Thursday, September 20, 2012

Shock/Neff in Huntington WV - DAY 3

Rolled out of Crayola House pretty nice and early and started the drive into West Virginia, where I’ve never played before. Short stop at a Waffle House and into the mountains.

So, some more info about this tour van. Lance bought it a while ago for $900, put some new wheels on, got some other new parts, but there are still a few things that are a work in progress. For one, the gas gauge doesn’t work, so we’ve been doing some math to figure the mileage and trying to play it safe with fillups. Much figuring has gone into how much gas will be consumed, how much it will cost, and if there’s any chance of breaking even on the trip.

About 30 miles from our destination of Huntington WV, the engine suddenly starts sounding really weird. Just really erratic. Slowing down, we make a quick decision to pull into the rest area that’s right there instead of trying to get the extra mile to an exit. The engine sounds like it’s hopping around, sputtering and acting crazy. Then it dies out. Lance starts it again and while idling we open the hood and the engine is actually, physically jumping around erratically. Lance and I just look at each other and decide that is NOT RIGHT. Neither of us is an expert, but it seems something is seriously wrong. After a minute of this, the engine can be started but sputters out each time after a few seconds. It’s not going anywhere.

Lance calls Zack Kouns, who set up that night’s show and lives roughly in the area. We may need a rescue and a tow and then who knows. At this point I develop a theory. Maybe there’s something wrong with the engine, but MAYBE the reason it won’t run is that we’re out of gas! Lance is leaning toward the theory that the engine is totally fragged, but after thinking about how hard the van was working going up all those steep hills, we agree that it’s possible it’s out of gas. Zack says he can meet us in 2 hours. We can see a gas station just down the highway at that next exit and estimate it would take an hour to walk and return with gas, so we decide to do that.

I wrap a neon yellow shirt over my shoulders (for visibility) and we head down the highway, making contingency plans as we go. What to do if the van is dead: rent a U-Haul straight back to Philly or try to rent a van to complete the tour? If the van needs repairs but they’re expensive: abandon it or cough up the money? Meanwhile a few cars yell something at us out the windows, and I’m not sure what but I think one of them said “WEIRD!” Anyway, the lady at the gas station was friendly, we filled our gas can and hiked it back.

Moment of truth, gas goes in, and after a few tries the van starts running! Open that hood and the engine is purring and looking happy as can be. Just out of gas! No engine troubles at all! Best case scenario.
Call Zack with the good news and roll to the venue, Funky Towne, which is a house that holds lots of shows. They’re the one with the rainbow flag, and inside despite being a carpeted house-house, it’s partly set up to be like an art/community/liberal-anarcho-commune center with gender politics zines and a book & clothing swap near the door. Brandon, the soundman/resident explains that they’ve been doing lots and lots of shows and the scene has been pretty good. Apparently Huntington is a strangely DIY show friendly place, and even gives out noise permits to punk houses! There’s a flyer for my friends’ band Curse on the door. He also helps set up their totally pro P.A. – also odd for a house show. West Virginia is feeling really friendly.

Radio Shock at Funky Towne

Show time, I play first. Third show of tour is when things start to gel. I’ve debugged the issues with 3 pieces of gear, and put in a pretty good show I think. There aren’t too many people out, and we’re told there’s some competition from some kind of football event and I think another show? Always odd to me when sports are considered competition for a punk/noise show, but I guess even weirds love sports. Zack Kouns plays second, and does a KILLER set. I’ve only seen him do more abstract vocals and sax sets, but this one has electronics and songs. His cover of PJ Harvey’s “To Bring You My Love” was amazing! Dick Neff goes last and everyone is impressed.



Some resident of Funky Towne even baked a small pizza for us! I don’t even know who and didn’t get to thank them, but it was delicious. Thanks! People were still hanging and chatting, but I was still pretty tired so climbed into my sleeping bag on the couch and the resident cat, Prancy, promptly settled on my chest to sleep. Survived my first tour breakdown/not-really-a-breakdown.


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