Our hotel was about 40 minutes out of downtown. I was rather looking forward to some time away from the family so I took the train downtown. I decided I’d go to the Barnes Foundation Museum, which I hadn’t been to since it moved locations. I felt great and then out of the blue, like an intestinal Pearl Harbor….. well, that’s probably a tad hyperbolic; let’s go with an intestinal Grenada since it was more of the shart variety, I was embarrassingly stricken. Kind of threw me off for the afternoon, although it did lead me to playing my first ever show commando. I did my best to enjoy the Picasso’s and Matisse’s though because I’m kind of a hero.
We played a place we never had before called Milkboy. It was a little fancier than is our norm and served a wonderful beer called Sly Fox Phoenix Pale Ale. You should drink it now. The struggle was that after our soundcheck we had 3 and a half hours to kill before we played. Can’t drink because I’m trying this new fad called “professionalism,” and was pretty pooped ‘cause I’d walked around all day. We sat in the van for a while with the window down and listened to the men on the corner, who seemed to work for the adjoining garage, expound on life, family (an aunt apparently fell hilariously down the steps – Bam Bam Boom!), and the quality of asses that passed them by. Chuck and I went and got dessert (ice cream sandwich made with brownies) and talked to the 27-year old employee about metal. She loves Judas Priest and early Metallica and bemoaned the fact that no one her age likes metal at all. Two hours killed. Went to a craft brew pub hoping to write and sip a quality beer (sipping one beer doesn’t count as drinking – but thanks for bringing it up), but it was packed so I people watched until Joe and some old friends showed up.
Why did I bring all that tedium up? And am I complaining? No I’m not. I was in a great city and about to play a great club. It’s just that we’re here to do a job – try and play a great show. The effect of it all was that I’d say it took us four songs to really start coming together. And to be honest we never really caught fire. It was a good show and the crowd was giving good energy. Everyone in the band said after that they were struggling with just feeling kind of physically weary. I guess maybe that idea of a backstage or a green room is not really about staying away from the attendees but more about having a little quiet home in order to get ready for the show. God, I feel like a tool even writing that. You read about Husker Du living for years in their van and playing squats and shitholes, and no where in there do they decry the agony of having nowhere to chill before a show. Oh well, I guess we’re just soft. It’s still my best explanation for why the heart was willing but the body didn’t quite comply.
And as a side note – I’ve had several people tell me I’m too harsh in assessing our shows, but you have to understand two things: feeling satisfied is the first step towards complacency. There’s always something you want to try or to do better the next time. Every band I’ve ever been in walks on stage hoping to be better that night than the Rolling Stones, Springsteen, or whomever. It’s not gonna happen, but I don’t really have much interest in any band that’s not shooting for something like that. I mean if your goal is to someday be more scintillating than Jack Johnson - fuck that. Secondly, we had a blast at this show. What a great group of people come to see us there. We truly love playing Phili and apparently the men of Philadelphia are on the whole very hot. (Apparently the men of New York are like dog meat made out of retired race horses in comparison.) I’ll post a link to a review of the show that I think gets at what I’m talking about. In the end we may be a bunch of narcissistic misanthropes but we really, really want to put on a good show.