Thursday, March 19, 2015
Richmond, VA

Mileage Wars is getting serious here on I85. Shifts into neutral going downhill, shielded Google searches that say "Highlander Hybrid Best Mileage Speed" and oh so much smack talk. Thad's behind the wheel now and I am, perversely, hoping that he hits a ruthless traffic snarl. God, that would just kill his numbers and it would be so sweet.

We finally got to our intended destination yesterday not 1/2 hour late (if that sentence makes any sense). Although neither of us had been to Richmond before we'd gotten good advice on where to hang out and play. But despite a list of good record stores and movie theatres, the Austerity Program camped out at a coffee place to work work work on work stuff. We occupied a small table at a good coffee place for the better part of the early afternoon, keeping a steady stream of coffee flowing to maintain our squatting rights. We left work-sated and very overcaffeinated.

Pulled up to the club in plenty of time to perch in a good spot when the meter requirements ended - we're getting smart, right? Strange Matter is a long bar/club nestled into the heart of Virginia Commonwealth University. We were quite glad to see that the stage was immediately inside the front door with not a step nor stair nor even wheelchair ramp for miles around. Easy peasy. Even better, we asked the sound guy if we could just set up on the floor. "Huh? Uh sure." So we set up on the floor.

All was fine and dandy like sugar candy for the evening's duration. Met a few folks in person (including the dashing Nick from Horseback who I believe is a reader of these missives) and we actually got to use our dumb Square reader to make a credit card sale. Evan from Lung Widders broke out some stickers he'd printed up of Shannon Wright bassist (and all around great guy) Todd Cook that read "Todd is My Co-Pilot. Thad and I conferenced about how many we could buy without seeming rude and then purchased twice as many as that.

Richmond seemed to think that we were pretty good. The set felt fine for us except that I am a stupid dumbass. Now that we'd fully locked into playing our set in our own special way night after night I idiotically thought it'd be a good idea to try a show with my second guitar. Things are finally going very well, so what a great time to change things for no reason, right? About 14 seconds into the first song it was clear the red guitar was not interested in spending time out of the case for this tour - the frets felt all wrong-placed and the weight of the thing was weird. I spazzed out and awkwardly switched guitars in the middle of the first song. Thad, appropriately, just rolled his eyes.

Other than that, we're making it happen. I did see the tall looming shadow of Evan in the back of the audience as we started, watching me botch my guitar playing. Fortunately I got back by engaging him in a life/art/morality discussion right before they played. He was circumspect later on, saying to me that I'd gotten inside his head during their set. You couldn't tell - they fucking rule every night - but I inwardly cackled over my small petty revenge. I am not a proud man.

After the fastest load-out ever we rode out with our host for the evening - Tracy from Little Black Cloud records. She'd graciously stuck around and arranged to go in late to accommodate our late night schedule. Thad and I got pretty quickly settled and then kept her up a bit, peppering her with questions about our points of connection in the punk rock world and her awesomely kitch-ed out house. Bedtime, up a little early and now we're a-driving down to Charlotte.

I was just interrupted by Thad. "I think that I'm going to move to the outside lane of a curve on the downhill to maximize mileage, and move to an inside curve on an uphill to minimize gas usage." Please send me any good strategy and/or sabotage ideas so that I can win. I may not be able to win the single-run award (25.3 is just ridiculous. And it was his first measured run!) but I think I've got a shot at the long-run average title. That's the only one to really be proud of.

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