After months of advertising, national attention, and millions of dollars spent, the blitz known as the Iowa caucus occurred. As a native of Iowa myself, I’ve long enjoyed the political spotlight we receive once every 4 years. While NY, DC, and other areas are always reminded of their “importance,” Iowa chugs along quietly feeding the nation. However, it is that rare time, approximately a year before the President election, when the entire world seems to care about our opinions.
Barraged with ads for months and candidate visits for weeks, the small, humble state views the day after the caucus as a beacon of relief. Unfortunately, Ames native band, Poison Control Center, dealt with all the buildup but missed out on participating in the actual caucus. While Barak Obama promised to change the nation, they found themselves playing all over Chicago. Three different appearances were scheduled randomly throughout the city, concluding with a show at Schuba’s.
Before arriving at Shirk’s studio, PCC found themselves quite literally playing inside a box. The MCA concluded its 40th anniversary exhibit which included live bands playing electronic instruments to be heard only by those outside the clear plastic box wearing headphones. A second stop brought them through Shirk’s studio for our most recent Live Session. Accustomed to their hectic schedule, the guys were set up and playing in under 15 minutes. After a short sound check and a quick song run-through (“A Clunker,” according to guitarist Devin), the guys spent the next hour and fifteen minutes pouring out their music in the confining studio.
Unbeknownst to Shirk and I at this time, Poison Control Center (specifically guitarists Devin and Patrick), typically don’t hold back while playing. A small studio filled with valuable equipment doesn’t lend itself to playing the guitar upside-down, kicking feet in the air, summersaulting into a drum stand, and then throwing a guitar around your neck. Luckily for them, Schuba’s comparatively gigantic stage let them express themselves more freely. Even more enjoyable was the reaction of the other bands who clung to the side-wall nearby. A pretty boy band from Minneapolis, whose name was incorrectly pronounced by Patrick at least a half dozen times (much to the chagrin of several girls/my amusement), and a quiet folk singer, backed by the rhythm section of Cracklin Moth, seemed unprepared for what was occurring.
As the tour continued past Chicago, each member prepped themselves for their off-day. Just like the rest of us, they each occasionally enjoy a drink or two before, during, and after the show. “Off-Days” are usually accompanied by a witty slogan such as “No Getting Batty in Cincinnati” and require one member of the band to stay sober, deal with the venue, merchandise, and all that comes with touring without a manager. The following day, that predetermined person doesn’t have to drive the van. They are free to catch up on sleep or listen to their iPods.
And while Obama promised metaphorical “Change” for a new America, The Poison Control Center can look out the window and see the physical change in America as the scenery rolls by. By the time the tour ends, after weeks of stops through the Midwest and South, Iowa will be back to normal, unassumingly producing really good music and quietly giving our opinion when asked.
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