Day Three + Four: Denver, Co to Omaha, Nebraska to Northfield, MN
Nebraska: The Good Life, Home of Arbor Day
We spent the first part of our day off in search of a mechanic that would have the time to diagnose our van's problem. Luckily we were able to find such a place in a little shopping center that had a sandwich shop with free Wi-Fi. Dan and I played catch in the parking lot. I hit a Bud Light truck. Peno and Heather ate bagels and listened to new music with Dan. Todd worked on our merch spreadsheet.
The diagnosis was that the RSC function on our van was inoperable so to avoid confusing the van's computer we had the mechanic disable the function. We learned that were in no serious danger by driving without it, which put our minds at ease as we hopped onto the I-76 east towards Nebraska. Along the way we stopped at a pleasant rest stop and took picture of horses. Nebraska, you kind of smell like poo.
In Omaha, Dan scouted out a bar called the Nomad that had precisely two customers in it upon our arrival. The bartender was very nice, yet very green as a bartender--at one such moment he spent three or four minutes searching for a beer opener to open our Coors Lights. He more than made up for his slowness with huge pours and dirt cheap happy hour prices. Tour delirium had already set in as we estimated that we'd spent 31 of the last 64 hours in the van and had already logged 1900 miles by the end of our third day. I was ready for a hotel bed to stretch out on and the sensation of being stationary!
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Dan returns to the hotel room Friday morning fresh from a trip to the local Walmart. He's sporting a denim long sleeve work shirt and a proud smile. He'd gotten himself a cup of coffee at the neighborhood Cracker Barrel and been eye-judged by the Rotary Club greeting staff at Walmart and was feeling properly Midwestern.
Because He "checked in" to the Cracker Barrel, our friends in We Barbarians contacted us with a surprised "you're in Iowa too?" message. They had just played in St Paul, MN the night before and were headed down to play Omaha as we were headed up to play in Northfield, a college town just outside of St Paul.
At the best rest stop in the United States, rolling green hills, trees to nap under, shaded park benches, air-conditioned bathrooms, free Wi-Fi--Iowa, you're doing something right, we met up with We Barbarians and traded stories from the road, stories that reaffirmed this transient life as something to be desired. We shared some PBRs and smokes and heard them recount the last time they toured with Ok Go and how Ok Go destroyed them in a van-to-van food fight. We already had a pretty good idea of our tour mates' mischievous nature--one only has to see their live show to know that--but the food fight story is really indicative of how Ok Go operates. They are ready to have fun at any moment. Case in point, later that evening when doing the bell performance section of their set, one of the bells was a half step flat, but instead of Ok Go letting this mishap affect the song, they used it to their advantage and turned the moment comedic and enjoyable for everyone. After the set was over, they invited us to their dressing room to have some drinks, and then on to their bus for some more drinks until it was time for them to take off. they are definitely a fun band to be on the road for the first time with.
Our set was also filled with some antics as we played to 400 or so St Olaf College students and a whole host of younger kids. Dan had an audience member play the tambo part on "This Would Be The Time" and I sang the quiet part of "My Reminder" off the mic to a small semi-circle of terrified 16 year old girls and boys. Tim from Ok Go Dj'd the night and played some great exit music for us, including that bad ass new Cee-Lo jam. We thanked Tim by playing his favorite song of ours, "Ride," during our set, although it was pretty rusty.
The night ended like most nights so far, the four of us deliriously exhausted, Todd at the wheel, hurtling through the dead of night trying to find our hotel and a pinch of rest before the sun could start the madness all over again.