Friday, December 17, 2010

Breakdown into resolve

It started snowing just before Michael and I left for Northampton. Once we arrived, the combination of the soft falling snow and Northampton’s lights were creating the ideal festive environment for Jesse Malin’s xmas show. If it wasn’t for the cold – a necessary evil of snow – I could have spent the rest of the night just wandering around the streets.

Alas, we didn't. Instead, a quick detour through Urban Outfitters interrupted the sojourn to the Iron Horse. My exam exacerbated exhaustion (+man flu) meant the opening bands were more of a hindrance than highlight, even if they played the Rocky theme song. Some crazy cougars (older than the sun, sparkly shit and leopard print) were out on the prowl, and some marines appeared to jump on those grenades

Jesse came on stage late, meaning I was going to miss the last bus back (terrible news when you feel shitty). None of it mattered when both he and his backing band, The St Mark's Social, started playing 'Burning The Bowery'.

Jesse told his story of tracking down J.D. Salinger before playing 'The Archer' and constantly stopped his set for some worthwhile banter. His band introductions noted that his guitar player had a stint with Danzig and this his Johnny Marr-doppleganger bass player is called Johnny Martin. Mind blow.

We were getting ready to leave to see John St John dj at Bishop's but our exits were thwarted by the extension of a great set. First Jesse was walking around the crowd, followed by some crazy punk tunes and finally his encore.

The setlist was great, and though we left early, both Michael and I were surprised at how good the show was. Even more snowing was pouring at this stage as we braved slipping over and after hearing John call out from a balcony, made it to Bishops.
My favourite picture of the semester. Sam's impending beer spill.

It was just in time for the start of his set, but the room was already full of interesting characters. An overly energetic lesbian was owning the dancefloor (by default, she scared the other punters) while bearded lumberjack types filtered through the door. A lady who looked like Borat's prostitute eventually took to the floor and entered a dance off with the energetic one.

Last time I saw John play I was treated to the gaffes at the end of the night. The same gremlins that caused those were initially visiting him again, but once he got things in order the set went great. He even expertly mixed The Pet Shop Boys' West End Girls with Flight of the Conchords' Inner City Pressure. Genius.

The crowd at Bishop's was certainly a unique bunch, highlighted by one escaped mental patient. A large-scale Rick Moranis clone stood, slightly wobbling to each song. He had all the enthusiasm of someone who had left a lobotomy half way through. Not to be outdone, a home-boy rocked up with a backwards baseball cap and his own headphones.

Tani and Renita, John's German groupies boogied their way through 99 Luftballons before the ugly lights came on and we all headed for the ausgang. It took over 30 minutes in the freezing *literally* cold before a Taxi picked us up.

The nights since have been a prolonged goodbye. Tuesday at Stackers was fantastic, even if the version of Wonderwall Max and I belted out didn't win the competition. The numbers of our group have dropped like the snow. One minute you'll be sharing a beer with someone, the next they're on a plane heading in the opposite direction. I'm fortunate that I'm here for more than one semester, as saying goodbye to everyone all at once would leave me feeling worse than this man flu.

The goodbyes at the bus stop on Thursday felt temporary, Ollie, Max and Jen will be back and I'll see Essex misfits in the warmth of Australia's winter. However, if these were temporary the stupidity of Peach, Sam and I is a trifle more permanent. For an hour we were bemused by a frozen pond, throwing whatever we could find onto the surface and playing chicken with the cracks.

This stupidity extended into the night, as we all went back to Stackers to see off John and Mike. Evan's entry was another xmas miracle, as he used Michael's passport with a $10 note inside. Again, it didn't take him long to get over-excited, but that's what we were all there for. Everyone returned to the dorms, and it wasn't long until the police were called for noise complaints (despite being in a basement). We were all there for fun, and some tears were flowing, it's just a shame that some people have a black and white outlook on rules.
Soviet Massachusetts

So now I'm still to finish all my work for the semester. Being sick hasn't helped, but neither has going out every night helped that.It's also affected how I planned on going away. I usually have few inhibitions about running away, but spending precious time with people and not being able to speak properly has forced a shift of plans. However, I do have my bus tickets sorted and from Tuesday at 1PM, I'll again be armed with a backpack and notepad. First stop Buffalo, NY, ending in New York City a few weeks after.

PS, if anyone is in Toronto for xmas or new years let me know.

Ryan Adams & The Cardinals - Stop Playing With My Heart
Xmas arrived on Wednesday when I received my copy of III/IV on vinyl/download. It's so amazing. I just need a record player to finally hear how it is meant to sound.

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