Onward Summer Tour: The Daze on the Hudson

Posted: July 1st, 2013

I like New York. I’ve learned to be okay as a sucker there, or learned to co-exist with being okay as a sucker there. Like, whenever I go out to eat. I spend more money on dinner than I do a week’s worth of groceries. My bourgeois instincts tell me it’s Okayalright to be decadent once and a while—that the spaghetti and meatballs were worth it.

It was only one day off, then back-to-back shows. The first night the band played at the Brooklyn Bowl. The word on the street spread that the show was scorching hot. True. It was. The AC there went down and the place was a sauna. But I’m guessing it was the show itself people were talking about, because it was a pretty damn good one. The band was on their game. I remember hearing McBain and paused to listen. The last time here the band played McBain, too. How, or even why, I’ve tuned into such minutia is beyond me. I rarely remember what songs are played set-to-set, or show-to-show, let alone from a show 3 years ago. Great Jehovah! Am I going moe.nerd on myself???

After the show a bunch of us hop in a cab back to Manhattan. Our driver’s Moroccan, he says, in his mid-sixties, and slightly hunched over the wheel. A hand-rolled cigarette is buried in the V between his index and middle fingers, where it stays while he clears the front seat for me to sit. From nowhere, a police car, sirens wailing, lights flashing, is speeding toward us, and closing in. I fumble with the cab door. Just like in the movies, my fingers have turned into tiny sausages. In a Buddhist calm, he takes a drag from his cigarette and he tells me not to worry about nothing—they do that all the time—just get in. I do, and he pulls the cab out of the way for the coppers. He’s a good guy, our driver, and laughs and jokes with us all the way back to the hotel. When we get out, it’s only then I notice the cigarette has burned itself out, but is still there, the stub, between his fingers.

The next day the band plays the Beekman Beer Garden. Whether or not the Brooklyn show pushed or piqued interest in that show, I don’t know. I can report the ole Beer Garden under the Brooklyn Bridge was packed, and steamy hot and humid. I mean real steam. You could see it in the air. But what did it matter? The energy of the crowd was upbeat and excited. It seems to me, over the past few shows, that old-time moe.rons are bringing friends to see moe. for the first time. The new people are buying shirts and lots of music. They ask me for recommendations—Wormwood, The Conch, Dither, LA LAs—a Warts and All, or a Stan’s? I say nothing—don’t have a chance—moe.rons at the table offer full reviews of each CD—its merits, strengths, warts and wrinkles. It gets me off the hook with the live stuff. Truth be told, because I so frequently hear the music live, I’ve never listened to any of the live CDs.

I know it’s going to be an interesting night at the Beekman when early on a guy with hearing aids asks me for ear plugs. Then a little later, a guy starts telling me I need to sell deep v-neck t-shirts. “Just think,” he says, “every guy here would have a v-neck on if you were just selling ‘em.” He’s making a hard sell, but his obsession with the v-neck is perplexing. Not only because he’s just taken up five minutes of my life, but mainly, because he wore a tank top. Midway through the second set a lanky blonde with big hair comes stumbling toward me from the river side. I sense trouble, as her motor skills have been reduced to something like the first steps of Dr. Frankenstein’s creation. Her arms are straight out and her legs have turned to stilts. Her balance is precarious … and then she hurls. Projectile ... a botched exorcism ... I may never eat guacamole again … unless it’s buried in a burrito and I can’t see it. Fortunately, she missed—most of my stuff. Unfortunately, the corner of one of my tables was doused—the one with the red table cloth on it—the only one with a table cloth on it. I liked that table cloth. It was a helluva table cloth. It was a nice shade of red. Not too bright, not too heavy. It brought the merch world together …  Alas … a moment later, Frankenstein is being escorted from the kitchen area by two staffers, gently, holding her steady by the elbows, a man on each side. Her eyes are loopy. Her head’s as steady as a bobble head. They’re looking for someone to come to claim her. There are no volunteers.

On an up note, the band’s morphed into a nice reggae arrangement of Letter Home, and the oppressive humidity begins to break, pushed by a breeze off the Hudson. In no time, refrains of NYC were in the air, or maybe, cleansing the air.

Ah, air … fresh air … the Carolinas … excuse me, North Carolina … we’re off again and on our way.