Monday nights can be a challenge: expectations need to be lowered on Mondays and after the reception in Minneapolis the Vic Theater looms as a potentially daunting prospect. The sun in shining when we arrive and the city is alive. Belmont Boulevard is full of purposeful people with coffee in hand. Trains run minutes apart over the alley behind stage door. Chicago is gritty and real. (No scientologists to be seen in this part of the world: goopy, west coast ideas like Dianetics are gonna get short shrift from these people.)
The Vic has lost none of its charm. Everyone who works here from the cleaner who lets us in early to use the bathrooms and the showers after the overnight drive from Minneapolis to Dave the house monitor engineer is no-bullshit, super professional. Backstage is filled with cool stuff (fairground antiques, vintage video arcade games, a piano that works with a Bontempi Chord Organ on top of it). The walls are lined with framed posters for previous shows. Jeff Tweedy features predominantly in the posters and I picture him at the piano or maybe even the Bontempi after one of his shows entertaining a packed backstage.
And any concerns about hangover from the weekend or worries about crap to be dealt with on Tuesday morning dampening the atmosphere turn out to be idiotic. The place is packed and noisy and raucous. I manage to remove a large part of my thumbnail in a misguided, mistimed Townsend windmill near the start of the set. It hurts but, fuck it, bring it on—this is going to be a good night. A fabulous night.
Back among the memorabilia at 10.45 there is elation in the room. I send out to the liquor store across the road for a bottle of Woodford Reserve while I nurse my hand. When I comes back I can’t get anyone to take any money for it. Justin cracks open his first beer of the tour. Nobody thinks to fire up the Bontempi though.