Life From the Bottom – Day 5

Well, with the site being down, and spotty access to wifi I’ve totally fallen behind on this thing, so I’m going to do my best to get caught up before we get out east.

With Minneapolis in the books, we suited up and set sail further east towards Wisconsin. As much as Tyler and I have traveled its not often we find ourselves in totally new territory, but truth be told this was everyone’s first time in Sheboygan. Its always a little exciting to see new places, and this town is no different. According to Wikipedia the town’s population is around 50,000, or about the size of Kansas City, KS. Let’s hope its a little nicer than KCK. It probably is because… Wisconsin. The town also sits on Lake Michigan. I’ve always loved the water, whether that be the ocean, lakes, or nasty rivers. A large part of my childhood was spent swimming in rivers and lakes, or biking across town to rope swings, and watering holes, which in Louisiana are all pretty common. I’ve resigned myself to jumping into the great lakes at some point on this trip, we’ll see if I can convince my band mates to join me. As it stands right now, its about 60 degrees outside, so I’m sure I’m in for a real treat. I don’t care.

We played at a small coffee shop called The Weather Center Cafe. I love coffee, and this looks to be an intimate floor show, so it should be a lot of fun. This tour has lots of short drives, and the trip between Minneapolis and Sheboygan is only about five hours, we got a nice jump on the drive the previous night and only had a few hours to go when we woke up in the morning. We got to town super early, and had about four and a half hours to kill, so we walked down to the lake. We found a large break wall we were able to walk out into the lake on. There were a lot of anglers throwing hooks into the water, and tons of dead shad floating. It kind of made me wish I had a pole. We hung out at the end of the wall for probably an hour just reflecting on the scenery and enjoying the moment. Its so easy to get jaded and numb to all the cool stuff we get to do and see when out on the road, but the lake offered a perfect opportunity to ponder such things. Life can be pretty cool sometimes.

We decided to head back towards the venue, walking along the water inlet through town. I still needed to jump in the lake, as the volume of fishermen cockblocked my entry at the break wall. We stopped off in front of a fancy bistro packed full of business class suits — this would be the perfect spot to strip down and make a splash with the locals. Who needs clothes when you’re dropping cannon balls? As anticipated the water was a paltry forty degrees. With the deed done, and my nipples fully erect, we continue the walk back to the venue. We’ll be back on the lakes soon enough, so I still have time to convince my band mates to jump in the water with me on this tour.

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We got back to the venue just in time to meet Nick, our promoter, and the organizer of the show. We helped get the P.A. set up, loaded in our gear, and hung out until the show started. Teek, the owner of the coffee shop, is a cool dude. He came around asking if anyone would like some coffee, and of course, I’m never one to turn down a fresh pot! The Foamers, a 2-pc from Green Bay kicked things off. They kind of reminded me of Minor Threat or something a little thrashier than Fugazi with mostly clean guitars.

Now before I go further I need to explain a few things: The Weather Center is a small place. The Main coffee shop is probably 30’ x 20’ but the room we were playing was on the other side and used to be a health food store. It was maybe 20’ x 15’. Our set didn’t go quite as planned. After getting everything staged, we tore into our set. The crowd of about 20-30 people exploded like Bikini Atoll, taking out our entire merch table, and promptly unplugging the primary power source for our amps. A short pause to get everything plugged back in and we soldiered on. About 30 seconds into the next song Tyler’s amp just quit working — he blew a fuse from the power getting cut while running it full bore. Thankfully Spot, one of the regulars at the coffee shop, had a fuse in the back. Karl and I decided to do a country interlude while Tyler replaced his fuse, and get his amp fired up again. Between shuffle beats, and polka bass lines, I wondered to myself how this would affect the energy of the set. My concerns were quickly assuaged as we pressed the accelerator once again, and plowed through our set. The small, fierce crowd picked up exactly where they left off — I’m pretty sure someone barrel rolled over our merch table at some point. This is exactly why we all love floor shows. On the floor everyone is equal. Floor shows are a full contact sport at times, and you have to be prepared for whatever may come, including bodies, microphones to the mouth, spit, beer (or in this case coffee), and blood. Luckily we didn’t need to bust out the blood-born pathogen kit this time around. It was a blast, even in spite of the technical difficulties!

The next band was called Final Ultimate, who were basically straight up hardcore/punk — super rad dudes!  The crowd continued with the same intensity they had for our set. Karl may (or may not) have killed someone! As the pit tore through the space, someone found their way to Karl. Karl, not realizing his strength, launched this kid 10 feet in the air. His feet were literally above his head as he flew through the air, landing on his back, and sliding towards the wall, cell phone landing not far behind him in a million pieces. I think it was at this point Karl realized he probably should opt out of the pit next time it found its way to him.

After the show we sat around the coffee shop with Teek, Spot, Nick and his girlfriend Melissa, and some other random dude who’s name I didn’t catch. We chatted for almost two hours. Again, these moments are always a gift on tour. We took turns telling stories about crazy shows seen and played, travel, and generally everyones shared love of music and punk rock specifically. We headed out after the show so I could wash the lake off.

Our next stop is Chicago. I love the city, but generally big cities are a tough market. At the very least, we’ll get to see some sights, eat some pizza, and we’re playing at another legendary venue — The Liars Club!