Riding in cars with girls: tales from the DIY road to Treefort Music Festival and back

Categories: Survival Guide

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Do not stop at this gas station -- the owner will kill you.

"Heh, heh. Nice John Wayne pin," says Don from behind the counter at the Holiday gas station on State Street in Salt Lake City. He's responding to the sight of my tourmate Alex Edgeworth -- who is the drummer and one half of Lust-Cats of the Gutters -- and her giant pin with Ronald Reagan's face on it, one that's barely hanging onto her oversized and tattered Kurt Cobain-reminiscent sweater. Reagan, Wayne, same difference.

This was the second time on our recent miniature tour from Denver to Boise and back that The Gipper would make an appearance. The first was on a bumpersticker plastered across the back of a pickup in front of our car somewhere in Idaho that had a picture of Ronnie on it and read, "Bring Back Capitalism" -- as if capitalism had ever left.

Alex lifted her head, peered out from underneath her thick black bangs and gave Don a gruff and bewildered "Thanks" before swiping her coffee from the convenience-store counter and bolting. It was too early in the morning for weirdos, but then again, shit almost always gets weird in gas stations on the road.

See also: A butt-level view of music festival fashion in 2014

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The Lust-Cats' modest merch table.
On a mission to get to the Treefort Music Fest in Boise, Idaho, any way I could, I hitched a ride out of Denver with my friends the Lust-Cats. I officially took up guitarist (and fellow Westword contributor) Robin Edwards's offer to be the band's merch lady/tour manager, which is basically a glorified way of saying, "We don't wanna do all the driving, and we would love to split gas with you if you would stand around and sell our T-shirts at shows."

This worked out great for me, because it also gave me something to do once I got to Treefort. They had given me, like, a real job! I know that since I was a person working within that loose, bloggy umbrella called "media," I had something to do. But I think everybody knows that standing around being a "journalist" at a gathering of this nature just means tweeting social situations as they happen: You judge while other people socialize. At least that's how I do it.

This position of merch lady/tour manager also helped cover up my glaring insecurity about being at a music festival and not being in a band that was also playing. Since my own band broke up last year, I have felt like I am no longer part of my own maturity-stunted gang of adults. I used to have the matching back-patched hoodie and a reason to be wandering around a place like downtown Boise stoned at two in the afternoon saying things like, "I'd love to get more stoned with you, but I've got to play later, man."

Still, though, I wish I had a hoodie that said "Manager." I'll get a uniform for my next fake job.

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An enviable back patch. #based
On our way to Treefort, we cut up the long drive from Denver to Boise with a show in Salt Lake City. SLC is cool and the people there are super, super nice. We kept wondering if that was because they were Mormons or if the population of Utah is just extra-cordial. We began to over-think the Mormon thing, and every time one of us yelled "Fuck!" we felt like God or Joseph Smith or whoever their big guy is was watching us. As it turns out, Mormon or not, the kids in SLC don't care about swearing.

On a DIY-ish level, shows in other cities are lot of the same -- the record store or the shitty old-folks home of a punk bar you book are often just a clone of ones you played in a prior city. They are populated by people who could be carbon copies of friends you see at shows at home. After longer periods of time touring, this can become a mirage situation, one where you might actually walk up to someone you think you know, only to realize you're not in Denver anymore and there is no way that kid with the bleached-blond asymmetrical fro is at your show in Toledo. But at least then you've made a new friend.



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