Tuesday, November 9, 2010
"DO YOU NEED HELP... PARTYING?" A FEST 9/ TOUR REPORT
Most everything was in place for Fest this year a few weeks before actually leaving. I had a press pass set so no worries about a ticket. I had paid for a vendor table to hawk my wares. Friends from NYC reserved a hotel room and I’d arranged to kick in for it. Now I just had to figure out how I was going to get there. I could drive down, but knew no one else from Upstate going that wasn’t already in a band touring down. I could fly there, but then have to deal with lugging all my records around.
The solution presented itself when the Soul Control dudes let me roadie for them on their short (AKA ‘mega’) tour to and from the Fest. Their singer lives in Rochester and would have to get to Providence anyway to start tour and I’m on the way. Sounds perfect. Let’s get weird.
“So what time are we leaving?”
“When I get out of work”
Sounds vague enough. Little did I know this would be around 1AM. An overnight drive through the rain to Providence and arriving to town just in time to see the sun rise. We caught a two hour power nap at a friends empty apartment before going to the Soul Control practice space to load up and get on the road. There was the option of bringing swords with us and I wish we had brought them, if anything, just for kicks.
So let me just say that New Jersey is the biggest shithole in the USA, forever and always. Every show I’ve ever seen or played here has been a lot of fun, but the state itself can go to hell. Fortunately, we were not playing here. The population here somehow exist by traveling endlessly in one direction. There is nowhere to turn around, anywhere.
I saw a store in some random Jersey toxic breeding humanity trench called “Teens and Cribs”. I cringe at the thought of what they actually sell.
Approximately $1000 in tolls later we arrived in DC proper. Toll Control ought to be the name of this band.
The show was temporarily at the Corpse Fortress. Every band I’ve known that has played here has had a good time but warned of the stench of this dive. They weren’t lying. As we loaded in all I could think of was how every inch of my being crawled at the thought of putting my head down to sleep anywhere in this putrid mold hive. Good lord, try some Fabreeze once in awhile.
As luck would have it we were told that the show would be moved to Hole In the Sky instead. This proved to be a far better situation as there were actual people at this show, and bands that seemed fairly fun- Monument (very Braid-esque) and Algernon Cadwallder (not my favorite group, but quite a bit better than the last time I saw them). Not exactly a bill catering to the SC dudes, but a nice change of pace for them I’m sure.
This venue is very comfy and kick ass. Working as a collective model, but having an actual plan, as well as nice accommodations, Hole In the Sky gets a big thumbs up for doing things right.
The night concluded with food and the best rest I’d had in days. Even though I was awoken in the middle of the night with a phrase that would become legendary throughout the weekend, and repeated ad nauseum to randos everywhere- “Do you need help... partying?”, Eric’s plea to the other residents here who were clearly partying fine on their own on the other side of the wall.
Jim brought coffee and a coffee maker on tour and nothing was more welcoming this morning than hot coffee, a snack, and enjoying it all on the roof of this place as the sun spread it’s warmth across DC.
Before leaving town we did the only logical thing left to do and got Soul Veg. I ate every last speck of food on my plate. A rare, and potentially dangerous feat to attempt at Soul Veg as their portions come close to ‘mammoth’.
Additionally, a new term came to be: butt sunglasses. I’ll leave that to your own personal interpretation.
Somewhere on the 7 hour drive to Greensboro, NC we stopped in Henderson for gas. A veritable cesspool of human garbage rife with filthy strip malls and residents that speak a dialect barely recognized as the bastardized, thrice-over inbred version of the Kings English rule this concrete land. I wonder what exactly goes on behind the closed curtains at Brothers Internet Cafe? Do people even use Internet Cafes anymore?
Legit Biz is a legit venue. Another case of DIY dudes doing DIY things the right, and awesome, way. The lineup: stellar. The turn out: so-so. But between SC, Oak and Bone, and Burning Love it was more than enough entertainment for all of us, crowd or no crowd.
The post-show plan was a three-way caravan between all three bands straight to Florida. But Oak and Bone must have lost the memo and peeled out before we could leave. So to make up for this we did our best to weird out and intimidate Burning Love’s drummer for no good reason whatsoever.
DAY 3/ FEST DAY 1
Attempts at sleep were shoddy at best and I was awoken at 6AM for driving duty from somewhere South Carolina to Gainesville.
We arrived at around 10AM and I promptly began to load all my shit indoors and set up shop for registration/tabling. There was good company around me except for the unruly and drunk English fella who basically loitered my neighbors table the entire day. Just as a note, distro people HATE it when you unnecessarily block their table. Please, stop doing that.
Soon, my hotel posse found me. I’d known Nate and Sarah for some time now and I was introduced to our other weekend roommate, Erica. Seemed like a solid group of party people.
The Oak and Bone dudes soon followed. Since they were not actually playing Fest, but instead just loitering all weekend they took it upon themselves to essentially run the pool party. They pretty much took complete ownership of the “do you need help... partying” phrase as soon as I told them it and ran headfirst with it. Never have I seen dudes make the most out of a dull situation.
Having a distro table at registration is pretty awesome because you eventually see everyone you want to see all weekend at some point in this one room because they all have to pass through it. I passed my old pal Murray who I hadn’t seen in years. He may be the only other person alive with a “purity and control” braille tattoo. This counts for a lot.
After registration was over I packed things up at my room, checked out some pool partying, and then headed over to Wayward Council because they always have cheap records. I got myself a bootleg Nation Of Ulysses shirt as well as the 1.6 Band discography. The crust monger behind the counter asked me if “I was sure” I wanted to buy that. Yes. Yes, I do you elitist scum farmer. I know it’s easy to displace your inner frustration of complicating your hippie anarcho ideals by selling wares in a capitalist set up by insulting your customers musical tastes, but I promise I won’t tell anyone that you’re furthering consumerism! Really, I’ll keep it a secret, OK?
Onto better things, Burning Love once again totally ripped Fest a new one with one hell of a set and a great way to open the weekend for me. They closed with a cover of “Jack the Ripper” that made most every band that weekend sound like little wiener babies.
Next, I took about ten steps next door to The Venue to see Hard Skin. I’ve only heard stories about this band and that’s it. I was curious to see the real thing. Basically, they are all old grizzled anarcho punks from the UK who make the catchiest Oi music ever and simply make fun of themselves and insult others. Any band that spends about 5 minutes insulting the audience, other bands, and Gainesville before even playing a note gets a thumbs up from me. I don’t think I’ve ever seen more beer cans hurled at a group at one time in my life.
Back to 8 Seconds for the Kylesa/ Torche/ High On Fire triumvirate of heavy. I was already pretty beat at this point and the indoor smoking just made it worse. Kylesa had this great projector thing going their whole set of the spiral shadow cover art and it got pretty trippy in there. Torche can really do no wrong and brought the place to it’s knees. I wanted to rage for the whole High On Fire set because they sounded incredible. But after three songs I was toast.
Seriously, this smoke is fucking destroying my will to live. Florida really needs to get out of the 20th century and establish some no indoor smoking laws. Goddamnit. Just swallow your cigarette for chrissakes and get the job done quicker.
Back at the hotel I caught up with my Fest-mates and attempted to make Ramen noodles in a coffee maker with mixed results. In fact, it was mostly just a big mess with minimal food obtained in the end.
DAY 4/ FEST DAY 2
Morning dawned with a fresh approach to life after getting some of the best seven hours of sleep ever. A dip in the pool made things all that much better and I started to truly feel as if I were on vacation. Ah.... hotel life.
Breakfast followed with a walk over to Karma Kream for coffee and a bagel. Typically I will not pay for a bagel when Dunkin Donuts gives them out for free back home, unbeknownst to them. Well, when in Rome, pay for things I suppose. It was worth it too.
Back to the business of seeing bands. After a quick visit to 1982 to catch a few songs by the stellar Big Eyes it was over to The Atlantic for a long day. Oh, what is this? A line for Touche Amore? Ha! Multi-pass, thank you once again. Yeah, hate all you want, I worked for this thing and I’m going to use it as much as I can. Nevertheless, Touché Amore is a band that just gets better each time I see them. So much intensity, crowd interaction, and passion for their music.
I took a side step and checked out Arms Aloft at Rum Runners for a bit. Musically, not much separates them from other high-intensity pop punk bands, but they have really solid gear and that goes a long way in terms of how good they sound. Gear nerd style, what’s up?
Back to Atlantic to take in a set by Comadre. I’ve seen this band many times and while I really have little interest in their actual music they are always an awesome band to watch because of their energy, the always frantic crowd response, and the fact that they’re all rad dudes.
Deep Sleep followed soon and their Descendants/ Adolescents vibe was a grand thing to see. And while I detest indoor smoking (did I already mention this?) the one and only exception to this all weekend was watching their bass player wildly beat the bejeezus out of his instrument while puffing a smoke down to the filter. One and only exception.
At this point a break was needed and I just relaxed for awhile, snacking on some snacks and waiting for Mayflowers set to begin over at Rum Runners. Once there it was great to see basically all the Upstate NY people at one place and we had ourselves a little hang time prior to the set. Mayflower ended up getting a great response and I was really happy for them. When they broke into “I’m a hack of all trades, master of none” from “The World Needs Ditch Diggers” I couldn’t help but launch myself atop the crowd and scream at the top of my lungs. That song seems to sum up my life situation perfectly these days.
I hung around for awhile to see Former Thieves who were good. Although after the high from the last set they just weren’t as good. It’s not their fault that Mayflower were so much fun, I still like Former Thieves just fine.
A hop, skip, and jump over to The Venue to see, for once, a formal Paint It Black set. I’d missed them in ‘08 but caught their infamous U-Haul ‘set’. This time they had a stage and reliable electricity to power their jams, and the absence of any cops on horses. Their set was equal parts the energy of the music and what Dan says between songs, and those nuggets of wisdom were pure gold.
I bailed a little early on their set so I could try and see a bit of the Bridge and Tunnel all covers set, just to see how that was playing out. When I got there all my hotel roomies were there jamming as well. The vibe was so killer and we locked arms, and raised fists, and shouted along to “Rise Above” and “D.E.A.D Ramones” before all leaving for the Atlantic for the last few sets of the night.
Over there Hour Of the Wolf had just started and I wasn’t about to miss their particular brand of madness. Earlier in the day their guitarist had made note of how bitchin’ my Rocket From the Crypt shirt was (he was correct) and we discussed the finer points of how they were the world’s greatest rock n’ roll band for a good twenty minutes or so. This automatically makes HotW ten times better than they already are to me. They obliged with a killer set, sans nakedness, blood, and trash cans. But it was still wild and Lance’s between-song verbal screeds and off-putting psychotic humor makes things all the more enjoyable.
Before the end of the night I must have received another ten compliments on my shirt. Shit, I’ve been wearing this all day, where you turkeys been?
So, as an aside, during HotW set there was a line wrapped around the block (multi-pass) awaiting a ‘surprise’ set by Off With Their Heads. Now, I’m not a huge OWTH fan. I like them, but not enough to wait in line for an hour or more. After HotW ended and OWTH (got that?) was to begin the room almost emptied out and it seemed like they weren’t letting anyone in. Seeing as I was no super fan or anything I thought people more deserving ought to be seeing this and I made mention of it to the door guy that the room was empty. Apparently, he did not realize this and soon started letting some people in. It was the least I could do to alleve my pangs of guilt. Later on I discovered that apparently the fire marshall had been watching the Atlantic like a hawk and that was why they were being extra careful about letting people in all night.
OK, enough about that. How about fuckin’ Punch. I missed them when they canceled their East Coast tour this Summer, skipped Rain Fest in the Spring, and I wasn’t about to miss them again. Their singer, Meghan, came onto the stage in a yellow jump suit and it seemed rather odd until she introduced herself as April O’Neil and talked about the Foot Clan taking over the Fest. The rest of band got in stage in full Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle garb and started tossing cardboard throwing stars at the crowd, and then laid waste to the whole freakin’ building. Fucking stoked. Halfway through their set, in true TMNT fashion, they took a pizza break and gave the crowd some slices. Easily one of the top 5 sets all weekend. Raging hardcore, plus cheeseless pizza, plus some childhood obsession, equals great times.
Some wild after shows were again planned, but once more the sleep wall hit me like a ton of bricks and it was time to mosey back to my quarters. As we all sauntered back packs of roving pre-Halloween scantily-clad college girls flaunted what I guess passed as ‘costumes’. Yet amongst it all one lone girl had made an elaborate giraffe costume and it was so bad ass that we had to get a picture with her.
DAY 5/ FEST DAY 3
Sunday is always a late starting day. People sleep off hangovers, and in my case I was sleeping off a crucial bang over, AKA metal neck.
I ventured out fairly early to obtain breakfast and made the poor decision to use up that remaining hummus I’d left out for three days. Thus began a bout of the ‘itis’ that stuck with me for the next couple of days. Not long after eating it struck while I was getting ready to go for a swim. I was able to put it aside for awhile as I enjoyed the water but it snuck up again while trying to catch The Sidekicks solo set and I had to leave. See, in my case, I refuse to throw up and have held that oath for 10 years now. Next to centipedes nothing is more revolting to me than puking. I’d rather put a gun in my mouth than willfully puke. Instead, I usually walk it off, and it usually works, but not always. See, I’m on a deadline here. If I can’t get down for Lemuria in about an hour I’ll probably have to start killing people or something.
Success. The ‘itis’ has been suppressed because the power of Lemuria got me dancing and shaking my butt. Multiple stage dives, sing-alongs, and joyous dancing with random people I never met got me thrilled. I mean seriously, if you can’t have fun during Lemuria you probably have no soul anyway. So since I’m typically Mr. No Fun (over 30, vegan straight edge... yup, no fun guy) I made it my job for those thirty minutes to be the life of the party. I think it went quite well if you ask me. I did not require any help... partying.
After Lemuria I had to make a stop back at the hotel. Walking back I was riding such a wave of awesomeness that not even the shitty crust folk punk being played by some filthy degenerates across the street could deter my mood. I planned on giving their grime-ladden hippie filth a little rock walk in support as I approached. That is, until one of their scum brothers sprawled out in the middle of the street puked all over the place and harshed everyone’s buzz. Of course, this led me to re-visit my ‘itis’ and potentially join him in a hurl fest but my blood oath to never throw up kicked in and I passed the stench posse with little to no fanfare, nor respect for that matter.
Back at the hotel I had to grab a box of records and head over to The Atlantic to do merch stuff for Soul Control and see bands I wanted to see anyway. I rather dreaded the idea of walking all the way back to the show carrying a big box of records until I noticed a shuttle bus in the parking lot. I inquired at the front desk about getting rides to places and they happily stated that if you were a guest they would drive you anywhere in town your little heart desired. Well hot corn, I think I’ll take advantage of this!
I grabbed some snacks, records, prepared my now tamed stomach, and headed downstairs to where my chariot awaited. Here at Hex Records we ride in class.
I got there in time to see City Of Ships and met with the SC dudes to set stuff up properly.
Liquid Limbs followed soon, and just like their set two years ago they had a small crowd. It’s too bad because that band is fucking unreal good. Equal parts Big Business, Torche, The Melvins, and King Crimson as performed by only two dudes they slayed my face repeatedly. Get your hands on their 12” or 7” immediately, care of Sound Study recordings. It will be worth it.
I helped the SC dudes load the rest of their gear in afterwards and when they weren’t looking I snuck in a little surprise for their set. All week they had a pot leaf decorated snuggie in their van that some other group had left and it served as a fine blanket on those overnight drives. But this evening it would serve a different purpose. Oh yes, it would.
Before taking off for a quick minute to try and witness a bit of what would undoubtedly be a wild Municipal Waste set I saw a few songs from SLCs overlooked and over-rocked Loom. Good stuff.
So, at the Venue- enough cigarette smoke to choke a horse? Check. Unnecessary pre-set mosh by drunk idiots? Check. Drunk crusties who somehow scrounged up enough change to get in smelling up the place? Maybe, my sense of smell had been annihilated by the smoke. MW entered with intros for each member who were dressed up as some cloaked doom dude, a nun, a juggalo, and Dee Snider respectively. That’s really all I needed to see to be honest because the rest went exactly as I would have expected it to.
OK, back to see the SC set. Thankfully, they had a respectable sized crowd that were quite responsive despite having to go against some stiff competition at other venues. I snuck off for a minute mid-set to put on the weed snuggie, tied tightly at the waist so I didn’t trip and executed some surprise mosh/stagedive action as the weed wizard in order to initiate full room enjoyment of the set. This was shortly followed with a leapfrog stagedive over Rorys head, it being only the second time in my life I’d been able to attempt such a feat. Needless to say, I was quite proud of myself and it was a fitting conclusion to a most excellent weekend. By set’s end, no one here needed help partying.
So instead of packing up and getting on the road since we had to be in Virginia the next day the SC dudes decided to play an after show in a dead end street, complete with a forest behind it, with Touché Amore and Defeater. They managed to kick out two songs (one of which was “School” by Nirvana) before Rory slipped and knocked over most of the drums, thus pre-emptively ending their set. The ensuing confusion was actually kind of funny to witness.
OK, so are we driving now? Nope. Let’s get a few hours of sleep and leave at 7AM instead. Fun.
It was still dark when the van rolled up and I sank into it as we began to head back North.
At some rest stop somewhere in the South, while waiting to use the single stall restroom Eric heard the following Deliverance-styled out take uttered between a son and Father: “Paw, you take a shit while I piss” . He proceeded to use the ladies room instead where their Mother had just exited leaving behind an enormous mound of shit in the toilet.
We stopped at a Dennys in South Carolina somewhere. The menu here has about twice the amount of items as it does in the North. This menu seriously needs it’s own index it’s so big. Things that probably should never be combined, nor consumed, by humans are proudly displayed in this encyclopedia of bad ideas. How to make a grilled cheese better? Let’s put mozzarella sticks and buffalo wings in there too! My arteries hardened just thinking about it. I opted for coffee and potatoes. This set in another bout of the ‘itis’ though and I had to take a walk outdoors to relieve it and reconsider my previous theory that my cure for this was stage diving. I mean, it worked during Lemuria. It was entirely plausible that any debilitating disease could be cured with a healthy dose of stage diving honestly. Common cold? Stage dive. Cancer of the stomach? More stage dives. It’s medically sound, or so I thought. This bout had me aching all the way up to Harrisonburg, where the show was that night.
The band played somewhere that looked like a metal dungeon, or part time goth club, downstairs from an upscale Ethiopian cafe. Certainly an odd combination, but it resulted in a free platter of Ethiopian food for us. I once again forced the ‘itis’ aside because 1) Ethiopian food rules, and 2) how often does one get a free platter of it?
A band called Mirror Cage played this evening. Their name instantly conjures up images of glam dudes looking to ‘make it’ as they wait for that Atlantic A&R guy to show up to one of the umpteenth local dive bar gigs they play and sign them, finally. Instead, they turned out to be cool dudes, very talented, and extremely metal. We dubbed their brand of music ‘long metal’ as there really isn’t a metal band around that plays for no less than 40 minutes.
Back in Providence in time to flop on same empty apartment couch and sleep through the afternoon. This is how I spent a good portion of my birthday and I was happy with it.
But the evening proved to be more birthday style I guess because, seeing as Rory has worked essentially every cool job there is in this town, I was hooked up with free Nice Slice Pizza and a pound of coffee from New Harvest, whose roastery happened to be in the same building the last show of ‘tour’ was in this night.
It was a big show with Howl, Trap Them, and Every Time I Die, with SC opening things up to a very receptive audience.
I hadn’t seen ETID in a couple years live and they were expectedly wild. Within the first couple songs someone threw a trash can on stage and they seemed completely unfazed by it, as if it happens every night... which it probably does. Either way, great dudes, great band. They even gave me a little birthday shout out. How kind!
Of the few people I know in this town I think I saw all of them, and Providence opened it’s arms to me and I graciously accepted a big, fat burly hug from her. It was a good birthday and a nice way to end a very fun and exhaustive tour. Now just one more overnight drive back home to get back to real life.