Archive for 'On the Road'

North Carolina recap…

Monday, May 5th, 2008

I arrived at the Greensboro Coliseum around 7am, having driven ~12 hours overnight to get there. I stopped twice to rest my eyes along the way, but only once did I manage to fall asleep - and that was only for a single hour - my only hour of sleep between 8am Wednesday and 11pm Thursday night. There was no one there when I arrived other than a handful of truck drivers and venue staff who were starting to show up for work.

I found an isolated spot in the shade where I could rest for a few hours without being hassled by anyone (other than a janitor who just wanted to make sure I wasn’t dead or dying). Flash forward a few hours and I hear the first notes of Arcade Fire tuning their instruments. I wasn’t close enough to clearly see the people on stage, but I picked out Win, Jeremy, RĂ©gine, Colin, Sarah and someone who looked a lot like Richard. The only question remaining was whether or not that other dude onstage was Tim or some guitar tech.

So there I was…spying on the band as they tuned their instruments and soundchecked a handful of songs. In retrospect I must have looked like a junkie to the venue employees that saw me - and they’d have been correct to think that, although not in the traditional sense. As I listened to the Arcade Fire soundcheck Heroes it became clear that I’d made the correct decision to get there for this show - especially since I was pretty sure we had a proper lineup. I made my way down to the line that was forming outside the gate and met up with my brother.

Flash forward a few more hours and we’re on the rail. Before long, Win casually comes out to say ‘hey’ to the people up front. I know it’s probably been said a million times, but Win Butler is easily the most grounded ‘famous’ person I’ve ever been around. Good vibes all around before the show.

Superchunk were fun and enjoyable in the opening slot. They brought lots of energy and played songs that rocked. At one point the singer joked (I’m paraphrasing) ‘that nothing speaks to the issues of this election like a bunch of songs from 1993′.

It was kinda surreal to see Arcade Fire come out and set up their own instruments (in broad daylight) in between sets. Just before the set, Will Butler got up and delivered a (fun) speech about how this election is special not because or race or gender but because we have the chance to elect someone who can fundamentally alter the direction of this country. The gist of it was that he’s tired of all these crappy Presidents (like Rutherford B Hayes - lol) and this was our chance to elect someone who would improve peoples lives (like FDR).

A few songs in, Win gave his own little spiel about how our generation have been exposed to such a high degree of commercials/propaganda as kids that by now we’re able to see clearly through the bullshit.

I’ve said this before but it merits repeating - there’s no place in the world I’d rather be than front row at an Arcade Fire show. The intensity they bring to the brilliant songs they play is like nothing else I’ve experienced. Their timing may have been a little off on one or two of the songs and there were a few minor technical glitches (which are to be expected at a show like this), but that stuff only served to enhance their authenticity - everything about this band feels real and pure. They were in excellent spirits - just happy to be up their playing together again for a cause they believed in. Great. fucking. show.

I left the show with every intention of hitting up Carrboro the following day, but as the exhaustion started to set in on the drive down to my brother’s place in Charlotte (which is in the opposite direction from Carrboro), I decided that I should quit while I was ahead rather than spending 5 hours driving to and from what would probably fail to live up to my Greensboro experience.

I spent the remainder of the weekend lounging around, watching my brother’s collection of taped soccer matches, and playing wiffle ball - it was just like old times…

Come down from the mountain, you have been gone too long…

Tuesday, April 29th, 2008

The time has come for another (insane) concert road trip. I should really know better than to attempt 10hr+ solo drives after last year’s Denver fiasco, but the lure of free Arcade Fire shows (in support of Barack Obama) plus the chance to see my brother (who relocated to Charlotte last year) was just too good to pass up. So Wednesday afternoon I depart for North Carolina - accounting for 2 power naps along the way, I should arrive at the Greensboro site on Thursday morning sometime around dawn.

At the moment I’m focused on stockpiling music for the drive. Nothing is more essential to a road trip than having a wide variety of music at your disposal. It’s important to mix it up between old classics and good new shit - especially on the longer the drives. I always make sure to have plenty of quality live material by as many bands as possible. The hours just fly by when you lose yourself in a brilliant live recording.

Closing Thoughts on the Denver Road Trip…

Thursday, September 20th, 2007

On the eve of my 12 hour fucking long return drive, I spent half the night lying awake in bed on the couch in between vomit trips to the bathroom. I’m pretty sure it had nothing to do with the pot brownies (they’ve never made me nauseous before - plus this was over 48 hrs post brownie consumption) and everything to do with the flu bug my friend’s wife enjoyed Saturday and my friend had on Sunday. She was all cool about staying out of the community bowls for our benefit, but it never occurred to me that maybe I should refrain from using the same drug paraphernalia as the guy sharing the bed with the sick broad (SMRT!).

Well do you think this means you maybe oughta think about getting some new shit, what do ya think?

Well do you think this means you maybe oughta think about getting some new shit, what do ya think?

I had originally planned on departing by 6am local time, but that went out the window when by sunrise I still couldn’t stand up without feeling sick. As I slowly packed my things, I realized my primary bowl was missing. I grabbed my friend’s keys and scurried out to check his wife’s car before she left for work. As soon as I hit the pavement my bowels informed me that I would need to find a toilet in short order, but I had to check that car first. No dice. Then it happened - every human being’s worst nightmare - I sharted myself. They really need to start making underpants with ctrl-z functionality.

Fast forward to 7am Denver time: I’m wearing clean clothes, I’ve found and packed all my belongings and I’m on the road. So what if I’m attempting a 850 mile drive on less than 4 hours of sleep…after what I’ve been through, the driving seems relaxing. Then I hit Denver rush hour - nothing too painful, but it’s always frustrating to be stuck in traffic during a multi-state commute. I settled into a nice groove once I got out of Greater Denver, eclipsing 500 miles during my first 7 hours of driving.

Then came the rain and pretty soon I had to get off the road and take a break. I could sense my ability to focus on the road slipping, plus I was listening to The Who (roughly 8 years ago I totaled my first car on a road trip…in the rain…while listening to The Who) - so I found a Wallgreens parking lot and waited for the storm to blow through. After 20 minutes the rain stopped, but since the storm was moving in my direction, I found myself driving back into the rain - so I stopped again. This went on for 2 hours or so until I hit standstill traffic in downtown KC around 6pm. Never one to sit in traffic, I exited the highway and attempted to bypass the traffic with comically bad results…

Not only did I take a ridiculously inefficient route that required me to drive through dangerously high water, but as soon as I got back on the interstate I was back in slow moving traffic. Never have I seen so many accidents from a mere afternoon thunderstorm. I made many bad decisions on this day, but my decision to lay low during the rain may have saved my life (or at least my car). I ended up getting home at 9:45pm St Louis time - nearly 14 hours after leaving Denver.

For all my talk of loving the open road, I won’t be replaying this game anytime soon (the drive that is - Denver itself was awesome). Some days I just need to push the envelope and see what I can do (ideally without killing myself). Every day can be a unique learning experience in that regard. On this day I learned to always have a change of underwear handy, to never abandon the highway in a foreign city over a knee-jerk traffic impulse, and that while I’m capable of driving solo from Denver to St Louis in a single day, it’s not a course of action one should willfully pursue.

Is this a…what day is this?

Monday, September 17th, 2007

It occurs to me why I rarely make pot brownies anymore - the 24-hour period of uber-lethargy that follows. It’s not a particularly painful hangover, it just lasts an annoyingly long time. Short trips to get food and supplies are about the extent of my capabilities during this period. This didn’t seem to be much of a problem when I was in my early 20s…


I thoroughly enjoyed watching Arsenal outclass Spurs on Saturday. It was a free flowing game chock full of classy goals and near misses. I spent the afternoon making brownies and watching episodes of It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia (I’ve gone from kinda liking this show to craving it in the last month or so) before heading down to Red Rocks for Monolith.

Red Rocks is a chill venue and a nice place to hold a festival. Spoon and The Flaming Lips were enjoyable on the brownies - although the latter’s singer (Wayne Coyne) spent too much time talking between songs (it’s ok really, I also talk too much). Good set otherwise though - complete with a Coyne occupied hamster ball brought out by dancers dressed in Santa outfits, a round video screen (”like the one Radiohead used in Grant Park” says my friend) streamer cannons, massive balloons flowing through the crowd…it was a good show.

Alive in Denver…

Saturday, September 15th, 2007

No real problems to speak of from yesterday’s drive, although I was nearly creamed by a Suburban when I hit Denver’s rush hour traffic. That would have been a bummer to drive all that way only to be killed 3 miles from my exit. That’s what happens when everyone in the far left lane is some macho-SUVdriving-tailgating-asshole that can’t slow down fast enough when traffic hits.


Anyways…I’m here, the weather is beautiful, we’ve got this morning’s Arsenal/Spurs match Tivo-ed and ready to go, and as soon as I’m done typing this I’ll be getting to work on a batch of pot brownies. Life is good…