This post is a little different. There aren't any national parks in perfectly framed photos. No, this is a gritty tale of ramblers, rad homeless encampments, punk rock and meth addicts. You've been warned, enjoy!
Let's start with the neighborhood. We moved into the Walmart parking lot, for what we thought would be a night, maybe two. Thanks to the pup, we quickly made friends with Ross, who inhabits this American gem pictured above, with his two lady pitbulls. We quickly bonded over the dogs, and Jeffrey and I began referring to him affectionately as "the neighbor". Ross picks up the trash left in the parking lot, makes sure to give people a heads up when the cops are trolling the neighborhood and even watches over our home when we go explore. There was also a weird guy living out of his 90s Suburban. He was not super cool by any means, but Rally loved to say hi and he become apart of the neighborhood too. Our other neighbors were more fleeting. A young traveler with a cat on a leash stayed for a few nights, a minivan crammed with five or six large 20 something year olds traveling to "Tennessee... then around the globe over and over". Slowly but surely, we had a collection of old rvs, handmade campers and makeshift homes on wheels, pushing the modern giants to the center of the lot to bake in the hot concrete jungle. (It's okay, they all have air conditioning anyway).
Okay, so we had the neighborhood set. Now it was time to find the punks. I hunted the interwebs for anything resembling a punk show, and badda bing! I discover this place called The Whistling Pig. Okay, this place is a Korean restaurant in downtown Bozeman, that does rad shows after-hours. Unfortunately, the really cool show I found was about 4 weeks out. But, I wasn't about to stop there. I hunted down the place, went in, found the owner and asked if he knew about any good shows in town. Man, did I luck out!!! This guy is a walking encyclopedia of every band, venue and show in the Bozeman area! He told us about 4 different shows in the next 2 days, with a quick breakdown of each band's style. He opted for his suggestion, the open mic at the Haufbrau with a touring band.
Well, it turns out that "open mic" in Bozeman means real bands! It was a crazy mix of a jam band, a few hippies, a dynamic duo playing acoustic crust Cannibalistic Vivisections (spoiler alert: they become our best friends) and a bad ass touring band from Oakland, Butanna, that melted everyone's face with politico-fem-crust punk! I fan-girled hard on Butanna, but luckily I wasn't alone-- Katie and Tyler of Cannibalistic Vivisections fan-girled right along with me! In fact, Butanna was playing a show 2 days later in a town a few hours away. Katie invited us to join and the rest is history!
So we road trip out to Dillon, MT-- a small town in the middle of nowhere-- to a cowboy bar with about a dozen rad locals and a bunch of not-so-cool and not-so-regular small town folks. It was another uniquely Montana experience. A folky opener, the lone punk of Dillon who plays acoustic and harmonica, Billings' grind/crust band Locus and the aforementioned Butanna closing the night.
And I do mean closing the night. Like lying on the floor spinning on backs and champagne exploding everywhere. I kept thinking, "this town is going to hate us," but those regulars were spot on! They loved every minute of it as much as we did! At one point Jeffrey and Tyler had 7 cop cars pull up on them for play wrestling in the front of the bar. The sheriff ran Tyler down and threw him up against the wall, yelling, "You're laying here getting your ass beat and then YOU run away when we pull up? That's pretty suspicious." Eventually, we explained punk rock to the cop and he laughed, shook his head and let him go.
As the bar started it's last call, this stoic Jesus + Andrew W.K. looking guy invites us all back to his trailer park for the after party-- the whole bar. Apparently this is what happens every weekend here, and I am definitely okay with that!
And as if we are gluttons for punishment, we returned the next day to surprise Rum Rebellion on their first night of tour. Even better, our new bestest best friends Katie and Tyler got to open for them! It was a weird night, to say the least. About 20 cowboys rolled in punch drunk from a wedding party, bridesmaids in tow. They were disgusting sexists assholes so I won't spend anymore time on them. I deduced the ladies weren't much better after overhearing choice comments like, "OMG like don't talk to me, you've got GREEN hair!". THE BRIDE, however, was simply amazing! She hiked up her dress and tried her hand in the pit. Her best friend laughed nervously and pleaded that she "didn't know how to do it" when the Bride tried to get her to join. The Bride replied, "You just jump around in a circle!" Seeing that the friend wasn't quite convinced, I looked at her, smiled and said, "That's literally all there is to it!" She looked at me and said, "Well she would know! Okay!" They both jumped around, happy as could be. It was adorable.
You think the story ends there, but there's moooore!
Back in Bozeman, we kept stalking-- er hanging out-- with our friends, making a few new ones through them along the way. Cannibalistic Vivisections played another show with their buddies with the best band name ever, Hetero-phobia! After the show we went back to Tyler's, drank too much whiskey and malt liquor and partied til the sun came up, well almost. 5am, we head to the porch for the smokers to get their fix. As soon as we open the door we are met with a super stressed out lady clinging to the outside of the fence. Tyler instantly starts asking if she's okay, if she's safe. She frantically asks if she can come inside. He agrees, she runs to the kitchen, starts hiding from the windows and sits on the floor, cradling her knees, hands firmly gripped on a kitchen knife and a hammer. She keeps telling us that "he" is after her. Tyler and Jeffrey check the yard and see a massive guy in a wife beater coming down the street towards us. Tyler waves his gun in the air like a lunatic and tells him to get lost. I'm sitting on the kitchen floor, holding this woman's hand (they hammer and knife are set aside) and listening to her confused, emotional words. "He's after me! He has a gun! He's trying to kill me!" she keeps saying. "We need to call the cops, I don't want you guys to get hurt. He's trying to KILL ME!" At this point, I'm drunk and trying to provide good feminist support. We call 911 together... I mean... this guy is trying to KILL HER. A while later, the cops show up (they sent ALL FEMALE COPS, just so you know... you know for lady problems, fucking PD). Well, the first cop comes in, and addresses her by her name (which I hadn't even known yet). Then, she addresses the cop by HER NAME. They have a casual conversation, bringing up past events over the last few days-- like this happens on a daily basis. The cop pulls me aside, tells me she has mental health issues and a history of drug use. I ask her if she poses any safety issue, I am told no, so we agree to care for her for the rest of the night.
After the PD leaves and things settle down, she tells us how her ex-husband isn't the one trying to kill her, but a hired hit man that has been following them on their "date" all night. Also he filmed her having sex as blackmail and he has hacked the last 6 i-Phones she has bought. At this point I ask her, "Do you use meth?" Her reply, "No. Never!" I tell her, "No judgment here, just wondering." "Oh! Well, yeah, I mean just a little earlier today. But you know..."
It all makes sense now. She slept off her night of internal terror and was on her way in the morning.