Sunday night, I was catching up on the DVR. There was a lot of True Blood, Louie, and a children's movie that I'm not going to admit to having recorded to watch. My friend Renee sent a text to say she was heading to Pier V, next to the Pier VI Pavillion in Baltimore, to catch Peter Frampton. I don't really care about Peter Frampton, but I care about Renee and haven't seen her in what feels like ages. If this were a band or singer that I cared about, I'd pay for a ticket... Unless it sells out and then Pier V is a fun second choice. You can't see anything, but everything sounds just as good as it does on the other side of the bridge that divides the piers. Still, we didn't hear any of this show because we were chatting the whole time.
I met Renee in college where we both majored in Pop Culture. (It was actually a Bachelor of Arts in American Studies, but started off with a concentration in Pop Culture. Seriously.) Oddly enough, we are both HR professionals now. Well, she's professional... I'm faking it. Renee and I took classes like, The Beatles, The History of Rock and Roll, and Women and the Media: Myths, Images, and Voices. In these classes, I presented the White Album, failed a test because of the Velvet Underground, and wrote a paper on Aimee Mann. I miss college.
I was deep-conditioning my hair and wearing some ugly, old clothes when she texted. I didn't have any time to make improvements so I threw on a raggedy sweatshirt equipped with thumbholes, found a pair of comfy flip flops, (I wouldn't say I learned any lessons from the pumps of pain in Brooklyn... they just would have looked ridiculous with the rest of the ratty ensemble,) and decided to go with the grossest looking hair the outside of my house has ever seen. It's so great to have friends who accept you when you're being your fugliest, funkiest self.
I found Renee on the Pier, hanging with her old roommate Georgia who was visiting with her new fiance, Neil. What a sweet set-up they had! We were right on the beautiful, toxic Baltimore water, with a view of the wall of portapotties that surrounded the paid seats. Whatever... they came prepared with a blanket and several individual boxes of wine. We had a great time chatting under a clear, summer night sky with background music.
Thanks for the invite, Renee! It was great to see you and your old gay-porn pal. I'm not going to explain that, but don't worry... nobody reads this! :)
Tuesday, July 19, 2011
In the last year, I've written about Old 97's a lot. I've been a fan since around 2004 or 2005, but this year, I'm having a hard time convincing my friends I'm not a crazed groupie because, well,... I've been a bit more enthusiastic about going to shows. (I'm not going to show up in anyone's kitchen, boiling bunnies... Promise.)
When Marie asked if I'd like to go with her to Brooklyn to see them again, the answer was obviously yes. Usually, when most people ask me a question that begins with, "Would you like to go to..," the answer is yes. Not only would I love to see the band again, (and again and again,) but you all (whoever you are,) know how I love New York. And clearly, I love the Old 97's. But also? I freaking love Marie. I've posted before about how we met through a Rhett Miller show in April of last year. We didn't meet that night, but both attended that show, and ended up tweeting each other about it. Yay, Twitter! To think that I almost didn't go to that show... I wasn't really feeling well that night, but sucked it up and went anyway. Thank God. Since we met in person last August, Marie has been a great friend who I feel comfortable talking to about absolutely anything. Dude, I mean anything. She is such a great listener and offers advice that I really consider before making my dumbass decisions anyway. One of my favorite things about Marie is that she just loves life. We talk pretty regularly and I am always in stitches when on the phone with her. She is such a good person through and through that I am willing to overlook her allegiance to her hometown Pittsburgh Steelers.
After putting our luggage away, we walked through Park Slope until we came upon Rachel's Taquiera. The sign advertising $4 Margaritas pulled us in, and we had a quick bite before heading for Coney Island.
The day was just beautiful. The humidity from earlier in the week had disappeared, (my hair thanks you, weather,) and bright beams of sunshine broke through thick, fluffy clouds. We got on a few rides and laughed like idiots. Between our giggle fits and wooziness from the high, spinny rides, I yelled out, "I feel like I'm on drugs!" which had us laughing all the way back to our hotel. As much fun as we were having, it may have seemed like an endorsement, but kids, don't do drugs. Until college. Just kidding. Who's reading this?
We made it back to the hotel and realized that we didn't have a lot of time to get ready and grab dinner, so we ordered takeout sushi. I love Manhattan, but I kind of love how cheap a meal in Brooklyn can be. Somehow, the two of us ordered sushi, miso soup, and edamame for $22.
That night, I wore black patent leather heels because I am a self-loathing masochist. That, or, I like being a towering 5'3" at rock shows instead of my flat-wearing 5'.05" Anyway, because I wore these pain contraptions, and I take entirely too long to wash, dry, and straighten my hair, we were running late, so we took a cab for about 17 seconds to the Bell House. I sure know how to make up for saving all of that money at dinner! (Shoes, resulting cab = dumbass decisions.)
The show in Brooklyn was more fun than I'd had since... Monday. I think I was dancing around a little less than I was in Baltimore, but that had more to do with less space to move around and the fact that I was holding back tears in my pretty heels. When will I learn? Actually, I'm going to go change my bio line on every social media account that I have to say, "Always wears the wrong shoes." Maybe it's because they're that good, or maybe there was a magical, medicinal property in the Rhett sweat that shot me in the eye, but the wince-worthy pain did not take away from the absolute joy of watching these guys blast my favorite songs for a couple of hours. The energy of the crowd around me was so great. I didn't have to worry about my obnoxious scream-singing because the smiling strangers surrounding me were doing the same. I laughed at the comments that I was hearing during the show. Men were shouting song requests. Women were sighing, "this is why I am in love" as Rhett playfully pretended to be a giant drinking his mini bottle of Jameson.
I've converted a couple of my friends into 97's fans, but a mix CD, no matter how perfect, just does not do justice to the inspired energy of seeing this band live. The band is heading west and then finally taking a break after nearly a year of constant touring, so it will be awhile before I see them again, but this show was the perfect ending to what has been a fun, fun ride.
|Not a great focused shot, but I love this grin. I think they may have had just as much fun as we did that night.|
The Grand Theatre
State of Texas
Brown Haired Daughter
W Texas Teardrops
Brown Haired Daughter
W Texas Teardrops
You Call It Rain
Please Hold On
Born To Be In Battle
Manhattan (I'm Done)
I'm a Trainwreck
The Other Shoe
Won't Be Home
Visiting Hours (Rancheros)
Murder or a Heart Attack
Monday, July 18, 2011
I've been a bad blogger and skipped a few concert reviews as well as other events that I would have liked to document on this public diary of mine, but after a pair of high-energy shows from my favorite band in the world, I am rising out of my moody funk and ready to share with you, my 4 readers, the joyful event that is an Old 97's show.
Last Monday, the band played at Rams Head Live. Obviously, I was not going to miss a show in my own backyard. I am usually off of work on Mondays, but I went in that day so that I could take the next day off. Some bands rock hard enough to require a day of recovery. My friend Marie, who I would have never met without our mutual love for Rhett Miller, (to whom I am eternally grateful,) flew into town just before the show began. Dave and I picked her up from the airport and raced for the club. Despite a flight delay, we made it to the show just in time.
I was happy to be there with Marie and Dave and to see some other familiar faces in the front rows, like my new friends Melissa and Brian, who I met back in December at the Towson show. This band has some really cool, fun fans and it's been great to get to know some of them through Twitter, Facebook, the band's website, and especially at shows.
The setlist on Monday night was a perfect blend of old favorites and songs from the just released Grand Theatre Volume 2 which has not left my CD player for weeks. Marie and I were very lucky to get a preview of the CD before it was released so that we could do some song reviews on Old97s.com. Since we had an extra couple of weeks to listen to the disc, we were ready to sing along. I was especially excited to hear No Simple Machine, Marquita/Bright Spark, and Perfume. During Rhett's solo, acoustic performance of Come Around, the crowd sang along beautifully. I love the way a songwriter's face lights up when he is being serenaded with his own lyrics by his adoring fans. I'm sure that can never get old.
W. Texas Teardrops
No Baby I
Roller Skate Skinny
Please Hold On
Born to Be In Battle
Brown Haired Daughter
Big Brown Eyes
You Call It Rain
Dance With Me
Four Leaf Clover
Murry & Rhett:
Whew! Any devout fan can see that this is an incredible set list. I suppose I was pretty satisfied, but I still had one more night to look forward to...
Next up, (eventually,) Part Two: Coney Island, Brooklyn, Manhattan.
Saturday, July 16, 2011
I just had a fun couple of days in New York, where I used to want to live, but am content just visiting now. On my way home, I met a lady on the train who was meeting her husband in Baltimore so that he could show her the houses that he had found. He said it's up to her to choose which area she would like to live in, so tomorrow, they'll be walking through rentals and neighborhoods to find a place that feels right. After spending their whole lives in New York, they are moving to Maryland to be close to their children and grandchildren. She said that she was sad about leaving home, but she seemed optimistic. Even though her decision was hard, she knew it was right. She told me that everything was becoming real today. She started delegating her jobs to other coworkers, and now she was actually on this train. She was really doing this. A while after we stopped chatting and both returned to our books, her cell phone rang. It was her good friend from work. Her voice broke while she repeated, "I'm okay. We're going to be okay."
I have a hard time believing in God, but I do think that life offers guidance and that maybe I needed to sit next to her on the train today. I have a decision to make and it's going to hurt no matter what I choose to do. I cannot avoid this any longer. The right thing to do seems clear, but just hard. And I don't know what the outcome will be, but hope and possibility are much more life-affirming than passive acceptance of misery. For a long while, I have been comforting myself with the idea that nobody is really happy. What a horrible thing to believe in. I haven't really recognized myself in the last few years. I can't communicate without fumbling over my words. I can't love the way that I'm wired to love. I haven't been enjoying life and it didn't take long for the pretending to love life to get old. It's time to knock this forced cynicism on it's ass and reclaim the confident, affectionate, fun-loving nature that I used to possess.
I just had a fun couple of days in New York. I laughed with a friend, sang loudly and off-key at a concert, and wandered through a city where I used to want to live but am content just visiting now. I always have fun in New York, but New York isn't the answer. I need to laugh, to sing, to wander. For the first time in a really long time, I feel like I might be okay. Maybe, I'll be okay.
Tuesday, July 5, 2011
I haven't had anything nice to blog lately, so I haven't blogged at all. Hoping my power of positive thinking dial can be turned up loud enough to drown out the amazing bullshit detector I've been "blessed" with.