Photo by [ Justina Villanueva ].

Saturday, February 23, 2008
Bard College, Red Hook, NY

Saturday night at Bard College. We're snuck away up in the woods in upstate New York. It's tough to draw any conclusions about Bard College. It seems weird from what I've seen so far, but most things do when you've only seen them at night. GT is setting up their frankensystem of lights, amps, keyboards and facial hair.

Oh we were not looking forward to last night, fair reader. The Knitting Factory is about as corporate as an independent club gets in NYC. Very brand oriented, three floors of shows per night, one drink ticket for the double wristbanded band and so on. Even less to look forward to was the rough load in of hauling our pounds and pounds of amplifiers down an ugly flight of steps, and the snowy streets and the construction ... Thad and I can get on a "we love to complain about everything" kick and this gave us plenty to chew on throughout the day Friday. I am not exaggerating or being facetious when I tell you this - it's the God's honest truth that we each had little puffy black clouds about 7 inches above our heads when we finally started to bring things in.

But then something really nice happened. We had enough time to be able to get everything downstairs. And then we could stroll over and get sandwiches. And then we were able to eat those sandwiches and then fiddle with the guitars to make sure they were in tune and we were feeling good about playing. And THEN we relaxed. And it was good.

When it came time to play we were appropriately ready. It felt a little claustrophobic on stage and in the room in general and that works in our favor. In fact almost everything worked in our favor. The vicious tricks of physical transformation my guitar was playing the night before - switching frets around so that my fingers seemed to land in the wrong place more often than not, hiding strings from my pick, thinly veiled hostility - were long forgotten; we work working together that night.

Things were hopping on the other side of the stage as well. Thad - in tune, serious as a wishbone in your windpipe - brought the violence to the good people of lower Manhattan with the precision his instrument can effect. Euphoria and relief for six songs and it was nice.

We finished, pulled our stuff off the stage and went back to the merch table to unwind. A few friends, some we'd known already and some new tipsy ones, stopped by to chat as Steve Moore landed his synthy spaceship in the club. Abby arranged for a sitter and told us we were worth it; this was good as she's seen us far more than anyone else in that room. Co-worker and noble imbiber Audra showed up and we spent some time making cruel fun of others (some) and ourselves (lots). GT coughed through a bit of the tech sickness that had plagued us the night before and were less than satisfied with their result. But we were having a giddy good night on our side of things and even the load out had a weird charm to it. I listened to our CD at high volume on the ride home. My enjoyment was approaching narcissism.

I woke up late and convinced Jill and Max that we should go to the Children's Science Museum before the AP hit the road upstate. This was a good time - knobs, buttons and lights that keep even the very young real happy while I get to bone up on my rudimentary science skills (I'm a philosophy undergrad major). I had one moment of acute cognitive dissonance. Max, all of just about year and a half, joyfully ran up to me and yelled out 'dadade' while hugging my legs. I looked down at him and, with a smile on my face, thought "oh, gentle son of mine, in six hours I will be screaming pain into a microphone in a shocking din of amplified electric noise." I had an inkling of how Jeffrey Dahmer must have felt when he'd meet a co-worker at the water cooler and they'd ask him about his plans for the weekend.

The ride up to Bard was pleasant and uneventful and Zeni Geva is really a great band. It took us a bit to find where we were supposed to play, but everyone was very relaxed about the timing and we didn't have to worry about bringing stuff up or down any stairs. Acting on the advice of Steve and Lauren, we drove a few miles to a motel and booked room 8, the last one available. The man at the desk told us he'd been up for about 38 hours straight, and I thought it was a bit passe of him to brag about his meth habit like that. "Careful about the ice over by that room, fellas." Yeah, sure, thanks. On the way into the room, Thad nearly broke his neck slipping on the ice and had to suffer my teasing him.

Our motel room seems like the invention of a high school freshman who decided to write a short story set in a motel. Everything in it is flimsy and odd, but not so much that it's got any character. The bad news is that I saw a bug crawling across my bed. The good news is that it was a ladybug which seems more suited for naming than squashing. After deciding that we'd sleep in our sleeping bags inside of our respective bed to ward off the most aggressive infections, we cranked up the heat and left. On the way to the car I fully wiped out on the ice. Thad's a gent and refrained from giving me crap for it. In some ways, he and I are very different people.

Now it's just hanging out as GT tries to get their complicated system fully functional. They must have spent a dog's age getting all this Nintendo business synched with their songs.

Thad informs me that there are two white guys with dreadlocks here at the Bard show. I counted one last night at the KF. I tell you this so that you may remain abreast.

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[ Day 3 ]

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