Washington D.C./Baltimore – Days 26 & 27

Herrs Curls Baltimore-1 Herrs Curls Baltimore-2

Ranking Cheese Doodle: Herr’s Old Bay Cheese Curls: We tried these a few years ago and they were horrible. Two great tastes that didn’t go together. We didn’t finish the bag and then when I left the remainders in my work lunchroom it took a full four months before they were gone. At our Baltimore show an audience member brought a small bag for the blog. Obviously the time had come to face the doodle of our darkest dreams. So with trepidation tempered by experience we dove in. And they were pretty good. Either we’ve changed or they’ve dialed in the cheese to Old Bay ratio. I lean towards the latter.

Texture: Excellent of course. It’s Herr’s.

Flavor: Well hell. Do you put cheddar cheese on your crab cake? Because that’s what we’re talking about here. Try them. There’s no other way to know.

 Green Rooms and Restrooms: The Black Cat

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Idiocy from the Van: We’ve run out of material so I’m going to excerpt some of the non-offensive parts of “The Sound of Wussy.”

Ahem:

“Whiskers on kittens and toenails on babies,

Big bloomin’ onions and raccoons with rabies,

Thick panty liners and Always with wings,

These are a few of my favorite things.”

 

To be continued…

 

There’s a concept indulgently referred* to as rock time. When I was doing live sound in my twenties there was also a thing called reggae time, because reggae bands would show up for soundcheck two hours late, if at all. These were bands made up of Cincinnati locals so a cultural inclination founded by an upbringing in Jamaica is not indicative. These were the same folks who during the aforementioned late soundcheck would ask for more vocals in the monitor with their native Westside Cincinnati accent, but when the show started were suddenly seized with an insistent Caribbean patois. I know it’s all show business but this irritated me to no end. The first time I remember hearing about this concept was with Indian time. The idea was that American Indians were always late to European appointments because they were used to operating in sync with more natural rhythms. Of course this was used as another example of their inferiority by some, and proof that the modern world was crushing our spirits by others. Rock time is definitely and probably deservingly disparaging. Those lay-a-bouts can not only not get a real job but can’t even manage the simple courtesy of punctuality. When I was a green lad in my twenties I was on time. I think I was at least. But after years of sitting around waiting in front of a locked studio, on the loading dock in front a rehearsal space, outside a club, etc. I started showing up later and later. And I still wasn’t late. Unfortunately it now means I’m late for everything that is not band related. I do feel bad about it but I think it’s important to not feel bad about it. Wussy is late all the time. It used to cause me ulcer levels of stress but now I’ve gotten better at letting it go. It’s not like fussing about it had an appreciable impact. It’s like yelling at the tides. Or more accurately yelling at the monkeys to finish writing Hamlet more quickly. In the end it just irritates the monkeys and you’re more likely to end up with Titus Andronicus.

In the case of us getting to Washington D.C. it really wasn’t our fault. Getting from Providence to D.C. should take 6.5 hours, but with NYC and D.C. to get through though you have to anticipate adding at least another hour for traffic. Then of course you always have to take into account the band math. This is fuzzy but I’ve pretty much figured out that for every four hours of travel required an hour of band stops will sneak in there. We’re supposed to load-in at 7:00 so leaving at 10:00 am we should be fine. At least fine in the context of rock time.** But like fascism and Birkenstocks reflect humanities darkest natures and thus can never be fully eradicated, I-95 will find a way to remind you that evil lives. Somewhere around Baltimore the entire highway was shut down. A spanner in the works they said. So we were re-routed and began slouching slowly towards Washington. In my biased opinion D.C. traffic is the worst in the country. I have so many bad experiences to draw upon. On our first tour we had to drive overnight from Chapel Hill to Brooklyn and hit D.C. during the morning rush. I had taken the first shift but it was Chuck who had to deal with hours of traffic after being up all night. And then I remember being in a rental car with two babies trying to get through D.C. after a plane ride, and it taking so long actual pieces of our souls began sloughing off like spiritual sootikins.

By the time we arrived at the Black Cat we had missed soundcheck and got loaded in just before the opening band started. Oh and it was so hot. The locals said it wasn’t so bad but they’re wrong. I asked where the bathroom was and was pointed up the back stairs to a mental and physical monstrosity I will call Big Pink. It was as hot as solitary confinement on Devil’s Island and painted a lurid, unnatural pink that made me feel as if I was somehow inside a bottle of Pepto Bismol that itself was inside a convection oven.

Everyone was super friendly though, we got to order food off the menu, and they stocked lots of water, beer, and soda. If you go back to the beginning of this tour’s blog (April) you’ll see I wrote a history of our experience trying to find success in D.C., which might give this some context. Up until now our desire to play the Black Cat was as probable as Duckie dribbling off Andie’s Bobbie Brooks, but in what has been a lovely trend of late we were surprised with an audience that was almost a sell-out, with people standing on chairs to see, and lined up to the back. It was so unexpected and lovely it shook us out of our heat and travel induced stupor. I’ve never sweated so much, but to know we have an audience in D.C. is so delightful we couldn’t stop talking about it the next day. There was a family in the front row who I’m guessing came so their daughter, probably around 12 years old, could see us. She had a hat pulled down over her eyes but kept them locked on Lisa as she sang along with every word. It’s incredibly gratifying to see how Lisa is inspiring young women. I’m not a young woman any more so I don’t know what she means to them, but I will say to be someone passionately pursuing their art and expressing themselves so uncompromisingly has got to be a wonderful legacy beyond some great songs and good to average performances.

There was a newlywed couple who had first kissed and then first danced at their wedding to “Little Paper Birds.” We publicly mocked them and then averted our eyes as we played the song. I think I saw a darting tongue in my peripheral vision but wish them the best nonetheless.

After the show we drove to the location of our house show. This was to be our fourth time playing at Club 603 as they call it when their house transforms into a performance space. They’ve become our dear friends and their home a respite. We got there, drank a tequila, and went to bed. I slept in my usual room and that’s all I did for a long time. I slept in until hunger forced me out of bed. I ate a bagel, and went back to bed. Slept some more, didn’t quite get out of bed and fell asleep for a third time. After 12 hours of sleep and lunch I spent the rest of the day writing. It was a good day.

The way it works is that there are about 50 tickets available online and if you get one you sit or stand in the living room or foyer while we play our full rock set. They rent a sound system and hire a sound guy, and the room honestly sounds really good and warm. We mixed up the set a bit, abused each other verbally, and had a wonderful time. If you can see a musician you love in this space do so. It’s the pinnacle of house shows.

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Guess what we’re doing here?

Tomorrow will be our last official show on the Forever Sounds Tour in a town we’ve never played: Richmond, VA.

 

*It’s madness!

**See last paragraph

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