[license to krill] Week 3: Midpoint Music Festival + getting friendly in Chicago, Milwaukee, Minneapolis ...and Bozeman

A photogenic Krill reflecting at a rest stop in Minnesota

After Chapel Hill, where we left off last week, we arrived in Cincinnati for the Midpoint Music Festival, at which we, KRILL, somehow secured a Friday night spot on a bill beginning with us and ending with Willis Earl Beal. We decided to show up a night early and check out Dirty Projectors, whose set we got to see for free as a perk of playing the festival. (Other free things we got: Vitamin Water, face cream, Bacardi earplugs, and one Chipotle burrito each.) Without getting too deep into it, their performance was nothing short of virtuosic and we were all three blown away by the sheer musical talent, energy, and, for lack of a better word, awesomeness of it all. Their new drummer (Mike Johnson) killed it —- the beat in “The Socialites,” to cite a specific example, was so hot in so many different ways I was just grinning and bobbing my head the whole song.

One of the great disappointments of the festival and indeed of the whole tour was that we couldn’t see Oregon's Unknown Mortal Orchestra play; their set was a half hour before ours on Friday. We did, however, encounter them by chance in the “artists' lounge” and profess our love for them between bites of the very respectable free burritos (not Chipotle this time) with which bands were provided. We played in a black box theater at the Center for Contemporary Arts to an audience of about 15 people -— not bad for an out-of-town band competing with Unknown Mortal Orchestra, and it was a good set. We caught Grizzly Bear and Cloud Nothings later that night, two totally different but totally great shows, and I found a turkey, cheese, and crushed Doritos sandwich on a steamed pretzel bun at a place called Gilpin’s which pleased me greatly. Had sort of a ”Cincinnati, you’re alright by me” moment upon finishing it.

The steamed "Doritos" sandwich at Gilpin's in Cincinnati. The pretzel bun is moist from being steamed, making the perfect counterpoint to the crunchy Doritos.

Our next stop was Chicago, where both my bandmates, Jonah Furman and Aaron Ratoff, are originally from. Jonah dropped Aaron and me off at Aaron’s parents’ house in Wilmette where we were instantly greeted with salmon chowder that his mom had made. This was honestly one of the true home-runs of the tour so far —- I devoured it and promptly fell asleep in his older sister’s childhood bed.

Aaron's mom's excellent salmon chowder. I had it hot for lunch and cold out of the fridge for dinner before our show. Thanks Mrs. Ratoff!!

Our show was at a fantastic DIY house venue called The Whip -— it felt really good after the festival to be back in a basement; we were truly in our element. We played with a chilled out band called Landmarks whose original songs were reminiscent of Ambulance Ltd. in a really good way (a forgotten band that I still dig); they also did a really successful cover of “Shelia” by Atlas Sound. After the show we stopped for 3 a.m. bagels at the 24-hour NY Bagel and Bialy in suburban Skokie, where Jonah finally got a [sesame] bagel with a big ol’ schmear of [jalapeno] cream cheese, a choice which I understand he somewhat regretted later [via @krilliamhmacy]. I had a sesame bagel with whitefish salad and noted, first internally and then perhaps out loud, that it was the latest I’d ever eaten whitefish salad.

The next morning we drove about an hour and a half to Milwaukee, where we played one of our tightest sets of the tour so far in front of a surprisingly large and enthusiastic audience at a dive bar called Linneman’s. Coincidentally, my father happened to have to go to Milwaukee for a last-minute business trip the day after, and came in a night early to see our show. Aaron and I had dinner with him at a brewery/restaurant beforehand (Jonah often doesn’t like to eat before shows), where we sampled “beer cheese” -— a cheese sauce enriched with beer, in this manifestation as a dip for delicious beer-battered onion rings. Aaron’s father had a one-day business trip to Boston that coincided with our show at Great Scott before we left, so this is fast becoming a theme of our tour. A word to [Jonah’s dad] Boris Furman: we’re waiting.

Aaron and my dad enjoying a beer at Stonefly Brewery in Milwaukee before our show. They brew their own beer on premises and we all liked what we tried.

The drive from Milwaukee to Minneapolis was gorgeous and foliage-filled -— as a native Bostonian I had incorrectly felt that my region is the only region with notable fall foliage. We encountered a truly glorious autumn day when we arrived in Minneapolis, and whiled away the day completing various internet-based tasks in a wonderful coffee shop called Spyhouse Coffee. I had wanted to go to the Walker Art Center -— one of my favorite museums in the world —- but not only is it closed Mondays, it sells shirts and hats that say “Closed Mondays” on them, and I actually got one for my dad last time I was there.

Knowing a bit of Minneapolis’ fantastic ethnic food scene, we hit up Lu’s Sandwiches for banh mi before our show (Aaron got the “mock duck” -— highly recommended); it was one of the more memorable finds of the tour.

Grilled pork banh mi from Lu's Sandwiches in Minneapolis. Perfect crunchy exterior/light interior on the baguette, flavorful grilled pork, bright slaw, and no holding back on the green chilis.

Our set, however, wasn’t one of our more memorable, but was special because the soundguy was none other than Ryan Olcott, frontman and guitarist of one of my favorite bands of all-time: '90s Minneapolis shoegazey alt-rockers 12 Rods. He couldn’t have been nicer, and I’m still struggling to fully accept that it was really him twisting the knobs while we played at a place called Kitty Cat Klub on a Monday night on a bill with a thrash metal band called Bongonya.

We awoke the next morning at 9 a.m., and drove 14 hours to Bozeman, Montana, the next place towards the Pacific Northwest where we know somebody. We stopped at Painted Canyon at Theodore Roosevelt National Park (North Dakota) to briefly consider our insignificant place in the universe, and then at an Arby’s in Miles City, Montana for dinner to further perpetuate the “nothing matters” theme of the day. It was Jonah’s and my first time, and I gave my name as “Rick,” perhaps deep down because the real me was ashamed to be eating a turkey/fake nacho cheese sandwich and curly fries at Arby’s for dinner. But I felt like shit afterwards anyway, and I dare say Rick did too.


[license to krill] Week 2: Touring with mouths agape down a hungry East Coast

[license to krill] Eating on the road with Krill: Introduction + Plattsburgh + Montreal

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