MerryDeath #74

    Before I left New Orleans nine months ago, I had been playing drums with my partner Icky (who played tuba) and my friend Stella (on guitar) in a punk band called the Foreheads.  It was our first real band, and we were all nervous and trying to figure out how to be on stage without feeling like pissing every ten seconds. We recorded a tape and went on a three week tour, with our awesome roadie Amos and a lot of anxiety.  Part of that revolved around me being super sick and pregnant, waiting till New York for my abortion appointment.  So many shows were with local emo bands, bands who hated us as much as we couldn’t stand them.  It was really hard, mostly because we knew coming home would feel so climactic; Icky was moving to Pittsburgh, I was soon to follow, and the band was going to end.  That was a year and a half ago, and we all missed each other so much we decided to do it again.
    Stella and Ski came to Pittsburgh, we practiced 6 times, wrote a bunch of new songs, and Ski’s trusty van Isabella was gonna take us down to New Orleans where Icky and I would find a way back with our equipment.  We booked the shows a week in advance, and surprisingly had amazing luck, thanks to Ski and all of his friends.  I joked that he was like the tour manager, always supportive and booking most the tour.  We had 8 shows booked and it would be very quick.  The first show was Ann Arbor and I was happy to see Stella and I weren’t the only ones with some of our lyrics taped to the mic stands.  We played at a collectively run, diy record shop and show space, everyone was super nice and we had fun while it snowed outside- the first time Iíd gotten to see snow in years!  We played the next night at Trumbullplex in Detroit, a collective house with a warehouse theatre space where events happen.  It was a benefit for the Upside-down Culture Collective, who are putting out a book of post 9-11 art.  We were greeted with a surprise that John had recorded us, and it sounded great.  Bec and Erik did a great puppet show to the song ‘Pirate Jenny’  and we played with some other great musicians.  Food Not Bombs was cooking as we left and they gave us a shopping bag full of food.
    We stayed in Pittsburgh, where the Y’erd me? zine tour was supposed to perform at a local college; they cancelled the show last minute and The Big Idea came to the rescue, letting the zine tour and us play in the space.  Ski drove a straight 14 hours to Chatanooga, while Icky and I slept pathetically in the back of the van.  We hadn’t been able to get hold of anyone in Chatanooga beforehand, so we had no show lined up, but by ten that night, Ski’s friend Tom had gathered at least 30 punks for a show in his basement.  We tried to play each song three times without success, and only made it through one song before Stella yelled, “I’m so drunk I can’t play!î”  But it didn’t matter and some other drunk kids threw together some songs on the spot, often playing the first thirty seconds of each before falling apart as well.  It was awesome, fun, we all sang along to the first lines of the Dicks “we don’t want no fucking war” before no one new any more lyrics or chords. In Atlanta, we played a show at a club where each drum had a mic, and we had monitors to hear each other.  That was the first time I could hear what we sounded like as we played.  It freaked us out, it was super weird, kind of embarrassing, but everyone was so nice it didn’t matter.  People were super friendly, they took us to an awesome bar with a punk dj playing old 80s punk and oi, and played free pool.  We stayed with a really sweet guy who told us a lot about the politics in the city. 
    The farther south we went, the more my heart started melting from all the friendly people, and the more amazed I was at Ski’s neverending ability to drive our asses around, to keep positive and kick ass.  In Gainesville, we were invited to a lovely candlelit dinner on thanks day, with two home- made tofu turkeys and gravy galore.  Meeting up with old friends, staying in a beautiful house next to a community garden; people were building a fence in the back for the dogs and totally motivated and inspiring.  I got sick, passed out on their couch for a day and everyone was super sweet offering me tea and blankets.  I puked before the show and felt a ton better.  It was another show at an awesome, collectively run record store. We went to Ski’s cousin’s organic farm, where we had a lovely time, delicious beans and rice, and fresh produce! In Pensa-cola, we played at a collectively owned coffee shop, a benefit for a local project.  There were a ton of really friendly kids, lots of women, and it felt like a really small, tight community.  By the time we got to New Orleans, I didn’t want it to end.  We played with amazing bands, each one had someone in another band playing, including Stella in Dirty Charlie, and everyone danced and danced.  We played the warehouse named after a dog who lives there, with all our closest friends.  I screamed so hard I lost my voice, cried so hard I couldn’t breath, and ran out in the middle of our last song puking and sweating.  It was a perfect ending. 
    The whole tour was a super reminder of why I am a part of this community, how we come together, support each other, how it’s not about perfection but the feeling of hope and possibility.  The immediacy of what we feel, how we can go to any city and  have friends to learn from and hang out with.  Through the thick and thin, people were super friendly, open minded, amazing.  I learned again why I love diy and punk.  It’s the ability to act and create our own world.  It’s not just about the music, for me itís more about the people. It’s about dropping all the drama, and spending time with people we care about.  It’s not about whether youíre a crusty or an art punk, or whatever, it’s about how we work together to create our own space, and try to make ourselves better.