Sunday, February 26, 2006

a punk rock show

Working those weird early morning shifts last week pretty much wore me out. I went in at five Tuesday, four Wednesday, and three Thursday. Luckily, I've had the last three days off to recover. I'm just now feeling back to normal.

Friday was pretty much a recover from work day and get ready for the finale to the Week of Rock. N's brother, P, got into town and I had lunch with he and N. Then after coming back here and packing, we were ready to hit the road for the short trip up to Atlanta. We got to our destination and checked into the hotel we'd be sleeping in.

When choosing hotels our only criteria was that it needed to be within walking distance of the venue. There were several hotels that fit the bill. One was a Holiday Inn Express, one was The Stratford. There was a forty dollar difference in price. We chose price over comfort/safety/amenities. Twenty bucks each is a lot of beer to leave on the table if you have the option.

The reviews (1, 2) made it seem much worse than it actually was. Sure, it wasn't in a very good area but the rooms were behind security doors and there was an iron fence around the place. After checking in and seeing the sparse (it reminded P of his efficiency apartment from college), we headed down to The Varsity for a chili dog dinner. If you are ever in Atlanta and haven't been to the Varsity, shame on you. Do it, you won't regret it.

We drove back to the hotel and put P's new Passat in the safest looking parking space we could find and began to hoof it down to the venue. Passing a gas station, I remembered we wanted to take a chance at the two hundred and twelve dollar jackpot the Mega Millions game was promising. I put down two for the cash option to the teller behind the two inch thick glass who was studying the absorption rate of oxygen by the lungs per breath cycle. Yeah, I thought it strange too.

Realizing that this was probably our best chance to buy cheap beer before getting ass raped for beer at the venue, I procured a twenty two ounce Steel Reserve. Since we were headed to a punk rock show in it's truest sense, I thought it appropriate to go for a higher Oz/%/price quotient and leave taste out of my decision making process all together.

I thought my brew would run me at least two dollars but I was pleasantly surprised when the clerk only wanted a dollar twenty nine. I forked over the change and was issued a plastic bag. P, tending to stay on the legal side of the street on most occasions decided not to take part in the gas station beerfest. When we got outside, I decided the only appropriate thing to do was to chug as fast as I could. My goal of one minute wasn't met and with about half my can left we decided to walk on to the venue. As we rounded the corner, I was informed by a man in a lemon yellow suit accompanied by a lemon yellow Ford Thunderbird that I was violating the ordinance and needed to leave the premises if I wanted to continue consuming my beverage.

We did. We got in line with all the other punkers and wanna be punkers. We waited the half hour until the doors were scheduled to open, then we waited some more. In that time, I seriously contemplated walking back to the gas station to procure more liquid goodness but decided against it.

We got into the show and waited for the first band to come on. They pretty much sucked. The lead singer looked like a frat boy and was trying to be ironic but just came across and an untalented ass. They aren't even worth mentioning anymore.

The three bands that we were there to see were The Loved Ones, The Lawrence Arms, and NOFX. The Loved Ones are an up and coming band that coalesced out of a few defunct Philadelphia bands. They were pretty good Sunday in Birmingham and they were good in Atlanta. I can't say that their album is a must have, but it's pretty good and it will at least go in my rotation.

P is all about some Lawrence Arms. They are pretty much his favorite band, bred for their skills in songwriting and rocking. Since I've known we were going to this show, I've been giving them a lot of listening and they have slowly crept up the list to be among my favorite bands. They are that good. We have been eagerly anticipating their new album, and checking their myspace page every day to hear the newest tracks. Last Sunday they mentioned they had their album for sale upstairs, a full two weeks in advance. P jumped at it and has been rocking out to it all week. I've just been rocking to their older stuff.

When we saw them Sunday, we were able to introduce ourselves and say hi to each member of the band. It was pretty awesome. How often have you gotten to meet your favorite rock stars and actually have a conversation with them? Me, on numerous occasions. Ha!

We got to talk to Neil Hennesey at length. He's a damn cool guy and took time to answer all our fanboy questions about The Lawrence Arms and he and Brenden Kelly's side project The Falcon, which P and I are also enamored with. At the end of the show Sunday in Birmingham, I asked him for the setlist but unfortunately, someone had already swiped it.

We saw him hanging out at the merch booth on Friday and went over to say hi again. Amazingly, he recognized us. We talked some more and asked more questions about The Falcon's upcoming full length. Apparently it's all recorded and just needs to be mixed when they get back from tour. Neil said that at this point they don't have a label to put it out on but they were going to talk to Fat Mike and Fat Wreck Chords as well as Brett Gurewitz and Epitaph. If all goes well, he seems to think that it will be out by summer. I've got my fingers crossed. One other thing of note, since it's a side project they can pretty much do whatever they are feeling at the moment, he said they put some Ska on the new record. I'm not sure how I feel about that, but we'll see all in due time.

When I asked him what it was like touring with NOFX, he told me that it was pretty much what you would expect it to be and more. A nonstop party. "We were in Ft. Lauderdale the other night driving around at one thirty in the morning looking for a strip club because Fat Mike wanted to find two strippers to bang out."

I got down in the pit starting with The Loved Ones. It was a stellar time. Plenty of room to dance and jump around and rock out. The crowd was into them but since they are so new to the scene and their full length has only been out a week, I'm not sure if everyone was familiar with them.

Things started to get crazy when The Lawrence Arms came on. Brenden and Chris the singers both had shirts that said, 'He likes the cock' with hands pointing at the other guy. It was pretty funny. They put on a great show and it was much better than the show in Birmingham mostly because the crowd was so much more into it. P who is a much calmer and less outgoing guy than I even got into it. We stayed in the pit most of the time. I know I hit the ground several times. I even got him up on top for his first crowd surfing experience. I went up and over twice.

I left the pit during the last song so that I could go around to the side of the stage to try and get the set list that Neil had promised me. Sure enough, true to his word he brought it over. That meant a lot to me.

After the set, we went back to the bar too cool off. At this point, I was shirtless, drunk, bruised and fatigue was setting in. P tracked down Brenden and got to have a conversation with him which made his day. He even told P that he looked like the drummer's brother from the Broadway's a band he used to play in. It was my round to buy so I ordered, 'Two PBR's for us and a Jim Beam and water for the rock star.'

NOFX came on. They were good but they played a lot of stuff I wasn't familiar with. I was actually kind of disappointed. I recognized probably five out of the twenty or so that they played. I think this quote P overheard in the bathroom sums it up. "I'm not sure about seeing NOFX, I think they are passed their prime. The fucking band is older than I am." I heard they suck live and while I wouldn't say they sucked, I would say it could have been better.

Some hippie kid who looked a lot like Jesus lost his shoe near me. I helped him find it. When I gave it back to him he was super stoked. He kept thanking me. I just kept telling him 'Dude, it's cool, don't worry about it.'

Then I lost my watch. I told some kid during a songbreak. He found it shortly there after. The hippie kid with the shoe insisted it was good Karma. I think so too. I'm glad I found my watch, it was a highschool graduation present. All it needs is a new pin and it will be wearable again.

After the show, P and I walked back to the hotel where we passed out. When I woke up, I had a busted lip, a cut forehead, nine bruises and no hangover. What an awesome night. Week of Rock concluded. It rocked to it's fullest maximum potential. Success. Now, it's back to the grind of punching the timeclock.

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