July 23rd, 2010 5:33 pm | by Music | Posted In: Columns, Tour Diary, Tour Diary

Archeology: Cattle Manure = Madera (Fresno, CA to Las Vegas)

DownloadedFileFresno to Las Vegas

Strong navigational skills are a must for DIY touring, both for making it to the venue on time and for preventing the band from breaking up (think the arguments mom and dad had before they could blame it on GPS). Despite our relatively limited tour experience (only four so far) I feel like we have already graduated to a GPS-less existence, instead navigating purely by familiar sights. California, on the other hand, affords another navigational tool: the sense of smell. Regardless of whether you are driving with the windows sealed or the wind whipping through your hair, one only needs to deeply inhale to know exactly where you are: garlic smell=Gilroy, CA, fermenting grapes=Selma, CA, oil smell=Bakersfield, CA, excess smell=Los Angeles. It is by these familiar smells that we blindly made our way from Sacramento to Fresno in the dead of the night and had the opportunity to add a new one onto the list: cattle manure= Madera, CA. We got a long lasting whiff of Madera after having a blow-out and limping our way off 99 to its humble downtown. Despite the less than pleasant smell, the locals came out of the woodwork (despite it being 3:30 am) to offer commentary, in an unknown vernacular, on our disparaging situation. I think we all feel a little more street-wise following those interactions.

Another skill we have acquired is the ability to make quick connections with long-lost friends and relatives when lodging is needed. Don't be fooled, the ability to initiate a conversation which starts as a social call but leads to a request for shelter, without the party in question feeling used, is a fine art. Luckily, when we are in central California, this isn't needed as my sister has developed the reputation as our “island of refuge," providing us with a much needed escape from the blistering heat, good company and, of course, hands down the best food we eat on tour. From this homebase we ventured out to play shows in Fresno and San Jose before making the treacherous drive to Vegas. The Fresno show started out great. A full house and ample air conditioning, but somehow, by the time we went on, the air conditioning decided to take a break and we got a lesson in playing a show in 95 degree nighttime heat. We escaped to the comforts of my sister's air conditioned garage and prepared for what was sure to be an eventful San Jose show.

The last time we were looking to book a show in San Jose, we made a connection with a promoter by the name of Eric Fanali. Eric ran a cleverly named company called “Grand Fanali Productions” and booked us at Nickel City Arcade. We should have known better and found ourselves playing the birthday room of an arcade and afterwards, being paid out the window of a Lincoln Continental by gentlemen dressed in Armani suits and wearing black leather gloves. Surprisingly, when we looked to return to San Jose, we overlooked Eric's last choice of venue, and Fredo Coreleone-esque business practices, and took a show with him at Homestead Lanes in Cupertino. I won't go into too much detail, but the combination of free bowling, an eager crowd and ample air conditioning made this show the tops thus far (despite pretty humbling scores on the lanes from all members of Archeology).

We were sad to leave the comfortable temperatures of San Jose but with two or three 5-Hour Energy's in our system, we set out on an all night drive to Vegas. We arrived in Vegas and quickly holed up in our friend Zubbi's apartment, taking advantage of his warm hospitality and floor space for some much needed rest. We purposefully skipped the commercial allure of the strip (mainly due to our lack of expendable income) and opted for the familiar dive-bar feel of The Bunkhouse where we played a 1 am set to the grittiest, and best, Las Vegas locals.

Some r&r and archaeological site-seeing awaits us in beautiful Torrey, Utah (population 300) as well as three Utah shows that will undoubtedly generate more-than-worthy blog material.


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