Frontalot Tour Diary Day 43: The long, long road to Rock Island

Stereotypes are a thing of the past in WyomingThe United States is a big country, full of wonders too numerous to recount.  On our 2 1/2 day road trip along I-80, we managed to miss almost all of them.  Aside from the scenery, which ran the gamut from breathtaking to bland, we pretty much saw only the highway and the occasional town located conveniently off the interstate.  Oh, and the internet, which has kept us from going mad from cabin fever.  It also allows me to blog directly from the van, which lends these tour diary entries that much more authenticity.  The bits literally fly out of the passenger-side window, into the atmosphere, and then down through your chimney and into your rug, where internet elves package them up and deliver them through the tiny holes in your computer’s serial port.  See?  They’re still relevant!

Speaking of YOU, dear reader, I would like to take a moment to thank you for taking the time to read this.  At almost every city we’ve played, amazingly including Rock Island (more on that later), someone has come up to me and said that they’ve been reading this blog.  It makes me all warm inside to hear this – almost as warm as when I hear someone shout “Vic-20!” from the audience at a gig.  I fear that when I return home and ask my girlfriend to do this, there may be an awkward silence.  Such are the perils of touring with a famous rapper.

I’m sorry, I got off track there.  While the journey was long and mostly unworthy of note, there were some memorable moments, such as when I finally found the rockstar shades I’d been searching for.  There was also that time when we got on I-80 west instead of east because of vandals in Coralville who switched the signs.  Additionally I need to give a huge shout-out to Mike Rose who put us up at his ultimate gaming pad in Licoln, NE.  We showed up extra-late to that one, and he was gracious.  He also has an astounding number of couches.  We ate that morning at Stauffer’s Cafe & Pie Shoppe where we failed to try the pie but had no trouble enjoying the breakfast, which is served all day.  And then we drove and drove and got to Rock Island, where our story really begins.

Here’s a little backstory on the gig: our original tour included a show in Grand Rapids, MI.  The Rock Island Brewing Company date was booked to fill in the gap on our way there, and was markedly different from all of our other gigs because it was on 50-cent domestic draft Thursdays, which meant that the crowd would be there primarily for the beer rather than the nerdcore.  At first the venue wanted us to fill 3 hours, and Brandon suggested that we do a whole bunch of covers.  I countered that playing the part of a generic bar-band would “dilute the Frontalot brand.“  This phrase has since become sI have nothing witty to say about this prefab homeomething of a running joke.  Nevertheless, we decided that we would not do the covers and the venue agreed to hire a DJ to fill in the empty space.  As a result, our set time was 1am.  I can sum up this situation in one word: suboptimal.

So imagine our chagrin when we found out the Grand Rapids show fell through?  Was, in fact, never confirmed?  Such was our state of mind as we arrived and loaded in.  At first, things seemed OK.  The house sound engineer, Al, is a consummate professional who made our soundcheck speedy and efficient.  The staff was gracious and friendly, though apparently unaware of the existence of vegetarians, and  provided us with delicious food and libations.  Our hotel – a Holiday Inn with an elevator that was free of evil spirits  – was a block and a half away, allowing us to chill out for the 4 hours until we went on.  Pretty sweet, right?  Right!  Right until we took the stage, that is.

Before I go any further, I want to thank from the deepest and most sincere part of my heart the fans who made the trek not only to the venue but from the entrance all the way to the stage.  Without you guys, it would have been a travesty of a show.  I say this because the audience was made up of what I can only assume to be the entire graduating class of the Iowa State Waste Management & Reclamation Associates Degree Program.  They were literally delivered by the busload.  I had the misfortune to be located far stage right, directly abutting the path to the bathrooms and lacking a railing high enough to prevent those young aspiring DUI statistics from attempting to play my keyboard, requesting that we freestyle, outright mocking us or otherwise delivering information to me that was both distracting and vaguely offensive.  There was a venemous undercurrent of Jocks v. Nerds which cast a pall over the entire experience.  I can’t remember another show where Front was looking at his phone to see when we could get the hell offstage.

This is not to say that we took it lying down.  When asked to recount a first world problem, I fired back with The Jaguar my daddy bought me for graduation was the WRONG COLOR. Sadly the future Flavor of Love contestants in the audience didn’t appear to hear me.  All in all Behold my chi!I suppose it could have gone worse.  We played well, if faster than normal, we sold a bunch of merch, and nobody was waiting out back to give us wedgies.  I was mentally prepared to use my black belt training in Ken-Fu if the situation arose, but it did not, which was for the best.  I can do some damage.  To myself.

Again: thank you nerds who braved the sea of drunken fratboys to watch us!  You are true, dedicated fans and deserve adulation.  Thank you also to Rock Island Brewing Company and Al, who treated us well.  Thank you furthermore to Holiday Inn for being so close and allowing us the long sleep we so desperately needed.  We are now well-rested and ready for tonight’s show at Station 4 in St. Paul with Brandon and Villification Tennis.  The show starts at 10pm.   Tickets are $8 if you are 21+, or $10 if you are 18+.  They’ll be administering those Walgreens tests at the door to screen for the asshole gene so as to ensure an amenable crowd.

6 Responses to “Frontalot Tour Diary Day 43: The long, long road to Rock Island”

  1. I’d like to echo everyone else and say sorry for not an optimal venue. I was one of your front row fans (front row, all the way to your left, with the pregnant wife). We had a great time at the show, and really wished it was a more nerdly intimate night without all the boozies.

    Please don’t judge the QC nerd culture on that one venue. We’ll come out again when you come back through the area.

  2. ken

    These comments are further proof that Frontalot fans rule the roost. The bad vibes have washed away and now all I can remember from the show is how awesome the kids in the front rows were. We’ll be back!

  3. Reverend gB

    I’m sorry that the experience was so sub-optimal. I do, however, heartily thank you for braving the QC college bar scene and giving a fantastic performance. The parade of drunken jocks and hookers was distracting but the rhymes flowed like wine and Rock Island had a taste of nerdcore. I hope you come back to the area someday and are given a decent stage time and a more appreciative crowd.

  4. Danl

    I, for one, was not deterred by overwhelming density of the frat kids. And you guys totally killed it. I’m glad we managed to keep you guys form having a miserable time. Hopefully you can find a better venue next time you come through the area. We’ve got some viable places, I promise.

  5. Josh

    From one of the nerdy fans who attended the show, you guys rocked the house despite the inhospitable surroundings. I had the opportunity to chat with Front and your sound guy and both were polite and enthusiastic. Front even took the time to make sure my wife and I got a good picture with him when my cell phone camera decided to be a pain. Well done, good sirs. Well done.

    Can’t wait for the next time you guys are in the area.

  6. Glad that you’re keeping this blog. Your entries continue to be entertaining and informative.

    Sounds like it was a rough show. Probably better that you didn’t opt to go with covers, but I’m wildly curious about the covers the band would have chosen to do in a pinch.


    Glenn Case