We began our journey in Weston with two differences: the addition of Mike aka “Tofu Mama” on our journey and the debut of Syba, cuddle dog.
She’s usually one to leave the minute you get too close, or to back out of a hug (which, in all fairness, is probably experienced like a head lock).
But on this tour she was loving the closeness. She also developed a fondness for cans, and decided to drain her four-day supply of Nature’s Balance Vegetarian Recipe wet food while left to her own devices in Weston one cold morning, instead of the Kong bone with treats inside. Somehow it was less work to puncture tiny holes around the can than get the peanut butter bones out of the Kong.
Though we put the can aside in a bag, it reappeared courtesy Syba several times during the trip along with other discarded items any time she was left for a moment.
We set our GPS straight for veg dining institution The Grit in Athens, and rolled up just in time for lunch (Gyro!). To my politely expressed disappointment, they only had chocolate vegan cake rather than butter cream varieties, so the cake plan was not to be.
Next it was time for our in-studio at WUOG. The station is located on the 3rd floor of UGA’s student center, which means it’s not an ideal loading situation. Luckily, the back of the center included an elevator which helped with some of the heavier gear.
Syba joined us in studio. WUOG has one of the largest studio setups that we’ve played – the Shangri La of radio studios. There was an expansive orange room with couches and neatly folded cords flanked by the radio booth and offices.
It’s still quite odd to play under bright lights with no audience (no drinking audience!) and be able to perform “live.” After all, the nature of life is interaction and reaction.
Adding to this was looking up at one point to see Syba, who typically stands right outside our practice room looking in at us, curled back behind the studio recliner hiding from the band.
But the set went surprisingly well, and afterward we stayed for an interview. We learned that WUOG is only one month younger than me. I’m sure that means something.
The staff were super nice and the man in red even brought my throne (drum stool) to our show later that night after he realized we’d forgotten it at the station. For this move, he got the BB red heart of honor.
Following the radio show, it was pretty much necessary to return to the Grit to load up on pre-dinner dessert (best kind) to ensure the cake would not be gone by the time dinner was finished.
We met with our fellow vegan outreach friends Eric and Wendy, both librarians who help run SOS (animal advocacy group) on UGA’s campus. They also connected us with Titans of Filth, whom we played with at the wonderfully homey Flicker Theater and Bar:
We were told by the fabulous bartender Richard, and many others, that shows in Athens run late. We must have waited about three hours before any other band arrived, which gave us time to load in, set up our merch table, walk Syba, prevent Syba from dumpster diving behind the bar, and speak with a sad man who was on the verge of breakup with his girlfriend.
At each show, we offer up a book of blank pages and crayons, asking the audience to draw pictures. Since we were so early, and this man looked so sad, we suggested he color something. The result was a love drawing to his possibly soon-to-be ex, a sort of plea in color-crayon to stay together with he and …
Though typically not allowed, so smitten was he with the colorful result of his efforts, we allowed him to tear off the sheet of love he’d created and, per his request, give it to his girlfriend, since “It doesn’t really have anything to do with your band.” We’re all about logic, so off he went with his drawing, muttering “Thanks” as he left the club, allowing us first to take a snapshot.
Our coloring book saves relationships. Though it appears fairly humble, don’t underestimate the power of a few strokes of the right color Crayola.
Opening the show for the four-band Thursday bill at around 10:30 pm and counting, the beautifully-voiced Ryan Donegan played a sort of Neutral Milk Hotel-ish sounding songs, followed by another solo performer Antlered Auntlord.
We played next, to one of the most subdued rooms in recent history, true people-lovers who would not sing along to “I don’t like people,” in fact, one could almost hear the love for people within the silence that descended when the moment to sing along arrived. Admittedly, I can only blame the deafening would-be chorus of voices on our lack of planning the occasion to flow in a smooth manner, partially exemplified by my mid-song call/demand to Rob: “Play quiet so everyone can SING!”
The night ended with the excellent Titans of Filth, whose songs and people we quite appreciated. Turns out the singer Sam went to college with Durham’s own Craig AP, and may stop by for a show sometime in our fair town. Take a listen to them here if you have not already – and by all means come to their show when they stop by.
The next day, following a stay at the awesome we recovered with a breakfast trip to the Grit followed by our jaunt to Atlanta’s Dulce Vegan Bakery.
Afterword, Mike got some work in on the fine grass of Atlanta’s public library while Rob read King of Thrones and Syba stood awkwardly.
Next we traveled to the Church Bar, a lovely old brick number that reminded me of Seattle’s Pioneer Square, to meet a friend from past tours Glen Iris’ Justin Hughes. We all left to go to the Tree Fort, which happens to be not in a tree, but an old wonderful building three stories tall plus an attic (the Fort). It’s a beautiful new space in midtown that an eclectic group of military and musicians have set up for bands and performances.
Complete with bar and, that night, free booze, a pool table, and even a bed within the closet–slash-backline room, one really had no reason to leave the Fort.
Starting us off that night was the excellent Duende, a four-piece mathematically inclined energy-efficient bass-driven band we really liked.
In fact, one of the guitarists is a fellow vegan, so it was necessary that we exchange several hugs and high-fives throughout the night.
Mid-set, they were stopped since the police were being called by a neighbor who did not appreciate live music as much as we all did. After a momentary break, the band resumed, slightly quieter than before (volume knob reduced from 11 to 10.5 possibly).
We played to one of the most fun crowds, our favorite kind if we’re allowed favorites: dancing, smiling, responding to banter, shaking pineapple shakers, singing along, coloring in the coloring book. We redeemed our faith in the misanthropy as we ended our set with the entire crowd singing “I don’t like people…” yet eerily somehow they skipped over the “but still…I’m trying” part we like to insert for good measure.
The next planned band, Verge of Bliss, we unfortunately never got to see since there was threat of police calls if the show got too loud, and they were not going to be able to perform quietly enough. We hope to see them another time – nice people who just finished a 10-day tour to Austin. Last up were the hosts of the fine Fort that made this show happen, The Joy Kills.
We loved their glam stamina songs, and in just 1.5 songs they took the energy level of the room out through the not-yet-but-I’m-sure-after-this-show-will-be-insulated attic roof.
Since their set was only 1.5 songs, I’m needing to make do with posting the same photo as above, except with an artistic filter. You will be impressed.
Not everyone appreciated the sound emanating from the attic roof, whose slats of wood resembled a speaker, facing the outside world and most probably causing police response to the party. The show was done, but the party had just started.
After some great conversation ranging from Beat poetry and Justin’s short stay in Ginsberg’s apartment (sans Ginsberg) to the true start of the women’s rights movement and good vegan options in Atlanta, Rob and I decided to camp in Weston around 3 am. Mike was given the special closet which is in just the right place to hear the songs being played and pool being shot for a few more hours.
I’ve said it before: we really have a lot of appreciation for people who run these music spaces – it takes a tremendous amount of work and love to keep DIY places alive. We were happy to be surrounded by so many people who love creating and supporting the “live” arts and the audiences who appreciate them. Syba also appreciated the spilled beer on the floor.
The next day, while Rob went to practice at an Aikido dojo in Atlanta, Mike and I went to Park Grounds Cafe, the most fabulous concept of joining a dog park with a coffeehouse (two things meant to be together, really). I had some tofu scramble, and while I’d like to report that it was delicious this was very far from the case (tip for best scrambles? Allow tofu to brown … use garlic … use nutritional yeast …black salt is nice…cook the tofu).
It was enjoyable having coffee and watching Syba play with her dog buds, but the true nature of existence requires we doubt what might be perfect as such; this seemingly dog paradise was not enough, and instead Syba was unhappy about our being separated by a short see-through fence and commenced whining unless I sat within the dog park portion and allowed dust to be kicked into my coffee.
After a short stop back at Dulce Vegan, we were off to Charleston, SC for the final show of our bite-sized tour.
Big Gun Burgers.
Why would a couple of vegans and a pescatarian play a so-named establishment? Sounds like the beginnings of a knock-knock joke. That’s one reason.
They had a vegan veggie burger — another reason. Good friends L Brown Odyssey recommended the venue. And, last — as Dan Savage once relayed, you gotta join establishment to change it. Though unlikely to end factory farming by way of BB set of approximately 25 minutes at Big Gun, the point is a larger one of integrating with all facets of life. And, did I mention the vegan burgers?
Next up were our buds L Brown Odyssey. We first played with them in Myrtle Beach, then toured through Charleston and shared a show. It was completely awesome to see them again.
At one point during their set, Daniel handed his guitar to this guy sitting across from me, who proceeded to shred so severely that there was not a full piece of confidential office paper in sight.
Following the show, we crashed at L Brown’s casa downtown — beautiful old Southern home with large towering porch.
Best yet, the next morning the kind Daniel made us all vegan waffles with the trimmings! He even got real maple syrup and soy creamer. Hot damn.
Favorite quote/moment from the tour? Comment following our set at Big Gun: “You guys look like you do this full-time.”
Thanks to everyone who played with us, came out to the shows, and met up to say hi. We had such a good time, and hope you did too.