Not really keepin’ up with daily updates of what’s happening over here in the US. Don’t really find the time for it, basically. Just too much going on, which is quite good on it’s own. It’s saturday the 11th and we’re at the MegaHz festival in Charlottesville right now, Ben Miller is playing and I think I’m finding my time to write you down some words. One week that we’re here already and so far it has been a blast; played five shows and met up with lots of new people.
Last monday we picked up our rental car, which turned out to be a Red Chevy HHR instead of the Ford Focus we expected. At first sight it was a bit… ugly, but during the week it started to grow on me and I kinda like it now. I actually had to ask somebody how to work the automatic handle… turned out that there are more options on the thing then you actually need (for normal driving). On monday we didn’t have a gig scheduled and so we decided to do some sightseeing in Washington DC (visiting John F. Kennedy’s grave was quite impressive). Later on we headed for Richmond where we would spend the night at Kenny Yates’ place. Kenny makes his own blend of noise under the moniker Caustic Castle and is also co-organizer of the MegaHz festival, where we are right now. That tuesday we followed Kenny on his way to work, which is at a big organic food supermarket. My biggest surprise was the 15 different kinds of humus that you could get… in Holland I only find 2 different ones… We had our breakfast there (oatmeal!) and bought us a cheap-ass mobile phone that will make communication a bit easier. Wilmington was going to be our next destination.
We meet up there with Carl Kruger. Somebody I’ve known for years through means of the internet and today I would see him for the first time in real life! Awesome! or Aws! …as they say in Wilmington… We felt very welcome at his house; his girlfriend made us a nice dinner and we had some time to chat about things. After dinner we get the Wilmington-in-one-minute-tour… during which Carl sped us through the city at (what felt like) 60 miles/hr and was bombarding us with all kinds of facts: the “Stab and Grab”, the White Front cafe and some haunted places amongst other interesting sites. We pick up equipment for the gig tonight at a vegan family of whom the mother opted that Obama should unload a gun in McCain’s face, at the debate tonight… a surprising display of anger from a woman who seems to put so much love in the things that she does; the macadamia cookies for instance, where delicious. 8 years of Bush has left some open wounds…
We’re playing at a venue called the “Juggling Gypsy”, which is also a hookah bar… A hookah turns out to be a waterpipe, but that term might get you arrested when using it on the streets… We’re treated on some beers from our host for the night: Laura. Beer and USA might not be a logical (or tasty) combination at first sight, but there’s something going on here which is called “micro breweries”. Local breweries that produce Lagers, Ale’s, Stout’s and more. The first confrontations are really not that bad at all. Especially the Ale’s have a distinctive taste over here.
What about the gig itself? Great! Not a lot of visitors, but we had our fun.
The next morning, I wake up like a broken old man… my neck and back aches from lying in an awkward position and I’m at the max of my cold. Apart from that everything is going well. We shower and have breakfast (in bowls that were made in China…) and then we head off downtown, to have coffee with Peter; a saxophone player who was also performing at the Gypsy yesterday. We join him and some of his friends, outside at Bella’s nearby the water and end up having a nice afternoon in warm and sunny Wilmington.
We cancel the plans to visit the sea and continue our tour towards Chapel Hill, home of one of best indierock bands ever: Superchunk!
Upon arrival we discover that Chapel Hill is a big university town and you can smell tradition in the air, as it turns out to be the first US university ever. We arrive early at the Night Light, unload our stuff and take some time to relax. Driving in the US, by the way, is really well organized and no stress at all. Information on the highways is clear, logical and to the point: in many ways the contrary of what we’ve heard before. So far we found all our destination without too much hassle.
Time to set up at the Night Light and meet up with again another batch of new people. Quite a good delegation of Chapel Hill’s experimental music scene is present at our gig; a.o. Craig Hilton with whom I ought to share a bill some 1.5 year ago in Brussels. Might have been the UK tour that interfered…
Promute is opening for us tonight and delivers a delicate flowing microsound set that we both enjoy. People are quiet, just like you wish them to be at these sort of concerts. Am happy with my set and when I go to the toilet afterwards, I hear from a guy leaving “that was awesome dude”. What more do you need?
Night Light couldn’t deliver us a sleeping place for the night and when Wouter has finished his set, he opts the question of lodging to the audience.
A girl steps up to us while we’re going through our sets of the evening and she invites us to stay over at her place: we’re getting more and more away from our initial concept of the American. They really are nice people!
I had a beer too many, so Leilani (the girl) drives us and the Chevy to her house and there we meet up with Dianna (her roommate) and later on also Linda (the other roommate). We have some more beers, some chats about politics, dorm rooms and other stuff, and basically having a lot of fun with each other. It’s 4:30 when we eventually hit the sack and the next morning we feel a bit bad about Linda not being able to finish her paper about Iraqi women and Dianna skipping classes.
We decide to go out for breakfast with Leilani and Dianna, i.e. they bring us to a good place. Somewhere last night, a decision was made to visit an all American dorm room at the campus and around noon Leilani takes us to her friend Dominiq, who gives us a little tour. According to Wouter, this was his best experience on the tour, so far. Guess the dorm rooms didn’t really do it for me, but apart from that I’m feeling really happy here. Hanging out with the girls was maybe my best experience so far. Politics and media can give a distorted image of each others culture and don’t really show the person behind the image. I feel very lucky that 3 American girls and 2 Dutch dudes stepped over that border yesternight 🙂
Leilani has another drink with us after the dorm room experience and it turns out that we can return a favor by giving her a lift to Durham. There we say goodbye and make plans for meeting up in New York next week. Which is good, because I already start to miss her while driving towards Greenville: the next gig on our list.
In Greenville we’re welcomed by Jeffrey; the guy who can be held responsible for the whole up-and-happening music scene in Greenville. We’re playing at his house, opening up for two indierock bands… which is an interesting combination! Set went well; we chose for a more harsher set tonight and it went down well with the visitors. If they are happy then we are happy. We’re leaving early tonight as we have some plans in Raleigh but they work otherwise so we have reconsider our plans. Hickory is the destination for tomorrow and is a long ride so we opt for a motel. But then we remember we have some new friends in Chapel Hill…