Friday, Oct. 1 2004 – Phoenix, AZ
Jarico was on ESPN Bicycle Radio last evening before the show. That’s probably the only reason 40 people came through the Icehouse door. Otherwise, it might have been just us, the promoters, and Pablo and his family.
The clowns weren’t feeling so collectively hot that day anyway. We were all pretty hung over, and the Earth’s atmosphere in Phoenix resembled that of a pre-heated oven. Koit had “caught the dumb” from the two concussions he’d suffered the night before, and couldn’t keep two thoughts in his head at once.
Some of us spent the day running errands, buying groceries, and setting up the show. The band stayed behind and practiced with Fox, our new trial-by-fire drummer who hadn’t hit the drums in seven years but was asked to play with Los Banos that night.
Moses successfully taught himself how to ride the Wrong-Way Bike after practicing it for about 8 or 10 hours straight. He is now one of the only people in the world who can ride that thing.
We drank beers as we set up the rides. During our pre-show meeting, Laird kicked Koit square in the face — playfully, but why we still don’t know — and split the inside of his lip wide open. So the guy with two concussions also gets a boot to the teeth. Brilliant.
Blood poured down Koit’s chin for the entire Klown Konference (as we call them). Folks ran the rides, the scant crowd was thankfully enthusiastic, and then we started the show. We found out quickly that Linda had given everyone a different setlist, with songs and skits in the wrong order. Like most of us, she’d gotten into the “Clown Water” a bit before we went onstage.
Sometimes during the more underground and underattended shows, we let ourselves get a little lax. We klowns share the theory that in case of poor attendance, we should always perform as if 15,000 people were there.
And it’s always an unspoken agreement that it’s in the best interest of Team Cyclecide to get drunk enough to do so — we take some Liquid Loosener Uppers so we can go a little more nuts so the people that are there are more impressed with our … dumbness.
We improvise some of our best new skits when we’re hanging onto the show by our floating teeth. Also, if the show goes badly, it’s all a blur to us anyway and we don’t care if we suck.
Jarico started into his shpiel and the band rumbled awake. “We suck!,” we shouted. Other klowns took up the chorus. “You suck!,” the crowd shouted back. There — now they couldn’t say we didn’t tell them so.
At some point during the performance, while getting props, Linda lost her footing and slid into the backstage area like a butter-shoed batter into home. Minutes later, she face-planted into an upright bass that the next band had propped up against the wall behind the stage. Thankfully, she didn’t break it.
We were reminded of an episode from earlier in the day, when we had ridden with Koit and Linda to get ourselves hangover-burritos: We cruised past one of the many junkyards on the wrong side of the railroad tracks in downtown Phoenix.
In this junkyard, a big dog and a small dog frantically chased back and forth after our bikes behind their cyclone fence. The little dog, yapping and running his little ass off, tripped on some junk, ate pavement, and executed a full aerial flip and roll, only to right himself quick as lightning and keep going like nothing happened. That was Linda, all right.
Shotwell also got wasted during the course of the show. He’d groundscored a new knife in the parking lot, and while cutting something, he accidentally stabbed himself in the stomach. (“Like any good wasteoid,” he later noted, “I knew what to do. So I went to bed.”)
None of us was injured by all the fireworks that Shotwell decided to fire off intermittently during our show except Shotwell himself. So he burned and blistered his leg, and then he stuck himself with his sharp new buck knife. Boy, are we geniuses.
We don’t want to jinx ourselves, so we’re not going to say that we’re glad it’s not us getting hurt for once. Especially since we spent the better part of the night gleefully riding the Swing Bikes around some hay bales and a giant open flame.
The next band played, and they were good in a Portishead-abilly-ish way, and Fox got out her sax and blew and made them sound even better and dreamier than they did before.
Linda arm-wrestleld some girl again, who lost, and then snarked, “It’s a shame you care so much about winning that you can’t have fun.” Linda retorted, “You’re wrong. The only thing I care about is WHERE’S MY BEER!?” and ran off.
After the band finished, we went on a bike ride to see fellow metal artist David Therrien’s jam-packed-with-cool-stuff warehouse. The minute we got there, while we were all gawking at Therrien’s pack-rat’s nest of electronics and sculptures and weird things, Jarico failed to watch his step and fell into a 6-foot-deep “ghetto quicksand” cesspool of trash and dirty water. Che had to pull him out.
Now it’s morning, and Shotwell just casually puked into a trash can and then gave me the thumbs-up sign. His wound was festering, so Che made him clean it.
Moses, who headbutted the pavement last night sometime during the show, now has a huge scrape across his cheek — and he’s dumb like Koit was the day before. After we pack up and get on the road to Flagstaff, we’re going to make a new T-shirt stencil for Moses and Koit and whoever in our paying audience wants to be next in line for a concussion:
I’M NOT STONED — I’M JUST DUMB.
On the highway from Phoenix to Flagstaff, we were chugging up the side of a mountain at 20 miles per hour with the rest of the traffic-choked Friday-afternoon herd when CRASH!!… A man unwisely tried to get out from behind us in the slow lane during a traffic jam, and he must’ve forgotten he had a trailer behind his truck — because it broadsided the lady next to him in the fast lane. She spun all the way around, the truck fish-tailed beside us and came to a stop on the left shoulder … and the Shoo Shoo Shoo Baby and its horse trailer emerged completely unscathed.
As we pulled to the shoulder and waited and Jarico made sure everyone was OK and talked to the cops and did all the above-the-law things, some of us couldn’t help thinking the cops were going to try to pin it on us. We also felt a tad bit guilty ourselves, in a nebulous way… we dunno… Sometimes it seems like we cause chaos even when we don’t mean to.
::awkward clapping sounds::
Follow Summer Burkes on Twitter.