After five days of decompression and debriefing after our voyage, my mental/physical bearings are running optimal once again. Time travel is inexplicably wonderful and mysterious; one moment a second stretches for all eternity, while others drag for eons.
Our plane dragged on. The cramped American Airlines flight didn’t help calm our stormy minds. We barraged the West Coast on three fronts, with Seattle’s sweaty rampage ensuring the victory. Nevertheless, the challenges ahead contributed to the air sickness. Hyperraje Chris would no longer be with us, neither would the old and lovely Gretsch Catalina Club drumkit I started infatuating with. Our Shameless Self Production staff changing-of-the-guard was in order: Mark and Matt, Derrik’s brothers in Boston, assigned the objectives of transporting the bands and equipment in the big city. The 10-year anniversary of 9/11 constituted an array of police-run checkpoints throughout, costing us plenty of time and stress.
Above all, it was the excitement of seeing New York for the first time that deprived me of sleep and sanity.
Upon arrival, a high layer of constant cloud cover and muggy climate lingered the entire duration of our stay. In every direction, trenches of man-altered earth and lights, herds of jay-walkers and cyclists, communicating/cursing each other in amplified tones. After cruising through to the days inn we catch a couple hours of zZzZz before heading to the Gramercy Theatre.
A beautiful space, the largest of the tour.
While dodging pedestrians and early-bird Pillows fans during load-in, my baggy eyes widen at the rentals we have: twin-combo and Orange amps/cabs, but whoa, a DW Collector’s series 4-pc with a waterfall bubinga finish on it!!?? “Are u fuggin kiddin me?” This thing had shined and greased hardware on it, and imho NEVER EVEN NEEDED TO BE TUNED. Of course Yosu, the diligent Delicious engineer, did so out of principle, BUT I never saw him touch the kick drum. The Zildjian cymbals were bright K’s with a new beat HH and nameless ride, gleaming.
As I assembled this wonderful kit, all of us, including the seasoned Gramercy staff (an assortment of pro musicians/engineers) speedily arranged the stage. “This is our time!” I thought…and before I could overthink it and get all emo:
Setup done! Time to skate!
Prior recon revealed a nearby shop, Reciprocal, on E 11th st. near 1st Ave. I zig-zagged through the Flatiron district on my board, south through sidestreets of mixed residences, random parks and odd shops. Twelve sweaty blocks later, at the base of a brick 5-story, there’s a huge fenced-in court, with mannies, ramps, and ledges, a total street-dedicated park. With all the “street” amenities of course!
Reciprocal was right across the street, a small homegrown shop with pinball and a gripful of gear, around since ’99. I chat with John at the counter, then throw my new Jack Jerz shirt over my shoulder and stomp on out, with less than an hour to see as much of the Apple I can before soundcheck at the Gramercy. I get back to see a line around the corner and the Pillows testing their equipment.
While the lighting tech configures settings, I zone out on each spot, each wash he experiments with…SO AWESOME!!! At the same time Shio is always at-the-ready and plucking his bass strings, while Sawao, in all his enigmatic genius, stares at the set list for awhile. What a universe this is!
As doors open and we cozily sip drinks, warm-up, and socialize around our green rooms, I realize our ownage of time once again. Tom is his usual highly energetic and video-taking machine, and we have a dry rehearsal. Blissful anticipation, by far, is the best moment to experience EVER. The feeling can stretch into the actual event anticipated, when something unexpectedly awesome happens, or a wonderful mistake occurs.
In what seemed like a blink of an eye, our set is stuffed down the ears of East Coasters, on-stage antics done and already forgotten. “I didn’t do that, did I?” says Derrik after we pointed out his leap into the crowd at the end. I’m sweat-drenched while Sawao photobombs a band pic backstage right after we’re done, and I can’t stop smiling with my friend Yalun and Mark and Matt. These seconds and minutes we will relive and rediscover the rest of our lives!
I bounce around during noodles’ performance, keeping the afterglow going! It lasted well beyond the Pillows’ blistering set; the encore I enjoyed with Yalun in the seats! At night the city still bustles with people, still humid, still loud, even with my ears ringing. Kids swarm the front of the theatre, talking, glimpsing band members, or figuring out how to get back to New Hampshire, or Maine, or Jersey, or some other club. Yalun and I catch up at the afterparty where we all eat before getting back to the airport. Being my only old school friend out here, it’s pleasant to see her and learn how she’s making it happen out here. NY Life seems fast and bitter, though often sleepless and overflowing.
Happiness and Sorrow the same, I hope to return to New York someday, with more time hopefully. I hardly slept, big ups to Dunkin Donuts coffee!