Todd Durrant’s Random Thoughts
Follow the efforts of a creative, crazed entrepreneur.

A Long Drive for Information Society

I just got back from a long drive.  I left at 4 AM on Friday morning to head for Minneapolis, Minnesota where Information Society was scheduled to play what was being rumored as their last show ever.   The early departure would insure that I and my travel buddy would get there in time to check into a hotel and set up a merchandise shop at the concert venue before the show was scheduled to begin.   Aside from the legendary band, Information Society, I was excited to see my old friends from Faith Assembly (Mark) and Moulin Noir (Anders) who would be playing sets to kick off the show.

I met up with my buddy, Mike Gjennestad, near the mouth of Ogden Canyon in Utah, then we drove onward, into Wyoming and Nebraska.  We had so much fun telling each other stories and listening to music (the newest album by Intricated looped two or three times  during those early morning hours) that we forgot to check the fuel gauge.   Oops!  Just as soon as we passed an exit in the middle of nowhere that for some reason had nothing but a couple of shops and a huge Cabella’s store, we ran out of gas.  This was our opportunity to stretch our legs a bit as we began walking the few miles back to the previous exit.   We laughed at our predicament, and also at the passing semi trucks and cars who so politely pulled to the further “fast” lane just to make sure they weren’t anywhere near us when passing.  Of course, we would have preferred if they’d pulled on over to the shoulder where we were walking to give us a lift.   Finally, after maybe three or four miles of walking, an old, beat-up, pick-up truck pulled over and a fun highway nomad rendered assistance.  This guy had everything he owned, including an old Harley motorcycle, packed in the bed of his truck and told us about how he was just driving toward Wyoming to see if he could find some work…maybe digging fossils (strange occupational choice).    He just happened to have a five gallon gas can which we filled, along with some extra fuel for his truck, and he took us back to our vehicle.  I was going to offer him a few CD’s as “thanks”, but noticed his truck had nothing in the dashboard– no CD player, radio, speedometer, heater, or anything.   Besides, when he heard we were headed to a music show, he was excited and rattled off a bunch of shows he’d been to recently, and we didn’t recognize a single band he mentioned.   Oh yeah, and he also asked if we smoked weed.   “Well, no.”  I wasn’t sure if was planning on sharing, or had hoped we had some to spare.

We were back on our way, having lost little time.  We were much more careful from then on to check our gas gauge regularly.  We made it all the way through Nebraska before pulling into a hotel just past the border of Iowa.   The next morning was cold, and a light snow had just begun to fall as we hit the road again.   It wasn’t long before we came across a series of slide-off accidents, so the road was obviously slick, though not snow-packed.  We came upon a white van that had rolled over only a minute earlier and was propped on it’s side in the fast lane.  The traffic was going around the scene, but we pulled over to see if anybody needed help.   The van occupants were an older man and woman, and they were both out of the van.  Though they had blood running down their faces and looked pretty messy, they said that they were fine and just awaiting emergency vehicles.   The emergency vehicles would take a while since we were not near any cities.  The man kept climbing back into the smashed-out front windshield (the only real way into the van now) to pull out any important items he could find, like a cell phone, his wife’s purse, or whatever.  The woman was beginning to shiver noticeably.  She said she wasn’t cold, though the light snow and wind was sure biting through my coat.  She thought maybe she was just in shock.  I pulled a blanket out of the back of my van, apologized that it had Barney the dinosaur printed on it, and wrapped it around her.   Just then, a fire chief pulled up and began waving other vehicles past.   Mike and I got back in our own van and continued the journey, leaving the unfortunate couple in the hands of those who are trained to help.   We drove just a bit slower for a while, until the snow was no longer falling.

Soon enough, we were pulling into Minneapolis where we easily found the hotel at only 2:30 PM.  The weather was very nice, with sun shining overhead.  We had plenty of time to prepare for the show.   We ran into Trace Tumbleson, the promoter who had put the entire event together, and we ran into Mark of Faith Assembly and his band members.   We ran into about everybody else once we got to the venue to set up shop.   The venue was the Varsity Theater, and it was a very nice place for a show like this.   Once the doors officially opened, a good sized crowd filed in, and it looked like there would be a decent attendance, which made me happy for Trace, since he’d put so much work into the event.

Merchandise sales were very good for Information Society, though Mike and I had to tell people over and over again that we’d sold out of the items that they really wanted– the “Apocryphon” and “Synthesizer” CD’s and any t-shirt BESIDES large (the only size remaining after the first few minutes).   Sales of other CD’s and shirts were not quite as strong, but there were a few fans who were brave music explorers or who knew the modern scene, so it was a worthwhile effort.

The first band to play was Milk Bar, a local synth-rock band with an attractive female lead.   They put a lot of energy into their short performance, which included a couple of classic 80’s cover tunes.  Then Faith Assembly took the stage and put on their usual polished, smooth performance.   It should be noted that Laura, the most recent voice of SOMEGIRL, was the female back-up singer for Faith Assembly and did a wonderful job.  It was then entertaining to see Laura back on stage again with the next act, Moulin Noir, as back-up vocalist and keyboardist.  Her hair style was different this time, making it seem like two different girls had been on stage when it was really just one talented back-up.    Anders was energetic and put on a fun show, donned in his usual black tights, skirt, and thick makeup.

I hadn’t really known what to expect from Information Society’s performance, but it was fast apparent that these guys had plenty of experience and showmanship.  The stage flashed with fun background visuals, and the band members seemed to focus on having fun.  There was a lot of interaction and joking with the audience, plus a lot of on-stage movement and energy.  If this was to be their final performance, it seemed they were putting everything into it.   They played songs from every release, and some songs that they’d never put on CD, plus a great cover of Gary Numan’s “Are Friends Electric” which singer Kurt introduced as “the best pop song ever written, bar none.”

I’d have to say that the show was a hit.   As a merchandising guy, I didn’t get as much in the way of sales as I’ve seen in the past, but I had expected that would be the case.  Often when you’re catering to a “flashback” crowd, you don’t get as many sales.  Plus,  CD sales in general have been slowing, and it’s harder to convince people to spend a few dollars on new music.   Still, it was worth the trip.  When Mike went to tell Kurt that the show was a lot of fun, Kurt asked where Mike was from.   Mike explained that he’d come from Utah to see the show.  Kurt quickly replied, “you really need to re-think your priorities, if you drove that far just to see US!”

Mike and I began our drive back early Sunday morning, feeling a bit sleep deprived.    That sleep deprivation didn’t keep us from chatting away again, listening to more music (this time I introduced Mike to one of the best modern rock bands around, Muse).   The weather was beautiful through Iowa and into Nebraska, but the news showed that there was a blizzard ahead in Wyoming.  So, we stopped in Kearney on I-80, half way across the state, hoping to let the snow move on Northward and out of our path before the following day.   We were so slap-happy at the end of Sunday that we’d spent over an hour arguing about the true meaning of the word “yonder”, laughing so much that our stomachs hurt.   We even carried that debate into the lobby of the hotel where they two clerks on duty and another couple that was checking in joined into the debate.   How far did something have to be to be “yonder”?   Could it still be “yonder” even if you couldn’t see it?  How nearby would an object have to be before it was no longer “yonder”?   Basically, it was concluded that you USUALLY have to see something to say it was “yonder” and most likely should be able to point at it.   But if the object was close enough that you could throw a rock at it and hit it, then it was not longer “yonder” but instead became “that there”.    Thus “yonder barn” was no longer yonder once you could hit it with a rock, at which point it was “that there barn”.

One clerk argued that he could say, “there is a party at yonder creek” even though the creek was not in sight and he couldn’t point to it.   I explained that it would be a meaningless use of the word since I wouldn’t know which creek he was talking about.  He replied that his FRIENDS would know which creek it was, because they’d know what he meant by “yonder creek”.   This started a new argument about whether “yonder” could be used if the information you were sharing was exclusive to your personal circle of friends, or even your personal knowledge.   I would thus be excluded from his “yonder” paradigm.    Like I said, we were tired and quickly losing our minds.  However, because of our crazy conversation in the lobby, the nice desk lady made us a batch of hot chocolate chip cookies just because we jokingly said that cookies would make the hotel stop perfect.   Wow, now THAT is service!   One day I’ll have to revisit yonder hotel.

The next day we did indeed run into some periods of snow, mostly in western Nebraska and parts of Wyoming.  We had to slow to 45 miles per hour for a couple hundred miles, but eventually things cleared up and we were able to speed to the end of our journey.   A couple more crazy conversations took place, causing us to once again laugh until we were in pain.   We listened to some Blank & Jones, and some And One, keeping things peppy as we reached Utah at nightfall.    By 10:30 PM, I was home again.

Now I’m back to work, trying to catch up on emails…maybe not as diligently as I should, considering I paused to write this blog.

Thanks for reading!


3 Responses to “A Long Drive for Information Society”

  1. This is their last show? That’ll be sad if it is. I really liked these guys. I didn’t care for Synthesizer as much (except for the song that Kurt appeared on) but they put out three really good albums.

  2. Hey, Todd! I saw Faith Assembly and Moulin Noir in Milwaukee the day before the Mpls show. It was amazing listening to the opening synth line of “Crash & Burn” – never thought I’d ever hear that live!

    I’m glad you got to see them at a decent venue. The Milwaukee location was a small club with a house sound system that was mediocre at best. Moulin Noir was supposed to be the headliner, but only played about 30 minutes – less than the local guy (Bradley) who preceeded him… Anders put on a great show, but I was disappointed that he didn’t play longer.

  3. Wish I could’ve been at yonder show with y’all.

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