Sunday, 8 July 2012

The Border Gambit, Indianapolis, and das Drink or Die Haus (Day 7)


We found this bill for our show posted in town
The Argyles and Alexei Martov began the day in their usual fashion, awoken by the sound of an adult preparing them breakfast. We endured a minor scare after we couldn’t find the van keys. Fortunately, they were in Greg’s pocket. Today was a day of truth as for our border gambit. Bands are not allowed to play to shows in the US because of visa requirements and we were concerned they would discover our true intentions, even though we had left all of our equipment in Windsor. After a morning of paranoia, we met the man who would decide our fate. He looked us over, asked some questions about where we were going, and made a joke about how our air conditioning was off. Then we were in America. 

An Obama mural in Detroit
This was my first extended tour of the rust belt. I had not appreciated the extent of the destruction that the de-industrialization of the mid-west had caused. From the highway in Detroit, we could see numerous old buildings empty, completely gutted, their hollow shells all that remained. In Ohio, we could see even more rusted and decrepit factories from a more glorious time. It was obvious that America’s industrial empire is longer what it once was. 

I could not handle the girth of my American Whopper. I also felt ill afterwards.
Some local colour
                3 hours after crossing the border, we were greeted by a “welcome to Indiana” sign; however, it was dwarfed by dozens of billboards which followed. They advertised a number of products, ranging from appliance superstores, personal injury law firms, and churches pointing out that hell has no exit. A few hours later we arrived in the city. Outside of a small downtown core, the city possesses a sprawl to rival any. The heat was also oppressive and during our brief stay, the  all-time record of 104 degree Fahrenheit was broken.

                We had come to the city to visit our longtime friend from McGill Karl Selm who had also landed us a gig at das drink or die haus. The venue blended seamlessly into the suburban fabric of the neighbourhood, concealing an underbelly of punks, anarchists, and other dissidents that would rival those of Montreal. There were three other bands playing a show that night. Around 8, the keg was tapped, the party started, and the night began. 
There is more than meets the eye to this sleepy suburban manor
The Argyles rockin' hard
                How would the Argyles be received by yet another different sort of audience? They would also be three that night as I had misplaced my sax’s mouthpiece the previous night. But they brought their game like I couldn’t believe: Greg was upping the tempo with all of songs to match the mood of the crowd, and GD and Matt responded in kind. After a solid three songs, Matt and Greg did their customary instrument switch. By the end of Matt’s second song, the guitar no longer had any strings. It doesn’t get more punk rock than that. 

Inside the haus
                Then it was time to focus on attention to enjoying the Drink or Die haus to the fullest extent possible. The house even has its own custom t-shirts which we were given by brother Karl’s Niko. The other bands were mostly punk and performed solid sets for what they sought to accomplish. The final band also performed completely naked which was edgy, although I found the drummer’s penis distracting.  

Looking all sexy in our haus t-shirts
Unfortunately, I didn't get a photo of their penises
                The rest of the night was spent socializing and trying to soak in as much of this unique scene as possibly could. I feel like this is the side of America that many Canadians never see, the spaces where radical ideas and ways of life can flourish, even in a typical American suburb. All of the people we met were kind and generous towards us, not to even mention our friend Karl. It is this side of America that everyone needs to see.

Feeling sick again but unable to resist $2 PBRs. I don't think I'm cut out for this land of plenty.
GD however seemed to thrive here

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