[Editor’s Note: This is the seventeenth part in an ongoing series chronicling Ancient River’s 2014 North American Tour. If you missed the first part or would like some background on the series, click here.]
I’ve only ever driven through Houston, Texas, where we were set to play a show. From Austin to Houston it’s only about three hours, so we relaxed most of the day. When we arrived at the venue, Notsuoh, it was nearly empty. We started to get worried about the show being a flop. I hung out with the guys from Disfrutalo! before their set and was thankful to see the place begin to fill up a bit. The venue was in a historical building, filled with little vintage knick-knacks and great lighting. We played to a good crowd and it ended up going great. I particularly enjoyed our new visuals; they looked beautiful. Afterwards, we mingled for a while with the other bands, and they were all friendly people. We decided to drive through the night back to Austin.
Everyone was exhausted from last night, but we headed to the festival regardless. I saw three of the performances I was most excited about: Kikagaku Moyo, Panda Bear, and Loop. So I was pretty happy about that, despite feeling like I needed to sleep a thousand slumbers. After two days at the festival in the dust and blistering heat and a show in Houston, we all needed a rest. We were off until the show in Las Vegas the upcoming Thursday, so we relaxed with friends on Monday and drove through the desert Tuesday through Thursday night.
We had to say goodbye to Jeff and Mark, but we still had Nakia along with us. It’s nice to have friends along on tour, even more so now that it’s just the two of us. The sunsets amongst the mountains in the desert are breathtaking. The dust storms are everywhere, and the little baby twisters and cacti made us feel like we were in Super Mario World. On Wednesday, we stopped by the Monarch and Ciro’s in El Paso to say hello to our new friends and eat Mexican food fresh out of Juarez. Like so many of our stops, I had never been to Las Vegas, and I was looking forward to walking the Strip at night with the bright lights reflecting off of my sunglasses.
We pulled into Las Vegas around 8 p.m. Along the drive we saw the Hoover Dam — but just a glimpse. If you want to see it in all of its glory, I suppose you have to do more than just cruise by. At the bar in the Velveteen Rabbit, you could sit down with a beer and gamble right there in your seat. They have a nice outdoor back patio area with a big stage. The opening act was a solo performer, so we were able to set up and enjoy the night. We made some new friends, and they enlightened me to the fact that we had a following in Vegas. It’s always a great feeling to play for people who know the music.
After hanging with them, we got a room at El Cortez, a hotel/casino originally owned by Bugsy Siegel. We were all exhausted, but I couldn’t ignore all of the Vegas around me. I did some lone exploring through what I was told was the “old” Vegas. I believe I was in the Fremont-street area, whatever that means. Nothing ever stops in Vegas. The gambling and drinking flow on through sunset and sunrise. By the time I got back to my room, James and Nakia were asleep and the sun was out. I had no idea it was that early. There aren’t any windows or clocks anywhere — just loud music and broken dreams of hitting it big in a haze of cigarette smoke and cheesy cologne.
Alex Cordova (@theAncientRiver) is a guest contributor for Little Utopia.
Previously from Alex Cordova:
♦ Ancient River North American Tour 2014: Austin Psych Fest
♦ Ancient River North American Tour 2014: Exploding Tires in Texas
♦ Ancient River North American Tour 2014: Good Times in El Paso
♦ Ancient River North American Tour 2014: Beautiful Vistas and Sketchy Scenes in Los Angeles
♦ Ancient River North American Tour 2014: Some Much-Needed Time Off and a Return to San Francisco