Steve Millin on the Early Days of New Belgium’s Tour de Fat
Karl Christian Krumpholz

Steve Millin on the Early Days of New Belgium’s Tour de Fat

“Back then, all out-of-town gigs were also road trips. With trailer in tow, we would load into a somewhat rustic Suburban that Matt Kowal owned, christened Evangeline, and drive on through the night. The back of the truck also served as our sleeping quarters. Air mattresses and sleeping bags that smelled of essential oils and stale farts provided a place to catch some z’s, aided by shots of whiskey and Tylenol PM.

Steve Millin on the Early Days of New Belgium’s Tour de Fat
Karl Christian Krumpholz

“The Reals were a staple of New Belgium’s Tour de Fat for years. In the festival’s early days, it was a surreal, whimsical and slightly bizarre county fair overflowing with bikes, beer, glitter and tutus. Back then, it had a more egalitarian and organic character. It was strange, but also felt like home. We performed on a semi flatbed stage facing directly into the setting sun, which had been cooking the festival all afternoon, making the air feel heavy and turbid — like swimming through molasses. Between the intense sun and the generous volumes of Fat Tire, the crowd was surly. Mosh pits aren’t usually a part of Americana performances, but once alcohol and other recreational drugs are added to the equation, anything is possible.

Steve Millin on the Early Days of New Belgium’s Tour de Fat
Karl Christian Krumpholz

“A group of about a half dozen ‘corn-fed’ locals decided to begin a loosely choreographed vortex, a non sequitur that was more flail than finesse. While this Huskernado was increasing to a category F-4, the ambient winds picked up and scattered my chord charts for the music I’d become only marginally familiar with to all parts of the stage and onto the fairgrounds. All in all, the gig was a success, and to my knowledge, nobody sustained any injuries.”

The Reals will perform with Larry Nix on Thursday, November 2, at Syntax Physic Opera.

Editor's Note: The Denver Bootleg is a series chronicling the history of local music venues by longtime Denver cartoonist Karl Christian Krumpholz. Visit Krumpholz's website to see more of his work.

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