On December 17th, Henry and I were Cleveland-bound again, this time for the Craig Owens solo show at the Grog Shop. You might know that I have had a long-standing love affair with Craig Owens’ music ever since he was in Chiodos, even though I feel that I’m starting to out-grow him a little bit at a time. (I love his new band, but there is this braggadocian cloud he’s been riding lately that I’m just not a fan of. It’s really hard to explain, because he acts all Kumbaya at his solo shows, but when he’s on stage with his band D.R.U.G.S., I kind of want to vomit into a hobo boot.) Regardless, Craig still has a way of warming my soul so I thought it would do wonders considering the depressed state I had been floundering in.
Plus, all that time to irritate Henry while he’s trapped in the car with me and the constant rotation of Jonny Craig projects oozing from the speakers, making me fan my face? You can’t get that kind of joy in regular therapy.
Henry’s favorite part of the trip was all the piles and piles of snow that began to appear as we drew nearer to Cleveland. He knew that it was supposed to snow later that night, but didn’t know that it had already previously snowed the night before. I did know this and made the mistake of casually saying that I had seen snow pictures from some Cleveland people on Twitter and Henry was all, “YOU KNEW ABOUT THIS?” like the fallen snow was code for me taking his mom to get a clandestine piercing.
Apparently now on top of sitting around looking pretty, I have to keep tabs on the weather. I’m so overworked in this relationship.
Getting lost, sliding in snow, PISSED.
By the time we made it to Coventry, we were starving and running out of pre-show time. There’s a Winking Lizard near the Grog Shop and we settled on that, because we had eaten there before and I was reaching that point where I was so hungry that I honestly didn’t know what I wanted and we were about to come to blows. Henry ordered a chicken caesar salad and I honestly did a spit-take. I mean, it’s unusual for men to order a salad to begin with, but Henry? HENRY? BLUE-COLLAR HENRY? I have not once in my life seen this man eat a salad unless it was atop a blood-dripping burger.
“What are you suddenly watching your girlish figure?” I asked him.
“No, my stomach is still messed up*,” he mumbled. So what does he do? He orders a salad and a side of wings. He threatened to make me cry if I took a picture of him and his salad.
I felt like living large so I ordered some gingerbread cocktail in spite of Henry’s pursed lips and shaking head. It was pretty much the worst thing I have ever imbibed this side of an egg cream, which made Henry go on a tirade about how I just wasted $6 and I was like, “Jesus, I’ll offer to wash the dishes if your piddly Faygo salary can’t afford a $6 cocktail, go cry in your pussy caesar salad.” It’s just a matter of time before one of us tries to stab the other at a restaurant.
We had just enough time to run down to Big Fun after dinner, which is one of my favorite places to shop in Cleveland. I was hoping to grab some last minute Christmas bullshit for Chooch, but the most annoying people in the world were in there (most of them were probably en route to the Craig show, I’m sure) so I got fed up. I was also going to buy a pair of reindeer ears, because Craig had tweeted earlier that he wanted all the boys at the show to wear Santa hats and all the girls to wear reindeer ears, but then you know what? I got this sudden jolt of self-righteousness and said, “Fuck this, I’m too old to be playing sheep.” So I put it back and got some giant rubber mustache for Tommy and Jessy’s dogs. Next time Craig does something I tell him to do in a tweet, we’ll talk.
Besides, I hate being like other people. I enjoy being the plain old lady at the back of the show. Reindeer ears would only distract from that.
We got to the Grog Shop just as the first opening band was starting. I grabbed us a spot at the bar and immediately began chugging Strongbow. It was either get drunk or be emotionally vulnerable and cry through the whole show. It was bad enough there was one acoustic emo band after the next playing all kinds of wrist-cutting melancholy.
I don’t remember much about the opening band. They were local and their name had something do with Wolves. But the second band, Envoi, came out and I was immediately taken by the singer.
“He is so fucking hot and totally my type,” I hissed at Henry. By this point, Henry likely could have achieved a buzz off my breath alone. I like to slam back some Strongbow, ok?
Henry didn’t respond, so I repeated myself.
“He’s not that hot,” he muttered. At first I thought maybe he was just sulking, but he’s typically a pretty decent wingman so I was confused. That didn’t stop me from tweeting things like, “I can’t wait to date rape this singer after the show, just as soon as I chuck my kid’s carseat out of the backseat.” I mean, I had it so bad that I kept latching on to Henry’s bicep and squeezing, while making purring sounds that probably made everyone around me uncomfortable.
After their set, I kept my eyes on him, willing him to come over to the bar. He had huge gauges and was wearing a slouchy beanie and scene glasses – TOTALLY MY TYPE, RIGHT GUYS? Henry was still frowning over my latest conquest.
Finally, he did end up coming over to the bar, and squeezed in right next to where I was sitting. I was so stunned that I swiveled by seat away from him and mouthed to Henry, “WELL IS HE HOT OR WHAT?” Henry was firm in his stance and said, “No, not at all.”
I quickly spun my head around, letting my eyes scan him just long enough to determine that, oh fuck, Henry was right. This guy was so not hot at all. Not even his sex-voice would have been enough to win me over after finally seeing him close up.
“My eyes are really bad,” I said, returning to my can of Strongbow. At least I know I can still trust Henry as my wingman, even when he wears my pink Delia’s scarf.
Then we were totally making fun of this flapper-wannabe with an angel halo head topper and she totally ended up being with Craig’s “band.” I think she just stood there playing the tambourine. I was not impressed. But before I could find that out, we had to get through two more bands, one of which was My Arcadia, a female-fronted band we recently saw at Warped Tour. I liked them better this time, though I did admit to Henry that I wished the singer was just a smidge hotter. She had good stage presence at least.
Sometime before Craig took the stage, our friend Jason arrived and Henry immediately turned into a sycophant. He’s so ridiculous when it comes to bromances. He practically clotheslined himself against the bar, trying to get the bartender to put Jason’s Boylan’s on our tab.
Craig came out and chose to cover Bieber’s “Under the Mistletoe” as his opening song. I thought it was a joke at first; who wouldn’t? He slowed it down and made it all breathy and serious; I kept waiting for him to stop abruptly and say, “Sike, naw!”
But no. He was serious. This was unironic. I seemed to be in the minority, considering that all the kids in the crowd were going ape nuts over this. I kept frowning at Henry and rubbing my chin, like this was going to help me suddenly make sense of things. It just sounded absolutely ridiculous.
At least the next song was “Lindsay Quit Lollygagging”, and I adore that song so much, you guys. It takes me back to a pre-pregnancy time. But for some reason, I kept finding ways to make everything about Speck, so I started crying, and since I was drunk, it was that stupid half-sobbing/half-laughing psychotic meltdown which usually leaves me wanting to punch people and there just happened to be a group of 4 or 5 asshole chicks next to me who I always see at Craig/Chiodos shows and I’m pretty sure they’re from Pittsburgh and I just really hate them. They do all these horrible exaggerated Glee-movements while drunkenly singing along with flipped-back heads, but this is just when they’re not SCREAM-CONVERSING with each other over top all of the songs.
The last time I felt like fighting while drinking Strongbow was at a Chiodos show in Columbus, only this time it was two jocks standing behind me, talking shit on the Penguins (too bad they won the Stanley Cup a month later, motherfuckers).
Anyway, I think I lost some love for Craig that night. He talked too much and there were times when he was borderline cult-leader up there on that stage. And he’s all “OMG I LOVE MY FANS” to such an extreme degree that it’s almost hard to believe his sincerity. I really don’t like feeling this way! But he leaves me with a bad taste in my mouth now. And also, I paid to hear him sing his fucking songs, not all the kids in the audience. I really dislike that he only sings three words and then gives away the mic.
Meanwhile, Henry’s caesar salad began knocking on the exit door, so he took off for the nearest bathroom, after refusing to poop on the prison-like Grog Shop commodes. I didn’t see him for at least four songs. Which ended up being most of the set, since the Grog Shop double-booked and Craig had to be off the stage around 9. Totally fucking weak. I knew this ahead of time, but I guess I assumed all the other bands would have cut their sets short to give Craig more time. And I also feel like Craig wasted so much of his set on stupid songs.
I really wanted to hear “Bibles and Badges” and we all know it’s all about me.
He did a few D.R.U.G.S. songs (none I particularly care for), “Intensity in Ten Cities” (not my favorite but at least it’s Chiodos), a Cinematic Sunrise joint and a song off the mediocre solo EP he put out a few years ago. Pretty disappointing show, but I was still happy to be out of the house, drunk, and having some quality time with Henry. (I know, right?) And it’s always a treat to see Jason.
At one point, he brought his puppy Charlie out so everyone could say hello and all that did was make me sad again. “SHE’S GONNA DIE SOMEDAY!” I was screaming in my head. I miss my fucking cat so bad.
The last song he sang was “Baby, You Wouldn’t Last a Minute on the Creek,” one of my all-time favorite Chiodos songs. He left the stage and had a bunch of guys hold him up which was cool, but that just made it easier for him to give the mic to the crowd. HI CRAIG, CAN YOU SING ONE SONG IN ITS ENTIRETY? At least let me get a quarter of my money’s worth? Cut the summer camp bullshit, please. He kept stopping during every song, putting his hand behind his ear and screaming “WHAT?” while holding the mic out to the crowd. I cringed every time.
I get that he wants it to be all intimate and shit, but then go for more of a Storyteller’s vibe and DON’T STOP SINGING.
Still, when he left the stage, I turned and walked back to Henry and Jason with my lip all protruding like a TV tray. Jason pantomimed straining to lift it up from the floor while Henry gave me that “Please don’t embarrass me by crying” mustache bristle. Afterward, we hung around and talked to Jason for a little bit before heading back to Pittsburgh, where Henry thankfully only needed to stop twice to tend to his explosive diarrhea.
(I also asked Henry some questions about his night at the show, which I will type up here tomorrow! And hey, don’t forget to tell me if you’re Team Poor Henry or Team Blame Henry!)