Our earlier post about the Midwest harkened back to the earliest days of Galapagos4 road life. Here, in the second installment of that series, we take a look at the crew’s maiden voyages to Iowa CIty, Champaign-Urbana, and Milwaukee.
Why is this considered a milestone? For one, we are all from the Midwest. Put simply, to perform in these nearby cities was to perform for our own kind, and hopefully to people that would understand us. And secondly, I want to stress that these were the first “out-of-town” shows that anyone had ever asked us to play, outside of Chicago, ever. I’m not going to lie – we were pretty stoked about going to these places, and why not? It was all uncharted territory as far as we were concerned. During those early days of us trying to find our first outlets for expression, in our attempt to forge an identity for ourselves and our label, these Midwestern cities were there for us.
We start our story off with a quick glimpse into the world of over-anxious promoters. A guy by the name of Tack-Fu from Iowa City started calling me up right after Squints by Offwhyte came out. I remember on the phone he had a booming voice, and responded to everything with a big, bellowing laugh. He brought out Meaty, Robust and myself to do a show at a college bar called Gabe’s. We didn’t know what to expect, but we headed out there for a night.
One cool thing about going to Iowa City was that you had to cross the mighty Mississippi River to get there.
It turned out that this Tack-Fu character ended up putting on pretty good shows. We ripped it that first night and sold out of CDs at the booth. We ended up coming out to rock Gabe’s a number of times that year and next, along with Qwel and even Qwazaar when he was with the Frontline camp.
Throughout all those shows, Tack-Fu remained his enthusiastic self, and insisted that all artists have backstage passes, even though Gabe’s was really just a one-room bar venue.
Another overzealous promoter at the time was a college dude named Matt Harsh down in Champaign-Urbana, home to U of I and the Fighting Illini. Illinois is the biggest college in the state. Most of my high school friends went there, and if I wasn’t so bent on the Chicago hip hop scene, I probably would have gone there too.
Although he didn’t insist on backstage passes, Harsh was a guy who hustled, and he also ended up bringing us down repatedly to perform at venues like the campus center and the legendary Canopy Club.
There were even a couple Iowa City-Champaign combination trips in those days. Those required a lot of driving. It was our first foray into the world of all-day drives, hotels, and early-morning checkouts.
Lastly, of all the early cities to welcome us, Milwaukee deserves a mention. It’s only an hour and fifteen minutes North of Chicago, yet you rarely hear of it. DJWL landed us our first Milwaukee gig, where I opened for live band combo Nordic Mistress, consisting of Meaty Ogre on drums, DJWL on bass, and Qwel on vocals. During the first show in Milwaukee, electronic artist Collin Olan lent them a hand.
Shortly after that, Mestizo moved to Chicago, and we were brought up to Milwaukee again to play another classic venue, Thai Joe’s.
Here’s to beginnings, to knowing where you’re from, to venturing amongst your immmediate vicinities before spreading your wings and expanding your boundaries. Here’s to the Midwest, its harsh weather, its humidity, and its sweet smell of grass in the air. Thank you for the support. I miss you dearly.