03.11.18—Pyramid Scheme Grand Rapids, MI (Screaming Females, Radiator Hospital, Flushed)

Woke up after a short nap, and hit the shower, some coffee and got baloney’d. I repacked my bag with fresh underwear and shirts for the remaining week. Soon, everyone else was awake. We walked over to Kozy Korner for a super tight breakfast; My omelette was superb, as was my fruit cup, as were my pancakes, but the home fries were undercooked and crappy. Home fries kinda suck in general, so I wasn’t really sweating it.

Said goodbye to my sweet partner, and loaded into the whip. Grand Rapids isn’t that far away from Chicago, but there’s a time zone change and we lost an hour due to daylight savings time, so we feel a bit under the gun. Load in is early. Pyramid Scheme is a pretty cool venue. They have a ton of pinball games, and the staff is mad friendly. They got the dope Simpsons pinball game, which is where my $3.00 pinball budget will go. There’s plenty of efficient space for merchandise, which is a relief.

I’m in an off mood. Being home for less than a day while in the middle of tour always feels so surreal. In tour mode, I’m not aware of my spaces when crashing (even spaces I’ve crashed in before!) so to be incredibly familiar while in the mindset of “don’t get comfy” is strange. That and saying goodbye to Jes always feels somber. So, for the most part I’m really quiet. I call my friend Jayn and do a bit of venting, which helps but I still feel alone. It’s a Sunday, and everything in this town closes mad early, so we have a dinner, though it feels like we ate breakfast only an hour ago. “Now or never.”

The last time we were in Grand Rapids was when the term “My Night” was coined. See, I was working merch right? Marissa came over and put her drink down and said “have this, I’m not drinking tonight.” A couple minutes later—I don’t know what happened, but ol girl got the party bug in her because as I picked up said cocktail, a small hand appeared out of nowhere to slap my hand and was then told “gimme that. It’s My Night!” Since then, “My Night” has worked it’s way into the lingua franca of The Whip. Last time we were in Grand Rapids, we slept at a store front called “Have Company” which was run by Marlee Grace; Marlee is a sibling of Sam from Radiator Hospital. Marlee, like Sam, is very funny and very talented; While they aren’t a song writer, they make art, zines, and do some really cool, beautiful dancing on Instagram.

Flushed open; they’re a bunch of nice folks backstage, and on stage they come through with the fast pop jangle, not unlike Black Tambourine or Camera Obscura. Great stuff. The Radiator Hospital set is like a homecoming gig for the band. All of them—save for Cynthia—grew up in Grand Rapids, so their families and friends are out. This band is great man….writing about music sucks, and writing about the same set for days on end sucks, but there is nothing but great joy in watching these guys wail every night. it always feels like they’re about to fall apart on stage, but it never does. Instead it’s the opposite—rambunctious, anthemic, melodic punk of the highest order. People love it, and they’re the better for it. Screaming Females play a spectacular set, but I’m too moody to appreciate it; that is until they hit “Little Anne,” and for a couple seconds I hide in the green room and let some tears out. I ain’t ashamed—touring brings on some emotions; you’re a little satellite of anxiety and nerves, a stranger in every town.

Load out, and we head into the woods. We are staying with Sam’s parents tonight; Sam’s father, Bruce, is a retired Country radio DJ. He shows us the basement where we will all sleep; it’s full of photos and ephemera from his radio days—Bruce hanging with Willie Nelson, Johnny Cash, Loretta Lynn, Jeff Foxworthy, etc. There’s also racks of records which Jarrett and I immediately gravitate towards. Lotta choice cuts in there—original Mikey Dread records, og Prince pressings (Bruce saw Prince three times, and was in the same room as him once) but the one Marissa and I bug out over is “Philosophy Of The World” by The Shaggs. “That’s some record, huh?” Bruce asks as he packs up a pipe. It totally makes sense that this guy is a parent to two talented freakniks. Marissa eventually konks out, Screaming Females and Radiator Hospital start up another round of Spades, I grab a fizzy water and smoke my last cigarette while talking to my friend Britt out on the west coast. They’re going through a time, and I just wish I could do more than be a voice on the phone. The lack of sleep over the past two days finally catches up with me, and I fade fast, bathed in the warm glow of an old jukebox, which earlier was blasting “Born To Be Wild” by Steppenwolf. Sam asked his dad to turn it down, and I teased him for turning down such a mint jam. Breakin balls and soaking tears.