Green Rooms and Restrooms:
Idiocy from the Van: I wish they all could be California Nails…
We were camped out in the Providence area for the duration, so I did what I do and took the train into Boston while the band loafed about in their typical dull torpor.* I went to college in Boston and lived there for several years afterwards. My FFW’s** family lives there so for 15 years I regularly visited the town, even after moving to Cincinnati. I love Boston but I’ve spent enough time there that I don’t need to see or do anything specific to feel like it’s been a good trip. I went early because I wanted to go to my alma mater, Berklee College of Music, and do some research in their library for the concerts I’m putting on at my day job. The reason I bring it up is that I had another weird passage of time experience. My logic as a youngster when I tried to figure out where to go to college was this: I want to be a musician, specifically in rock bands, however my parents say I have to go to college, (I know, right?) so what if I go to school to learn how to become a recording engineer? Then I’ll still be making music. Pure freaking genius. At the time there were only two places to get a degree in that sort of engineering and the other was in Florida, so Boston it was. Come the fall after high school my Dad drove me to Boston with all my Springsteen and The Who posters, a boxful of cassettes***, one Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue, and a bottle of Drakkar Noir. Also, and not incidentally, I was terrified. I will never forget the feeling of my Dad driving away and leaving me on the sidewalk outside Berklee. I was gutted. Before that though we went to lunch and I remember saying to him that everyone looked so much older and sure of themselves. I remember him looking around and then very gently saying, “That’s just the way you’re feeling right now. They’re no different from you – believe me.” So as I went to three different buildings to get a new alumni pass (the school has exploded in size) I saw all these kids there for the 5-week summer program and I felt an almost physical sensation of a circle closing. They looked so young, unsure, and excited to just be there. I did the math and my Dad had to be pretty much the same age I am now when he dropped me off my first day of college. I’m not even sure how to process that. It’s a weird funny thing the journey to humanizing ones parents.
After a lovely afternoon I started walking towards the Middle East, our venue for the night, which is in Cambridge. I walked over the Mass Ave. Bridge****, delighted to see the Smoots are still marked all the way across. Past MIT and saddened to see the NECCO factory now seems to be a storage unit facility. The Middle East is a legendary club and I’ve wanted to play it forever. The Rat is closed, as is T.T. the Bears, the Paradise is still too big for us, so as far as clubs I’ve heard about for decades the Middle East was my great hope. And I loved it.
We were playing the upstairs room, which is the smaller of the two they operate, but still our biggest effort in Boston. Thalia Zedek was opening for us again, but with a different band this time called E. And they were amazing; playing a more brutal, intense form of rock than her Thalia Zedek Band set I heard at the Midway. I don’t know which I like better because they both feature really well written, wonderfully played songs by two compelling groups. Even with her storied history, Thalia is at the top of her game. Go see her and give her money.
And the room was packed. Like all the way to the back with people standing on chairs to see packed. I’m not bragging, I’m trying to express what this means to us. Once again I had a stupid grin on my face the whole night. The sound was great, as it usually is in these venues that have been in business for decades, and the audience danced and sang along. It would be hard to ask for more.
Tomorrow is D.C.
*Holy shit. The dull torpor phrase just jumped into my head and I knew it was from somewhere. So I looked it up ready to congratulate myself for effortlessly quoting James Joyce or Douglas Adams, but no, it’s from the 10,000 Maniacs. I feel dirty somehow, even though I actually own two of their records.
** Former Future Wife
*** And one brand new tape to tape boombox with which to play them.
**** Officially named the Harvard Bridge. Who knew? Kind of a slap in the MIT’s (Migraines, Insanity, and Twats) face considering the old Crimson Stain is a couple of miles up the road and is now basically the Disney World of the Ivy League.