by Shannon Claire
It was about 10 a.m. the following morning when I heard, "Hey guys, we gotta go." I could sense the daylight from the opened garage door, but my eyes felt sewn shut.
I had slept maybe two out of the six hours in a sleeping bag on the thinly carpeted cement floor alongside Darren Keen and John Freidel. Joe Humpal chose the slightly more plush carpeted area across the room of The Kinetiks' creative space garage while William Holmes and Brenton Neville opted for the van.
At this point I had been in my red, poofy prom dress for a good 24 hours. With an urgent need to use the ladies room, and without a way into The Kinetiks' house, we packed into Dharma and were speedily on our way.
About an hour outside of town, we needed a pick-me-up. We stopped in Holton, Kansas, for much-needed morning breakfast snacks, water and booze. Then we saw the glass doors that read "No Sunday beer sales."
Granted, it was 11 a.m., but no sales for the entire day? Where were we? Ah yes, Kansas, where the entire state takes a day off from most things, including drinking. What were these fellas to do? No beer, and Keene's "party soup" was almost gone, too. Just when all hope seemed to be lost, there erupted a scream of joy. "I found the whiskey!" Keen yelled from the inside of Dharma.
It was more of a mellow ride that morning. The fellas lightly discussed the previous night's show, and all recognized Neville for his error-free performance. While admitting it was an off-night, everyone agreed that overall, it was a great night.
The Kinetiks then called and informed Nevilled of a sick band member. They weren't going to make the Lincoln show. The band took it surprisingly well, and Humpal interjected with one of his many random, yet knowledgeable facts: "Did you know that the Statue of Liberty's mouth is three feet wide?"
Not only a talented musician and artist, Humpal is hilarious and made sure there was never a dull moment. At times, he'd have Keene and Carr practically in tears. Then he'd spout out, "Did you you know that the game Yahtzee was invented on a yacht?" and quickly follow with, "And the game Monopoly was originally round."
We pulled over for an impromptu photo shoot, but it didn't feel the same as it did our way down to Lawrence. Still, it was another good excuse to hop over some wired fences into unknown property and act like fools.
Neville decided to abruptly skid off onto a county road for one of his beloved fossil hunts and well-deserved breaks from the group. Like a true "dad," he needed to wander off sometimes and let the kids be kids.
I took this time to wander, too, as we parked in front of a path of plentiful trees. Before you knew it, the "kids" came pouring out of Dharma, hopped another wired fence, and ran up to Daddy Neville to see what he had found on his hunt.
We arrived back in Lincoln with only a few minutes to spare. Humpal had to clock in a few hours at work. Neville and his wife needed to grab a few things from the house. I needed a bath and a nap. We left Carr, Freidel, Keen and Holmes at Sal's to grub up, and we would all reconvene in a couple hours at Duffy's Tavern.
There's something about a home show with Universe Contest that holds a certain energy. I was exhausted, beyond the point of no return, with a pounding headache and still buzzed from earlier in the day. But I was ready for more. We put up another round of decorations, blew up another round of balloons, set up the photo booth, cut the Winter Formal cake and saw all the guests arrive in proper formal attire.
Bad Speler had the guests shakin' their fancy tail feathers on the dance floor. Since the Kinetiks couldn't attend the festivities, Vago was pushed into their time slot and played a solid set to end their tour. They were grateful for being on the bill and charmed the crowd with their post-punk, Spanish, surfer-esque rock waves.
They played a couple of their new songs along with great tracks and apparent fan favorites from their previous album. People in the crowd sang along, or at least attemped to, with Carr's mumbled yet infectiously and at times challenging lyrics. I noticed more fists up in the air, abstract dance moves, smiles and sways, closed eyes and jolting moves.
That's what an epic band does to you. Yes, I used the word epic.
UC announced two "Best Dressed" winners after their set a contest and awarded a live fish bowl and a one-of-a-kind Universe Contest snuggie. A friendly cake fight followed, and the remaining guests popped balloons.
Overall, Winter Formal 2012 was a party and a lesson. I am excited to see where UC goes this year. They have plans to release two albums and one EP. I've had a chance to listen to their forthcoming EP Discovering and Deciphering the Value of Your Human Life that will be released at Duffy's Tavern on March 13. You can tune in to 90.3 KRNU on March 7 for the EP's premiere live on "Lost and Found" at 9 p.m.
Shannon Claire is a Hear Nebraska contributor and was shocked at how much gum John Freidel can consume in one weekend, let alone at one time. "Get In, Let's Go" is a new HN column. If your band is hitting the road, tell her by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.