Union Bar, Athens OH Sept 29 2017: Screaming Females, Street Eaters, Dana


“We started this day in Philly” groaned a voice some twenty hours away from our dawn. It might have been the same voice that excitedly pointed out that “Today is ‘National Coffee Day’” but I could be wrong…it was dark, what can I do? After loading out of Johnny Brenda’s I retired back to the cat compound, sipped a seltzer and konked right out around 3:45 AM. I popped up at 7:30 AM with enough time for a shower, a little perfume and hair preparation. The heatwave that chased my ass from Chicago to Philly finally broke and my concerns (least until we get into south) about packing shorts have subsided. I hugged CDK goodbye and hopped in the whip…a quick stop into Green Line where we were supplied with coffee, bagels and sandwiches…now it feels like we are touring!

There’s some brave routing on this tour, but nothing says “long haul” like a nine hour drive from Philadelphia to Ohio straight out the gate; some people they look at a map and think “that doesn’t seem far, those states are right next to each other. First time I did the drive from Oakland, California to Portland, Oregon my naive ass couldn’t grasp how far the drive actually was. On a map, Oregon doesn’t look that big; neither does Ohio really, but here we are…nine hours of beautiful terrain.

We got some funky looks from some dudes when we popped into a gas station. I get it, we look like nogoodniks; we clearly don’t  look like we punched Red on election day, in fact we look vehemently opposed to it. “Tell you what,” some older man muttered through his Dutch Masters, “you’re either on one side or the other.” Well my man, I guess we aren’t gonna break bread together. I wish you well on your journey through life and I hope you die happy. I’m pretty sure you wouldn’t extend me the same wishes but here we are.

I have some strange thread to Ohio; maybe it’s because some of my favorite, most loved people are from there. Maybe its because bands that have a profound impact on my life are from Ohio. The shape of the state is funky too, which I’ve always liked. But yeah, Pere Ubu, Breeders, Bootsy Collins, Zapp, Pagans, The Numbers Band, Ohio has a rich musical history, and there’s still a wealth of history and lost voices that are still being unearthed.

Pulling up on the venue, we were parked at the top of hill that looked over some beautiful forestry and a purple and orange sunset. I love those kinds of views from within a city. Union Bar burned down a couple years ago but it’s since been rebuilt. There’s a bar downstairs with a separate entrance and the “live room” is upstairs. There’s a shared patio in the back for the smokers and jokers. Managed to meet a cute dog (a precious white pit bull with light brown spots) that immediately walked up to me when I stepped onto the patio; naturally, I dropped to this pups level and had a moment.

Before all that though, we managed to talk a walk through the neighborhood to a local co-op mexican joint. One of the cooks was a fan, and we got some nice treatment. Enough space at the table to bust out a round of spades; its a card game best played with four people. Marissa and I on one team and Mike and Jarrett on another. We got through a basic round before our food, but I suspect we will have more games ahead of us. Anyway, decent meal—it’s Friday night in a College town, so we all have our hackles up a smidge. No one is being aggressive with us, but when you’re freaks in a territory that is seemingly square, you get a bit edgy. Then again, how square can a city be when one of the best restaurants is a co-op and there’s a movie theater advertising a screening of “The Decline Of Western Civilization?”

Dana are a four piece from Columbus, Ohio. Younger crew, they certainly have a grasp on rock history and invert such history to craft something truly unique. The singer Madeline has a voice effects rack and a theremin. The way they use their voice not just a vessel to provide lyrical content, but to give the music another element—treating the voice as an additional instrument—reminds me of Damo Suzuki from the excellent band Can. Cross pollenate that with the rough and tumble surf/space sound coming from their bandmates, Dana craft a bizarre sound that sounds like some sort of fantasy world where Joe Meek didn’t check out, but instead he guided Hawkwind into the fourth dimension. A very cool band.

Street Eaters came out the gate strong; as I’ve said before, I’m just excited to see what they do each night. Running Johns bass through two stacks gets that wild stereo field going and Megan is just relentless on the kit. It’s always such a reward to see people that come through knowing who Screaming Females are, but aren’t familiar with the tour support only to lose their marbles over the set. I saw that happen a lot last year when Moor Mother came out with us. It’s pretty killer that these guys align themselves with a tour partner that is theoretically in the same lane as Screamales, while remaining stylistically different. The mission: go out, decimate the stage, and leave the audience inspired, even if they still don’t know what just hit them.

Screaming Females set tonight was heavy duty. A focus on newer material, this was a much different beast than the night before. Not to say Philadelphia was bad or poor, just different. First nights are always rusty, so tonight definitely felt more muscular. People were down too, lots of movement, lots of dancing without ruining someone else’s good time. Lot of rock horns in the air during crucial solos/breakdowns. My favorite reaction though came from the back, about four songs in; After Marissa delivered a blazing guitar solo, the sound of what I would attribute to a burly guy—maybe a “King Of the Hill” extra exclaimed in perfect befuddlement and enthusiasm “WHAT THE HELL?!” I hope I get to hear that kind of excitement from the back of the room every night.

We came up for air, loading out into the wild streets of college kids partying hard…watch out for the puke by the whip, and be sure to not drop the keys into the sewer grate. Evan from the excellent bands Vacation and Pretty Pretty drove down from Columbus and offered us a safe place to lodge for the night.

20 hour day…we sardine’d our sleeping bags into Evan’s living room and konked right out. Thanks, Evan; Larry, I’m sorry we missed you.

Shoutout to the fan that gave me a button they made with pressed dead flowers. It pairs well with my button from Beauty’s Bagels.
Shoutout to the bartender whom was more than enthusiastic to serve me a Henergy (That’s Hennessy and Orange Juice. Try it sometime!) for my post show cocktail.

Whip Playlist (Philly to Athens)
95.7—Ben FM
Big Punisher—Capital Punishment
Beastie Boys—Root Down EP
Yo La Tengo—Painful
Monie Love—Down To Earth
R**eman—Two Nuns & A Packmule
Blitz—Voice Of A Generation
Dusty Springfield—The Unknown Album
Primus—Pork Soda
Sarah McLachlan—Surfacing
Snakeskin—Tape
Queen Latifah—All Hail The Queen
Priests—Nothing Feels Natural
New Pornographers—Electric Version
Shoplifting—Body Stories
Sheryl Crow—Best Of
Skeeter Davis—Essential

(Athens to Columbus)
The Clash—Sandinista!
Spowder—tape
Rut—S/T 7”
Minus 5—Down With Wilco