United Sons of Toil/Geronimo!; July 9, 2010; Memory Lanes, Minneapolis
A show in a bowling alley always seems like it would be cool, but my experiences prior to tonight have not backed that up. There was Desaparecidos one July at Chicago’s Fireside Bowl, a miserable, un air-conditioned, all-ages death trap that should have been condemned long before Conor Oberst brought his punk band there. Now that the state-wide smoking ban is in effect I could probably go back to the Badger Bowl on Madison’s south east side, but the couple of times I was there seeing Cherry Pie it felt like I was eating cigarettes the smoke was so thick. Consequently, I didn’t have my hopes set too high for tonight’s show at the cleverly monikered Memory Lanes.
Which is probably what made it that much cooler. Even though it sounded like it should have had pin setters and hand scoring, Memory Lanes was a modern, well-lit facility with probably twenty lanes. But the best part of all was that the stage was ON THE LANES! A surprisingly permanent looking structure, it covered four lanes (which obviously hadn't been oiled in awhile) and sat so close to the end that Jason tripped the foul line loading out. All my years of bowling made me hesitant to even get close to the stage, the “No street shoes past this point” signs clear in my mind. And I was convinced that the Twin Cities version of Tomah’s Bun Janney was lying in wait to yell at me the second I set foot on the lower level. That didn’t happen and I spent the Toil’s set standing between the second and third dot on the floor. Now this is what I call playing at a bowling alley. Too bad the rest of Minneapolis wasn’t aware of how awesome it is.
I was so excited at the whole concept that I failed to even notice that there wasn’t much of a crowd there. In fact, most of the handful of people watching the show were in the other bands. I was pleased to find the very nerdy, but totally rocking Geronimo! also on the bill. It was nice to put a face to the T-shirt with the dead pig (cow?) that my cousin has been wearing every other day since his band This Bright Apocalypse played with them. The Toil’s leader Russell Hall, who believes in a dress code for bands, was pleased to note that Geronimo! seemed to have the same policy. While it didn’t look as sharp or premeditated as the Toil’s blue work shirts, it seemed unlikely that they were all wearing red T-shirts and raggedly cut-off shorts by coincidence. I also liked their band, so in my mind the whole evening was a success.
Next time I will be slightly less suspicious of a show in a bowling alley.
The United Sons of Toil