Tonight was going to be our first house show. A house show is exactly what it sounds like although the family who set this one up has it down to a science. They’ve had a bunch of cool people like Califone, Centro-matic, Mark Eitzel, etc. play there, and they sell tickets like a regular show so it’s not just a group of buddies hanging out throwing peanuts at the trained monkeys. There are about a hundred cool things about our experience, but near the top is the fact that all the tickets sold out in one day. There’s no way that’s a bad feeling.
We’d known Scott, our host, for a while and met his dream of a wife in a beautiful house somewhere in the Baltimore area. I don’t know where, I wasn’t driving. There were brownies in the oven (real brownies – I wasn’t being euphemistic) and they did a cookout for us that was just wonderful. Don’t underestimate the power of a home cooked meal on the road, even if Lisa did waste an entire burger because she bit into a vegetarian one thinking it was meat. The whole host* family (It is a little like hosting a foreign exchange student….. or perhaps an au pair? Maybe even a naughty au pair. I’m thinking sternly Teutonic with a taste for Ratzeputz, and a habit of weeping softly to Beethoven’s Late Quartets) decamped to the master bedroom so everyone in the band could have their own bed. I stayed in one of the kid’s rooms, surrounded by Adventure Time posters and Legos. Very comforting, although if this hadn’t been our last show it probably would have felt like putting a snail dragging a lemon with a razor blade shoved through it up my arm by making me miss my kids even more.
The only times we’ve played Baltimore were at a very small bar called Mum’s. Any place that was willing to risk it by letting us play their venue on that first tour holds a place in our hearts. Mum’s compounded that by introducing us to a homemade spiced liquor called EVL that is apparently composed primarily of grain alcohol. Its unofficial title is Christmas in a Bottle, which should give you an idea of its taste. Really, any more than one drink and your life goes into a swirling shitter of blackouts and pain. It’s wonderful and they bought us our very own bottle to take home. The second time we played at Mum’s was several years later and a sizable contingent showed up in the Wussy shirts they had bought that first time. To see them again at this house show, God knows how many years later is amazing.
At 7:00 the doorbell rang and I just wasn’t ready to socialize yet. I had some pre-show jitters I guess so I went up to my borrowed room and sat on the bed in the dark and just shut down for a while. I felt kind of guilty though so at 7:45 I went upstairs to see if any one else was around; and found that every single member of the band had, without discussion, done exactly the same thing. Hid in their rooms in the dark.
The show was in their living room. We were to be the litmus test for having a full band play as opposed to the more typical acoustic variety. Scott had rented a nice sound system and to our joy it was a great sounding room. We’d thought we were going to have to play a very sedate set but somehow between all the factors (including Kevin the sound guy who did a great job) (his name really was Kevin) (some people are named Kevin – get over it) we were able to play our regular set without making people’s ears bleed. Once we started it felt like a regular show. It was a dream crowd really, full of people who love the band you’re in and feel like they’re sharing something unique and kind of special with you. Oh, and it was also a pot luck so there was food everywhere, and huge (tracts of land) tubs filled with all the fancy beer that Joe and I love.
The show broke the record for most merch we’d ever sold, and was the longest set we played on this tour at around an hour and forty-five minutes.
So thank you Baltimore and especially our gracious and kind hosts.
*Wussy are parasites