Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Asheville, NC - Sunday, Sept.14

So I’ll try to finish up this batch of tour stories. Sunday, September 14, it’s time to break down the tents and re-load the van. Do some last minute CD trades and say goodbyes to the Birmingham crew and Justin and others. Before leaving town we make one more visit to the Farmer’s Market for some food and a few more supplies.

We now have one more person and one dog (and another car, thankfully) in our crew because Wendy met us in Atlanta. Oh, I forgot to mention her performance at Freedumb as SUICIDE MAGNETS, which was really cool. It involved a couple of TV monitors showing her videos while she unraveled this long red fabric cloak, which everyone in the small room spread out over our heads. It felt like being in a tent with Wendy as the central pillar standing over a video podium. Like a surreal noise tent revival.

I go in the car with Wendy and her dog, Emo. It’s a bit of a drive, but not too bad, getting to Asheville, NC. Very scenic, up through the mountains. So the last time I played in Asheville it was weird but totally awesome. It was in a friendly coffee house and somehow it filled up with college kids (mostly, I think) who didn’t really break out and dance but were one of the most vocal and enthusiastic crowds I’ve ever played for. I also played with EAR PWR, who are a dance-power duo. So this time we also played with EAR PWR but everything else was totally different.

The show is at a place called the New French Bar, and when it was booked we were told up front that it’s a weird place but it’s the only place to play. And it is kind of weird and maybe kind of inappropriate for our bands. It feels like a “classy” bar, with a room full of art in the back and windows all the way around in front. Strangely, we’re playing in the front room. The place is definitely filled (well, one quarter filled maybe) with locals. Like, biker-rock-looking dudes and women in tube tops and make-up.

I think some others in the crew are a little weirded out and/or bummed out by the scene, but I’m into it. This is the kind of show I’m more used to playing, for a bunch of unsuspecting and possibly antagonistic people in an inappropriate setting. I like a challenge. So we decide that I will play last of our touring group since RADIO SHOCK can kind of bridge the gap between the noisier stuff and EAR PWR’s poppy stuff. HYLAND HOLOGRAM plays first, and it seems like there is no one there who wants to hear it. And it’s LOUD and sounds HARSH. It actually sounds great, but I’m ready for the regulars to revolt or evacuate to the back room. Instead they show astounding determination to stay right at the bar and completely ignore the deafening sound.

One serious Harley Davidson looking dude with long dreadlocks takes to heckling, shouting “turn it up!” and “rock and roll!” between songs. While DRUMS LIKE MACHINE GUNS are setting up he’s shouting “This better rock!” And DLMG is even louder. All the locals stay put. There appear to be a few people there for the show now, but they’re mostly lurking. As DLMG are packing up, Dreadlocks is going “Hey long-hair, hey long-hair!” Without paying attention to who is talking Brian announces “Call me long-hair one more time… I’ll make you bleed your own blood!” and before he can finish this statement of course: “Hey long-hair!” from Dreadlocks. Everyone looks a little nervous about this situation, but Brian goes over to the guy and pals around with him a bit, smooths it over. Dreadlocks is just a loud drunk, no real threat, probably…

I’m ready to do the RADIO SHOCK show and the guy is at it again: “This had better rock!” So I’m accustomed to hecklers, first thing I say is “Okay, here’s what were going to do! After every song I want Captain Dreadlocks to tell me if it rocked, on a scale of one to ten!” No response from Dreadlocks so I play the first song and as soon as I’m done I point right at him. Nothing. He’s just looking at his beer. Everyone who’s watching me looks a little nervous. Someone says “seven point five” (or something like that) so I play the next song. After that one I point to the guy again. Again, just silence. He looks like he’s not even paying attention so I say “Ladies and gentlemen, I think I have accomplished something which I’ll bet no other band ever has. I have left Captain Dreadlocks speechless.” Nothing. Nervous looks. “In fact, you all owe me a fee for this service.” He’s still just staring at his beer and at this point I take a moment to wonder if I’ve misjudged the situation and now he’s actually really mad. Play the next song, finish the set. It sounded pretty good I thought. A couple of people started dancing a bit.

When I’m done, Dreadlocks is gone, so I figure he probably just finally got drunk enough to make him happy and went home. EAR PWR go on next and suddenly the place transforms. Several people who I mistook for bar regulars jump up and start dancing and cheering. In fact, these 2 guys who I seriously thought were Lynyrd-Skynyrd-listening locals suddenly become the most enthusiastic, openly gay, bumping and grinding EAR PWR fans. There’s some guy who appears to be a real, professional breakdancer busting out real moves. Very weird. EAR PWR never fails to turn a place into a dance party.

After the show we actually get paid rather well, which is a cool surprise, and Asheville noise-guy Ted says he can put us up at his house, all of us and Emo the dog even. Once at the house, Ted tells us about a 24-hour coffee house nearby which is inhabited by nerds and gamers at all hours. The Hyland Holograms and I have to check it out so we walk off into the misty Asheville night and do in fact find the place. They’ve got a collection of old video game systems and role-playing type board games too. Davey and Lance are checking out some kind of Star Wars board game I think? I get a cappuccino. We all agree that we should have tried to play there.

Back at the house everyone else is watching old videos of AC/DC on Youtube, which are kind of amazing. Ted’s got some Yamaha keyboards which are different model versions of the one I use, so I have to check those out. Then it’s sleeping time. It’s pretty late. Just floor space, but I sleep pretty well regardless.

* added correction: I meant the 14th.

1 comment:

Joy said...

surreal noise tent revival

hahaha! totally!