(Note: I didn’t have time to take a lot of photos the last few days so, feel free to make up situations and places in you mind. While you’re at it why don’t you picture David dressed as a Shaolin monk, Aaron as Yahoo Serious, Bryan wearing a monocle, John as Genesis era Phil Collins and shave twenty pounds off me and add the rugged good looks of the 8o’s era Marlboro Man.)
Well it’s starting to become a theme on every tour, van trouble. No matter how much we spend on the damn thing before we leave, something goes wrong. New brakes, radiator, and tranny? The piston return springs need replacing and that can only be done with a 7” gangly wrench, which has to be choppered in from the Bahamas. It never fails. So when the van went completely dead on us as we pulled off the freeway in Dallas no one even panicked. It’s getting right up there with me losing my phone in the van three hundred times, john forgetting his camera somewhere and at least one trip to the ER/ doctor on the list of things that happen every tour without fail.
The van limped it’s way in to the parking lot of the venue and after some research some calls were made to get it towed to a garage about eight miles away, AAA said they would be there in twenty minutes. An hour and change later there was still no show from AAA and the garage was going to close in a half hour. But, of course, now the van was running fine. We called the tow off and decided to limp it to our friend Kayli’s house and deal with it in the morning. There was word of a shop by her house that had some great mechanics but zero social skills, despite all the rumors they took to me like stink to, well, me. There was a definite bonding over my Old Fart hat. They told us is was just a clogged fuel filter and sent us on our way forty-odd dollars in the hole, not too bad. Didn’t even get so much as a hiccup from under the hood until we hit Austin.
I’m not sure if you’ve been to SXSW in the last few years so let me paint a picture for you. From the second you pull off on the 11th street exit it’s like rush hour in Times Square but instead of multi-ethnic cabbies sleeping on their horns, it’s a bunch of skinny jean, cool guy sunglass wearing hipsters making sure their bangs are sitting perfectly across their foreheads in the rearview mirror. More or less what my daily commute to work in Hell is going to be.
So, we get the gear unloaded for the first show and I take off to try and find a parking space while the boys load in and the van dies again. This time in front of the federal building and we all know how fond the feds are of vans with tinted windows and a sketchy looking dude behind the wheel parked in front of their offices. Might as well have been duct taping an alarm clock to my road flare collection… After about thirty panicked filled minutes I got the van running again and made it about two blocks before it crapped the bed again. Luckily I was pointing down hill. I coasted until I hit the first parking spot I could find, a loading zone in front of the police station. Talk about jumping out of the frying pan and cannonballing into the porta-potty…
After about another hour of waiting for the worst I noticed a lady and her four kids getting in to a car in the pay lot across the street. I darted through traffic and was told that she would be leaving after her husband arrived in about five minutes.I should mention that in the same lot the spots directly across from her were open, but needed a courthouse permit to be used before 7:00, I jammed into one of those, turned on the hazards and waited for her husband to come back, it was ten ‘til five. By 6:40 the kids were jumping up and down of the roof of the white Corolla and a there wasn’t a husband in sight. I should have knew something was up when she started the car, then put her three-year-old behind the wheel and walked off.
It was around this time that John struck up a conversation with the guy who owned the BBQ cart in the parking lot and it turned out the signs were wrong, you could park in the very spot we were in starting at 5:00. Yeah… I think you can see where this day is going. Do I even need to bring up the fire marshall shutting down the merch table or the two mechanics that said they would see us first thing in the morning and then couldn’t? In the end we found a garage that could look at the van and we had to jump on it, even if they did have this hanging in the waiting area:
More to come...
Tour To Live!