October 11, 2011

The Road To Somerville: The Hush Now Memos Tour Diary Dispatch 3 (Cleveland to Chicago to Minneapolis)

The Hush Now take Chicago, Minneapolis
[In this episode of The Hush Now's Memos Tour Diary, bassist Patrick MacDonald recounts the Boston-based indie rock quintet's assaults on Chicago and Minneapolis, storied American rock and roll cities each one. MacDonald's account of communing with the Gods of the Upper Midwest independent rock scene in particular brings a smile to our face. THN is taking the long way around, touring a large swath of the U.S. over the next couple weeks en route to a hotly anticipated homecoming show at Precinct in Somerville, Mass. Oct. 22 with Soccer Mom and Chandeliers. We reviewed The Hush Now's new record Memos right here. -- Ed.]

God almighty! Kids, one thing you must learn is that if one is to be up at 8:00 in the morning one should not stay up after a show until 4:30 in the morning talking and jiving with your sound man and a half bottle of Johnny Walker Black, it just makes for a really bad morning. Trust me.

So we started our morning heading to one of our favorite cities, and that would be Chicago. Jon did the first leg of the trip with me as co-pilot; he clocked about 200 miles, I did 179 miles, and in the process I almost beat the crap out of a tollbooth in Indiana that said we had five axles (count them for any that has driven a van). We sat for 20 hot minutes until we finally got up to the toll booth, and I had to put our money into what looks like a slot machine. So while hanging out the door looking like a complete idiot trying to figure out why it's going to cost the band 30 dollars at a toll, Noel -- the man of reason that he is -- came to my rescue like some dashing knight, and the toll machine walked away unharmed [This time -- Ed.].

We rolled into Chicago and headed straight to the south side and to the HQ of Fearless Radio, where we had the best interview we have had so far on this tour. Kris, the host, was so amazing and spot-on with her questions that it made the whole experience a pleasure, as did the rest of the staff at Fearless. We also had a chance to learn some great history about the building that the station was housed in. It was once home to a car showroom back in the '40s, and has an elevator that is big enough to hold a Packard and can fit three Priuses [Prii? -- Ed.] nowadays (put you head around that). Barry and Noel each did an acoustic track, and they both nailed it. All in all a great way to start our day in the Second City. After the interview we headed to the north side of Chicago and to the Stage Bar. We had some time to kill, so we scouted around for a place to eat and found this fine watering hole. Food was ordered, drinks were drank, and a fun time was had by all. So back to the club we went.

Let me say that -- after all my years playing in bands -- this was the strangest night I have ever had. For one, the club was volcano hot, so throughout the night watching the stream of folk exiting and entering the club was like watching salmon swim upstream. Also, before any music was played (and there were four bands that night), we sat thru 12 comedians. Now don't get me wrong, we all enjoyed the interesting Midwest humor, but after seven hours in a van you just want to PLAY. The one saving grace was the MC of the evening, Mr. Flabby Hoffman. He made everything relaxed and cool and was really funny. In the meantime, we did a lot of swimming upstream with the rest of the patrons, and enjoying the birthday party for a local woman who's name I can not remember. The show went really well, we played great to a packed house, and also had the chance to hang with Adam's folks and that was fantastic, as it had been almost a year to the date that we last saw them.

After a good night sleep for all, and a fine breakfast at the Arrowhead restaurant (dine in-carry out), it was back in the van. Jon and Joel rocked the serious drive to Minneapolis. Now to me, this is almost like driving into Mecca, as this is one of the most hallowed cities for rock in the United States. Just the names of bands that called this burg home reads like a "who's who" of independent rock, before it was tagged with that horrible term "Alternative." We arrived at the club and walk in and I am floored by three things. First thing I hear is the sound of Screaming Trees; second, I look above the bar to see a framed Don't Tell A Soul poster with a broken headstock from one of the band members guitars (I will not hazard a guess whose it was because I don’t have the facts and neither did the man behind the bar); third, there was a Jayhawks hand-painted drum head with a Yo La Tengo drum head with it. So let it be said I was in heaven; this is the 400 Bar, one of the places where so many of these bands (The Replacements, The Suburbs, Husker Du, The Jayhawks) got their start, so it was really cool to stand on that stage.

After setting up the merch, searching to no avail for some grub, and passing Jon and Joel at least twice in the process, it was back to the club to check out the night's line-up. First up were young upstarts Void Of Reality, who made me smile so hard my face hurt. They brought me back to being a young musican; both Barry and I made eye contact more than once and just smiled and for the closing salvo total auto-destruction (as Pete Townsend put it) and bang the guitar is in shatters and the drums are a mess! King Tuesday was next, doing a cross between female-fronted blues-rock and rap... quite cool. Not the most-packed show, but the most enjoyable sets so far. We were in that perfect place where everything just felt right.... played a great version of "Memos." Next up was Dude Worthy, kind of funny, kind of heartfelt -- all around a good band of guitar, accordion and a little stylophone thrown in for good measure. Afterwards we headed down to First Avenue to check out the eponymous club and The 7th Street Entry, and ended the night at O’Donnovans for some fine Grain Belt beer, wings, cheese plate, football and laughs all around! Thanks again Minneapolis! -- Patrick MacDonald

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Memos Tour
10.06 -- Rochester, NY -- The Bug Jar
10.07 -- Cleveland, OH -- Roc Bar
10.08 -- Chicago, IL -- Miskas
10.09 -- Minneapolis, MN -- Acadia café
10.11 -- Milwaukee, WI -- Frank's Powerplant
10.12 -- Indianapolis, IN -- Melody Inn
10.13 -- Knoxville, TN -- Preservation Pub
10.15 -- Asheville, NC -- Fred's Speakeasy
10.16 -- Nashville, TN -- The Muse
10.17 -- Lexington, KY -- Cosmic Charlies
10.18 -- Columbus, OH -- Skully's
10.19 -- Pittsburgh, PA -- Arsenal Lanes
10.20 -- Philadelphia, PA -- The Fire
10.21 -- New York, NY -- Sullivan Hall
10.22 -- Somerville, MA -- Precinct

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