Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Ice. Hives. TV.

Friday, December 08, 2006

Icicles cling to the rocks along highway 70. Rural Pennsylvania is quiet, the sun shimmers through the open spaces between tangling branches, sparkling on placid creeks, laying down on the cutest fucking farmhouses, barns, silos, and trembling green hillsides I think I've ever seen. The van windows are cold and the afternoon restless as we tear west, towards home. Chicago tomorrow, then Iowa, Denver, Home.

The tour climaxed on Sunday at The Bowery Ballroom in NYC, hometown for the other three bands. I was sick as hell and gave the last of my broken voice to that show, my head was so congested that I got all dizzy singing, but I had so much goddamn fun! I find at the end of every tour I start to melt down. As the show came to a close, my cough was getting bad, my sinuses were all stuffed up, my throat was like sandpaper, and upon looking in the mirror at my friends brooklyn apartment I found that a nasty allergic reaction to shellfish had covered my back, neck and face in hives!! Fuuuuuuuuck!! (Back to full fledged vegetarianism for me!)

Thankfully, dim red lights in dark and empty Brooklyn bars hide skin conditions well, alcohal increases the sedative effects of Benedryl, and that hollow far-from-home/I-have-no-home feeling can be temporarily subdued with take out thai food, a dvd of Anchorman, and Will's sense of humor... So yeah, somehow I got through that long Monday. I was sick, but I was happy. mostly.

I woke up feeling a lot better on all fronts on Tuesday. The last show of the tour was that night in Philly. (Note: I need to spend a day exploring that city. Its all ancient American architecture, history, statues... and I'm sure a whole lot of other shit). The show was a great closer. All the bands snuck on stage to sing along on eachother's sets and Gabe, our soon-to-be-missed-merch-guy, managed to be invited on stage to dance or yell or play tambourine more than anyone in any band. I hugged everyone a half a dozen times, awkwardly said goodbye, thank you, I'll miss you, I love your music, hope to see ya soon etc....

Now we're outside Chicago. There's snow in drifts along the roadsides, smoke billowing from old smokestacks, power lines, train tracks, tanker-cars, pathetic naked trees, rusted steel and corroding brick, the lake touching the horizon. Last night I stayed in the van outside our hotel and played guitar, tried to get some of my thoughts, my concerns, my anxieties out in some sort of melody. Eventually little flakes began to drift down outside the window. I zipped my jacket up tight and walked with all the purpose one can derive from ice and wind chill and loneliess up the steps to our room.

Inside it was alive. The television warmed the room like a hearth, blue light spilling out between the window shades. Will was curled up under the covers facing the wall, Joey, Gabe, and Bryce spread on the beds with snacks, laughing, making light of everything on the screen. I have to ask what every show is, who each celebrity is, why we are honoring this person in the first place. TV makes me uncomfortable. I just see the advertisements, the unatainable and unrealistic women, the misogynist meatheads spouting buzz-words, the producers behind the camera asking for a more dramatic delivery... Such role-models! I just can't stand that someone else chooses what I'm to see, what I'm supposed to look like, how I should talk... Why are there so few spokespeople for our popular culture?

I took a shower, laughed along with them, brushed my teeth, fell asleep and woke up shivering...

...Piles of snow frozen solid on the Chicago sidewalks, pedestrians steaming with breath, laying on my back in the third bench against the window staring upwards at the Sears Tower from the warmth of the van. We loaded our gear into the venue in record time. We're here physically but our minds are already home. The soundguy came upstairs to give us a five minute warning and we hyped eachother up on our way down stairs, ready! ready! ready! here we go! We walked through the bar and pushed open the door to the stage room... Empty. Completely empty!

Select people from the random other bands clung to the corners of the room watching our set. Now don't get me wrong, we have played for the soundguy, and just the soundguy, many times before, and I always take pride in performing for him with the same tenacity as I would at a hometown headlining show, but after such a crazy year of shows, I started breaking the rules...

...I wasn't pissed off. Not by a long shot. And i delivered the songs with genuine emotion... I just saw it as an oppurtunity for us to play some songs we don't usually play... And I felt that I performed the hell out of the full band rendition of "Georgia, Can You Hear Me?" But I guess that the other guys may have appreciated it if I had prepared them for it a bit... It was a hell of a good time for me, but we were a bit divided after the show. We healed our wounds by exhausting our drink tickets (I forgot that I had taken an antihistamine before our set... Things got sleepy quick!). I was falling asleep on the floor of the green room by the time the show was over and the drive from the venue to the hotel felt like those drives home with my family when I was a small child, tuckered out at relative or a close friend of the familys house after a dinner party, carried to the car in my father's arms, asleep against the backseat door, splotchy memories of being tucked into bed. I crashed with the lights on, with my ipod still playing in my ear as the other guys drank icy beer from the trailer, played poker and tore into eachother...

Etta James was claiming "At Last" through my headphones when I awoke. We brunched at a riverboat casino buffet, I drank coffee while some of the guys lost money. Then we drove west as the sun set early overever-passing snow covered Iowan fields.