Thursday, July 9, 2009

Show Pics - Cult Ritual in Minneapolis w/ locals 6/17/09 @ The Alamo + Travel story & show review

Cult Ritual are one of my favorite hardcore bands going currently and I was excited to find out that they were planning to embark on a full US tour this summer. I noticed that a show in nearby Kansas City was lined up so I emailed the band a few months before they hit the road to find out venue details. I would soon find out that Cult Ritual was only playing a live radio show that night, so if I wanted to see them live I'd have to drive to Iowa City or Minneapolis the following nights. Totally unfamiliar with the Iowa City hardcore scene nor the whereabouts of the venues, I decided to make the trek up to Minneapolis. I recently just moved to Omaha from St.Paul just over a year ago so I knew the Twin Cites area well as well as the venue the show was being held at. The show would also be a good excuse to visit some friends and explore the cities with a car for the first time. Foolishly, I figured that taking two days off from work would be plenty of time to briefly buzz up, catch a show, crash somewhere and drive back the following day. Plus, I hate using my hard earned vacation time, so I felt two days should be doable. Leading up to the trip I was to have a friend come with but that fell through, so I asked some of the local hardcore kids if they would be interested in seeing the show but with no avail. Since I knew I would be traveling alone I decided that I would wake up at 3am and start my 6 hour adventure out on the road at about 3:30. I had everything all ready to go the previous day: filled up my gas tank, checked the tire pressure, cleaned off my windows, etc... so all I had to do was wake up, brush my teeth, grab my travel bag and and hit the open road. I've only driven up to the Twin Cities once before but that was only as a passenger so I was really excited when I got out of town heading towards my destination. That excitement didn't last too long though. Driving East through Iowa at 3am I noticed a lot of fresh streaks of blood on the interstate surface as well as a few piles of meat of what was once an animal on the side of the road. The last thing I wanted to do was hit a deer or some other kind of woodland creature and have it ruin my trip. After seeing a deer on the right shoulder while driving I decided it would be best if I just followed an 18 wheeler into the night to play it safe. I spotted one not far in the distance and quickly caught up behind it and pretty much stayed put. No less than 5 minutes into following this big Fed Ex truck throughout Iowa did the fog start to appear. Mind you, I have driven through inclement weather before, fog included, but never have I driven through fog as thick as this. The visibility had to have been literally 30 feet at the very most, so I moved even closer to the truck and let him lead the way. From that point of the drive until Des Moines, IA, it was pretty terrible. Aside from the dense fog, and the meaty carcasses of roadkill tumbling under the truck towards me, there was also construction that limited traffic to one lane as well as trucks ahead of us shredding tires and slowing the pace to a snail crawl. Aside from the bad weather and the slowdowns, I would eventually make it to Des Moines around what would be daybreak. The fog was still fairly thick heading North, but at least traffic was much more manageable and I felt safe enough to blast my travel playlist that I made consisting of a weird mix of black metal and twee pop. I would eventually cross the state lines into Minnesota and after a top off on gas and a quick breakfast, I would be entering downtown St. Paul at about 9am. It was pretty exciting for me to drive around my old hometown for the 1st time with a car. I decided that I wanted to drive by all the places I used to live in town just to see if anything has changed at all. I saw my old landlord standing outside of my last apartment so I pulled over and talked to him for a little bit before driving to the other places I once lived. The city seemed much smaller to me as I was able to cross from one side to the other in a matter of a few minutes, a task that would take a bus literally hours before. I then briefly dropped into the small co-op market I once worked at to say hi to my old co-workers and to get some food for the next day and a half. By this point, I was super exhausted from the lack of sleep and the drive from the night before, so I decided to get a nice room in town complete with hot tub and sauna (no shit). After treating myself to a nice soak in hot tub and a relaxing sweat in the sauna, I took a nap till 4pm, woke up and decided to drive to the venue early to make sure the show was still on. The show space is called The Alamo, a DIY punk house that has been throwing shows since 2003. I have been there a handful of times, so I knew exactly where to drive. I went up and knocked on the door and was let in by a resident named Ross. Ross was a friendly, older guy who was quite excited to find out that I drove into town to see a show being held in his house that night. After confirming to me that the show was indeed on he offered me a glass of ice water and introduced me to his room mates dog. This dog was barking from upstairs the whole time I was visiting at the house so I was kind of weary of meeting such an animal. Ross asked me if I was afraid of dogs, and after saying no, I held out my hand to pet him. Well, the dog kinda freaked out when I did that and he bit me on the leg drawing blood, ha. Soon after Ross' roommates came home. The owner of the dog, who's name I forgot insisted that his dog didn't have rabies, etc. and had bitten someone else before and nothing come about of it. I also met Emily who also lived in the house. It was barely 5pm and the show wasn't going to start until 7 or 8 so I decided to head to the greatest punk and hardcore record store in the world, Extreme Noise. After getting semi-lost trying to get there I would eventually get to the record store and was happy to see that the city put in new parking spots right in front. I wanted to get back to the show quickly, so I spent maybe only 20 minutes digging through all the awesome slabs of wax, plenty of time to rack up over $60 dollars worth of records. I got back a little after 7 and noticed that Cult Ritual have shown up and were loading in, chilling in the basement. I introduced myself to the band and they couldn't believe that I have driven so far just to see them play. After hanging out for a little bit a small crowd assembled and the show would finally start around 8pm. The first band was Totally Harsh, a really cool 80's influenced hardcore band featuring Jim Ass from local Minneapolis hardcore band ASS fame, as well as the guitarist that I recognized being in Pandemonium. Totally Harsh played super tight, and the vocals were really awesome... a good start to the show. The next band was a super raw thrash metal band that had 2 guitarists and no bassist. Their singer had super long metal hair and head banged throughout the set and would run out into the crowd on occasion. Really not my style, but still enjoyable. The final local band had a long time acquaintance of mine Charlie on guitar and it was cool to see him play. I forgot the bands name but they played a really brutal, spastic version of power violence. They were obviously a local favorite witnessing how violent the mosh pit was for them. Good stuff. Cult Ritual would quickly set up and blasted 8 to 10 songs of their twisted version of hardcore in just as many minutes. After the last note was strummed and the final song over, the amps were immediately turned off and the crowd had a confused look on it face. "Thanks a lot", the guitarist said, and that was it, show over, ha. Cult Ritual's set was too short and I had a pretty shitty spot to shoot them from, but overall, defiantly worth the trip. I was lucky enough to score one of their new lp's before they quickly loaded up and drove off to get tattooed by someone. I ended up hanging out the rest of the night with Ross and Emily at The Alamo talking about 80's hair metal and motorcycles, a pleasant evening indeed. Around 2am I decided to drive back to my room, take a shower and crash. I woke up early before my alarm went off the next morning with an itch to get back to Omaha. I stopped in again at my old workplace, got some food for the road, and said goodbye to everyone who worked there and was on the road back to Omaha by 11pm. The weather was totally clear on the way back, so I drove as quickly as could, making the trip in about 5 hours. All in all it was a good trip, and a lot of fun. The show was awesome, and it was nice to see old faces, as well as meeting some new people. I am going to have to do something like this again sometime soon.


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