Notes from the Rock ‘n Roll Expressway Volume II

Asthmatic Giant! Tour Diary
By Darren Delmore

5/7/08 – Guadalupe, California

Man oh man the things we do for love. Or action. Or the companionship of another body while we slumber to make us feel less alone or not so dead and worthless. And leave it to a slipped doomer at a house show to conjure forth an ugly, jealous, Latin, emo side of a situation, only to send Asthmatic Giant! packing up prematurely and ready to throw down, rushing out to the Stony L-E only to drunkenly drive thru the nearest Carl’s Jr. in the dismal early hours of the morning for a suspicious Carl’s Catch amid overall horrid humanly aromas.

Our manager J. Shlune had us booked for a random May 7th gig in the ex-bootlegging town of Guadalupe, California. “What?” I badgered him. “Shlune? Dude. Come on.” Heinous Chainus, always hungry for cash money and thirsty for purple drank, was pleased as can be to play ten doors down from notorious Romo’s Carniceria at this secret Santa Barbara House Concert, even if it entailed cutting short his studio time on his solo Heinous Chainus electric drum project in Topanga Canyon. Bobby McFerrin (“Don’t Worry, Be Happy”) would just have to wait to cut his whistle tracks over Chainus’s curly locked solar drum spasmaticas.

With the venue being an artists’ loft 5 miles west of Santa Maria, I wondered about that hush-toned myth of the “raging underground gay scene” in Santa Maria, and if the flyer for the show would draw forth the likes of reclusive, central cal prone prophet Ian Gould for the music, or to be discovered on the receiving end of a set of glory holes in some master bathroom.

I met with the promoter around 1 PM. After backlining my guitar, mics and harmonicas, I quenched my mid-day, wind tarnished thirst in the Far Western Tavern, running into a drunken Nova Scotia trucker hauling broccoli back to Canada, and a former wine accomplice and solid Guadalupe town mayor candidate Jules Reuter. The open minded, 50 year old retiree was sporting a Melville sweatie and pink in the cheeks, clearly lookin’ for love, with a nice home in Guad and a cellar that’d have R. Hoove’s mom dropping her thong and using it to boomerang a nugget of hydro chronic at the allegedly wealthy, available man. We conversed about the loss of fruit in whole cluster Pinot Noir fermentation, life in the digital 40-something central coast dating pool, condoms that cover both shaft and testicles and how they really should be more widely available, and my forthcoming tour of Holland and France. He promised to come to the show after he watched the Lakers game in the Far Western. The guy from Nova Scotia took my picture a few times and sexually harassed the waitress while I killed time and a glass of local Chardonnay.

The ever holy D Numbers from Santa Fe, New Mexico (www.myspace.com/dnumbersband) called me around 6 PM to unlock the main door, and pubic-side burn donning Chandler Haynes from Twenty Mule Team was a minute behind them. We set up in the lower level space a la Jools Holland sty-lee, with a band in each corner. H.C. and I got the distortion levels right, and fired up the Yamaha. We were going to debut a new one tonight, as well as rock their world with a Yamaha-yoked “El Serpiente”. Pinot Blanc was already flowing like those springtime northwest winds against the loft. Ten years ago police wouldn’t respond to anything in this town after sundown, and until tonight, the only live music had been of the mariachi persuasion. Groundbreaking stuff. As a meager fifteen people or so trickled in around 7:45 PM, it was clear that Asthmatic Giant! was one step away from playing Salt Water Taffy shoppes and kite stores on the Mendocino Coast again. This rock business comes in waves, man. Like Lloyd Banks said, “When you’re as hot as an oven they embrace you with open arms. When you’re as cold as a freezer niggas treat you like they don’t need ya.”

“I.U.D.S.I.S.” I said into the mic over and over again to get the levels right.

By 8:15 a solid, amateur astronomy session was going down on the roof top, with a certain sort of woodsy fog surrounding the participants’ heads. It was clear that it was time for the Giant. H.C. had a mild panic attack after I told him we were on, but he was good to go with a little assurance. Jesse filled our glasses with a homebrewed Belgian Ale, before “The Wrecking Machine” had people going back for seconds on the Two Guys Pizza pies on hand. It was a gastronomic groove, is what it was. We followed it with “Can You See it There? Right There?”, and then a soul-quaking “El Serpiente”. Paul and Brian from D Numbers embraced us after that one. Clearly our sympathetic sonic syringe spiked some emotional vein. I saw the trails of tears beneath the Giant’s Ray Ban sunglasses as we ended it on cue. Time to bring back the upbeat “folk” in “folktronica”, so we roared into Bob Dylan and The Band’s “You Ain’t Goin’ Nowhere” – a debut cover that had chicks looking at us and wiping the pepperoni grease from their lips. Finishing up with a new disco instrumental and flailing for the most part, we rejected a saucy heckler’s “One More!” in lieu of the liquid elixirs in the fridge and the stars in the sky.

Twenty Mule Team took it rock and rootsy, and then the thick bifocaled Ethan Burns took the mic, and, together with his older brother Zach on drums, unleashed a rockabilly monster that took the house down by surprise. Then D Numbers came through big time on their psychedelic-electronica promise, and girls were grooving in front like Burning Man had been moved to this pimped out loft in a town straight out of Mexico.

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