It's funny, on a search for Circus Mexicus, I'm the top result. I'd link you to the wonderful website that Roger Clyne had up to summarize the event, but it's gone down since the event, and the WayBack Machine only has 2003's copy. Ah, well. Anyways, as I posted, a bunch of us went to Mexico one weekend in early November. Why would five rational young adults rush to Mexico for just one night? To see the guy who is probably most known for the King of the Hill music play live! I saw him this past April, and enjoyed his show. Most of his songs are about going down to Mexico and drinking. Don't believe me? Read the lyrics, listen to the music! And even his earlier stuff with the Refreshments seemed to center around that theme. When I first told mrfantasy who I was going to see last spring, he chuckled. ``So what will he do for the rest of the set? Incidental music from the show?'' Much later, while driving through Arizona, I found out that he did that as well.
So I took off Friday from work, unlike most of the people joining us, who just left straight from work. I went to class, cut out, and drove back to the_boke. jenniever met me there, and we drove to Newark Airport.
Here's me driving, jenniever testing the camera, and a shot of the covered roadway just north of the Pulaski Skyway. We figured that parking in the economy lot would be cheaper and faster than taking mass transit or whatever to and from the airport. So we went to the first lot... which was closed. Second lot.. full. But they were offering economy rates for the daily lot, which was a relief. So we parked there, took the lovely Air Train, got to our terminal, and checked in. It was at this point that I realized that I left my cell phone back at my car. The only number I gave Skullhead and Jick. I had talked with the former about meeting up at the concert, but the only way I gave him to contact me was that phone number. Sure I had seen their pictures. But damn. I freaked out and wanted to return to my car, but cooler heads prevailed. A quick call to runstaverun, and they had been sent my sweetheart's number.
On the flight, I read the information about the border crossing, and realized that I didn't have my passport with me. Social security card, driver's license, and everything else present... but not the document required to get BACK. When planning and packing, I only read the ``getting to Rocky Point'' section of every website, and skipped anything about getting back in. Crap. So after a good flight, we landed in Arizona. jenniever commented on the southwestern theme of the places in the airport. I pointed out that we were, indeed, in the southwest. At this point we waited for the rest of our motley crew to gather.
There's her friend Kristin, from back home. Those of you who paid attention at my drama-filled party around the time of jenniever's birthday should remember her. Here she is on my roof:
Then there's her former roomie Ellen, who was at the 80's metal party and my recent Halo Night. You can see her eyebrow and a bit of her hair here:
Finally we were joined by Amanda, who I didn't take a single picture of before this weekend.
Luckily for her friends (once more), my sweetheart's dating an older man. I saved the situation with regards to the cruise, as younguns can't be roomed with other almost younguns. This time it was my number of cold steps towards the grave that got us a reasonable rate on automobile rental. Not counting plane tickets, we managed to do the entire weekend quite cheaply. We got a little compact car from Dollar, and raised some eyebrows at the number of people we were stuffing into the thing. It was nice to drive a car with some pickup, unlike my ancient wreck. Best of all, the rental place was across the street from a dog track. Good times. So we skittered about the town, finding our way to the motel where we were spending the night. Passed a couple of Denny's, but decided to just crash. Grabbed some snacks from their incredibly warm vending machine room, the three single ladies grabbed a bed, the happy couple grabbed the other:
Saturday morning I woke up to sheer beauty, then I rolled over and saw even more beauty out the window. This was the view from the place:
Of course, we couldn't appreciate that at night. But in the morning, holy shit, what a surprise! So we got ready:
We drove about for a bit, saw a Waffle House, and those who were familiar with the chain insisted on us stopping there. Us outside the place:
Inside we had a wonderful heavy breakfast. Grits for everyone! God, I missed grits. Holy mother of fuck, do I love grits. Kristin kept on referring to the place as Casa de Waffle, then we found the bottle of salsa with just that title:
After being stuffed to the gills with eggs and the like, we got supplies for the road. I looked everywhere for some little paper umbrellas in case I found Jick and Skully. Couldn't find any. But the ladies found hats:
Unfortunately, they couldn't find a hat that really fit on my big melon of a head. We got tons and tons of water, napkins for Mexican toilets that lack paper, crackers, Socko energy drink, Fig Newtons, tons of shit. And then we were off!
Somewhere, I think after Gila Bend and before Ajo, we stopped off to stretch our legs by an Elk's lodge.
After getting gas in Ajo Kristin took the wheel. Right in front of two parked cop cars, she yielded when she should have stopped. Everyone was fairly freaked at that point, so I took the wheel again and kept it for most of the trip. Which, honestly, I enjoyed. Check out the hilarious traffic ticket here. Luckily, her gang information was left blank. And I thought she was identified as an associate for a prison gang by her paraphernalia.
After our legal troubles in Ajo, we passed through Why. Damn were those little Arizona towns cute. Then we drove through the Organ Pipe National Monument. The Sonoran Desert was freakin' gorgeous. It contained some plants not found anywhere else except for that little chunk of desert. We stared agape at the Diablo Mountains, the Puerto Blanco Mountains, and the Sonoyta Mountains. Joshua trees and other less identifiable desert brush streamed past. Mariachi music on the stereo, plastic tasting water in hand, and bright blazing beautiful desert all around me. It really couldn't get much better, and we hadn't even made it to Mexico.
The border crossing down was quite simple. We passed Lukeville, known as ``Gringo Pass''. It was obviously a border town. Last chance to get Mexican insurance! Last chance to get clean water! Last chance to get whatever you need at prices much higher than they were an hour behind you, forgetful traveler! At the checkpoint we were just waved through, not even questioned, by the Mexicans. As soon as we passed the guard, we knew we were in Mexico. Stray dogs in the street, roaming in packs, immediately after the border. Talking to incetardis, they are indeed a problem through most of Mexico. Every Mexican town we were in throughout the weekend had wandering feral dogs. Something I didn't know about Mexico until then.
So we drove around Sonoyta (the Mexican town just south of the border) carefully, taking in all of the sights. We were surrounded by both Mexico and Arizona license plates, and a large number of vehicles that were obviously other rentals. A good chunk of the town looked new, and quite a bit of construction was underway. Passing through the sleepy center of town we made the one turn we had to between the border and our final destination, drove through some more construction, and hit the open road. The next fifty miles was gorgeous. We drove through a corner of the biosphere reserve Pinacate Desert National Park, an enchanting region of craters, lava fields, and dunes. We drove past tons of half-built and half-destroyed shacks, each one of them seemingly in the middle of nowhere. One structure had a series of pillars in front of it, but no roof. I was in heaven. I swore that a MantLion or rad scorpion would rise out of the desert, making the moment complete for me.
Eventually we started seeing signs of civilization beyond simple wooden frames, and soon found ourselves in the little resort town of Puerto Peñasco. Learn more about Rocky Point here, here, here, or here. In short, it's a little shrimping village in the chunk of land that Santa Anna managed to keep just to connect mainland Mexico to Baja California. The village overlooks the Sea of Cortez in the Gulf of California. It's famous for its extreme tides, desolate surroundings, and ease of access to the gringos. Just a four hour drive from Phoenix or Tuscon, it's a perfect place for them to weekend or spend spring break. Many resorts have sprung up around the bay, and many more were being built while we were there. Even the hotel we were staying at had a large new piece of scaffolding that was being thrown up right next to the parking lot. The town boomed once the blue shrimp were discovered, during Prohibition, and once more now.
Mission one was getting the tickets. We found the hotel where the tickets were waiting, jenniever ran in to get them, and we were off on mission two. Mission two was finding our hotel. Drove around town lost for a bit, found it on top of a hill next to some stray dogs, and got into our room. The place wasn't bad at all. Friendly staff, decent sized place, nice view from the floor we were on. It was obviously a spring break hotel, with a blender and other such trappings in the kitchen. Here's us in the room, and a few shots from the windows and balcony.
Mission three was finding the venue. We located the open field where the show would be, and moved on to mission four - locating food. Wandering around the area near the venue, we debated where to eat. Someone suggested Mexican, I noted that anything we had would technically be Mexican. Everyone agreed on a simple seafood place with open air seating just outside the restaurant, sharing a little area with some other eateries and stores. The food was, I shit you not, the most amazing Mexican food I've had in my life. And I've had some pretty fucking good Mexican. Shrimp so fresh it made my knees weak. We ran out of tortillas at one point, and our server apologized, explaining that he was making more. Someone said, ``that's the best reason ever for not having tortillas,'' after he left. Of course, I had to have a Corona while in Mexico. Someone had a Piña Colada, and most of us had shrimp quesadillas on the side. I think I might have had flan, but I can't remember. After eating we walked along the beach near the venue, and took a number of amazing shots.
We frolicked in the surf, watched people play volleyball at the nearby resorts, watched a precious little Mexican baby chase another stumbling baby with a blanket, shopped in the nearby stalls (Ellen got a blanket), and theorized that the cover for ¡Americano! was shot there.
We made a quick trip back to the hotel so a couple people could put real shoes on, then it was time for the concert!
A Mariachi band was opening for the Peacemakers, but we had already listened to hours of Mariachi music on the ride down, so we weren't worried about missing a bit of them. At this point, not having heard from either Jick or Skully, I wandered through the crowd over and over, trying to see someone who looked like either one of them. Looking for something to do, Ellen got into the act as well. Liquor and taco stands stood to either side of the field, so I grabbed a couple of tacos before the show, washing it down with a Tecate. Eventually I gave up on finding the founding fathers of KoL, and settled for buying some merchandise instead. Picked up Sonoran Hope & Madness and the special shirt they had printed up for Circus Mexicus. While in line, I met quite a few members of the RCPM community. As a bonus for actually reading this post, find a great RCPM song right here. During the long line for merch, I had the full attention of the nearby crowd when they heard I came from Jersey for the concert, just spending the night in Mexico and going to work on Monday. Then some guy from Boston spoke up, and he was the hero. First the Red Sox, then this guy. And he even talked about the Red Sox. Someone from Arizona convinced the guy to pick up ¡Americano!. ``You gotta get it. He captures this area better than anyone else. Get it, listen to it, and it will blow - you - away!'' Soon after getting the CD and shirt, I met everyone back at Ellen's blanket, just in time for the show.
They walked out in full get-up, with ponchos and sombreros. They walked out, and blew us away.
See more pictures from the event here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and here. What can I say, he's got a dedicated online following.
Here's the set list, with a few comments:
- Band takes the stage a quarter after nine
- Mexico - So, of course, they decide to start the show with a little ditty that starts, ``Here comes another song about Mexico'' It was perfect. The taco in my belly, the guys in sombreros on stage who always sing about Mexico, in Mexico, singing about Mexico. If it got any more self-referential, I'd implode into a tiny footnote of reality itself.
- Blue Collar Suicide
- Bury My Heart at the Trailer Park - `` I keep my eyes peeled wide to see the next future ex-Mrs. me...''
- Tributary Otis
- Colorblind Blues - This was was awesome.
- Sonoran Hope & Madness
- Fool in the Rain - Appropriate cover, as it was ever so slightly raining through the evening. Did that dampen our spirits? No. It just added to the awesome atmosphere.
- Pancho & Lefty
- Tell Yer Momma
- Saturday Night's All Right (for Fighting) - As much as I hate the original artist, I've always had a soft spot for this song. While his version was amazing, I still think Flotsam and Jetsam's metal version from the eighties rules over all.
- Preacher's Daughter
- Mexican Moonshine - I have a soft spot for this song. It was absolutely hauntingly wonderful and inspiring that night. I think it was at this moment that I decided to run for a shot of tequila and another beer.
- Leave an Open Door - Another song that I absolutely adore of his. That ``Destitution, persecution, retribution...'' section was moving, and the explosive burst after that was fucking great.
- Smaller & Better Things
- Jenny - I kept on teasing a certain Jenni during the song. Didn't expect to hear Tommy Tutone that evening.
- Margaritaville - Cute take on it.
- Your Name on a Grain of Rice
- Scattered Faith
- European Swallow
- Jack vs Jose - Hadn't heard this song before. He did a little intro story before it.
- Yahoos & Triangles - The King of the Hill theme song. Every time I hear him do this song live, I can't help but get into it.
- Fifteen minute break at half past eleven
- Fonder & Blonder - Beautiful acoustic solo. I was wondering if the rain had convinced them to just stick to acoustic, but that wasn't the case. ``Cars break down and people break down and other things break down too...''
- ¡Americano! - How can you not love this song? It's just a rocking good time.
- Down Together
- Leaky Litle Boat - Love this song, it's a cute meandering tune.
- Love Come Lighten my Load
- Switchblade - As posted, this song was the high point of the evening. My eyes are getting misty just thinking about it. Imagine what it was like, for a moment. It's after midnight, you're in Mexico for the weekend with a beer in your hand, with the person you love. The rain is lightly drizzling down, fireworks are going off from behind the stage, and they're playing this. Try to picture that scene in your mind while listening to that MP3. Wow, eh? ``They were sharp enough to stab another hole in the sky, hard enough to make the proudest diamond sigh, faster than the rockets on the Fourth of July, strong and cruel enough to make a statue of Mary cry...'' I'd kill for a recording of the concert, just for that song alone. Kill. Innocent dock workers. It doesn't matter.
- Banditos - ``Well, I got the pistols, so I get the pesos. Yeah, that sounds fair!'' How can you not enjoy that song?
- Broken Record
- Loco to Stay Sane
- God Gave Me a Gun - I love this song. Ask anyone who has had to share an office with me lately how often I play it.
- Green & Dumb - Another sweet song, I was hugging someone pretty tight during most of it.
- Counterclockwise - Another beautiful song that just flows nicely.
- Mekong - A great upbeat way to end the show.
- But it's not over! Encore time!
- You May Be Right - Interesting. *shrug*
- Nada - Abso-fucking-lutely amazing. What a song! What an ending! I used to always say that Gist's cover of Yellow Ledbetter was better than the original due to the powerful ending. This live rendition of Nada did just that and than some. ``There is no moral to this story at all. Everything I tell you, very well could be a lie. Been away from the livin’, don’t need to be forgivin'. I’m just waiting for that cold black soul of mine - to come alive!'' Roger Clyne, tired, so drunk that he can't even fucking stand, screaming that line out into the rain. Wow. I've been to some amazing concerts, I've been to some dramatic concerts, but that moment right there is easily one of the finest.
- Almost half past one, the show's over!
It really was a fucking amazing night. The insanity of spending only a night in Mexico, the bullshit of people needing to leave early so we'd miss the hangover hangout with the band, all of my upsets and concerns faded away in the rain. Beach side concerts with fireworks are fun. Jones Beach is one of my favorite venues, and this concert captured a similar feel. After the show we drove back to the hotel, and crashed.
The next morning we had to race back up to Arizona. We got ready for the whirlwind of a day ahead of us.
We stumbled down to the hotel's restaurant, where we had a lovely breakfast.
Of course, in honor of KoL, I had to have the chorizo and eggs breakfast. The backs of our chairs had different things written on them. I think I was Margarita Man. The next table over there was a white guy sitting down in the Bruce Willis seat, and a hispanic guy he was chatting with sitting in the Antonio Banderas seat, which I found amusing. After that it was time to say goodbye to the hotel room and hit the road!
Having spent most of the way down listening to mariachi music on the car radio, people were glad that I picked up a Roger Clyne CD to listen to on the way back. I grabbed a can of coke and a candy at a local store, and didn't understand the exchange rate. Almost gave the guy multiple dollars when the actual price was eighty cents. Whoops. Wanted to get some tequila while down there, but couldn't find any that struck my fancy in our quick store visits. So instead we started back north.
We wanted to take photographs in the desert, but wanted to wait until after the border crossing in case my lack of a passport fucked us. If there was a delay, I was going to stay in Mexico while the people with earlier flights were driven to Phoenix, and then jenniever was going to return for me. But luckily that wasn't necessary. The guy at the border asked if we were all citizens, asked if we brought anything back with us (Ellen's blanket, the chocolate and marshmallow treat, and a can of coke for windexcowboy), and let us through without checking ID. *whew* Once we knew that we weren't going to get held up, we stopped more often to take photographs.
Somewhere along the way, I can't remember if it was in Mexico or Arizona, we were held up by a traffic jam. Some goats were crossing the road.
Then, except for a few more stops for photography, it was a smooth ride back to civilization.
We shopped at a store in Why while getting gas, then were extremely careful in Ajo, not wanting a repeat of what happened there last time. I got a hat that actually fit me (yet looked stupid) and some coconut at a grocery store in Gila Bend. Eventually we made it to Phoenix. Dropped off the people with the early flight, dropped off the people with the latest flight (who were going to try to catch an earlier one), and jenniever and I were left with cleaning out the car, dropping it off, and so forth. We realized that an important folder of ours wasn't in the car, and luckily caught those who nabbed it by mistake, who left it at the airport for us. I got very familiar with the area immediately surrounding the airport, as I circled it many times. So we cleaned out the car, I picked up a Slurpee-ish beverage, and we dropped it off. It turns out that we put exactly five hundred miles on it, to the mile. Caught the bus to the airport, and had a great burrito at Ellen's favorite airport restaurant.
Smooth flight back to Jersey, with jenniever napping and me staring over her down at the flyover states' cities. Almost left my luggage at Newark, but she remembered it as we were in the Airtrain on our way to my car. Drove back to the_boke, dropped her off at her apartment, and went to work the next morning!
So, all in all, an amazing weekend. Great driving, amazing food, mind blowing concert, beautiful sights, good times. Didn't run into Jick or Skully, didn't spend extra time in Mexico like I was hoping to, but still a worthwhile trip. Was back to work and class Monday morning.