The drive to Regina was ultimately painless. After a short lunch in the parking lot of the Portage Mall, and a quick stop at the gas station outside Brandon (mostly to stock up on chips and electrolytes), we got to the Saskatchewan border pretty fast, which had a very clean, warm, and welcoming bathroom. Doing pretty much anything in the bathroom at the gas station outside Brandon was ill-advised, as some dusty-looking kid had just shit all over the toilet seat.
After that it was a straight shot to the Queen City, which we rolled into around 5:30, with no place to go but O’Hanlon’s, the bar we were playing that night. We had to navigate some plywood walls that were shielding the patio from the rest of the city (renos), but once we were inside, surrounded by numerous taps and the scratched finish of creaking, uneven wooden tables, all felt right with the world.
O’Hanlon’s is an old-school, working class sorta pub, out-of-place with its surroundings, which are: a nice park with a military memorial, some city space with a few strangely designed monuments (“a Rotterdam rip-off,” Ryan says), and a big fancy hotel. It has two levels, is littered with regulars who were there most of the night, foosball, a 3-4 foot stage, and quotes from drunkards painted on the walls. One in particular stood out, as it was attributed to M. Williams: “The problem with some people is that when they aren’t drunk, they’re sober.” Subsequent searches for who, exactly, that was, came up short. It might’ve been Yeats. If someone airlifted the bar, exactly as it is, to Osborne Village or the Exchange, it would fit in so well people might just assume it had always been there.
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As part of their deal with bands, we got a couple free beers each and enough credit in food money to have one of their premium 18” pizzas. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a pizza so big. And since we’ve made it our job to let people know about the pizza we eat on this tour, here’s our breakdown.
O’Hanlon’s Joe Fromaggio
Contains: A tasty four-cheese blend of mozzarella, cheddar, provolone, and blue cheese.
Crust: The crust was wonderful. On the bottom, under the toppings, it was chewy but not soggy. At the end of the slice, after getting through the delicious melty stuff, you’re greeted warmly by the outside-crunchy, inside-soft end crust, providing an excellent dynamic to the full experience. 8/10.
Sauce: According to the rest of the band, the sauce was a bit watery, not salty enough, and a little sweet. “It tasted kinda tomato soupy,” Jory says. I liked it. 6.5/10.
Toppings: There is a lot of cheese on the Joe Fromaggio. And that’s a good thing. It’s not like you order a pizza to NOT eat a bunch of cheese. The provolone was especially tasty. A symphony of beautiful, stringy cheese. 9/10. We love cheese.
Overall Rating: The Joe Fromaggio receives a 7/10 on the Haunter rating scale, only really losing points on the sauce. We still highly recommend this pizza, and most pizzas. If it were a song, it would be “Sweet City Woman”: really cheesy, but a little too, well, sweet. You’re gonna listen to it all the way through, but you don’t necessarily need to hear it again for a little while.
After the ‘za, we headed out for a walk closer to the water, on the shore overlooking the Saskatchewan Legislative Building. It was much more beautiful than what I had expected from Regina, and as we stared out toward the fountain, surrounded by lush green space in the middle of the city, I briefly felt shame that I had assumed the place didn’t have any prime late-night make-out spots.
We played to a small but appreciative crowd of 20-somethings, and the show was fast-paced and loud, thanks to our kickass sound guy Jerry. If you play O’Hanlon’s, be nice to Jerry. He’s good people. But then at the end of our set, when we had just started to tear down, some dude in a pink, tucked-in polo shirt showed up behind us.
“Hey, my friend Roxanne is crying over there and she hates her life and it’s her birthday, could you please sing happy birthday for her?”
We acquiesced and got Jerry to throw the mics on for a quick happy birthday, and that was it. We never found out if Roxanne’s night got any better, but hopefully our buzzed, pitchy rendition of the song didn’t make it any worse.
Thanks to O’Hanlon’s for the cold beers, quality ‘za, and good times. And to our pal Jason for putting us up and drinking with me until 3:30 a.m. despite the fact he had to start work a couple hours later. I’m sure we’ll be back, Regina.
Quote of the day: “My lifelong dream is to eat Doritos off the factory line.” – Jory Hasselmann.
Next up: A day off!
Matt Williams is a Winnipeg-based writer and musician infatuated by lady country singers. Follow him on Twitter @MattGeeWilliams. Follow his band, Haunter, on Twitter @HaunterMusic.
For more, follow @SpectatorTrib on Twitter.