been better; promoters would certainly benefit from considering how hard it is for working/child-rearing fans to attend late-night shows and scheduling the sets earlier.
Our move to Dallas the next day was accompanied by a sudden, drastic change in the weather; Texas had so far escaped the "Polar Vortex," but it arrived suddenly that afternoon. What made it a particular concern was that the venue - the Gas Monkey - was designed for outdoor summer-time shows and the stage and audience areas were protected from the elements only by plastic sheeting and gas heaters providing extremely limited circles of warmth. By the time we hit the stage the wind-chill was at 19 degrees. Stage lighting normally raises a sweat by the third song, but this time we had to perform in overcoats and scarves and every breath produced a cloud of vapor. Somehow we made it through a complete set but we were actually better off than the audience, who had to huddle under the heaters while holding their drinks in gloved hands.
Fortunately, the weather warmed again before we got to Houston, so we avoided ice-related traffic problems. The venue there was the Continental Club, which seems to be the anchor in a gentrifying downtown neighborhood. Thankfully we were indoors again, and on a Friday night the club was packed and the crowd raucous. We had not played in Houston since appearing at Fitzgerald's a few years previously (en route to another Spanish tour), so there was pent-up demand and it was a good show.
The next night at the Continental Club in Austin (loosely related to the Houston venue) was the final date of the Texas leg. The bill was special, with LA transplants and longtime friends Gil T (former Rhythm Pig bassist) and Rosie Flores opening the show. The club was at maximum capacity and the Saturday night crowd was primed. Once again we were joined by Gene Taylor, who splits his time in the States between LA and Austin, and we played a long and sweaty set right up to closing time. Like a down-home Fillmore, it was one of those shows that you think about in order to keep your spirits up when things slow down.
The next day we faced the 1300+ mile drive back to LA. We left town at noon and got back to El Paso around dinner time; stopped to eat and hit it again. We rolled through Tucson at around midnight and finally pulled into the LA area at dawn, just as Monday morning gridlock was building up. The last stretch of commuter driving was brutal, but we wound up making it in around 21 hours - not a drive to repeat any time soon, but Phil's (formerly Dave's) van made it through another tour without mishap, so it goes in the win column.
The entire tour didn't actually end until the following weekend after we played San Diego, Corona (about 50 miles South east of Los Angeles), and Long Beach. The Long Beach show was a real surprise; the venue, called The Madhouse, is a bare-bones concrete-block industrial building a block or two off the main entertainment section; basically a "space" rather than a typical club. It was a loose, all-ages gathering of hundreds of people ranging from teens, to college-age, to Long Beach locals and old-school Blasters fans. They were involved from the first note - exactly the kind of crowd you hope to see every time. At the culmination of the night, Exene joined us again for JACKSON (on her birthday, no less) - as always, she brought a full measure of energy, and also talked to the crowd about how this sort of venue was what the early '80s Los Angeles underground scene had been built around - wide-open, makeshift, and utterly non-corporate. It was a fitting final show - bringing it all back home in every sense of the phrase. -- AM