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Electric Balloon Tour, Day 8

After Minneapolis, it’s on to Fargo. We drop off our stuff at The Aquarium, which is the upstairs of Dempsey’s Public House, a bustling Irish bar with karaoke and free popcorn, serving affordably-priced beverages to young and old alike. The guy who helped us set up the show invites us over for homemade curry. His living room looks like this, and I am immediately won over.

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Neil Young, pictured, on the stereo when we arrive. And that is a real live Hammond organ. We help chop vegetables, stir the pot, add stock, flour-dredge pieces of tofu for frying. I am so happy to be in a kitchen, and pleasantly surprised how easy it actually is to make a curry. It’s just coconut milk, onions, tomato paste, vegetable stock, and vegetables, plus premixed curry powder. Probably not authentic, but it comes out delicious; a perfect thing to eat in the oppressive cold. The house is cozy and contains an adorable small dog which I am told is a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel. Her name is Piper, and she is far too active for me to get a good picture, but you should take my word for it that this is an extremely high-quality dog we’re dealing with here. There is also a very nice cat, who likes to perch on shoulders, but must be relegated to downstairs due to allergies. A friend from another band stops by and hitches a ride to the show. Most people who do music in Fargo seem to know each other. I notice throughout the night that everyone expects me to have a negative opinion of Fargo which they consider it their duty to correct. I came into Fargo expecting horrid bitter bone-chilling cold, but had no other preconceptions beyond that about the people or the music scene or anything. It sure did deliver that cold. Good God. Nobody gets to complain about how cold it gets in New York City, ever again. Trust me, NYC, you are the lucky ones. Buy a scarf, and be thankful.

At the venue, I learn that a 16 ounce beer is called a “pounder”. It makes sense, I’d just never heard it before. Out of context I would assume that a pounder would refer to some sort of large, fatty sandwich. One of our local hosts mentions in passing that the bar has pickled eggs, which are one of my favorite snacks. I usually only encounter them in jar form while traveling, and I realize opening and consuming a jar of pickled eggs in a van with others is borderline antisocial behavior, so I rarely indulge. Downstairs at the main bar, I learn that there are options. You can pay a dollar for a pickled egg, or $1.75 for a pickled egg on a bed of pretzels with ranch dip. The choice was clear.

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As a special bonus, they include this adorable little slightly-hot pepper. The juxtaposition of pretzels, ranch, pickled egg, and pepper is not one I would have personally come up with, but it’s great. A pickled egg has basically all the virtues of a deviled egg, minus the grossness of mayonnaise. It is briny and tangy and a little spicy. I have no idea what makes it yellow on the outside. Mustard powder in the brine? Would that even do that? The ranch is clearly homemade, and I dip everything in it. I fucking love ranch, and I don’t care who knows. It offsets the dry pretzels wonderfully. I’m not even hungry, we ate a huge amount of curry, but I had to eat this. For the experience. In the morning I regret not having gotten another one.

A guy I meet at the bar orders me a shot of Jameson, and requests that the bartender put on Operation Ivy. I haven’t listened to them since late high school, and it takes me back. I’m not even going to play like I don’t still love that shit; I do in fact love it. Third wave punk/ska was important to me at the critical age when such allegiances are formed, and Op Ivy holds up better than pretty much all the rest. Me and the guy sing along until it’s time to set up. The show itself is pretty small, a possibility our local hosts prepared us for. They are really concerned that we will be displeased with this, and insist that we come back on a weekend next time. The way I see it, every tour includes a certain amount of Tuesdays, and it’s no reflection on the promoter or the other bands if people don’t come out to see us in a place we’ve never been before. I hope I successfully conveyed how much we appreciate the hospitality. We take the opportunity to play two songs we haven’t played in a while, and get through them without incident. I try to use my new pedal a little bit, it works in some areas and not others. I don’t really have control over it yet. The most useful thing to do with it is what Jonah does, where he sort of uses it to make a big swooping slide up for texture. When I first heard him do that I thought he was physically bending the string like over a fifth higher than the fretted pitch and had just insane left hand strength. But it was all a dirty trick. This device is more useful in Krill songs because it’s incorporated seamlessly into the parts, but I have the most success with it during loud breakdowns, where it adds to the chaos. There’s also a detuning mode which would sound great with distortion, but I didn’t have time during the ~2 minutes of line check to play with that one too. If I can come off this tour with a command of the maybe up to three functions of this pedal that are useful to me, I will be well pleased.

Back at the house where we’re staying, we order pizza. I fall asleep on a floor in my sleeping bag. In the morning, we go to the Fryn’ Pan, “a family restaurant”. Bacon, eggs, hash browns, toast. I had my vegetables yesterday. Today and tomorrow we drive to Spokane, which I just learned is pronounced like “can” and not like “cane”.

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