Disjointed Tour Notes, 8.12.14 – 8.19.14
It’s a quarter mile from the only available parking spot to the venue. We pack an inordinate amount of gear onto the stage at Crown & Harp, playing so close together that when my head whips back I hit Mel’s shoulder. Danny pulls down the spotlight, an endless machine gun spray washing over his kit. Brooks will later confide prior apprehensions about someone being able to brim A’s trainers, but all suspicions have been allayed. For the moment he strongly resembles some kind of nightmarish cephalopod, each arm seemingly in multiple places at once, and it occurs to me briefly that he’s become detached on a quantum level. Mel’s bass never misses a beat, fucking tectonic in this constricted latitude, her vocals spritely and whiskey-edged. Jamie, already quite capable of making me look incompetent, goes far above and beyond, the Verellen exploding in a sustained cannon call. He’ll only be playing two shows on this excursion, and it’s obvious he’s making them count.
Spacebeach has easily pilfered the black little sea-snail that is my heart. Jake is a bolt of six-string brilliance, swathed in the liveries of a hayseed cult leader, Torry hulking and feral and forbidding, bass slag commanding the whole, Jones’ incessant hammering violent and flawless. Spun Orange Karma prior, and it’s sharp, but the live set is sharp plus, jams putting it over the top. This is a righteous fight. Mountain of Smoke is another favorite, majorly stripped down in the wake of Big Fiction, but it functions exquisitely, colossal drone riffs on the bass, ten tons of bleeding red meat on the drums, vocals that put me to shame, plus the raddest of rad record titles. Fiery the Angels Fell? That ruptures the Geiger.
Wake up in Brooks’ driveway. I don’t remember any of this, but during the night someone appears to have broken into the van and shoved a fiery iron through my navel, looking for my spine.
Reek of dead organics & petroleum as we heave through Amarillo. Hurtling meteorically, stripped of dust and insect innards along Sandia’s eastern flank, removed from the rainshadow. We descend like a diving bell, oceanic trench of the valley floor, onward toward Sister. First show without Jamie and I’m feeling pretty exposed, but we make it work. Sister’s stage is eight feet in the air. Danny’s wrapped his hands but he’s beating the holylivingfuck outta the kit and his blisters are filling up with blood. Promoter pays us when he doesn’t have to, praising a job well done. We accept.
Driving to Denver, I assume DJ duties, spinning Ace Frehley and trying to get the ‘mates to guess who it is, but they eventually lose interest. State lines change and earth tones change to conifer greens and matte black basalt. Rain as we press on into the city, hours spent in traffic.
Gear loaded, uneasy vibes, tom yum in a Thai shack down the road, over my shoulder something is wrong but I can’t focus enough to know what, lanterns in the street outside, handshakes as something passes over his shoulder, black and beetle-like and an oily-green sheen, heart is terror-racing, glance back through the doorway as they swarm over him, indoors a crimson mist like powdered ruby or suspended corpuscular particulate is wafting over the bar, little too much high-fiving at the door to cover room cost, not so twisted that it escapes notice, downing water like a goddamn sinkhole, Abrams sharp as a fucking needle from a rifle, Deer Park leaden and creepily beautiful, 908 wild and hilarious and a genius drummer, light and sound tangible as we crater through our set, each shockwave from Danny’s kick hammering reality a little further into my brain. In the street, surrounded by more equipment than a maritime salvage op. Some young pup, all combed hair and manicured beard and probably a bath, gives us the no money for you. Blanketed ourselves with merch sales thanks to Angela, but this is our third Denver effort and the cock’s about to crow. One more show before I can let my intestines spill out. Gratefully accepted floor offer from Jason, just before sleep comes in the van, something moves outside in the chill air, coneys the size of mastiffs.
Brilliant glasslike gems of drug-laced succor shine in their palms, all coral and turquoise and welcome detachment. Breaking away early, he smiles apishly on the threshold. Danny will envy the treasure in his near-future. We cull appellations for the beasts that populate the grounds.
Danny helms the ship past Sheridan, throats dusty, voices cracked, lips split. In the west a great black mountain of wind and rain rises, swelling to fill all the sky, excoriating, whipping, menacing us with the fear of a sideways slide, a single powdery blue band that rings the whole of creation, a jagged gape, grinning approval of an unholy errand. Billings is Houston’s drier twin, is what someone said in our write-up. Magnificent and hellish in the night gap, knuckles tight and bloodless, eyes watery and trembling as the tension reaches a pitch. Glowing red behind the pilot, threat of slipping stones, threat of large mammals dashed to brain and offal and gristle, threat of the pressure hewing me open at the rectus abdominus.
I gape, pupils dilated, regal beacons of sapphire and garnet shimmering in the aether, a hundred war-fists upturned, Danny moving so fast I can only discern his face, Melissa and Jamie roaring volcanically in the distance, the in-between all awash in a moaning Syren’s song of feedback, conquering howl of a wolf-king, the thunder-nymph’s wail, a personal devil seated atop a ruined wall of silver and black, sweat whipping from hair like cyclonic lachryma, mad leering as ritual participants twist to bastardized rhythms, oscillating black corona where Reggie Watt’s head is swinging.
Away along the river from the south, we watch viridescent fronds writhe like ciliated antennae in the course. Skin a greasy crimson as the trail sawtooths into the distance, flinty and sun-tortured, a single typewriter stamp not yet discernible at the terminus.
Rocketing past the scorched-tree wastes of Dallas’s descent shell, a great retching wake dislodges from cloudward, hitting us so hard that the road is lost in its watery folds, like a goddamn ritual cleansing.
Sitting with a pulled muscle, finishing the hatchet job on my brain with strong coffee, pain medication, and the cruel ministrations of 80’s thrash. Van was a bellowing, steam-breathed leviathan. Tour has finally killed my shoes.
It killed my shoes and they were never going to die.