Menomena: Where the Hell Am I? (Nebraska or Maybe Texas)
I just woke up. It's so hot in here. There's something wrong with me. Awfully loud, obnoxiously aggressive music is blaring all around me. Yuck. What is going on? Am I backstage at Ozzfest? Did I sleep through our set? What is that in my throat? Why can't I swallow properly? All this lurching! Are we still in a god-forsaken plane? A heavy metal tour plane with no air circulation? Where the hell am I?
Ah yes. Consciousness is sinking in now. Our reality is that we're driving home. No more shows. I think we're somewhere in Nebraska or maybe Texas. Somewhere hot. Wyoming? No. Not yet, unfortunately. Justin is driving, talking on his new cell phone. It flips up both vertically and horizontally. It might transform into a Chevy, but he hasn't gotten that far with it yet. Brent is riding shotgun, eating granola bars and headbanging. This must be Tool. Brent loves Tool, un-ironically. That's an amazing feat to me. To me, Tool sounds like a naked white dude with tribal tattoos masturbating while juggling huge chainsaws. But that would also be an amazing feat. I guess Brent can have his Tool if I can keep my Andrew W.K.
Ok, I'm fully awake now, trying to be less grouchy. Other than my questionable surroundings at the moment, I really don't have much to be angry about. Well, there is this strange throat thing. I must have burned myself at that Latin restaurant in Brooklyn or something, because it really hurts to swallow, and not just in that usual oh-crap-I'm-getting-a-cold sort of way. My throat feels like it used to feel in high school when I was swallowing acne medication by the handful and those giant pills would always get stuck on the way down. The capsule would disintegrate right there and whatever was supposed to combat my pimples would end up burning my esophagus.
Yum. I should get this checked out.
But back to Chicago. We played the Pitchfork Music Festival and had ourselves a grand ol' time. Most exciting for me was that my wife Holly flew out (with our friend Matt. Dat'r represent!) to visit us. It was weird to see her after everything that had happened over the past month without her. The initial awkwardness soon wore off and we were best friends again.
She was there to celebrate her 27th birthday. All she wanted for a present was to see Girl Talk play. She got her wish on the second day of the festival. There he was, onstage in a suit and tie, hitting the spacebar on his laptop and jumping around wildly. Random fans and Pitchfork celebrities were jumping around with him up there too. It looked fun. Holly even got a picture with Mr. Talk himself. I think it's on her MySpace page now. He looks stunningly handsome, she looks as beautiful as ever, I'd rather look elsewhere.
The next was Sunday, and it was our turn to play. Our set was at 2 pm, right after Deerhunter and The Ponys. The Deerhunter guys were nice enough, I didn't meet any Ponys. It seemed really hot, but I hear it could have been much hotter on a Chicagoan afternoon in mid-July. We counted our blessings and loaded our stuff onstage.
As usual, the Menomena Technical Difficulties forced us to begin fifteen minutes late and subsequently cut three songs from our set. Humming, droning feedback was omnipresent throughout a large chunk of our performance. I just tried to pretend that Thurston Moore had joined us unannounced onstage (like he had with Yoko Ono the night before) and was busy doing his guitar hero thing. But why wasn't he stopping between our songs? Ah, that squealing racket. Hot mic. I kept my eyes shut and the most important show of our career was over
before I knew it.
How badly did we suck? How remotely did we live up to the hype? How off-pitch were my vocals? How many thousand of those people in front of the stage were just there to get a good spot for The Sea and Cake, playing right after us? How many will come back to see us in Chicago, the next time we're there? How little should I care about such questions? Not little enough, evidentially. I'm still contemplating them all, days later. Ugh. Where's the nearest bathroom?
Holly swears the Klaxons were the best thing ever later on that night. I saw a little of their set, but left early to get a good spot for De La Soul. 3 Feet High and Rising was one of the first CD's I ever loved. I remember receiving it in one of those rigid, hard-to-open little boxes from Columbia House in the early '90s.
Along with Tears Roll Down by Tears For Fears, Check Your Head by the Beastie Boys, Bizarre Ride II The Pharcyde by the Pharcyde, Violator by Depeche Mode, and Stop Making Sense by Talking Heads. I remember being really upset that the latter was a live album. All I wanted was to hear the alternative radio hit "Once in a Lifetime" and instead I got a bunch of weird bongo music. I promptly exchanged it for Gin Blossoms. I wore a lot of Fresh Jive and Cross Colours clothing at the time, and my hair was short, bleached, and gelled straight forward. I was quite the trendsetter...I believe Vanilla Ice is still rocking my look.
Anyway, De La Soul live at Pitchfork was like a fun-loving capsule, and I don't mean the kind that supposedly cures acne. They played the hits like they just wrote them yesterday instead of nearly twenty years ago. The Steely Dan samples, the School House Rock! samples, the witty banter in between songs taking the place of album-based skits; It was all there. Prince Paul even joined them onstage at one point, which was quite amazing. To frame this landmark event in caucasian terms, it would be sort of like Phil Spector joining Paul McCartney onstage to promote the release of Let it Be...Naked. With less female problems.
Afterwards Justin and I took Holly and our friend Rebecca out for birthday dessert at a place called Margie's Candies. Margie's is an old-timey place located in an area of Chicago lovingly called "The Crotch" (at least this is what I was told. Maybe the locals just wanted to have a laugh on my behalf when I told them which part of the city I enjoyed eating out in the most). The ice cream wasn't all that great (no offense, Crotch), but it was great to be sitting in a cool place after so much walking around in the sun.
The next day, it was time for us all to leave. Brent, Justin and I shoved off in our trusty van around 3pm. Holly and Matt flew out several hours later. They've been back in Portland for a couple of days now. We're still driving. We're about to pass through Boise though, and from there, the Oregon border isn't far. Our GPS says we'll be sleeping in our own beds by midnight. Pretty soon, this will all feel like it never happened, and then it will be time to repeat the process. Again.