Day 6 – Part 2 – The Middle East

The Boston area has fascinating architecture and street layout. While towns on the west coast are laid out in grids, Boston feels like a European city, where streets are arranged like a wagon wheel. Then add the ubiquity of cars and you have a situation of old meets new. Perhaps like peanut butter and chocolate, or perhaps like oil and water. Cambridge drivers have no concern for lines in the road or signaling. They just go where they feel at the moment, weaving in and out without any second thought. I don’t blame them–the roads do the same thing.

On our way, we stop at a uhaul. The safety chain has been dragging on the ground, and we want them to fix it. No one is there. Apparently this is a uhaul that does not need to worry about customer service.

We have to haggle our way into the loading zone outside The Middle East, and then load into a good sized room and stage. Everyone’s super pro, and their bass headroom is phenomenal. They even let us just backline our equipment, rather than take it all off stage after soundcheck. Stuart tests the chime-a-tron… Success! A cheer goes up from the band. The unit is becoming our most prized possession.

The attached restaurant has a very hip vibe. I like this scene immediately. It’s another one of those venues that exploits a culture in a tongue in cheek way. Maybe harmless, maybe not. We seem to find ourselves in places like this, such as Chop Suey back home. But the food is great!

The awesome thing about arriving early is that you can leave the venue. So much of touring is in a van or venue, and most interactions are on a rushed professional level. it’s a relief to go outside and maybe grab a real meal.

A few doors down is Veggie Galaxy, so Jake and I duck in. This is one of the rare moments for us to grab a decent vegan meal. Yes, I am fully prepared to live off of energy bars and v8 and fruit, but I will gladly enjoy a hot meal–especially after enduring the vitamin c devoid heartland. The decor is familiar. It’s common for veggie places to have a Space themed name, and 1950s decor.

There is a wait–a great sign! We grab a spot at the bar to get some local conversation, and our server is indeed witty and humorous. I proceed to order way too much, and it’s all good. Reuben on rye, hand made chips, an organic lager, and espresso frappe. Awesome.

There is a McDonalds across from Veggie Galaxy, FYI.

It’s a four band bill, which is a bit much for Seattle standards. But perhaps rent is very high on the east coast. At any rate, this is good because I can digest. Usually I don’t eat right before a show because drums are semi athletic.

It’s another great lineup of ambient and experimental groups. All stellar, and we are buying records and talking up the other bands. It’s so inspiring to have a similar lineup! I’m getting excited!

Between bands, we go back in the restaurant to get some air and sit. Some friends have shown up for this show so the inspiration continues to rise. A series of Michael Jackson songs play in the background, and we enjoy and discuss his controversy and talent.

At last, we hit the stage. So easy because we’re backlined! We are pumped up and our expression and communication is improving as we get used to playing in a live environment. Joel is quiet on the road, perhaps protecting his voice, but his singing is so full of presence and is different every time. It’s a pleasant surprise each show, and this is no exception. It’s a meta performance that we secretly get to enjoy.

By the end, my cymbal stands have fallen over and I’ve smashed up the new gong for the first time. It’s a little quiet, so I have to work extra hard. I consider destruction to be a good sign that I’m bringing enough energy to the show.

The burned plastic smell is back, and I discuss with Dave. This could be a melting crossover–again. You see, Dave has a history, and this is a new one. Will his amp become the new chime-a-tron?

Jake and I encourage Stuart to do merch. We don’t have the organizational energy of Susan anymore, and we need the gas money.

On the way back, we get lost several times in the dark winding back streets. Ask our phone batteries are dead. We consider pulling over and sleeping in the van, but fear the irony of waking up to discover we’re only a block away. Eventually we make it back to our host, and collapse in bed/floor/couch

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