Friday, March 20, 2015
The windows are rolled up as we're driving down to Atlanta and I'm getting faint hints of Irish Spring. This is puzzling as last night's hotel did not supply that magical brand of soap. Perhaps Thad brought his own, preferring the Clean of the Green to whatever other cleansing options the road might offer. Let's you and I both wonder together, Dear Reader, and leave Thad to remain silent on the matter. A man so far from home must be allowed to keep some secrets of the boudoir to his own self.
Last night was Charlotte, NC. Our venue was a ratty punk shack called the Milestone. They claim they are world famous and I kinda believe them. Nearly every surface inside is covered with spraypaint or band stickers or the ol' penis graffiti. The load in was smooth and the sound guy gave us the thumbs up to play on the floor. We were happy.
(Just passed a sign for sub-$2/gallon gas. This country is going to burn up the whole planet. Just letting you know.)
We were good. All that amplification helps to smooth the rough edges of how we actually play the songs. A fella named James - I read it from his work shirt - stood about 5 feet in front of me and screamed the lyrics to about 1/2 our songs back at me which was actually cool. (He left to go back to work right after our set.) At this point we have pretty much harnessed most of the ferocity that we try to put into the music and it feels really good to land that right squarely in front of the 50 or so people who want to drink it in each night. The emotions in the songs are easy to unpack these nights and I do enjoy being in that space.
I pegged last night as the time I'd really dig into the Wang Chung Widows set. If you've never seen them (and you should really see them) I will inform you here that they are a mainline of serpentine power. Bassist Nick is this grinding crucible, just pounding out the rhythm of each song with as he whips his head back and forth. Drummer Jeremy holds court in the rear center, steadily attacking each part of his instrument with unsmiling punishment. And over stage right is singer/guitarist Evan, a looming presence howling through each of their nightmarish songs. This is all framed through their own set of unshielded incandescent lights. Standing in front of them, the whole thing feels like you're a staring down an 18 wheeler piloted by, if not Satan himself, at least one of his favorite lieutenants. It is a forbiddingly dark presentation that lures you in. There's a strong sense of death that surrounds the Young Widows music and I find it really affecting. One of my most favorite bands.
The really interesting part of the day was not where we played but where we stayed. Or maybe more like where we didn't stay. Because an hour or two out of Charlotte I hopped on Priceline to nail down lodging for the night. This was to be our one night in a hotel on tour and we wanted to stay up late drinking in the room and then sleep in until 2 minutes before checkout. Being a budget conscious kind of band (check our name) I was quite pleased to find an option that would land us two nice looking beds (according to the online pics) for $51. They should call me Frugal Foley. Hit "Submit Reservation" and things were swell. The only small hitch was a few of the very, very, very negative reviews I scrolled through after purchasing (yes, after) but I figured those just had to be left by the owner of the motel down the street who just couldn't match the incredible value this place had to offer.
None of the next part is an exaggeration.
We pulled up to the place and the roof over the carport area was totally gone - just exposed rebar and crumbling stucco. Some guy was standing in front of one of the second floor rooms (outside - it was a motel) and instantly started staring at us with a "what the fuck are you doing here" look - mind you we were still in our car about 100 yards away from him. We quickly decided to do a recon lap around the place before going into the lobby. It was totally depressing; the place appeared to be a halfway house or a landing spot for social service cases much more than a motel for traveling folks. A particularly sad looking St. Paddy's day decoration hung at an awkward angle off the chapped door to room 214.
Time for a band meeting. Not even a full circuit around the place, Thad and I and our thousands of dollars of music gear stopped in the parking lot to determine what to do. There, next to a dumpster over-piled with slumped contractor bags and destroyed mattresses, we came to our conclusion. We would skip our reservation. As we began to roll away, we were passed by a chewed up pickup truck slowly lumping by in the opposite direction. The back was full of twisted scrap metal. The driver seemed to be eying our trailer hungrily. Thanks a lot, William Shatner.
Last show tonight - Shannon Wright's home town of Atlanta. We plan to be quite emphatic on making our point.
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