”. Ominous foreshadowing, indeed.

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As the hours progressed, more and more people began piling in and soon everyone on the tour was hanging out, getting ready for the Halloween festivities.

“Since nobody is dressing up tonight, we’re gonna have to get weird,” explained Iron Reagan bassist, Rob.

“Yeah,” chimed in Tony, the singer. “We’re gonna get (Cretos) so wasted he’ll wake up with another teardrop tattoo!”

And weird it got, but more on that later.

I have to mentioned the Tremont’s catering. We’ve been eating amazing food throughout this tour, with most venues catering dinner for us. But the Tremont takes the cake. There was hot brisket for the omnivores and mashed potatoes, lentils with jicima root, salad, grilled veggies, rolls & brownies for everyone else. It might’ve been the first time I got all my servings of nutrients and protein in one meal, so I had seconds. I thanked our chef and she told me about all of the various events she’s worked.

“Yesterday was Alicia Keyes, today is Gwar and tomorrow I’m cooking for the WWE” she said with glee. “It’s only for 300 people but I’m making enough for 600 ’cause those guys can eat!” Well said, kindly grandma figure.

The club stashed our per diem beers in the green room & Jesse skated up the street to grab a bottle of Jameson for the bands. After all, what’s Halloween without Jameson? That’s right, a crappy one.

Doors opened and the costumes began pouring in. The usual suspects were there in full force, from store bought Mario & Luigi’s to slutty kitty, slutty cop and slutty ghosts. But Charlotte has a lot of character & too much down time, so we also saw a guy dressed as a tampon, a rad version of the Scooby Doo Mystery Gang, contestants from the 90’s Nickelodeon show “Legends of the Hidden Temple” and even a damn good replica of Oderus Urungus.

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As soon as A Band of Orcs hit the stage, the audience was already in a tipsy state with the sound of bottles breaking against the concrete floor. The merch tables were in the smaller room, but I could hear Gogog riling up the already rowdy bunch as more glass exploded around me. This time, a pint.

By the time Whitechapel made their way onto the stage, the floors were drenched in beer, there were a few stumbling, blacked out girls (more like zombies, really. all because of the booze and not the holiday) and the men’s toilet was clogged with two Pabst Blue Ribbon tallboys, which made the urnial flood out. The night was 1/2 way over.

Three songs into Gwar, I saw Jesse leaving the main hall, so I thought it was a good moment to grab some video of the mighty scumdogs.

“Dude, I wouldn’t do that. It’s nuts in there,” he said with a stunned gaze. “I’m not even going back in for the rest of the night.”

Even though he’s not in the business of selling wolf tickets, I had to go see for myself but couldn’t make it past the entrance. 900 sweaty, drunk, blood covered minions were in full rabid mode, raging to the metal and all pressed up against a tetering barricade. The Tremont’s security are all a bunch of biker-built guys but even I could read the fear on their face.

Within moments shouts to cut the power began ringing out as the metal barricade gave way.

“Hey you Motherfuckers!” screamed Oderus. “Calm your fucking shit or we won’t play. I know you all want to fuck us that badly, but we don’t need anyone dying before they can suck my dick!” They’re the Scumdogs of the Universe for a reason, and their brand of raunch was just what the audience needed to hold back and rebuild the wall.

After their set, Dave Brockie walked through the audience, covered in Gwar blood and cum, wearing nothing but a pair of Gronks! tighty-whiteys. Brockie had talked about being Heisenburg for Halloween all tour, but when it came down to it, he had no time for a costume. So the underpant served as part of his “Walter White goes crazy in the supermarket” costume. He ran around screaming “Where’s Jesse? Let’s cook!” so I made sure to grab our Jesse for a candid shot with Crazy Walt (or drunk Brockie. When it comes to Gwar, it’s hard to tell what’s what sometimes.)

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“Walt” & Jesse

As we packed up the trailer, it was clear that Iron Regan had succeeded in getting Cretos trashed. But the truth is we all had a hand in bringing that poor bastard to puke. And puke he did, all over our RV bathroom ending with a snot rocket on the window curtain.

All of the bands were hanging out in the parking lot, taking pics and chatting it up with the old school Gwar fans while Gwar switched buses yet again. This was the 4th time for them, each one breaking down in their own way. Jesse, Gogog and I found a guy named Todd who was willing to smoke us out as we talked about metal, white people destroying the government and everything in-between.

As people started to disperse, we saw a very drunk, slutty Predator hitting on Balzac before she stumbled back to the car with her boyfriend and friends. Half-way there she tripped over her platform boots and face planted into the gravel.

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Slutty Predator & Dirks with Ben from Whitechapel & Jesse photo bombing

“That’s spousal abuse!” screamed Jesse, loud enough for her to hear.

Immediately the embarrassment hit her and instead of composing herself like an adult Predator, she began wailing on her boyfriend, punching him in the face, chest and crotch. We all stood there, watching and adding ESPN commentary until a security guard joined our group.

“Man,” he said very matter-of-factly. “I’d try to stop it, but that’s what she does. I’ve seen her with at least 4 dudes and she’s beat every one of them. If THAT’S not a red flag, what is? You go for the low-hanging fruit and it’ll punch you in the nuts.”

By now, the bus switch was almost complete and the Gwar guys invited us to raid their beer, fridge and random packs of new socks, boxers and shirts. Jesse and Hulg came back 3 times, each with pillow cases full of comandeered goods. As I write this, we have beer stashed in the fridge, cupboards, under the bed and somewhere in the trailer.

Jesse went back outside to hangout on the new Gwar bus, while Gogog and I put the loot away. When out of nowhere, BAM! the entire RV shook with the hand of God. Or the old Gwar bus, which had hit our trailer and was now stuck on. Hulg watched the whole thing and woke up Oog, who owned the trailer. With some tricky manuevering the driver was able to unlodge the bus and gave Oog $40 for the damages. The passenger side fender was ripped like a sardine can, but remained over the wheels and the hanging metal wasn’t in danger of popping the tires, so Oog chalked it up as a win.

With the old bus gone, the drunk fan goers retired and our ripped up fender, there was nothing left to do but kick it in the parking lot longer, drink beer, smoke some hash oil, and recount the night’s events with sleep deprived laughs.

It was a helluva night. I’m still trying to figure out how the hell all of that happened in less than 24 hours. What a difference a day makes.

Days 11-12: The Sanctuary of Home to Heisenberg’s Albuquerque.

Sunday night I rode with Brian back to Santa Cruz and was overcome with a sense of elation when I saw my front door, and then my bed. I passed out somewhere around 3am, fully clothed, on top of my blanket, with the lights on. It was good to be home.

I knew the guys had to be out early on Monday and I didn’t’ want to be the flat tire of the group, so I woke up early to run some errands and grab some last minute items. I picked up a sack of California’s finest from my homie and met up with Brian for breakfast. The rest of my day was spent relaxing in Santa Cruz, writing, organizing and listening to Brian’s latest record scores.

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“This is why I pay so much for rent.” – Oog Skullbasher

As the hour grew later, I was frantically hitting the band up, hoping everything was alright. Apparently, my relaxing Monday was not shared with everyone.

For starters, Jesse was stranded in Oakland for several hours until my buddy, Greg, could give him a ride (thanks dude!). Then, Hulg was delayed in Santa Cruz and when everyone finally arrived at the RV rental shop, it took several more hours to sign everyone on, switch our stuff from one camper to another, and then drive back to Santa Cruz from Newark. By the time I got the call to meet up it was already 5pm and we still had to go to the band’s shop to dump unused gear.

“Oh, by the way,” Oog said as we were unloading a case, “I found a screw in the trailer tire, but I’m not too worried about it. The tire seems to be holding and I’ve done tours with 2 nails in those things. We just need to keep an eye on it.”

Aye Aye, Captain.

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We finally hit the road around 6pm, with an 18 hour drive to Albuquerque ahead of us. It was a long, dull, drive straight through the heart of Arizona; a state that has always hated me so I must, therefore, hate it. Every time I’m in its soul-sucking desert, something bad happens; whether it be a breakdown, or it’s too damn hot, or the Christian owned family restaurants tell me & my friends (all tattooed and wearing all black) that they’re closed for the day & refuse to serve us when the sign clearly says we have another hour.

And this time was no exception.

We stopped for gas outside of Flagstaff and I went into the station for some coffee and whatever morning processed junk I could stomach. After my purchase I remembered Oog’s warning about the tire and decided I should check on it.

“Holy shit. Uh. . .guys, You’re gonna want to look at this,” was all I could muster.

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It’s still good, right?

The trailer tire had blown and was completely stripped from the rim. It had been so extensive that some of the trailer paneling by the tire had started to peel away. Who knows how long we had been driving like that.

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Luckily, there was a tire garage only a few miles away, so we stopped there, only to be delayed another 90 minutes. Arizona is a terrible state, and it’s not just my bad luck. Iron Reagan also had a tire blowout and Gwar’s bus broke down for the second time.

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Breakfast of Champions at Brokedown Palace

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I will say this, AZ has some righteous retail.

When the tire was ready I looked at the clock. It was 11am and we had 6 more hours to go, just in time to make sound check if we were lucky.

And we were.

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Made it!

We pulled up to the Sunshine Theater in Albuquerque at 4:45 and did a quick dump of the gear. After setting up the merchandise, we even had time to shoot the shit with the venue’s crew and they pointed me and Jesse in the direction of some good food.

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And look! Immortal Technique signed my table! Keepin’ it real!

A common thread tying this whole tour together has been the savage response of the excited audience. Aside from the fact they’re seeing one of their favorite bands that demands such a reaction, by talking with the locals I keep hearing the same reasons for their excitement.

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A Band of Orcs, straight from Herntoadia

No matter what the state, the music scene is dying across the country.

Everywhere we go, kids and adults tell me how happy they are to have a real, rock show in their town. Hell, I even heard the crew say that at the House of Blues in Boise. They tell me that most of the touring acts are either hip-hop or electronic, and if it is a rock band, 9 times out of 10 it’s a screamo/metalcore/hardcore act. Adding lemon juice to the wound, one after another venues keep shutting down. Even if they kids have a garage band, there’s not much hope of ever playing anything bigger.

Albuquerque was no exception, full of crazed fans hungry for blood and biting at the bit. The crowd was as drunk and rowdy as the rest of the country with nothing to do.

GWAR’s set followed in the chaos. Earlier that evening the guys in Iron Reagan and Dave Brockie went out in a successful mission to find Walter White’s, a.k.a. Heisenberg’s, home from the series, “Breaking Bad.” As a result, Brockie was on his own high that night, shouting “Heeeeiiiissseeennnbbeeerrrggg!!!!” at the most random moments he could think of. And the fun didn’t stop there.

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The Eye of Gzoroth

When Oderus opened GWAR’s set, he dedicated it to “the people of the sun.” Knowing him to be a Rage Against the Machine fan and that his alter ego is actually a progressively thinking individual, this didn’t really stand out to me at first.

“Sure,” I thought. “When in Navajo land, dedicate the music to the natives.” Makes perfect sense, right?

As they got deeper into their set, it be came apparent Oderus had taken something before the set (at least to all of us) and clearly it was working. He continued his “Heisenberg” shout-outs, followed by laughter, rabid dancing and tirades about revolution and Breaking Bad.

“Clearly I’ve gone off script and my band is completely lost,” he chuckled after one particular rant about needing Heisenberg, “But that’s ok because so am I.”

I wasn’t able to capture much video, but what I did will be posted shortly.

The next day, Wednesday, was another day off, so by the end of the night in Albuquerque, the general consensus was to hit the road as soon as possible. There was another 881 miles ahead of us to  Houston, but we weren’t anxious to get there, we were just done with Tuesday.

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Blurry Reagan