Thursday, July 08, 2010

Upalooza, Volume 4: Leaving Here

Ladies, gentles, gentleladies, and crass individuals alike:

I need a nap.

I don't need a nap so much as a nap will happen.  A nap is inevitable, in the way that sleep is inevitable, and depending on when it happens to me, the nap might last hours, or it might last minutes, but either way I'll wake up with a beard and a question and the beard will be disgraceful and the answer will be, "yes, you're late for sound-check."

Let's get caught up, shall we?

Chicago Favorite Moment: 
Handclaps during "If You Don't Love Me By Now"!  And not bare-bones handclaps.  We're talking Jack-Black-In-High-Fidelity handclaps, eighth notes and all.  What a musical town.

Chicago Least Favorite Moment:
Leaving Chicago, there's a 21-mile stretch around Gary, Indiana that is among the worst stretches of road I've ever seen, heard of, or could have ever imagined.  It's out to get you.  There were between three and nineteen toll roads, there was endless construction, no gas stations, no rest stops, 40mph zones, and signs everywhere that threatened imprisonment for speeding.  I'm positive Indiana's a wonderful place, but those 21 miles are like the worst amusement park ride in history.  And you have to KEEP PAYING to ride it.

Chicago Road Weirdness/Funsies:
A gas station marquee that said, "LEBRON OR BUST."  Fight on, Chi-town.

Chicago Miscellani:
How about this cover of Big Star's "Thirteen"? 

Grand Rapids Favorite Moment:
Playing "Memphis Queen."  There are plenty of older songs that I enjoy playing, but last night "Memphis Queen" felt brand new again.  I usually have a sense of how a given performance might go, but I live for those moments when a song--especially one I've played so many times--jumps up and surprises me. 

Grand Rapids Least Favorite Moment: 
Driving towards the venue and seeing a biker bar immediately before it, with a thousand Hogs parked out front.  I thought, "I need to learn some George Thoroughgood, or I might die here tonight."  I then realized my venue was a few doors down--whew, right?  Then, halfway through my set, a few of the bikers stopped in for a drink and caught a few songs.  One of them--big beard, leather jacket, built like a linebacker--walked by the stagefront after "Edge of the World" and said in a haggard baritone, "man, you got a pretty voice." 

The lesson: I'm always wrong.

And cheers to everyone in Grand Rapids for being so great. 

Grand Rapids Road Weirdness/Funsies:
Breaking into a MSU med school building?  Seeing landmarks from American Pie?  A sign (re: the late Michigan football coach/legend Bo Schembechler) outside a interstate pie shoppe that read, "HONK IF YOU MISS BO--Love you, Coach"?  Tough call.

But one of my rules of life is:
"Anytime someone offers you an energy drink packaged like this--and its instructions insist on microwaving to an "authentic 98.6-degree temperature"--that's officially the weirdest moment of the day.

So I'll end on that high note, brace for Buffalo and its wings, and check back soonly.

Meanwhile, let's start a debate: anyone know where to get the best wings in Buffalo?  What are your favorites?  Will any NYC folks put their local favorite up against a Buffalo landmark?  Any folks from other cities on the tour willing to compare? 

I've got a few days in each town and would love to do a taste-test.  Give me some of your favorites and I'll see if I can't settle the debate.

In a matter of days,

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