I shoot a look to Jake, “Do women ever stop talking to you?”
Jake smirks back as if to say, “I’m sorry dude… but not really. Not so much. LOL.”
Not that I am entirely surprised that twice in the span of ten minutes some random cute young twenty-something has interrupted our quest for a glorious H&M suit. Nor am I entirely surprised that whilst standing next to Jake I am reduced to the human equivalent of a neutered cat.
“Would you be interested in being a hair model?”, I couldn’t help but notice how the freshly colored locks of the young woman traversed perfectly along her jaw line accentuating an extremely coy gaze. She was completely and clearly in some sort of True Blood vampire glammered state.
As I waited for awkward suit feedback under the patient and vacant combinant hum of the flourescent lights and air conditioning, all I could think was, “I need shoes”. The suit I picked out fit perfectly and I am seriously convinced H&M uses my 5’9″ proportioned frame as a model for everything they stitch. Particularly in the butt. I hate saggy-suit-butt.
A good suit is just something every guy should have. I have two: a DKNY 3-button pin-stripe that I fear is now extremely dated (twelve years in the making) and an all-purpose dark gray suit that looks like it is ready for its first job interview, and then possibly a nap. (It was actually a required purchase for a recent groomsmen appearance.) Neither will suffice for a party… (read this next part as if it was Oprah Winfrey announcing a free car give-away) …on the mezzazine of the Liberty Hotel in downtown Boston!!!
But I digress.
The band recently took a trip to Vermont where we performed at a… well, I’ll get to that. But, the main theme here is that I am truly never leaving New England. Not to say I won’t travel, or enjoy a part-time residence on the Skagen coast of Jylland, Denmark. But after wrecking my skin in the desert, suffocating my lungs in the South, challenging my liver in Montana and depriving my collective conscious as a child in (and of) the Midwest–I feel somewhat completed in New England. The problems I face as an individual are now my own and no longer a symptom of my environment.
I wrote a song last autumn appropriately entitled, “Never Leaving New England”. I really couldn’t think of a better way of saying it. Basically the song is a break up letter to my previous residence of Tucson, Arizona (a decade in the making). I wouldn’t say the lyrics are as obscure or abstract per my norm–and I don’t want to give too much away, but I am pretty sure the song is going to be blasted at Fenway on a regular basis. It’s sort of my “Rocky Mountain High”.
What’s funny, too, is I didn’t think the song would take. Meaning, I didn’t think it would pass the Lagoon audition.
A little insight into the Lagoon “new song development process” (or NSDP):
Usually, but not always, I will introduce a mostly written song (melody, lyrics, chord progression).
“Shush! Don’t try and play along yet!”, I demand as I do my best to articulate the prose to my peers. [Side note: I am not a nervous performer type. Oddly, when introducing a new song to the band I become slightly anxious.]
Eventually we jam on it and depending on the collective mood of the room the song is either destined for instant greatness (immediate return on investment) -or- the song is carted off to the Lagoon compost pile where eventually it decomposes (pun intended) and produces some sort of external function–possibly a fertile B sides “David the Tornado” side-project?
“Never Leaving New England”, for whatever reason, gelled within a few run throughs. Instant-fucking-pudding.
I would love for it to be our “Wicked Game” forever cementing a Chris Isaac like following. Seriously… that guy could record the sound of himself shitting at a truck stop and then go on tour crapping on stage in a disco-ball suit and guarantee a sell-out tour. (I do love that man and I love the fact he is performing the True Blood theme at his shows since it is fairly obvious he was robbed. Really Jace Everett? Really?)
It’s been awhile since Lagoon has had a sleep-over date. Of our “summer tour” Burlington, Vermont was our longest trek–albeit our only trek.
One of the things I love about being in a band, especially this band, is that there is never a moment void of some sort of ridiculousness. We absolutely have to fucking start video taping our existence, I know it is far more ludicrous and entertaining than “The Hills”. Is that a reality show? Is “The Hills” some sort of reality show…? I just sort of guessed based on information I have pieced together from Robot Chicken and The Onion.
There was some confusion about our departure time on saturday morning. I let everyone know that we should leave at 11, ensuring we would hit the road by 12. I made the mistake of telling Pat “we would probably end up leaving at 12″ which he then took to mean we wouldn’t be leaving until 1.
We left at 12:30.
Our first stop was filling up for gas which took us all of the way to the edge of Roslindale (our hood) barely crossing into Jamaica Plains (the hood we want to live in). It was a “must stop” as the sliding door of the band van was in need of some good old fashioned foot stompin’. Normally the door is never opened; however, much like Pandora’s box, once opened it doesn’t close (and additionally lets out Jake’s noxious gas). [Take that cute haircut girl! He farts nonstop!]
I filled up the red beast (exactly $78) and Jake and Pat demonstrated their best judo kicks to safely secure the door… mostly so no one would have to listen to Marisa complain about being able to see the moving pavement. Like, so what if you don’t have a seat belt and the door could fly open and there is no arm rest to grab onto and you and your high-hat stand could go flying into the Audi in the next lane. Such a freaking wuss.
Second stop: “I’m hungry! I’m hungry!” Seriously, and I’m the High Maintenance band member.
We stopped 30 minutes into the drive at the “dueling random diners of Interstate-93″. I wish I could remember the name of the town and diner, but I cannot.
Everyone went for the breakfast buffet but me. I ordered the “California Omelette”, it was cheaper and only took slightly longer to arrive than the self-serve feed trough.
It just seemed like a lot to pay for a lot of meat I wouldn’t eat–and buffets gross me out.
I was scoffed at until the bill came.
I should point out that we had a stow-a-way on our adventure, Kate, whom I believe to be a reincarnated 1970’s Scandinavian popstress.
ME: You kind of remind me of… I don’t know, the blonde chick from Abba.
KATE: That’s so weird, because I just performed a skit at work where I played the blonde chick from Abba.
Our third stop was just within the New Hampster border at the glorious duty-free liquor depot. It’s always interesting to see what each band member selects as his or her poison:
Marisa – Ketel One – solid stand-by
Jake – Some random scotch no one was familiar with (i.e., not “one of the Glens”) – adventurous
Pat – Jameson (12 year) – upgraded stand-by
Me – Blueberry Stoli – couldn’t make a decision and then ended up with flavored vodka (D’oh!)
“Seriously you guys, I snore… I get up a lot. I’m not going to sleep well with five people crammed in a hotel room,” this was my plea, my argument for getting my own room. I know I can be a prima-donna… it’s a fairly obvious band stereotype straight out of Spinal Tap. But my intentions were only half self-obsessed. And I was going to pay for it of course.
“The room before tax is $129 a night,” the desk person informed me as I pressed my credit card between the knuckles of my middle and ring finger shuffling it like a poker chip.
“Maybe I should suck this one up,” I pondered.
I went up to the band accommodations to drop off my accoutrements. I looked out the window and I could see everyone in the van waiting for me as the rain pounded down.
Back in the van Pat asked, “Are you really getting your own room?”
“It was really out of respect for you guys… I snore really loud. And no I didn’t get my own room.” I just kept thinking about the wretched night of sleep that awaited me—and how no one believed my snoring bit.
And then I was thinking about how I am getting old. I’ve become a cranky old man that snores. When the fuck did this happen? Ohhhh right around 32.
We drove to the approximate location of the Venue, The Radio Bean, and after circling around the block seven times we realized that we had driven right by it (seven times). We parked the van and ran down the sidewalk in the pouring rain to what is (without a doubt) the smallest venue Lagoon has played to date.
We crammed into a booth and were surrounded by hippies thoughtfully tilting their heads to various acoustic solo acts. Completing the picture was a wet dog blocking the entry way of the bar/coffee hut. We all simultaneously exchanged silent glances that read: “what in the fuck are we doing here?” Only food and alcohol could console this situation.
Back into the rain, Marisa and I make a charge across the street to a Japanese restaurant with a covered patio.
Flo Fong, a good friend of Marisa’s that also attended the same micro-biology program at the University of Arizona, recently moved back to Burlington and met us out. (It’s always good to know a local.)
We pretty much had the veranda to ourselves with exception of two well-groomed men sipping on sugar encrusted lemontinis.
Soaked and bewildered by our predicament we contemplated our next move. I can’t remember if it was my idea or someone else’s but I thought out loud, “perhaps another band has cancelled at a more apropos venue in Burlington and surely fate will steer us to said venue. Furthermore, I must run errands that do not require your presence.” Wait, I didn’t say that last sentence. That was Bill the vampire.
Pat and I began dialing on our Jesus phones while huddled over our exceptionally small “large” Sake.
Somehow my sushi and sake ended up being $52. For me. One person.
The rain storm broke and we decided to just get the show over with. We gathered our equipment outside the entrance along the sidewalk and determined we could maybe, maybe, fit a third of it inside. Full drum kit? No way. Bass cab? Are you kidding? My amp… Yeah right. So basically it ended up being Jake plugged into a house amp that fluctuated between barely working and not working. I plugged my acoustic right into the PA, Marisa striped her drum kit down to snare, one tom, bass drum and hi-hat and Pat, well Pat played with his normal set up. Someone had to keep Lagoon sounding like Lagoon.
Honestly, it sounded half-decent and I know for a fact that every single person in the audience: Kate, Flo, the bartender (who until my request had never made a martini) and the gentlemen that played before us, all really enjoyed our fractured take on modern life.
We spoke to the guy that performed earlier (let’s just call him “Guy”) and he was really impressed. There was something about him… I’m trying very hard to remember. It’s like he… Spent some time in Berlin? Or something? I just remember that he was living in Berlin. He was a part of the Berlin music scene. In Berlin. He lived there. In Berlin.
One of the code of band ethics I strive to uphold is staying for all the bands on the bill no matter what. (Even if the other bands aren’t borrowing our shit).
As an artist I am very open-minded and by nature I am very interested in all aspects of the fine arts. When the saxophonist and xylophonist set up I thought, “Huh. This has potential.”
The sax player began with an avant garde soliloquy of trills and random sax farts. Cool. Interesting. It’s the notes in between.
That is when I lost it. Completely.
The xylophonist started flailing his limbs with ridiculous exaggerated movements, falling on his xylophone with spastic herky jerky palsy-like fits. This was accompanied with a small cymbal and metal bowl that he pushed across the xylophone bars like a ouija board eye. It was totally ridiculous. I pretended like I was getting a phone call because the pain of with holding my giggling was painful.
I broke through the doors and vomited with laughter. I wanted to ask them, “So… Really?”
I would have named this duo, “The Asshat Experience”.
Seeing as we had the whole rest of our night free we decided to explore all that Burlington had to offer in the nightlife arena–possibly scout out a normal venue. Flo offered to pick us up at our hotel which was most gracious.
After freshening up in the very cramped room with some Blueberry Stoli and tonic, (and some scotch for the fellas), we piled in the back of Flo’s little car like silly little clowns. (If my memory serves us correctly Jake was the only one affected by the pre-outing imbibing and made the trip fairly entertaining.)
Burlington seemed fairly bustling… lots of bars. Lots of people out. Lots of cover bands, reggae and jam bands. Bachelorettes getting on stage… some hand dancing.
I’m not completely convinced we didn’t play at the right place after all.
Everyone was pooping out so we headed back to the hotel. I was dreading it. Dreading my night of no sleep.
Marisa took the cot, Pat and Kate took the fold-out couch which left Jake and I on the king sized bed. With the exception of Jake waking up every 45 minutes–I SLEPT GREAT! I mean I slept really fucking great.
And here are the reviews:
PAT: Oh my God… DUDE! You fucking snored all night long! Ugh… I got no sleep!
MARISA: So, uh… when did that start?
JAKE: You really need to have that checked out.
For lunch we met at Flo’s mom’s Chinese restaurant where we were treated to a personally prepared meal of various authentic dishes. It was really incredible and it’s amazing how when Lagoon travels we always seem to have very fortunate experiences.
So, you know… just a peek into a typical Lagoon outing.
Oh, I almost forgot. We took a tour of the Ben and Jerry factory. “Made by hippies, mass-distributed and marketed by a heartless corporation”.
I recommend asking the tour guide if all Ben and Jerry’s is made in Vermont with real milk from Vermont cows.
(hint: it is not.)
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At this point in my band-career I normally have rather low expectations when performing at a venue that has the word gallery, café, grill or family fun in their respective name; however, I always try keep an open mind.
Lowell, MA: I didn’t really see enough of the area to make a formal opinion; legend has it that Lowell was once a mill town. (Which leads me to believe that since it is no longer a mill town rumors of Lowell as being a little rough around the edges may be true.)
Here’s the thing… I always try and take something positive away from any experience. In this case it would be Tepthida Khmer. Seriously, I would almost make the drive back to Lowell just to eat here again.
As of late, it would seem that culinary adventures have been a prominent characteristic of Lagoon endeavors. A few weeks ago we ate dried guppies (Korean in Allston), this weekend it was Cambodian in Lowell.
As a generality, I would place Cambodian fare somewhere squarely between Vietnamese and Thai food. Lots of fresh cilantro, mint and basil and distinct tamarind.
A little about Cambodian cuisine courtesy of Wikipedia:
Khmer cuisine is noted for the use of prahok, a type of fermented fish paste, in many dishes as a distinctive flavouring. When prahok is not used, it is likely to be kapǐ instead, a kind of fermented shrimp paste. Coconut milk is the main ingredient of many Khmer curries and desserts.
(We were warned typical Americans do not like this.)
Typically, Cambodians eat their meals with at least three or four separate dishes. Each individual dish will be either sweet, sour, salty or bitter. Chilli is usually left up to the individual to add themselves. In this way Cambodians ensure that they get a bit of every flavour to satisfy their palates.
(This would explain why our individual orders came staggered from the kitchen in five minute increments. It is normal to do a lot of sharing when eating Cambodian, which for us was limited to the obligatory, “Does anyone want to try mine?”)
The presentation was impeccable, the veggies were extremely fresh and tasty. Even the decor and graphic design was impressive. I guess from the outside I was imagining diner tables, plastic chairs and photocopied menus with corresponding numbers for ordering the food (which honestly might not have been a bad idea).
Ordering was a little strange. Our young Cambodian server, Larry, came back to the table a few times after we placed our appetizer entrée with the unfortunate news that the crispy spring rolls were not available as vegetarian, followed by sad news that they were out of Shrimp Ang. It was just an odd sequence, as if maybe we were the first table he had ever served. Or like he suddenly took over someone’s body (and inexplicably named himself Larry) and he was still trying to figure out what his normal functions were supposed to be.
But Larry was very nice. We gave him a few CD’s.
Gallery 119 (which during the show I accidentally referred to as Gallery 118) is an Art Space in Lowell, Massachusetts about the size of a normal sized living room. Maybe a tad larger.
It looked like there was a student exhibition on the walls. “Can you hear me now?” was spray painted directly on one of the walls which was delicious irony after hearing Onslo’s warm up song. Nice gentlemen, but I concede my age formally now and by affidavit later. It was just too fucking loud for me. It would have been interesting to hear the singer’s vocals. I wasn’t sure if maybe they had forgotten to plug the mic in, but no… they were just really really loud.
(According to my iPhone decibel app — they were hovering right around “possible hearing damage”.)
So basically, no one was there–with exception of the other bands and our two stowaways Heidi and Loribeth–so, it was a night of practice in a strange town in an empty gallery next to a stellar Cambodian restaurant with an awkward server named Larry.
Also, I should mention the U-Mass campus had probably long vacated their dorm rooms for the summer putting a dent into the gallery’s normal crowd.
We found out later that Onslo had to leave after their performance due to band drama, so when we took the floor we were actually only auditioning for Speakermute. We played six songs and were getting ready to cut the set list from eight songs to seven when… LARRY! Larry wandered in just in time to hear our last few songs.
Speakermute gets the award for fastest band set up ever. We were trying to clear our shit out of the way while they were just about getting ready for their first song. Pat hit one of the gallery’s movable walls trying to squeeze out of the back exit and it nearly took out the band. They were not excited about that.
I felt bad for everyone. It was just a weird night to no band’s fault. And the sad part is that Speakermute was a good band. My only criticism had nothing to do with their music… Tevas and plaid shorts are never a good idea.
The highlight might have been the preshow whiskey at the bar down the street. If you ever have a hankering for 80′s metal “Vidaroake”, I would definitely check it out.
As “Bah” as the night sounds–it’s honestly just part of being in a band. Sometimes the show’s are awesome–like our last Alchemist Lounge show–and the muse of the night is strong; and sometimes it’s just incredibly dreadful.
I give the show a C-. I thought we actually performed really well. And, we ate some great food.