On The Road: Doom Squad's WigWam Tour 2011, Pt. 1 by V. Rachel Weldon

Two days ago, WigWam, Alla and Treymor, along with Rye Toast, Lamb and Lamb's pretty blond friend, climbed the eight-feet wide wooden steps up to the magnificent linen-draped, dreamcatcher- and windchime-clad front porch on Balsam St. in Vancouver's Kistilano. Echo and I were sitting in the living room, bouncing in our seats like it was Christmas morning. A group of our favourite people, the extended Doom Squad family, were arriving after a train trip across the country from Toronto. They had packed and moved all of their gear for a band tour, for camping and most scrupulously for Burning Man, a week-long festival in the Nevada desert and our group's ultimate destination.

For months we've been planning this trip — you could call it a quest — which involves touring around BC, down through Washington, Oregon and California, filming a movie, playing some music, meeting lots of people and seeing, hearing, feeling lots of new things. Then finishing up climactically, beautifully, in a chaotic, catastrophic, radiant explosion, combustion and rebirth in the ashes of THE MAN.

But we have to have a way to get there.

Transportation is square one, and from day one there were anxieties about finding something good enough in time.

Some of the gang went out to Langley the day of their arrival to see an RV there, and it broke down twice on the test drive. Brother and sisters Treymor, WigWam and Alla, Doom Squad proper, with Wolf and Rhy, tour manager and accountant respectively who flew out from Toronto a couple days earlier, have been wading through RV potentials in Vancouver and the greater area for the past few days. There are dates in Tofino, Portland and L.A., with some shows in the works in Seattle and San Francisco. So there's a time crunch. And then on to Burning Man in Black Rock City, Nevada. That starts August 28th and goes until the 5th of September. So we will need a pretty formidable chariot; a big, mighty and cheap bus that can transport nine of us almost 3000 km this summer, plus maybe a camping trip before we leave for the tour.

"At this point it's getting down to the wire. I don't want to look for buses anymore, we've been looking at buses for three months. I'm getting disenchanted."

Again the next day, Alla and Treymor and some others went to check out an RV owned by a blunt Eastern-European man looking to get the thing off his hands for two grand. It was clean and ran well, automatic steering and handled easily. But the gruff owner won't let them take it to a mechanic or on a longer test drive before purchasing it, not without a deposit. Still we're not sure whether or not to chock it down — the rudeness and sketchiness of the Eastern-European owner trying to get this RV off his hands — to a difference in language and custom and to go with a good feeling and buy the thing.

Another option is a school bus owned by a church group in Penticton. We're waiting to hear if the other interested buyers, a private Christian high school, will get the money together in time before the owners go on to the next buyers, a pack of burning man-bound merry pranksters.
"We really need to nail something down, like today."

Treymor wants to leave at least four days for us to take the new RV, our home for the next five weeks, in to a mechanic, get the oil changed and do all the necessary grooming before we start towards Vancouver Island for a show in Tofino on August 13th.

Over the phone, he argues with the RV's owner for a few minutes on the front porch while we all sit around in the living room. He enters the room, raising his voice into the receiver.

"Well good luck selling it, it's never gonna sell!" the Eastern-European owner won't budge on letting us take it to a mechanic, and Treymor hangs up on him angrily. The pursuit continues.

Doom Squad calls a cab and heads to a rental studio space on West 7th to rehearse. Tomorrow is their first West Coast performance at the Electric Owl with local band Red Hot Icicles Burning On Fire. Echo, Sam and Wes head off to some other suburb of Vancouver to check out yet another potential spaceship for us subterraneans. Me, I'm going to work my last shift serving plates to rich country club members. Then I'm going to quit, but not before squeezing the last out of my juicy server's wage. I have a feeling I'll be needing every penny in a couple weeks.

We'll be crashing on Echo's front porch for another six days before we drive our home, wherever you are, to Vancouver Island, Victoria and Tofino, then onwards and downwards through the U.S. of A.

It's all happening.


Part 2 here.

Photo taken by V. Rachel Weldon.

V. Rachel Weldon is an arts journalist and English Lit student currently traveling the West Coast of British Columbia and the United States, on tour with Doom Squad. Some names have been changed to protect the subjects, and some just for fun. You can read her all of her posts here or at her blog for full tour coverage Hot Wax & the Ecstatic Sound.


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