College / Life / Music / Shows / Travel

I ran away to join the circus.

I’ve spent the last two days barely sleeping and frantically working to keep up with class and job demands that piled up during my long weekend. While I thought I prepped everything for my departure, newspaper obligations and homework found new ways to accumulate during my mini-vacation. Whatever. Sleep is nice but experiences are nicer. I think it’s time for a recap, don’t you?

Friday. After somewhere between 45 and 90 minutes of sleep I opened at work and somehow managed to act like a semi-functional employee. Lance picked me up after and we grabbed the luggage, said goodbye to the cat (who was visited by the catsitter while we were gone, don’t worry) and headed out to drop the dogs off with Lance’s family. After that came sandwiches, then saying hello to my mother, then Amtrak, then realizing I can’t sleep for shit on a train, then working on said train, then arriving in… Chicago!

Run-on sentence much? More like a run-on day. Coffee can only wake you up so much, but the excitement and stress of travel kept me pretty alert.

Our friend picked us up from Union Station and took us out for pizza once we arrived; we didn’t do too much that evening, as there was a specific reason we went to Chicago that started for us the next morning: Riot Fest & Carnival, the glorious weekend-long punk festival, now with 10K attendees, plus circus freaks and carnies! It’s the same musical weekend that triggered Lance and I’s introduction way back when. Cute, no?

Although Riot Fest would have been great on its own, the apartment we stayed in also had three playful cats, two of whom were teeny kittens. AISIUWKWUGDIEUBWAIOW. It was awesome.

Saturday. After wandering hopelessly for what seemed like forever (okay, we walked like six blocks and tried two or three restaurants… I hadn’t had my coffee, it seemed terrible at the time) we found this amazing little place that was crowded as all hell and let us sit alone in the semi-renovated/newly-acquired bar and sip on brunch beverages while we waited for an actual table. I had iced coffee and espresso French toast with chai maple syrup and honey cream. Yeah, take a second and think about that. It was a-mmm-azing.

After another walk and a bus ride, we were greeted at Humboldt Park by a– very polite– man who wanted to introduce all the young punks to Jesus. Fun.

The Adicts were the first band I watched, which was wonderful considering I had wanted to see them for years but had never been able to. After that came fair food, more iced coffee, GWAR (ridiculous), Larry and His Flask, random circus acts, Slapstick, Dropkick Murphys, (some) Descendents and (some) Rise Against, followed by more delicious food and cheap, cheap beer.

Riot Fest really went all-out this year and provided a tremendous amount of services for the ticket price. There was constantly some form of entertainment and eclectic food options. Annnnd, bottled water was only $1. Take that, Warped Tour.

Did I mention it was high 75/low 50 all weekend?

Sunday. We did that whole where’s-brunch-at dance around our friend’s neighborhood again and finally settled on diner food. Back on the bus we went and down toward the park where we were not greeted by the religious converters but we were (well, rather I was) forced to throw away my teeny pink umbrella before entering. Sob.

The loss of the umbrella was quickly forgotten as Less Than Jake was my first pick for the day and we managed to find a great place to stand where I could see and yet was neither being trampled nor touched, a thing that rarely happens for 5’3″ females who can no longer tolerate an elbow to the boob just to be closer to the stage.

Sunday truly had the best bands, for me at least, as it also featured NOFX and Iggy & the Stooges. We watched others like Gogol Bordello, Elvis Costello & the Imposters, Fishbone and Reverend Horton Heat, none of which lived up to the practically-made-for-Julia trifecta of LTJ/NOFX/Iggy Pop. Less Than Jake played “Al’s War”; NOFX played “Separation of Church & Skate”; Iggy played “The Passenger” and “I Wanna Be Your Dog”– if the weekend had only consisted of Sunday I still would have been happy.

That night we ate more pizza, watched a movie (okay, I watched part of a movie, as around then I remembered “Oh fuck, I have a life and a job”) and played with kittens. Amazing ending, I know.

Monday. But the trip didn’t end there! We still had to get home. Monday morning the three of us went to Wicker Park for sushi, window shopping and sci-fi-like ice cream before heading back to Union Station to catch the southwest-bound train.

It should be noted that during this trek back to the train Lance realized why new luggage does not look or feel like old luggage, such as his newly acquired retro Samsonite, complete with small top-handle and heavy, solid sides that he couldn’t wait to use for travel. The main problem? It’s heavy empty, heavy as shit full, and we had a long walk. His solution? Throw it on his skateboard, sit on the top and push himself to the L-stop on his fucked up little scooter.

This is also a great example of why I love him so.

I’m off to finish things up at work, then heading to The Firebird for Less Than Jake. I didn’t realize they were playing at Riot Fest when I bought the STL tickets, but hey, the more shows in a week the better, yeah?

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3 thoughts on “I ran away to join the circus.

    • It was an amazing weekend! While punk, ska and psychobilly are more my thing, I thought GWAR was really funny. At least by not going you didn’t get covered in fake blood, which everyone near the stage did and clearly could not wipe off. Ha!

      • I’ve heard that they’re funny – my friend has the same taste in music as you, while my other half is a complete metalhead, and he suggested we should go 🙂 I’m glad I idn’t get covered in fake blood! It might have ruined my hair… 😀

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