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Through the Midwest with moe.
By DAN VANVERTH
[Note: This month, we have a guest writer with a story about a moe. Roadtrip. If you are interested in contributing a Roadtrip story, please let me know before you take your trip, to give me time to get you on the schedule. Even if you just have questions about what is involved, feel free to email me at email@example.com. And, I'd love any feedback on this or past Roadtrips! Thanks, Ira]
"When you think everything is as bad as it can be, it can always get worse. But that will always make the good times seem that much better"
As I begin to prepare for the mini moe.tour I am about to embark on, the normal thoughts start to creep into my mind. Make sure to pack everything you need, get your oil changed, make sure you have enough music. I decide that the oil change is the best way to start off my running around.
As I wait outside the large glass garage door awaiting my ten minutes of oil changing fun, I seem to hear a mysterious noise coming from the engine. Pulling into the large garage, turning off my car as directed and waiting for the completion of my oil change. "Sir, would you please start your car" I am directed by one of the men in blue overalls. As I start my car I can see a look of shock come over the young man's face.
"Sir, would you mind stepping out of the car and coming over here," another younger man in overalls asks. "We just need to point out this sound your car is making, have you ever heard it before?" "Yes I began to hear it a few minutes ago" I reply, listening to the sound which could best be described as the sound of quarter bouncing around in the engine.
"Well, sir, you might want to have that checked before you take it anywhere, it sounds really bad" the first man says. With this I climb back into the silver 1993 Nissan Altima and prepare to pull out an adjacent glass garage door. Great, now what? Less than twenty-four hours from now I am supposed to be on my way from Columbus, Oh. towards Indianapolis, In. (Nov. 30th) then to St. Louis (Dec 1st).
"You are never given a wish without also being given the power to make it true. You may have to work for it, however."
Alright now to the problem at hand - how to get to Indianapolis? Take my car and take the chance of the sound not affecting the car? No too many problems could arise from that. Well how about renting a car? Great plan, one flaw though, being under 25 years old makes car rental almost impossible. Finally, what about finding someone to give me a lift? Again a great idea except for the fact that it is less than 24 hours before I leave. That just leaves trying to get the car fixed before I leave.
"Time is only your enemy when you try to kill it"
Driving my car towards the Firestone, I start to believe that there is no way that this car will be fixed in just a few hours, the whole trip ruined. Pulling into the shop I see cars lined up any and everywhere there is room to put one. Walking inside I see just one mechanic for around 20 or 30 cars. As I explain my situation, Fred, whose name I know because it is written on his shirt, tells me "I should be able to look at it around lunch time." Lunch time? Damn I am supposed to leave around 2pm. Well there is nothing left to do now but just go home and wait by the phone, hoping they call.
Around 12:30pm, I get the call "Dan?" the voice on the other end says, "yes, this is Dan" I reply. "Dan, this is Fred from Firestone, we found your problem. Just a guide on a belt, it's fixed and you can pick it up at any time." Barely able to hold in my excitement, I respond "Great, I'll pick it up in 10 minutes thank you so much." Still two and half-hours before I even need to leave; this couldn't have worked out better.
As Dawn, my girlfriend and traveling partner, and I begin to pack the car the excitement builds. First, make sure we have all the tapes and CD's that we will need, next clothes and toiletries. Who has the tickets? As I place them in my pocket, the smile on my face gets bigger and bigger. Finally we are on the road, a half-hour early even. Normal I-70 west traffic makes the journey a little slow at first, but we are on the road - a feat that just three hours ago seemed so improbable.
As the traffic begins to break about thirty miles outside Columbus, I give the car a little gas and..no response... try again, no response. As I coast over to the right shoulder of the freeway, I am convinced that this trip is over once again. A frantic call to Firestone follows, the answer I get is "all we did was take the guide off, you can bring it in here and we'll take a look for you." Well since I have no accelerator that seems to be slightly out of the picture. So all that is left is to take a quick look under the hood myself and see if anything looks out of place. A little examination proves that a wire had just fallen out of its clip, a quick clip, and voila - acceleration! We're off once again.
After another two and half-hours of uneventful driving, we arrive in Indianapolis at the Vogue, with one hour before doors open. The Vogue is an interesting little theater, set up like most theaters it's size, balcony and a decent size floor. Although some sight lines from the balcony were totally obstructed. One of the things that sticks in my mind was the fire-breathing bartenders, at all chances they got before the show started that were spitting out fire.
Around 8:30pm, moe. steps out on stage, and after a little tuning start right into Understand. (Tonight's set list is I: Understand, New York City, It, Blue Eyed Son, Tambourine, Moth > Brent Black. Set II: Hi and Lo >Timmy Tucker > Moth reprise, Happy Hour Hero, Gone, Yodelittle > Rebubula E: Money) The first set was very well played although no real crazy moments or jams stick out in my mind. Hearing Tambourine was a very nice treat.
The beginning of the second set is where this show really shined, the Hi and Lo> Timmy Tucker> Moth reprise was out of this world, one of those moments where time seems to stand still and everything in the world seems to be just right. This was the point where all of the problems and headaches from the journey disappeared, and I found myself once again in that mythical place, very similar to the first time I actually experienced "it". The show continued to keep this high energy throughout ending with a great cover of Pink Floyd's Money.
As I made my way out towards the cold November evening every bone in my body tingled with anticipation for what may come tomorrow. Making our way through the crowd towards the car, my mind shifted to the four-hour drive to St. Louis. A few minutes to allow the car to warm up and again we were off towards I-70 west. A missed street here, a little backtracking, and we got back on the right track. Through the dark of night we traveled, stopping at gas stations for coffee and gas at random points along the way. And of course the obligatory stop at a Denny's.
As the sun started to creep up from its slumber we arrived in St. Louis. Finding our hotel seemed to be easier than we thought it would be, walking in the door at 5am. We ask if we may check-in early, like we had requested, but get the response that "we were sold out last night and our first housekeeper does not arrive until 8am, the earliest you can check-in will be 9 or 10." So on no sleep for the last 24+ hours, we again find a Denny's to eat and hang out in for a while. With Dawn falling asleep at the table we decide it's time to leave and head back to the hotel. On the way I stop to buy a paper and we sit in the car, Dawn sleeping and I reading the paper. As 9am rolls around we go inside get out room and go to sleep for a few hours.
As I finally begin to feel like a person again after five hours a sleep, we decide the best plan for the day is to relax in the hotel room until the show begins. Around 7:30pm we leave the Holiday Inn to make our way to the Pageant. After waiting in line for about 45 minutes to be searched we finally make it into the show around 8:15pm and to my surprise the band is already on stage.
Tonight's set list is I: Spine Of A Dog, Jazz Wank > Spaz Medicine, Okayalright, Four -> Buster. Set II : Head, Water -> Bring You Down, Letter Home, Seat Of My Pants -> Rise, Plane Crash E: San Ber'dino. The first set, which we walked in on during the last half of Jazz Wank, was very uneventful and dry, very short, and no memorable moments for me.
The second set was better from the second the boys walked on stage, a seven or eight minute intro to Head got the crowd going, and the set kept everyone waiting for the next note. I was very excited to get the chance to hear Letter Home once again, I have always loved the song and to hear it made all of my worries disappear. A great segue from Seat of My Pants into Rise followed that can only be described as seamless. Plane Crash got everyone in the Pageant jumping and screaming the famous moe. line "To fucking high", a great way to walk off the stage. After the show, through the kindness some friends, we were able to get tickets to the sold out Chicago show. A quick drive back to the Holiday Inn for a night of sleep before the drive to Chicago.
Waking up around 8:30am, we hit the road, I-55 for another five hours. Less than a half-hour into the drive a set of red and blue lights began flashing behind us. What did I do I think, I was traveling less than 5 miles over the speed limit. As the officer walks towards the car, I begin to feel my hands trembling. "I pulled you over, because you did not signal far enough in advance of that lane change, and you license plate cover blocks the state you are from."
As I give him my license, registration, and insurance card, he asks me to walk back to his cruiser. After being grilled about where we are going, he asks "what type of music does moe. play?" Without even thinking of the consequences I tell him "the best way I can describe it is a hard rocking Grateful Dead." The officer asks if I am also a Phish fan, to which I honestly answer "yes." He then proceeds to tell me that "every time I pull over a Phish fan after a concert they always have dope.do you have dope on you?" I answer "No, sir I do not" we continue along this same line of questioning for around ten to fifteen minutes. He then leaves me in the car to question Dawn, who he asks the same questions about dope. The officer then writes us out a warning and tells us to fix the plate and signal more in advance.
As soon as we are back on our way up I-55 north I can feel the rage begin to build. I start to remember some of my political science class, and that what just happened could be considered profiling, just because of my musical taste, that makes me a criminal in this man's eyes. The letter to the Illinois State Police is already on its way.
The rest of the four and half-hours go remarkably quick. Arriving in Chicago around 4:30pm we decide to check out the city and head on down to Michigan Ave. The street is amazing with all the people and the lights, it put me in awe for a moment. We then decide to look for the best Chicago pizza, which isn't as easy as it sounds, especially when you can't seem to find a pizza shop anywhere.
As we get back to the Vic Theater, we get out tickets, and notice a pizza shop down the road and decide we have a few minutes, and we do get our pizza, although I am pretty sure it wasn't the best in town.
Again, we are forced to wait in line for another security check, this time though we make it in a good half-hour before the show begins. Tonight's show begins on a very high note for me, with Ghost of Ralph's Mom, one of my favorite moe. songs. (the setlist reads as follows set I: Ghost of Ralph's Mom, 32 Things, In A Big Country, Cap't America > Mexico, Waiting For the Punchline. Set II: Akimbo, Time Again, The Faker > Meat > Apostrophe > Meat, Time Ed, Bring It Back Home E: Godzilla) The Rest of the first set was well played including a unique jam in the middle of Mexico.
The second set began with Akimbo and Time Again, both short and sweet. Then the best part of the show, Faker > Meat > Apostrophe > Meat, the Faker segued perfectly into Meat which then took on a mind of it's own, going every which direction and exploring every inch of the Vic. It is always great to hear the first time played of any song, and the Apostrophe (Frank Zappa cover) that I got to hear was no exception. This section of the show lasted for at least 45 minutes, not sure on the official timing, forgot to check my watch. The Bring It Back Home had a nice little drumz section for a moment. And then the encore of Godzilla put a cap on the evening and left the crowd wanting more.
Out into another cold evening and back into the car, for more driving, this time only until a sign for a cheap hotel is seen. Less than an hour later a Super 8 hotel appears and we retire for the evening.
Another early morning, and back onto I-65 for another hour and a half, nothing besides passing a few truckers makes this worth noting. Finally back onto I-70, and almost home. Three hours later, we walk into our front door, and prepare for a Christmas party that begins in less than two hours, no rest for the weary. A few days of rest and then back out on to the road on Dec. 5th, 6th, and 7th, for three more moe. shows.
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