Ryan and I were tied. Going into the last match, we both leaned over the controllers, hoping to annihilate each other on the screen before us. The Soundpony was fitted with many classic arcade games, Streetfighter II chief among them. As we began the last bout, Kristin came over and told us it was time to play. We sadly called it a draw and worked our way to the front of the bar.
Aside from the video games, the Soundpony, in Tulsa, is covered in bike paraphernalia. Handlebars function as the footrests at the bar. Full bicycles hang from the ceiling. Repurposed seats, complete with chains and pedals, function as barstools. Prior to playing, I had sat there and read the last of Midnight's Children while Mark frantically searched for a place to shower (his girlfriend would be there later that night). The bartender kindly gave me a few free beers while I read. When Mark came, sadly unshowered, the bartender charged him for his beer, which made me snicker.
We set up to play in front of a lit-up aluminum volcano left over from a dancey-pop group a few nights before. Given our days of rest, our set was a little rusty, but we had fun regardless. Some family and friends from Kansas kindly drove out to the show. Afterwards, a young couple asked to have their picture taken with me, which was puzzlingly sweet. Slothpop, a band from Indianapolis who had previously graced the Dead Birdhouse, joined us on the bill for the night, playing pop more worthy of a jaguar or a falcon than a sloth (and by that I mean they are wonderful). Dan Snodgrass (see "Indian Apple Us") was accompanying them on the road, playing some acoustic sets scattered throughout the U.S. (but most certainly not functioning as their "merch-boy," he joked to me).
Packing our gear into the car, some of us were tired, looking forward to getting some sleep and heading home. As for me, I would have been fine doing it all again. If I had my druthers, we would head out west, maybe to Denver and a few other cities, before reaching California. Maybe next tour we will do just that.
We waited around to be paid out by the bartenders, who claimed they were pleasantly surprised by our performances. After talking with the Slothpoppers for a while, we set off, van and station wagon, northward to Kansas.
Dan/ the low end
Thanks to everyone who made touring possible, from bands and venues to friends and hosts. I had the time of my life, and I am intensely grateful.