This, as you know, is how I like to travel. A decision on the fly. No hemming and hawing. Wait until the last minute and go or don't go. We were taking a risk here, as Chuck had to work at 12:30 a.m.:
The show started at 8 p.m., and included two other bands before The Hold Steady. Based on my most recent concert experience with a similar set up, I figured that ideally Band A would play for a half hour; 15 minute set up; Band B would play 45 minutes; 15 minute set up; Band C cranks it up at 9:45 p.m.-ish. We wouldn't see everything. But best case scenario, we would get 55 minutes of rock and roll. Worst case scenario, a half hour of rock and roll. Either way, it was more rock and roll than we would get it we didn't go at all.
FACT: I am not even necessarily that in love with The Hold Steady. I like them in theory more than practice. The words they make are magic. Mostly I think they are, I'm sure unintentionally, a band for boys.(2)
We busted through the Minnesota border at about 6:45 p.m., and rolled into Hayward at about 8:06 p.m. and were all Meh. Let's eat instead of checking out the first band.
We stop at a brewery, Angry Minnow, which looks like a phat cabin right down to the flip flops and "I'd Rather Be Fishing" fashion collection. Everyone looks happy, relaxed, and in dire need of an aloe bath. Like they are going to be finding sand in some weird places, but right now they don't care. I get Lake Superior White Fish, damn near weeping over the stars aligning that I can be out of the city limits on a Friday night with my actual boyfriend eating amazing summer food specific to the region in a place that has an atmosphere that rivals a full-body massage.
A woman approaches the bar, and tells the bartender that her son stabbed himself with a cherry sword.
An older woman actually goes behind the bar to hug the bartender and tell him how much she enjoyed her dinner.
I'm so madly in love with this moment in time, that I damn-near fracture a tongue muscle trying to French kiss the entire scene.
We get to the casino just in time for Band B: The Whigs. We check in with Cork1, who -- I never noticed this before -- walks like a dad. Not my dad, but A dad. Check it. We nod, we bob, we listen. When the band says they have two more songs, someone in the audience (an eclectic collection of blue hairs who made a wrong turn at the Bingo doors, and men) yells "One more song!" Which is a hilarious insult I wish I'd thought of. Time was of the essence. It was almost 10 p.m. We had to leave no later than 10:40 p.m.
At 10:20, the roadies were just finishing fucking around with the equipment. At about 10:29 p.m., The Hold Steady started to play.
Readers: We saw one song. It was amazing. Craig Finn pitting out in his best Eddie Bauer short sleeve button up before it was halfway through. Waving his arms like a street preacher. I had a big old smile for every second of those four minutes, and some change. Mostly I learned that I'd really like to see them live some day.
When the song ended, we looked at each other, shrugged, busted out laughing and made for the door.
We took a wrong turn that cost us six minutes, but saw a bear lumbering into the woods.
We later saw a fox, which I almost turned into a stole. Then we saw another.
I drove like I was possessed. Player 1 in a video game. I could barely see beyond the 50 feet in front of the headlights, and I finally had to stop accelerating into the turns to spare Chas from crippling passenger panic. Not only to get Chuck home in time for work, but to hit the city limits of Superior, Wis., so I could hit a liquor store. They rung up my order at 11:59 p.m., and we were home by 12:15 a.m.
Exciting conclusion: Chuck got to work on time; I enjoyed Honey Weiss and Berry Weiss in a tall glass over ice.(3) This was a great, great night.
(1) This is where I pander to my one friend in Hayward. Hi, Cork1!
(2) Although I'm sure there are exceptions to this rule.
(3) A Smiling Moose mix from yesteryear, and exactly what Fannie and I would be drinking on the deck if it was the summer of 1999.