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Electric Balloon Tour, Day 7

Milwaukee gave us a warm reception. We played at the Riverwest Public House, a place I would absolutely hang out if I lived in the area. Positive and community-oriented in its approach, LGBT-friendly, solid drink specials every night, plus $1 shots of rotgut whiskey all the time. Good books, comfy places to sit on whilst reading the books. Plus a proper stage and reasonably good sound. But most notable was the pizza we got towards the end of the night, when we remembered that no one had actually eaten proper dinner.


This pizza was by New York standards extremely weird, but it hit the spot. It was topped with cheddar as well as mozzarella, plus arugula and roasted red peppers. The cheese was, of course, fresh and spectacular. Wisconsin takes great pride in its cheese, so even the most run of the mill bar food is a big step up from what you’d expect. But the crust was the real winner. Extremely thin, crispy, and buttery; kind of like a big, pliable Ritz cracker. The pizzas were small, maybe 12″, but so rich and loaded with toppings as to be perfect for sharing. I generally object to pizza being cut into a grid instead of triangular slices, but in this context it made perfect sense. A triangular slice would not hold its shape loaded down with all this cheese. Not pictured is the second pizza we demolished after almost immediately finishing this one, or the delicious beef stick I snacked on before realizing there was pizza.

My amp made it through the set without breaking, so I’m going to have to conclude that what happened in Chicago was a fluke. A band from the area let us crash at their house, which was warm and had ample floor space. In the morning Becca made us a bunch of oatmeal with fruit and almonds. It hit the spot. We couldn’t resist stopping at Ehlenbach’s Cheese Chalet, marked by a giant cow. Picked up some delicious Elk Sticks, lemon Chevre, and various kinds of cheddar in cube form. Elk Sticks are basically like thick Slim Jims made out of elk meat, and they are spectacular. Salty, spicy, tangy, gamey, a little sour.


This has been a pretty cured meat/cheese-heavy last couple of days, but part of the experience of touring is eating whatever the big thing to eat is in a particular area. I have no regrets. We arrived in Minneapolis with time to spare, and had a hearty dinner at Annie’s Parlour. A bacon cheeseburger, Caesar salad, fries and onion rings for the table. I also had my first “phosphate”, which I absolutely had to try just based on the name. I was thoroughly pleased to see this arrive at the table:


Okay, this photo kind of sucks, but it was pretty cool in person. A “phosphate” is apparently seltzer mixed with a syrup to which has been added phosphoric acid, which gives it a tangier flavor. I got a lime phosphate, which was this vivid Nickelodeon green. The syrup sinks to the bottom and you can either stir it or sort of plumb different depths with your straw as you drink to achieve different levels of syrup concentration. A little sweeter than I’d make for myself, reminiscent of Rose’s Lime, but I’m glad I tried it. A little fresh lime would make a big difference. It would be great with gin.

The show was at the Kitty Cat Klub, a cozy-kitschy bar with many rooms. Couches, pinball. Friendly and talented soundman. I had my first Grain Belt, a cheap and delicious local beer. Light and crisp, sort of like a High Life, but without that slight hint of skunk at the end. We’ve been extremely spoiled with the venues so far, I am waiting for the other shoe to drop. Lots of people came and talked to us and bought records and such. A friend from high school times let us crash in her living room, and plied us with tea and key lime confections.

We had some time to kill this afternoon, which I mostly spent at Encore Music. Encore Music is my favorite kind of music store: small, cluttered, nothing new for sale, every interaction with the staff yields some useful tidbit of information. This time I learned that Boss pedals tend to fail because the battery lead hits the spring and gets worn down and shorts out. The proprietor had a suggestion for how they might improve it, of course. I always use an adapter, anyway. An astonishing number of very inexpensive instruments. If I weren’t on the road I would have bought this beautiful sparkly Danelectro Bass VI, but I didn’t want to deal with it for the duration of our travels. Someday. I have no idea what I’d do with a Bass VI, that is beside the point. Instead, I bought this awesome pedal because Jonah from Krill has one and it is really versatile and cool. It pitch-shifts and detunes and harmonizes and etc. Look out, Jonah, I’m comin’ for you, coppin’ your shit.

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