The Feminists: They Each Sported A Thick Plastic Breatplate

Upon rising this morning stiff and sore from “sleeping” in the van, I suggested we go to West Edmonton Mall and ride the roller coaster, after load in and sound check of course. The Feminists are responsible rockers, we always take care of business first.
We arrived in Edmonton in the early afternoon. It was pouring rain, very windy, and very cold. Perhaps I have not mentioned, it was been pouring rain, very windy, and freezing cold since Golden. I suppose this doesn’t matter too much when one lives indoors. However, when one is living in an uninsulated tin can, one notices the weather a lot more. And I’m here to tell ya: don’t go camping in a torrential downpour with gale force winds. Get a hotel room instead. That’s what I would do. I think the rain is following us. We’ve been heading east for 4 days, and it just gets colder and rainier as we go along.
So, we dutifully loaded in and I had a chance to freshen up in a lovely big empty washroom which improved my mood somewhat. I do hate performing all my cleansing rituals in public washrooms. I feel so self-conscious, even though I know no one is noticing me. At least, no one has said anything to me so far (“Do you live at this Tim Hortons?” “Not exactly, I just really love their bathroom decor”.) If I don’t cleanse, I’ll smell like the guys do and that we cannot have. I firmly believe every rock band should have at least one sweet-smelling member.
We actually had a sound check at the club in Edmonton. I guess that’s what happens when you show up at the club at 3:00 in the afternoon. I can hardly remember the last time we had a sound check. Usually we just haul our gear onstage, set it up, plug it in, and give’r. And you know what time it was after sound check, it was roller coaster time.
Upon arriving at the greatest monument to consumerism I could ever imagine, we squished and sloshed our way towards The Mindbender. I watched it go around once, and felt my bravery and resolve melt away. Then Belland strode purposefully towards the ticket counter and bought enough tokens for two people. “Who’s going with me?” he challenged. “I’ll fucking go with you on that fucking rollercoaster,” Grief growled. Sometimes his profanity button gets stuck when there’s something to prove. “Okay, okay, I’m going too”, I mumbled weakly as I forced myself to purchase a handful of tickets. Mike was very smart, he elected to stay safely on the ground. We went on the Mindbender together some years ago, and I guess once was enough for him.
As we creaked and groaned towards to top of the track, I closed my eyes and kept them closed for most of the ride. I squealed and shrieked like a greased piglet the whole time . By the way, I was the only screamer on board. Ferdy bought the picture of us whizzing across the finish line. All of us have our teeth clenched, hair blown straight back, and expressions of wild-eyed satisfaction. It’s quite a bold statement, really. I’m thinking album cover…but we’ll have to photoshop Mike in first.
I staggered about in an unsteady haze of relief – after all, I had just cheated death or so my adrenalin gland thought – when what to our wondering eyes should appear but a red neon sign hung over a looming black cave proclaiming ‘Lazer Tag’. We headed down a curving hallway that ended in a large plate glass window overlooking a maze of obstacles fashioned to resemble the jagged interior of a cave, barely illuminated under black light. Moody orchestral music swelled and crested over the loudspeakers. The guys were practically hopping with excitement. “Let’s go, let’s go” they gabbled to one another.
Never in my life have I witnessed anything as gut-splittingly hilarious as Grief, Zobac and Belland running around with laser guns in the dark stalking and shooting and yelling at each other, as happy and joyful as any pack of 12-year-olds. Usually I watch them play video games – this time they were the video game! They each sported a plastic breastplate with laser sensors and carried a big black plastic laser gun shaped like, I dunno, some sort of rifle or machine gun or similar instrument of destruction. Grief darted around swiftly, silently, his willowy form flashing across the floor as he ambushed Zobac and Belland over and over. Mike and Ferdy spent a lot of time shooting each other at point blank range repeatedly while gasping out profane insults between laughing fits. Through it all, the glorious music of battle pounded relentlessly.
Technically, they are grown men although frankly it often seems to me that only their physical bodies have achieved adulthood. But you know, it’s that spontoniety and lack of self-consciousness that I find most endearing about them. These very traits are essential in the making of great music. If these guys were square and boring the band wouldn’t sound very exciting. And it’s important for intense little worrywarts such as myself to hang out with this kind of nuttiness. It unkinks me somewhat and forces me to “relax and enjoy”. At least, that’s what I tell myself through gritted teeth when they’re cracking up at the same testicle joke for the millionth time.
On a whim, we dashed into an electronics store on our way out of the mall to see if we could acquire some floppy disks that I needed to download some keyboard resets onto. Fortunately they had one remaining box of disks. Then the sales guy said we could download our data there in the store which seemed like a good timesaving idea. Half an hour later we were still standing in front of a computer terminal trying to complete the download (a process that went a lot quicker after we decided to read the instructions) while Grief and Mike tried to ignore the salesman as he said helpful things like
“Wanna heat the most annoying sound in the world?”
A long awkward silence ensued while I thought of a dozen rude responses and then he showed us his cell phone ring. Not even the ring he usually uses, although that would have been bad enough. Just one of his favorite rings in his phone. It was a dog whistle, incidentally, tuned just low enough that human ears could discern it. It burned through my auditory canals while I silently asked myself how exactly did I end up here, in Edmonton, listening to squealing feedback from this hateful little man’s phone.
Thankfully it was time to head back to the venue. It was still pouring rain, windy, and very cold. An hour before the show was due to start the place was starting to fill up with people.
We played well, albeit somewhat cautiously, on a huge stage with crystal clear onstage sound. The audience was far away from the stage though, sitting at tables towards the back of the club so it felt like we were playing into a big energy-sucking vortex…but it was still pretty good and we debuted a new song. Afterwards we met some nice people at the merch table, and the manager told us he’d like to have us play there again. Yay team.
After the show we were supposed to crash at someone’s house from the band we opened for. But they stuck around in the bar afterward and got so hammered that we eventually just gave up and went to a truck stop for another van sleep. Still raining, windy, and cold. My throat is sore.