For those of you who just tuned in, City Weekly contributor Curtis Jensen is currently on the road with Utah's Eagle Twin who are touring in support of the mighty Sunn O))). No one tells it like Curtis.
DAY 12, 13, 14
Home now. Or, at least, in Utah. Not really sure how long that drive was. Left at 2 or 3 in the morning from Newport, Kentucky on Sunday, finally lurched up to the curb in front of Tyler's house around 1 in the afternoon on Tuesday. Punch drunk, essentially- the van has shaken us all to bits. Slept for 18 hours, now awake, but ears are ringing and am not thinking very straightly.
The last show was very big, I did not see final attendance numbers, but it either was the largest or just about the largest show of the trip. In a mansion. The haunted birthplace of John Taliaferro Thompson, inventor of the Thompson Sub-Machine gun. The mansion is across the river from Cincinnati, but I didn't see any ghosts.
What the fuck was that?
The engine of the van is surging violently, a fan belt accompanying with unearthly shrieks. Something smells scorched. The traffic in the canyon is funneled down to one lane in each direction. 71 miles to go.
Well boys, I think we've just lost 3rd gear...
It's just a hell of a thing, that there's just two of you up there!
Yeah man, that's just how we do it!
All that sound from just the two of you!
I'll tell you what I am going to do-
I'm going to buy me another of them shirts.
You bet, a wise choice there.
I've already bought the one with the tentacles, and now I'm going to by the one in the yellow.
Sounds good man.
It's just a hell of a thing, there there's just the two of you up there!
Yeah man, that's how we do it.
I haven't watched Sunn O))) really until tonight. How could I? Most nights there is so much fog that one can hardly see them on stage, let alone 20 feet in front of your face. That and I am usually hobbled to the merch table, which oftentimes is not in line of sight of the performance.
But tonight I have watched them. From the balcony. From the furthest right wing of the balcony, practically directly over the stage. 2 Ohioan metal-ers are in front of me, and as I come up to the edge of the balcony they quickly settle back into their seats as if they had been engaged in some degree of pre-sex act before I stumble up out of the synthetic smoke to their perch. I think that this was so because on my way around the balcony, I encounter two other couples in similarly murky corners of the night clenched in passionate acts. I suppose gratuitous amounts of fake fog lends an event to gratuitous displays of public affection?
I had no idea that Sunn O))) played like this. Greg Anderson and Steve Moore are constantly communicating, through body language as well as through the improvisational device of call and response. Moore is the slap-back of Anderson's slow chords, Rhodes the decay / bloom of Model T, vacuum tube, wave form, Gold Top.
Attila's boots must be bolted down, he hardly moves his lower body. The same cannot be said for his upper body, his hands gesture and sing back and up, down and in, out and forth all the time, his fingers pastiching a product of multiple symbols: the upraised hand of the Ringatu, the closed index finger and thumb of the Vitarka Mudra, the assumed Heart in Hand, the Trinitarian Formula and the 5 Wounds of Christ. The microphone becomes a Vajra, a lightning bolt brushed across his lips as he takes up the third voice in the counter melody of Moore and Anderson. A perverse farrago, or a medley-Varamudra: Attila dispersing boons to the audience? My impulse is towards the later, although admittedly I have ordered breakfasts with this guy- barring such personal history I could imagine the effects of his stage persona to be taken much, much differently. Notably, Attila employs his left hand decidedly more than his right.
Gentry has described Sunn O))) as a music of gestures. From the heights of the Southgate House's balcony, Gentry's description seems very accurate.
You have fucking got to be kidding me. Is this fucker really going to pull me over?
I have just wormed up into the loft. I am very, very tired, and knowing that it'll be my turn to drive at 5 or 6 (it is 2:30 or so now) as soon as the van is moving I head for the loft. Shortly after that the cop pulls us over. Tyler is driving.
License and registration.
What seems to be the problem, officer?
What kind of a setup do you have in there?
There's a loft back there, one of our guys is in there.
The cop shines his light over Tyler's shoulder and into the back of the van. I am tired enough that I don't even look up at the light.
You do know that in the state of Kentucky all passengers in a vehicle must be wearing a safety belt.
Is that so? She passed in Utah, where we're from.
Yes, but you are in Kentucky now.
Well we are headed back to Utah tonight, and we didn't know about that.
All the same, you are in the state of Kentucky now.
The cop takes the paper work. Utah has a the same seat belt laws. Gentry and Tyler talk back and forth loudly and nervously. I pull myself out of the loft and onto the mattress spread out on the speaker cabinets behind the front seats of the van. The cop returns.
Here are these. You know that the safety belt law was enacted to protect you in the case of an accident.
We're just trying to get back to Salt Lake-
But not wearing safety belt, if you guys get in an accident, that guy back there, he's dead.
I'm sorry sir...
The cop doesn't issue Tyler a ticket. He also doesn't make me feel any better about sleeping in the loft tonight.
It is a good thing I wasn't driving, I am always mean to cops- says Gentry.
It is a good thing he didn't fucking breathalyze me!- says Tyler.
This is my fucking baby! Here look I shit it out for you and it has arms and eyes and a rape face!
Gentry is in the back, kneeling, with his knees pointing out, and holding a water bottle full of chew-spit and piss between his legs.
I'm going to fucking Wendy's!- says Tyler.
Me too!- I say as I drift the van into the right hand lane of the street that bisects Kearney, Nebraska. I've been here before, not just once, but a few times. Here I am again.
It is really very cold in the van. In the night I've unpacked my sleeping bag and spread it over myself, which was difficult to do in the loft as you are so close to the ceiling. I can hardly stand to sleep in the loft when we are driving because you are triply subjected to the lurches and jolts of the 30-year old machine. I have hardly slept as I have developed a mind-grinding habit of waking every thirty or forty minutes to check to see if we have yet rolled off into the ditch. I imagine that if we had rolled off into the ditch I would know without checking every thirty or forty minutes.
I pull myself out of the loft, crawl past Gentry asleep on the speaker cabinets, and I fold myself into the driver's seat. It is early, before sunrise. The sagebrush plains of the high, red desert are radiant and rich in the pre-dawn golden hour. I rub my eyes with the palm-heel of my hands, then turn the ignition.