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Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Tour Diary: The Blind Eyes

Posted By on Wed, Oct 7, 2009 at 12:00 PM

The Blind Eyes are Seth Porter, Kevin Schneider and Matt Picker. They are playing on October 17 at Off Broadway with the Safes, Gentleman Auction House, and Beth Bombara. But last weekend, they trekked to the upper Midwest for a few shows. Porter was kind enough to share what happened. Read below!

THURSDAY 6:15am: As with all major rock tours, day one begins with the lead singer [me] getting up and going to a half day of work. Rock & roll.

12:27pm: Pick up van, or more precisely, the minivan. Is the Toyota Sienna better suited to hauling kids to soccer practice than rock travel? Perhaps, but I appreciate the agility. If the Econoline van is the Spanish Armada of rock touring, consider the Sienna the Sir Francis Drake.

1:43pm: Stop at QT and purchase, among other things, one bag of Combos to share. I'm not sure that any of us actually enjoy eating Combos, but they have become a road tradition. The bitter herbs of our rock seder.

6:05pm: Speculation arises that Meatloaf and Brian Dennehy may be the same person.

9:20pm: Show up at the Borg Ward and unload in absolutely miserable weather. It is significantly colder than St. Louis, and it's raining (as it has been for the bulk of the drive). The Borg Ward is an art space with a spot for shows in the back. It's pretty cool, but I am a little disheartened by the "NO DRINKING" signs everywhere.

10:05pm: Wreckless Hearts open the show and are really great power pop ensemble. There are a handful of people here for the show, mostly punk looking dudes. Hope they don't mind the easy listening sounds of the Blind Eyes. 11:00pm: What the crowd lacks in numbers it makes up for by standing about a foot in front of us. I can dig it.

FRIDAY 12:55am: Not a bad set in all. We went over better than I was expecting. Maybe Matt and Kevin's punk rock pedigree carried us through. The Safes follow us with a nice rocking set. They are also nice fellows, although at first confused that I don't know them (they played with the Gentleman Callers before my time in the band). Given the lack of a bar tab, we decide we can spring for a motel room and head off to find one. Today has been a long one.

1:25am: Quiz time: Which of the following brightly colored images is featured on our motel room comforters?

The Motel 6 logo A saguaro cactus A pink flamingo The skyline of Toronto, Ontario A father and son canoeing A golden retriever All of the above

If you selected "G. All of the above", you are a winner!

11:21am: Watching a movie (which we later figure out is called "Evolution") wherein a team of scientists are trying to kill a giant amorphous blob of an alien by shooting Head & Shoulders shampoo out of a fire hose up the alien's anus. What is Kevin Schneider's main concern with the plausibility of this scene? "How did those scientists know how to use the fire truck?"

12:12pm: We are heading to Chicago today a radio interview but must first stop for our annual pilgrimage to Mars Cheese Castle for cheese curd samples, delicious bloody marys and sandwiches. It is noon on a Friday and the bar is full of folks drinking and watching America's Funniest Home Videos on television. I am thinking about retiring in the Kenosha area because this freaking rules. Briefly consider purchasing a bottle of hot sauce called "The Ass Reaper" but think better of it.

2:20pm: Chicago traffic is a bummer but at least it gives us time to properly consider the following Schneider gem: "Did Steve Urkel really need a super-advanced piece of technology to turn into Stephan Urquelle or could he have just gotten contacts and changed his clothes?" I'm about ready to get out of this van.

5:00pm: It turns out that WLUW is affiliated with Loyola University of Chicago (although the show we are visiting is not hosted by students) and located in a swanky new building at the downtown campus. We meet the hosts of the Razor and Die show, Razor and Die (I guess its not just a clever name) and they are exceedingly nice. They play five songs off of Modernity and talk with us between each track. I was skeptical about whether the long detour would be worth the trouble, but am feeling good about the decision now. Back around to Wisconsin now.

9:10pm: Arrive at the Wisco in Madison and load in. In an effort to make our set sound especially wimpy, Matt has pumped the jukebox full of Iron Maiden and AC/DC. My friend Brian, who is putting us up tonight, shows up and we catch up for awhile.

11:00pm: We play our set to a decent crowd. They seem to enjoy it well enough, although we are considerably more poppy and less rock & roll than the other bands. We are made aware that Jane Wiedlin of the Go-Go's is at the show, which is strange and wonderful. Bass player Patrick from the Safes is much more impressed that she played Joan of Arc in Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure than her Go-Go's past. We are one Socrates appearance away from totally acing our history project.

SATURDAY 4:44am: One might think that playing an actual rock show would sort of sate any desire to simulate a rock show on a Nintendo Wii. One would be wrong. Kevin and Brian are still rocking the pants off of "Mama Kin" at this ungodly hour.

2:30pm: After a diner brunch and a quick walk around downtown Madison (Kevin and Matt have never been) we hang for a bit at Brian's house waiting for his wife Kelli (another college friend) to return from Iowa so I can say hello to her and meet their 2.5 year old son Charlie. He has been prepped that a rock band is at his house and is extremely excited about it. Also, he is pretty much the coolest kid ever. On to Chicago again.

6:05pm: Meet up with my sister and her boyfriend at their apartment. We go eat some Thai food, drink a couple of beers at the apartment, and pile into the van for the show at Cal's 400 Liquors.

9:07pm: Cal's is definitely the odd man out in the neighborhood. It is basically a bar attached to a liquor store in the shadow of the Willis Tower (the artist formerly known as the Sears tower). I wonder if anyone will ever actually call it Willis Tower? Anyway, it can't compare to the majesty of the Tostitos Gateway Arch brought to you by Bud Light Lime.

10:20pm: The Blackbelts are the first band to play and are really fun. They play Chuck Berry's "Carol" as a tribute to our St. Louis orgins as well as "Gimme Some Money" by the Thamesmen (Spinal Tap) which is one of our favorites. People from all different parts of my past are at this show. Worlds colliding!

11:15pm: We play our best set of the weekend, although maybe it is cheating because so much of the audience is made up of friends. Anyway, it is a really fun show and even the strangers seem to enjoy themselves. The Safes close down the night, and rock as always. The other bands give us all (or at least nearly all) of the door money so we can get home without going to far in the hole. True gentlemen.

SUNDAY 1:30am: Head to my friend Dan's palatial, but not entirely rehabbed, house for the night. It is a very different scene from Cal's. I look on a table through a stack of 8 or 10 cds. They are all by Madonna. Dance beats pound late into the night and a wide variety of booze is consumed. Kevin breaks a glass cabinet door and I sleep in all of my clothes on a bare wood floor. Matt remains relatively unscathed.

10:05am: This may be the worst shape I have ever seen this band in. Matt demands coffee and Kevin may be dead. We drag ourselves to a diner for some sustenance and it really does the trick (other than the near fight between our waitress and a bus boy). Not feeling great, but I think we're going to make it.

1:05pm: Stereolab's Transient Random-Noise Bursts with Announcements may not be the best musical choice for keeping me awake behind the wheel, but it is giving this drive a weird autobahn vibe that I am kind of enjoying.

3:18pm: Stop in scenic Pontiac, IL for fuel. Gas station attendant is blasting GnR Lies. An elderly woman is trying to pay for gas. "I USED TO LOVE HERRRR, BUT I HAD TO KILL HERRRR!" 20 bucks on pump 4 please.

6:05pm: Home Sweet Home. The end.


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