J's Indie/Rock Mayhem

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Friday, October 12, 2007

Notes from Underground - #19
Lighting Out for the Territories


The open road and music. Two things that are compelling matches for one another. Long road trip mix-cds and tapes exist in countless of our collections. Usually marked with some witty name, or even something as simple as 'Beach Mix Vol. 1.' (That's of a two part series - and it's great, by the way.) I have a friend who never started a long road trip without Tom Waits' "New Coat of Paint" from The Heart of Saturday Night. It was always the first thing played - to not do so risked disaster of some kind.

In my mind I've been forever compiling the tracklist to my perfect summer road trip mix - the one that will accompany me when I finally make that 'cross-the-country-and-back-again drive I've been swearing I'd do for years now. There are songs that just radiate that kind of energy. One that forever is on rotation when I think of that (and get ready to make fun of me - I'm expecting it) is Hootie and the Blowfish's "Hannah Jane" from Cracked Rear View. It's the type of song that should play over montages in movies, especially driving sequences.

But want to know what's even more of a thrill than a long journey filled with music? How 'bout a long journey, filled with music, all for the purposes of seeing more music live? Tonight I'm heading to West Virginia to see Josh Ritter. This will be the sixth time I've seen him live and yet, not the furthest I've travelled to see him - Chicago and Austin roughly tie for those honors - though to be fair, I was in Austin for South by Southwest, and in Chicago to see my then-girlfriend and took her along to see him. But I digress.

I've made three absurd trips in my life to see live shows and every one of them involved a lengthy drive, seeing the show, and then instead of staying the night like a good, safe driver, turning around and coming back home. The first of these was to see Tool in Atlanta at the lovely Tabernacle venue. It was on the day that their Lateralus album was released, so a friend and I stopped by a local big box store on the way out of town to pick up a copy. Yes, we were violating the "no listening to the band on the day of a show" rule that I have always followed, but in this case, there was an exception. We wanted to know the new songs, right? Right. We drove down, saw a tremendous show, and then came blistering back home, the Ramones It's Alive blasting most of the way back up I-85 at 3 in the morning, windows down hoping the cool night air would keep us awake.

Next, to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina and its House of Blues in order to see a re-united Toad the Wet Sprocket. It was worth every moment since we were able to score VIP passes for after the show and I finally got to meet all the members of the band. But again, it was back through the admittedly frightening back roads of South Carolina at 4 in the morning. The lone visage of an angry, out-of-gas driver trying to get me to stop, only to slam his gas can down in anger as I went past. Stopping for someone at 3 AM, in South Carolina, somewhere in the country? Sorry, guy. In those cases, I'm just not the good samaritan. I pulled back into Greensboro around 6:30, nearly dead from exhaustion, but exhilarated none the less.

Last, to Washington, D.C. to see the Streets and Dizzee Rascal. I was certain this was a rare opportunity. And yeah, okay, so Dizzee came to Chapel Hill the next year and that show was even better, but I don't expect the Streets to be coming around, and a packed 9:30 Club was a great place to witness Mike Skinner at the peak of his skills. Outside we saw a few people I knew and they conveyed their plans to stay overnight. But my travelling companion had to work the next day, so we were bound for the interstate, coming back around 4 or 5 AM, feeling as if we'd really seen something great.

So why take such ungainly risks to see a concert? It's just music, right?

If you agree with that statement - why are you even reading my blog?

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