Tuesday, June 26, 2012

BANDS IN VANS: Massacre in Alaska

Posted By on Tue, Jun 26, 2012 at 3:50 PM

We entered Girdwood in high spirits. Reed Lakes, the band we’re touring with, introduced us to their friend Gator who owns The Grind, a specialty gift store/coffee shop with old arcade games and we promptly turned it into our living room. We played our first show there on the back patio of The Silvertip to a smaller, but engaged and intimate crowd.

The next night was the night of the house show. We had heard stories about house shows in Girdwood, and especially house shows with Reed Lakes. According to the head of the agency that booked the tour, they are legendary in Alaska for their house show romps, and they did not disappoint. Gator brought over an army parachute, and Bradley (guitarist for Reed Lakes) cut down a tree with an axe to prop it up over the deck. When it comes to house shows in Alaska, people are ready to do whatever it takes to create the best environment, even if they have to chop down a tree.

The night was rowdy, so rowdy in fact that a massacre occurred. When everyone had cleared out of the house, Kent and Ryan started a covert mission to slaughter every single mosquito that had nestled on the walls of our sleeping quarters. We all know by the welts on our arms that mosquitoes suck blood, but we didn’t realize how much. With each blow came a squirt of blood on the wall, and by the end it truly looked like a massacre had occurred. The next day they took rags to the walls to hide the damage.

Due to a mix up in booking, we had the next night off and fled to Talkeetna to Greg’s (Reed Lake’s drummer) property in the woods to camp. We each took turns shooting a .22 rifle at beer can targets, collected birch bark for fire fuel, and making bets on how quickly items would burn in the fire.

Because of the booking mishap, we had to leave Reed Lakes after spending one wild and weird night in Denali with them. The sign on the band cabin stated that it would be a $500.35 fine for excessive noise in the cabin. You can imagine our relief when we were not charged.

The Buttons headed out alone to the northernmost venue on our trip, The Marlin in Fairbanks. We had no idea what to expect without our Alaskan experts, but even they could not have foreseen the events that took place.

There were over 200 people at the show, and the majority didn’t come for us. One man bought $44 worth of buttons, and was our biggest buyer of the night, topping the charts of most buttons ever sold. A middle aged woman aggressively bought us shots, and kept approaching my keyboard during our set, and eventually was dragged out of the bar by her g-string and her hair, slammed against the wall, and thrown outside. This all occurred during “Divorce Papers,” certainly our most rowdy of songs.

We met a wonderful man named Nick who graciously put us up. Unfortunately we didn’t realize he lived pretty far out into the woods. We were lost on the world’s worst dirt road, and arrived around 5 am after getting mauled by mosquitoes. I personally made the mistake of peeing outside the van, on a dirt road, surrounded by marsh. Needless to say, I received bites close to places I can’t even write about. When we finally arrived, Nick was waiting with OJ and a smile.

I left the room after introductions were made, and returned five minutes later to Jon saying, “ Yeah, I want the outline of Alaska! Can you do it?” Nick got out his tattoo gun and 45 minutes later Jon Kielbon had a tattoo of Alaska on his bicep. Tour is full of surprises.

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About The Author

Leah Sottile

Leah Sottile is a Spokane-based freelance writer who formerly served as music editor, culture editor and a staff writer at the Inlander. She has written about everything from nuns and Elvis impersonators, to jailhouse murders and mental health...