The Backseat: Soundtrack to a Teenage Tour (Pt. I)

Sep 13, 2016 | Guitarability

Song: This Night Has Opened My Eyes
Artist: The Smiths
Album: Louder Than Bombs
Released: 1987

The Distance is Safety tour kick-off was an acoustic show in a midget car garage at the Heartland Race Track, just hours after I was stuffed into the frayed backseat littered with cigarette burns and water stains. Nicki, our eighteen-year-old bisexual hypochondriac vocalist, had arranged a short set with her father and a few of his co-workers. Knowing they were working professional men, I had expected something more organized than what I walked into.

Goodnight, Greeley!

Goodnight, Greeley!

They encouraged us to sit on the dusty and oil slicked concrete floor with our open guitar cases. Our audience fell short of a few drunken mechanics and overweight mothers with light blue visors. I mistook a few for bonnets. We began our set with “The Art of Pillow Talk.” Nicki coughed mid-chorus and ran outside to hack something up. About fifteen minutes into our set, our knees mashed into the sludgy pavement, donating my new pants to the garage’s rag pile. We threw our tip change in the ashtray and found her outside, still, smoking a cigarette. She attempted a French curl and feigned that she had coughed up specks of blood.

At least toll charges were covered.


Matt and Matty getting silly after no sleep.

Matt and Matty getting silly after no sleep.

Song: Eastern Glow
Artist: The Album Leaf
Album: In a Safe Place
Released: 2004

The clouds hid the preconceived glow on the western Kansas flat stretch as Matt, our bassist, hung his feet out the backseat window of the forest green Bonneville. His legs sprawled across my lap. His gym shorts rode up his leg, and I feared future exposure to the rest of the band’s genitalia. Matt swiveled his head in perpetual discussion of his bass equipment, Dragon Ball Z, and Dane Cook while I pressed my temple against the window frame and traced the heat lightning ahead of us. I thought about how terrified I felt that my parents had granted permission to both Matt and Nicki to be my legal guardians for the duration of tour. Any other teenager would have gotten a tattoo, gambled, or bought porn. I played music, and they secretly made out in the IHOP bathroom.

At around 6:30 AM, we encroached upon the watercolor splotch of the Rocky Mountains. The sun peaked over the eastern stretch of I-70 and ignited our rearview mirror. Nate and Skylar made fisting hand gestures to Nicki and Evan, who narrowed in behind us with the cornflower Station Wagon. Matt drove up to a tollbooth and playfully asked the man if he had change for his “twelve dollar bill.” The man frowned and threw his hand out. Matt coyly handed him a handful of dimes.

To be continued…

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Steph Castor

Steph Castor is a writer, musician and performance poet currently residing in Kansas City, MO. She attended Columbia College Chicago for Poetry as well as the University of Kansas for Creative Writing and plays guitar for an alternative indie rock band called Vigil and Thieves.

She founded the #LFK Poetry Slam and has written for various publications including Guitar WorldTattoo, Curve Magazine and more. She enjoys indie music, tattoo culture, hip hop, vegan food, whiskey, and east coast beaches.

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