Frontalot Fall Tour 2011: Arrrrrrkansas. And St. Louis.

I was going to start this post off with a pirate joke, but a quick browse of the archives alerted me to the fact that I would be repeating myself.  Instead, I will be merely laudatory and state that Arkansas truly is a glory hole of natural splendor.  Most states are a chore to drive through, see, but the one time home of the unfortunately named Archibald Yell provides eye candy at every turn.  It felt fitting, therefore, that we respond by spreading the nerdy love in not one but two – yes, two! – cities.  Those cities were Fayetteville and Hot Springs.  This is their story.

Wednesday night, the 26th of October, saw us reuniting with our old friends the One-Ups for a show at Ryleigh’s Boom-Boom Room in Fayetteville.  Ryleigh’s, in turned out, hadn’t hosted a live show since the previous January, so it was a seat-of-our-pants ride to get everything set up and sounding right.  Thanks fly like bees out of a bee-shooting dog at the One-Ups for providing a PA and mic stands and also to our own intrepid sound-tamer Mike Lombardo for making it sound far, far better than it rightly should have.  The One-Ups were their usual awesome selves, though there was less rapping from Lucio than I remembered from previous shows.

That evening we stayed with One-Ups bassist and producer extraordinaire Mustin, who treated us not only to shelter but also a delicious late-night spaghetti-and-garlic-bread meal.  We also got to play with his ferocious-looking-but-shockingly-timid old English bulldog, named Bowzer.  Luckily we all love dogs and timidity.  The next morning we set off for Hot Springs and got a steaming eyeful of autumn colors as we bobbed and weaved lazily through the rolling hills of Ouachita National Forest on Rt. 7.  It put us in a contemplative mood, which was perfect for our drizzly evening load-in at Maxine’s, where Mustin and crew joined us for another gig.

There were two shows going on that evening – one on stage and one on the television.  Purely by chance, we were following the World Series across the country, and the sheer improbability of a Cardinals victory was enough to pique the interest of even the most casual baseball fan, enough even to get Brandon to run offstage during his set to see what the cheering was about.  Fans, luckily, were more focused on the music.  Have I mentioned that we love Maxine’s?  Because we do.  The proprietors, Agnes and Kevin, are just top-notch folks, and hooked us up with delicious pizza and wings so as to give us the necessary number of calories required for a performance befitting their venue.  Success was had on all fronts and was celebrated by retiring to a hot-tub-having picturesque lakehouse where, as any rowdy group of musicians would be likely to do, we went straight to sleep, dreaming of the excitement in store for us on our day off.

If there’s one thing I’ve learned from touring, it is that a “day off” inevitably means that nothing particularly fun will happen, especially if there is a question of where to spend that day.  I was therefore unsurprised, if slightly chagrined, that we ended up in Osceola, where the one Mexican restaurant in town doesn’t even serve Tecate.  The food was tasty, though, and quelled the discontent enough to allow us all to coop up in a small hotel room and watch the Cardinals stomp the stupefied Rangers into the ground for their eleventh World Series victory.  Some of us may also have been playing Moon Chaser.  All in all it was a restful night, which was good because the following day would prove to be a juggernaut of awesome.

Why?  I can think of three reasons: 1) We opened for Mike Doughty, formerly of Soul Coughing; 2) I had a delicious cheeseburger at the unassumingly priced yet wickedly tasty Eat-Rite Diner; 3) I got to see my sister Cristina and go to her Halloween party dressed as an unkempt nerdcore keyboard player.  Big thanks to Mike for putting us on the bill on such short notice; despite the fact that most of the audience was not expecting us, they appeared to enjoy themselves.  A thanks is also in order to Moon Hooch, who took the lineup change in stride, waiting patiently for us to finish our set before blasting off into a drum-and-saxophone galaxy of sound.  I didn’t get to hear them, though, because I immediately hopped into a cab to see my sister and party with a group of people whose general level of compassion and kindness would have been considered statistically anomalous were they not all Brown MSW students.  Fun nerd fact: the University of Washington’s web address,, used to host one of my favorite FTP sites for downloading, um, totally legal stuff.

Once the show was over I was yanked off of the street and thrown into a sketchy-looking white van which subsequently dropped me – and the rest of the Frontalot crew – off at the home of John and Raquel Ziegler, cousins Herr Lombardo, who treated us like royalty and deserve endless (but not gratingly annoying) praise for their hosting job, which included not only a bed for each of us, but also a scrumptious breakfast the following morning.  Yum!  I think I need to take a nap after all of that delicious goodness.  Or maybe it was the Social Justice Iced Teas I had the previous evening.  Either way, stay tuned for the next entry in this blog, which will feature lots and lots of costumes.

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