Monday, October 29, 2007

Days 13-16: The end is not the end

I realize I've kind of left you, the faithful reader, in suspense. Did they make it to Cleveland? Or even Rochester? Did they recover the van? Yes, to all. My apologies for the delay.

Things have been nuts since we got back. The band has a full plate -- preparing to be Neil Young for a Halloween show on Wednesday at Hennessy's, playing a show tonight at Northeastern, and of course, the Sox winning the World Series again. Not that it's a huge deal to me, but it has sidetracked us to some degree. I expected my first day back at work to be crazy with Sox coverage, but it is pretty mellow. I'll take you through the trip.

Matt recovered the van with no problems whatsoever. We were still delayed getting on the road to Rochester, NY, but that's OK (we still ended up getting to the club wildly early and sitting around for hours in an empty bar -- par for the course on this tour). However, once we were on the road, it happened. We got our first collective speeding ticket. Mike was driving, we hit a work zone (yes, traffic fines double), and he was clocked at 63 in a 45 MPH zone. The trooper was fairly rude about the whole thing, and I'm not sure how much it will be when the paperwork comes back, but I estimate a lot. We'll have to decide how we cover this. Initially, early in the trip, we said we'd split these tickets evenly, so we'll see how everyone feels about that. I still have only been paid for last month's rent by Matt, and it's now time to pay this month's rent, so my bank account is dangerously low (hey, I didn't work for almost an entire month!). Once I get paid back, then I should be able to spend a bit more. But now I'm off on a tangent. Back to the tour...

Rochester is a weird town. I've kind of decided that I don't like it. We played there a month ago (House of Hamez) to almost nobody, though we did get a kind email from one of the few in attendance, and then we played there this time at a cool place called the Bug Jar (that has bugs and furniture on the ceiling, not to mention the best light show we've ever received) to almost REALLY nobody. Like the sound guy, and one girl who stayed the whole time. Other than that, members and friends of the local band on the bill, Electric Organic, pretty much stayed in the other room and wandered in only occasionally. This felt like an open practice more than anything else. The sound guy was a nice dude who offered to record us with some equipment at his apartment, which we considered doing on the way back from Cleveland, but which never came to fruition. Also, there was a nice bartender, but the crowd just wasn't there. It was an isolating and strange experience. After the show, Scott and I were working on my parallel parking, which is particularly bad, putting the van in a huge, cavernous space and then pulling out again and trying it all over. I saw Mike rushing toward us and I said, "Watch this, he's going to tell me to let him park it," because Mike is undoubtedly a fairly good parallel parker. However, this was practice. Sure enough, I rolled down the window and he said, "Let me park it, that group of frat guys over there is making fun of you LOUDLY." Sure enough, there was a sizable crowd observing my parallel parking with great glee. F them, I said, this whole town is dumb. Rochester. Psh. Maybe one day you'll grow on me, but until then...

SET LIST (I think): Carolyn, Don't Leave Like This / You'll Be Crying Soon / Golden Fleece / Trouble From the Start / On the Lam / Shotgun Wedding / Debts / Shine a Light

From Rochester we decided to drive an hour west to Buffalo, NY, where my aunt and uncle live. They were away on vacation, but had offered up their house (and left a rocking bag of cookies in the freezer). It was very much appreciated. This put us in a prime position to drive straight out to Cleveland the next day, without having to leave TOO early. However, first, we had to celebrate Scott's birthday. As all traditions go, Scott's birthday has snowballed into an odd mix of requests and traditions -- most notably that he now likes to be outside at the exact moment of his birth, and be hoisted by his friends as high as they can (this is fairly easy because he is LIGHT) toward the heavens. I remember the first year we did this ritual; it's strange that we still do, but hey, whatever, cool cool cool. So we gathered outside at a little before 2 a.m. EST (he was born a bit before 1 a.m. CST) and did the thing. That's how Scott ushered in his 22nd year.

We got to Cleveland the next day in a terrible downpour that finally broke right near the city. Since we had the time, we figured we would head to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Scott, Mike, and I wore sunglasses (and in my case, a ponytail) in the hopes that if we looked like rock stars, they would just automatically induct us on the spot. No such luck. Actually, they didn't even let us in. The museum was closing right as we arrived, so we just got to walk around the outer exhibits, like some of Jerry Garcia's guitars, and of course, head to the gift shop. I was surprised to notice they stock pretty much everything yet NO Ryan Adams. I wonder why...

The club was just a stone's thrown from the Hall of Fame, and directly next to where the Indians and the Cavaliers play. I kept thinking that it would have been quite beneficial to us if the Indians had actually beaten the Sox in the ALCS, because this show happened to fall on the day of a World Series game. However, that notion quickly disappeared when the sound guy told me the place actually does worse on game days -- though I'm still not quite sure why. The place was big, and quite nice, and they hooked us up with a meal. I had a Nathan's hotdog that knocked my socks off. It was awesome. Now, I understand the hype with Nathan's. Like I told TD, 99% of hotdogs are nasty, but 1% are unbelievable. When I bit into this hotdog, I thought, "Yes, this is what a hotdog is supposed to taste like." Anyhow, we did play music. Unfortunately, we were the only band on the bill, no local support, nobody else at all. So, no one was there. At first, there was a small table of people at the back which disintegrated to one kind lady who left early but bought the CD. I had high hopes before the set that a rowdy group of Milwaukeeans on vacation would stick around. They told us they'd come back, but they missed the whole set. My hopes had by strong when we pulled up to the club, because there was paid parking and a whole bunch of cars that I thought might be a Cavs exhibition game and draw in a few locals. No, it was the circus, not really our crowd. And the sound guy revealed that the Eagles were playing a few streets over, who he described as "your crowd, for country rock." So, let's see, we've had "our crowd" snatched by the Eagles, Kings of Leon, and Insane Clown Posse on this tour? I guess that's the biz. Anyhow, at one point, we were playing to just a waitress and the sound guy. However, on the plus side, the waitress later told me that "Golden Fleece" "gave me chills." We would play it again for her. Halfway through the set, Scott's aunt and two of her friends showed up and cheered on Scott. It was awesome. They drove all the way down from Detroit. Anyhow, our set was over very quickly after that, so we asked the club if we could play one more for them. The Milwaukee folk showed up again, and wanted some tunes, too. The club gave us 30 more minutes. So we did a second set, which on an emotional level, saved the show for me. I was down on the first set. The second one seemed well loved. And that's the way it should be.
SET LIST 1: You'll Be Crying Soon / Debts / The Nadir / She's A Bright Light / Research Blvd / Loose Lips / On the Lam / Shotgun Wedding / Valley of Gold / Lightning in a Bottle / It's Gonna Be Alright / Golden Fleece / Trouble From the Start / Carolyn, Don't Leave Like This / Shine A Light
SET LIST 2 (to the best of my recollection): The Nadir / Carolyn, Don't Leave Like This / Golden Fleece / Debts / Research Blvd

We drove back to Buffalo that night, though unfortunately I was ticked most of the night. I'm not sure why we got into it, but Matt, Scott, and I started fighting over whether Cleveland was a cool city or just like Worcester. Matt said it was the same as Worcester or Rochester, the rest of us said it was a more active downtown, even if we didn't see many people on the streets. I wasn't angry about the content of the fight but I was wondering why Matt got so mad. He yelled and yelled while we tried to figure out what was eating him. Mike kept turning up Metallica and yelling "I love this solo!" at me, which didn't help since I wanted to resolve the disagreement rather than just bury it. I guess it worked to some degree though, because when I checked in with Matt an hour later, he said, "I'm fine. Metallica took the anger right out of me." Maybe for him, but not me. I still can't get into them. And that's just the way it is, I guess. I'll be the sole guy in the group who doesn't like Metallica.

The next day, we considered driving to Niagara Falls but it was raining and there isn't much to see on the American side (we doubted that they would let us cross the border just for a peek with all this crap in the car). So we decided to make the seven-hour journey back to Boston. This would get us in at approximately 11:30 p.m. I predicted. Unfortunately, after a smooth ride for the most part, a second big fight broke out, this one between Scott and I over a missed exit for the Mass Pike out of New York state. I wanted to try not to lose time by taking a side road (and despite what was later said, we rolled into Boston at exactly 11:32 -- at the time, I was still angry so I marked it down), rather than turning around and driving a cumulative 30-45 miles just to get the exit back. Yes, the road we took was a backroad, and we might have made slightly better time by turning around (though I still doubt it, as that exit was still about 30 miles from the Mass border, a fact that we overlooked). I wasn't even mad about the directions; I got angry when Scott rejected my apology. It is a shame that the trip ended in fighting and disarray, after so little arguing, but I think it was all just a misunderstanding. The next day, I told him I wanted to bury that hatchet and he agreed. I love these kids, even if we bicker on occasion. Both of the fights in the last day were so strange in topic and voracity for argument, I believe they must have just been caused by lack of sleep, frustration over small crowds and a semi-meaningless trip, and a burning desire to get home. No ill will.

The show in New Hampshire the next night was more decorative than anything else -- the icing on the cake that was the tour. We already felt like the tour was over; this was just a chance to play with Girls Guns & Glory again. It was at a place called Big Heads, across the street from a strange TexMex place where we ate dinner. The entire staff was in Halloween costumes, and pretty disinterested in helping us, or acknowledging us (except our actual waitress, who was quite good). We played what I believe was one of our best-sounding sets of the tour -- Bruce later told me it was worthy of being a live album. Pretty cool. I think we were all just happy to be back, and still be with each other, to have made it through the tour. It was rough sometimes, it was fun at almost all times, and there was sleep almost none of the time. This show was a caustic seance of sorts, bringing up the ghosts (the friendly, Casper-ish ones), where we played our hearts out. It was the end, but, you know, not the end.
SET LIST: Carolyn, Don't Leave Like This / Debts / You'll Be Crying Soon / Golden Fleece / Valley of Gold / The Nadir / On the Lam / Shotgun Wedding / Loose Lips / Shine a Light

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