04.04.18—Rock N Roll Hotel, Washington D.C. (Screaming Females, Thou, Hirs)

Rolled out of the south philly crash pad for a delicious vegan breakfast with my friend Jayn, and then headed west for a quick shave before the whip arrived. The night before, we had a nice pizza party, followed up with a failed attempt at Karaoke. It was during that meal that our friend Kate asked the band “Can I go to Washington with y’all?” Absolutely. Kate played keyboards in the legendary band Bad Canoes (“Marissa’s New Wave band,” according to major label producer/woke activist Steve Albini) and is a seasoned road pro. She’s also one of the funniest people in the world. I met Kate years ago when I came out for a Bad Canoes show. I was nervous to say anything to someone so sharp and alluring, but we hit it off quick, hung strong, and have remained friends since. I truly wish I was as talented, hilarious, gorgeous and free spirited as Kate. Yes, of course, duh, absolutely you should ride out with us.

Traditional co-op scores, and we are on our way to Washington D.C. Last time I was in D.C. was with Jenny Hval; it was the last night of a tour I worked for them, and the day before my second tour of duty with Screaming Females. That particular night was the night of second presidential debate, the one after that Access Hollywood bruhaha and we were all certain it was the end for that monster. Standing on the upper deck of DC9, and seeing bars across the street full of people cheering or booing the debate like it’s a basketball game. Nevermind that the wellbeing of millions of American’s are on the line, lets embrace this as sport. Sick. Before THAT night, I was in DC something like five or six years ago to see Unrest perform. My partner and I drove down from Chicago for that reunion. They’d grown up in Maryland (Silver Spring, Takoma Park) and cut their teeth in the D.C. punk/hardcore scene. This was now years removed from that era, and they were losing their mind over parts of their past being replaced by condos. That’s how it goes now: everything you love will eventually be replaced by a condo. Every subversive counterculture you love will be replaced by a media conglomerate. Every record store you found your calling in will be replaced by a fucking streaming site.

Anytime Screaming Females ask me to go on the road with them, my first question is “who’s coming out with us?” The second question is often “Canada? Again?” When I was told that our tourmates were Thou and Hirs, I thought “Sick, this is really gonna blow some minds.” I love how this band puts a tour together, pairing up with some unique sounds, one tour it’s a futuristic rapper, another it’s a song writing cannonball, or here, a powerviolence duo and a southern doom steamroller. I was well familiar with Hirs, but didn’t know much about Thou, other than the reaction I’d get from heads when I’d tell them the lineup. “Really? wow.” None of that is bad, it’s more like “wow, peanut butter and pickles together?” You know what though, fuck it, it’s a party and pickles and peanut butter are BOTH great, and they can be in the same room together.

I was informed that this venue—Rock N Roll Hotel—sets their merch on the second floor, above the live room. I’m never crazy about venues that do this, but I’ll live; later on, as the show becomes more packed, I realize why this is the case and am thankful I’m upstairs. The venue really knows how to treat a band, as they have some comfortable dressing rooms for each group, free food/beverage, flowers, and we were gifted a pie from a neighboring bakery. Nice touch. We all lounge around and cavort here and there with our fellow tour mates; I feel good about this tour. There’s an equal balance of unity and autonomy. Kate and I nestle into a couch and talk queer shit over relationships, gender roles, outfits, etc. I’m so happy she’s here. I don’t see her enough and she’s a positive reinforcement in my life. Jenna from Hirs comes by to chop it up, as does our host for the evening, long time friend David. He knows my partner from back in the punk days; small world. Even smaller, Thou’s drummer for this tour is this dude Tyler who played with Bully for a minute, back when the band I’m in, Fake Limbs, toured the midwest with them. Such a pleasant surprise, and the guy is a beast on the tubs.

Hirs kicked things off with a blinding 13 minute set; incredibly loud, cathartic anthems of trans/queer resistance, survival, triumph. Jenna is an electrifying performer, tethered to a pink mic chord, screaming through the multi-cab pummel brought on by her bandmate, Scott. By the time Thou started, I was sequestered to the Merch area. That didn’t mean I couldn’t hear them, as their powerful rumble rose from the floor below. The band plowed through the crowd with a voluminous onslaught of creepy doom. My friend Geneva turned up; she’s a long time pal, who’s nothing short of charming positivity. “My two friends met at a Thou show, now they’re married!” Quite a juxtaposition from what’s being presented. Screaming Females had the crowd eating out of their hand, jam after jam after jam. People were swaying, singing along, freaking out, hell even the band was in the joyous zone, adding an extra part to “Doom ’84” much to the crowds delight.

Big merch rush at the end, I didn’t think anyone would come upstairs, but this crowd knows the routine. Old old buds Mike and Kendra came through—I’ve known them for about as long as Screaming Females have been a band. Great to see them as always. Erin from Bratmobile was milling about and told me I’m “internet famous.” “No no no, I’m just dumb. PRETTY, but dumb.”

Load out, throw a very giddy Kate into the whip and head to our bud David’s house. I slept in a broom closet.