(Jason Lent has forsaken the island paradise of Hawaii to follow us around for a few months. I have happily placed the tour diary in his capable hands. It should bring a new perspective to our ramblings.)
I made the short ride up to Milwaukee and met up with a friend to explore the city. We started in an old Polish neighborhood where his family had first settled. The gentrification of the riverfront around Milwaukee was lapping at the edge of the neighborhood but the old homes stood their ground. We settled into a century old bar for a few pints to stay out of the blistering cold wind.
Not much had changed at Wolski’s during the last century. The bartender was the fourth generation of his family to pour beer and lend an ear to the community. The sense of place was strong in this area and where you’re from was measured not by city or even neighborhood. My friend and the bartender identified each other by house numbers and despite not being there in many years, the connection was strong. The bartender simply said, welcome home and bought a round of beers.
The wandering around downtown Milwaukee was the coldest hour of my life. The end.
The venue tonight was an old music hall that was restored only enough to pass city inspection. Nets were draped across the ceiling to catch falling chunks of plaster and the wood floor had been allowed to rise and fall giving the entire room a slightly uneven sway as you walked around. It felt like a ballroom for the apocalypse and it was magnificent.
The band played one of the best shows of the tour and the crowd’s reserved response could probably be attributed to the fact that we were glued to our seats.. The biting winds were sneaking through the aging edifice but the warm sound of the room more than compensated for the world outside. Songs like “Thousand Year Pray” and the final waltz through dystopia on “Lay It Down” reminded me of why some of us feel the need to follow the band from show to show.