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On the Road with the Stellar Corpses – Day 1: Fresno

Credit: Mat Weir

by Mat Weir

We started off in high spirits, knowing that the first show was only a couple hours away in Fresno at a bar called Audie’s. I had met up with Kyle, the drummer, in the parking lot of the good ol’ Catalyst. With my suitcase, briefcase and camera bag in hand, I crawled into his beat-up white van between paint-covered ladders, cans and drop cloths. We headed up to Pleasure Point, where he and bassist Dan live, talking about our pet snakes and which upcoming shows should draw the biggest crowds.

When we arrived at their place, Dan was waiting with cold beers in hand. He told us Dusty was still working on last-minute preparations and would be a little while. I looked around the room, noting the various Stellar Corpses posters from previous tours mixed in between memorabilia from other bands, boxes of CDs for the tour and luggage. Half-jokingly, and half out of true concern, I turned to Dan and asked, “So, what should I be prepared for?”

“Ha, wellll,” he said, taking a swig from the frosty beer, “last year when we traveled across the country our trailer kept falling apart. The damn thing kept coming unhinged from the frame. Whenever we’d drive you could see our equipment catching air and bouncing around. We had to get it welded in five different states. But don’t worry—we have a new trailer and even a couple new tires. Everything should be fine.”

“Yeah, all right,” I thought. “Things should go smoothly for a little while. Just sit back and enjoy the ride. The road gods will be with us.” Ho ho.

Soon enough, Dusty arrived and as we loaded our gear he handed a long cardboard tube to Dan. “Dude, you’ve got to see this,” Dan said to me with a grin. He quickly unraveled a thin speaker screen with an eye-popping design by Klem from O’Reilly’s Tattoo. In green, white and shades of purple was a sexy mummy, her bandages blowing in the wind as she sat on top of the band’s name in its trademark horror font. In rock & roll nothing says “professionalism” like a pin-up speaker cover, and that’s no joke.

With everything loaded, we picked up the final key element of the equation, the guitarist Emilio, and headed on our way. Three hours to Fresno, just a quick blast over Highway 152, with plenty of time to set up once we got there. But we were soon to learn that such rebellious pride always catches the attention of the gods—and they are a vengeful bunch.

Two hours into the 152, around 7pm, we started noticing a funny bounce in the back of the van. As cars drove by, they would point to our trailer as they mouthed dreaded words that we couldn’t hear but didn’t need to. Dusty pulled to the side of the road next to acres of green fields and, sure enough, there was our first blown tire, ripped all the way around. I’m a firm believer in the theory that we should fear technology before it becomes our evil overlord, but I have to admit that the iPhone was the savior of the day. Dusty quickly found a mechanic 10 miles away, though we would still be stranded for over an hour since they had to bring the wheel back to the shop. “Well, at least we got the first problem out of the way, right?” I asked, trying to keep the spirits up. My poor attempt was met with groans and half-smiles.

By the time we finally reached Audie’s it was 9:30, but as we pulled into the parking lot, we noticed another funny thing: there were no other vans in the parking lot. Audie himself greeted us in the parking lot with a hearty, “Glad you guys made it, you’re the only band. All the local acts bailed!” Luckily, this also meant we could take our time setting up, and after the previous couple of hours, we needed to unwind.

The set itself went off without a hitch. The sound quality was spot on and the whole room was singing, dancing and whooping it up as much as they could on a Thursday night. The Corpses ripped through a bunch of crowd favorites and the new songs were a hit. People who had never heard them before scrambled to the merch table, like the photographer the guys dubbed “Dr. Wario” for his uncanny resemblance to the video game character, who ended up buying one of every item.

After everything was packed up, we realized none of us had eaten, so it was off to Denny’s for a 1am meal. Afterwards it was off to their friend Sonia’s house, by which time all communication was exhausted, and with a couple of acknowledging grunts, we passed out, wondering what tomorrow would bring.

This article originally appeared on the Santa Cruz Weekly blog.

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