No words, thank god. Just pictures!
We came to Elysburg, PA yesterday for Knoebel’s HalloFun, which was wonderful and I have many pictures to share later! Now we’re taking a roundabout way home so we can stop at Castle Blood, and I asked Henry if I should live blog since there is nothing else to do while in the car but argue. He said no, so that means yes.
9:40am: We just left Mom’s Dutch Kitchen, right across from our hotel. The world’s most miserable waitress works there and it was hard to forget her from last year when we ate there. She asked if we wanted coffee and I said yes, not thinking that she was going to bring Henry coffee too. HENRY HATES COFFEE. HENRY IS A COFFEE-HATING FASCIST. So then she kept eyeballing his untouched cup when she would walk by so I had to keep dumping some of it into mine because she is so fucking scary. Anyway, we’re en route to Punxsutawney. Chooch is mysteriously upset about this.
10:20am: Henry bought a bag of fresh roasted peanuts at Knoebel’s last night and left them in the car overnight so now it smells like nursing home farts in here, ugh.
Also, I saw an exit sign for Lamar and begged Henry to stopped there and in his typical indignant tone, he cried, “WHAT FOR?!” And I bluffed, “Because I heard good things about it?” First he said no and then realized he needed gas anyway so he took the exit and I was all excited until we realized we ate lunch here yesterday.
11:15am: “Hi” by Xiu Xiu just came on which threw me into a wild car-dancing spree, which is incomplete without manic finger-pointing in Henry’s face. That’s his favorite part.
11:40am: Just stopped at some ancient McDonalds so Chooch could get Monopoly things and I wanted coffee but then changed my mind when Henry was ordering so he got all pissed because apparently that was the only reason he stopped and then I got mad because Chooch is basically in the backseat eating lunch now when we were supposed to eat lunch in Punxsutawney and he didn’t even get Monopoly pieces!!!!! UGH!!
11:51am: Just passed an army convoy thing so I got all giddy because I like to barrage Henry with questions about military stuff and he always answers me like I’m someone who gives a shit. Anyway, I was like DO YOU THINK THERE ARE MORE ARMIES IN THE BACK? Henry said he doesn’t know, maybe. DO YOU THINK THEY’RE PLAYING CARDS AND LOOKING AT PLAYBOY? Henry just sighed, “Yeah sure, Erin.”
12:25pm: Took a quick detour through DuBois because Roadside America told me to check out Dr. Doolittle’s Creamery and it was totally disappointing. Shitty ice cream (mine was supposed to be Tiramisu but just tasted like ‘cold wet’) and everything was just a pile of construction. But at least Chooch got to have his picture taken with Bigfoot. (And then Andy Gibb’s “Everlasting Love” came in the car as we were leaving so now I’m not angry anymore.)
1:41pm: We’re in Punxsutawney, enjoying the plethora of ways Chooch keeps mispronouncing it. Saw Phil in his enclosed burrow thing but couldn’t get a decent picture. Walked along a nature trail at Gobbler’s Knob, where Phil’s shadow makes or breaks him once a year, and heard approximate 78 gunshots but Henry didn’t seem worried. The most exciting part for Henry was finding something new to obsess over. Move over moss!
2:02pm: Stopped at County Market to get souvenir magnets, and I mistakenly called it CountRy Market so now Chooch will be riding me about this for weeks because god forbid…Anyway, the one lesson I learned there is that their bathroom is NOT A HOTEL:
2:19pm: I’m ironically listening to some Sunday Super Gold program on one of the local radio stations and it’s all really corny music, obviously, but then some song came on about a hobo on a train and I was like “UGH THIS IS TERRIBLE-SOUNDING!” Turns out it was Joan Baez, who I can’t stand ever since last week when I watched some Woodstock documentary, so then it made sense because otherwise I would NEVER hate a song about a hobo on a train. God.
3:42pm: Stopped at Livermore to revisit the supposedly haunted cemetery after 10+ years since our last ridiculous visit. More on that later, but here’s some nature bullshit.
5:55pm: Just left Jiojio’s, where we ate pizza that Chooch hates because he’s a weirdo. We decided to hide from Henry while he was still inside paying, because we haven’t hidden from him since last night at Knoebel’s, which backfired. Henry pretended like he knew we were hiding but I THINK HE IS LYING. Then I realized some elderly couple was walking through the parking lot and smiling at us because they probably they think we’re such a sweet family, HAHAHA.
7:05pm: WE’RE AT CASTLE BLOOD, KBYE.No tags for this post.
The truth is, I have purposely been putting off writing the last installment of Riot Fest, because it feels like once I write it, then that’s it: Riot Fest is truly over. The whole weekend was so perfect to me, especially coming off the tail end of a summer that was emotionally draining, just a total black spot on the year. Maybe it seems like I’m being overly-dramatic, god knows that’s basically my default, but I’m serious when I say that my three days at Humboldt Park felt like a religious retreat, in the same way that some people climb mountains to escape their past, cast out their demons in sweat lodges, or rail a quadstack off a hooker’s ass in the back of a 1984 Pinto.
This is how I heal.
The whole weekend was a collection of experiences and heart-clutching moments, stepping stones that paved the way to the culmination of my catharsis: The Cure.
As I mentioned in my last Riot Fest post, The Cure was scheduled to play the main stage at 7:45, so we made our way over there during Patti Smith’s 5:45 set in hopes of getting a decent spot.
My expectations were low. I even told Henry that I didn’t care if we ended up across the park by the food trucks. As long as I could hear The Cure (and not shitty Weezer who were going to be playing at the same time on a smaller stage), I was fine. Besides, I had been dragging Henry around like a rag doll all weekend, and I knew he probably wouldn’t want to be standing stock-still in the middle of 50,000 people at the end of the day.
Except that Henry grabbed my hand and pulled me further into the crowd during Patti’s set. Every time even the smallest gap would open ahead of us, he would continue to squeeze us in. And he kept doing this until we finally hit a wall of unbudging people. Still, I was impressed with his determination and how far it got us, so I wasn’t complaining!
After Patti was over at 6:45, people began leaving the Riot Stage, which opened up more spots, so Henry once again tgook my hand and started weaving us closer to the stage. He got us to a really great spot, about 50 heads back from the stage. This was pretty remarkable, considering most people had been standing there all day in order to get a close spot.
Don’t tell him this, but Henry was kind of my hero that night.
Social Distortion began playing on the stage adjacent to us and I was so thankful that we got to listen a decent band for the next hour, because I was so full of anxiety waiting for The Cure, that I couldn’t imagine adding shitty music on top of that. Also during this time, we made friends with the people around us, like an older couple (Henry’s age, probably, haha) from St. Louis. The wife was really kind to me and even offered to take the above picture of me and Henry, which is why he’s smiling — because a stranger is taking the picture. She reminded me a little bit of my friend Natasha, who is also a rabid Cure fan, and I think that’s why I liked her so much.
The view behind me.
The only downside while waiting was the two middle-aged assholes in front of me, who spent the whole wait loudly talking about how they’re such seasoned music festival attendees, and how they saw The Cure last year at ACL and then the one guy, the one who was wearing a huge professional backpack that jutted so far from his back that it kept hitting me in the face, extracted a video camera with an extension stick thing and I was just like, “Oh great. And he’s a rock documentarian, too.”
I don’t think that’s a word.
Then they started making a big deal about passing a joint back and forth, like LOOK AT US, WE’RE OLD AND STILL SMOKE POT! and I honestly had to cup my hands in front of face in case I needed to catch my eyeballs when they rolled out of my head.
When I heard of one them mention Weezer’s upcoming set, it all made sense to me. Weezer fans. Of course.
My new friend from St. Louis pulled me closer to her so that dildo’s backpack wouldn’t hit me in the face anymore, and I thanked her profusely. She was also extremely good at blocking people from getting in front of us once The Cure started. We worked hard for our spots way before The Cure came on! You can’t expect to wait until after they start playing and just steamroll your way through. Bitch, you gotta work for that shit.
I like Social D just fine, but when they were still playing “Ring of Fire” at 7:45, I was like, “I FUCKING HATE YOU SOCIAL D! STFU! GO HOME!” And then Mike Ness kept screaming, “ONE MORE TIME!” and the crowd over at that stage would sing the fucking chorus ONE MORE TIME and it was so obnoxious and we were all getting super agitated.
So they went a few minutes over. It wasn’t the worst thing ever, but that was like an entire extra song that The Cure have played at the end of the night!
But as soon as the last note of “Ring of Fire” petered off into the air, the lights on the Riot Stage came on and the most beautiful sounds to ever have been crafted enveloped us all in such warm beauty. And then Robert walked on the stage and my hands flung up to my chest and basically stayed there for the next two hours, along with the burning lump in my throat and the stinging tears in my eyes.
The Cure, you guys. The motherfucking Cure. This was my fifth time, but it might as well have been my first. Seeing them will never lose its value to me.
I have never been the type of person who could separate herself from the show unfurling in front of her long enough to keep track of the set list. Luckily, I knew that Chain of Flowers (the best Cure fansite in the world) would have me covered.
- Fascination Street
- Sleep When I’m Dead
- Inbetween Days
- Play For Today
- A Forest
- Before Three
- Just Like Heaven
- From the Edge of the Deep Green Sea
- Pictures of You
- Close To Me
- Hot Hot Hot
- Wrong Number
- The Caterpillar
- The Walk
- Mint Car
- Friday I’m In Love
- Doing the Unstuck
- Hungry Ghost
- One Hundred Years
We were this close! Not bad for waiting until 6PM to stake out a spot!
Around 8:30, the idiots in front of me (who acted all smug as they recounted all the times they’ve seen The Cure and the proceeded to just stand there like lumps once the show started…some fans they are) got their Riot Fest alert on their phones that OMG WEEZER was about to start over on the Revolt Stage, so they turned around and began pushing their way out of the crowd. I cheered and then moved up into their vacated spots, which came with a better view of my beloved Robert Smith.
Aside from those Weezer dorks, we were surrounded by true Cure fans. Those who knew all the words, knew to thrust their hands upward when Robert sang, “Put your hands in the sky” during From the Edge of the Deep Green Sea, and who didn’t engage in banal discourse with their friends. I know that if we had stayed in the back, I would have been miserable and forced to listen to drunk assholes scream to each other about sports and god knows what else. Just like the miserable time I saw them at miserable Coachella, where drunk frat boys screamed out, “Play Just Like Heaven, Fat Bob!” and then booed every time deeper cuts were played instead. Fucking Americans. The Cure graces our country with their presence and this is how they’re treated. Coachella will always have such a sour connotation to me. The hipsters can have it.
I can’t think of a better way this weekend could have ended. My favorite band in the whole entire world with my favorite person in the whole entire world (ugh fine, I’m referring to Henry and not Robert Smith). There’s no one else I would have rather experienced this with, no one else who understands how much this band and this music means to me.
When we first started to get to know each other back in 2000/2001, before we were dating, Henry made me a Cure screensaver. Totally out of the blue. I was like, “OK. You have my attention.” I know that The Cure headlining this festival is without a doubt the reason Henry didn’t say no to me.
And he actually said that this was his favorite part of Riot Fest and not because it signified that the end was near. He even displayed moderate levels of PDA throughout the night by placing his hands on my back!
Thank you to this person ^^^ for recording this because my heart felt like it was about to combust inside my rib cage during this one. One of my all-time favorites, ow ow ow.
There was supposed to have been an encore, but they ran out of time. Thanks, Social Distortion.
Even though I think this was the shortest of the 5 Cure concerts I’ve been to (clocked in at just over 2 hours), I have to say this one ranks #2 on my list. Right under Canberra, Australia for the Bloodflowers tour. It was the perfect crowd, the perfect ambiance, the perfect company and the perfect weekend. What else can I really say about it, short of copy/pasting every synonym for “heaven” and “perfect” and “emo” and “STFU Erin, we get it.”
“You know what would have made that weekend even more perfect?” I asked Henry on the way back to Pittsburgh the next day. “If you had proposed to me during The Cure. Way to go, you blew it.”
Because even during moments of extreme, euphoric perfection, I still manage to find the flaws. But I wouldn’t be me otherwise. Right?
RIGHT?!No tags for this post.
Shit. Before we even finished breakfast (that’s a word with which the Econo Lodge takes great liberties), I was already feeling that panicky “today is the last day” sensation percolating in my gut.
(I’m sure Henry was experiencing very different feelings. His was probably more of a giddy countdown.)
We accidentally found a fly-by-night event parking lot on our way to Humboldt Park the day before, so Henry decided THE HELL WITH UBER, we’re going to entrust our car with these people that are wearing neon construction vests so they must be legit.
It took us three days to figure out there was an actual area where we were supposed to be waiting for our stupid Uber rides.
The sketchy parking lot cost the same as a one-way trip with Uber, and it wasn’t my money Henry was using anyway, so what did I care. All I knew was that we were only two blocks away from my homeland and I couldn’t wait to get there.
And stand in line for an hour. Because even by the third day, the gatekeepers hadn’t gotten their shit together.
All three days, we were lucky to not get stuck by any assholes, at least. The guy in front of us, whom I dubbed Dwight Hader, because he reminded me of Dwight Schrute and Bill Hader, was there by himself. “I’m just here for Patti Smith and The Cure,” he said nervously. “Basically, I’m going to get all the way to the front of the stage for The Cure,” he told us of his Riot Fest plans.
“Were you here the other days, too? What was it like? What’s the food like? Is it expensive?”
“Do you think I’ll be able to take in my water?” he asked anyone who was listening.
He was very concerned with his unopened water bottle.
Would it be confiscated? Did he have to drink it all now? Because he wasn’t thirsty yet. He wanted that water for later, when he was raging to Patti Smith. BECAUSE THE NIGHT BELONGS TO WATER.
The girl behind me pointed out that empty water bottles were allowed in, because there were refilling stations. But she and I both said that probably an unopened bottle wasn’t a good idea. The girl’s boyfriend was like, “Eh, just do it. Smuggling in water is so punk rock, man.” And Henry was like “IDGAF what this kid does.”
Meanwhile, the couple behind me were talking about all of the ska bands that they had seen so far at Riot Fest and I was so thankful that I wasn’t there with them because ska is pretty much the only music genre that I flat-out dislike. There isn’t one ska band that’s redeemable to me. I’m sorry if you’re a ska fan. I promise we can still be friends. Just get those fucking trumpets out of my face. I DON’T EVEN LIKE THE JAMAICA SKA SCENE IN BACK TO THE BEACH AND THAT IS LIKE MY FAVORITE MOVIE.
1. Whispering, “It’ll be alright, Water Bottle. We’ll figure something out.” 2. Googling “will I be detained for bringing an unopened water bottle into Riot Fest?” // “ways to make a water bottle in your pants look like a medical condition that security guards won’t ask about.” // “smuggling contraband into a music festival- WWJD?”
- TheMenzingers were due to start playing a few minutes after the gates finally opened. (DwightHader and his unopened bottle of water made it through unscathed!) But we had enough time to hit up one oftheRiotFestmerch booths soIcouldfinallybuy the hoodie I wanted,whichofcoursewas sold out so I got all shitty about and ended up buying a t-shirt that I didn’t even want and then I proceeded to bitch about it on the way to the Roots Stage so Henry was like OMG I WILL FIND YOU A FUCKING HOODIE but apparently he said this to himself because I had no idea where he had gone off to, leaving me to stand alone with strangers by the stage. Then he returnedrightbeforetheMenzingers came out, and he had the hoodie I wanted, but then I was still mad because now I had a t-shirt and hoodie in the same design and that seemed so unnecessary so I threw another tantrum and then Henry was like I AM GOING TO COLD COCK YOU but instead of doing that, he grabbed the t-shirt from me and stormed off and then the show started so I hadtowatchtheMenzingers by myself.
- This was surprisingly the only time we fought all weekend.
- I hated not knowing where he went/what he was doing/if he was coming back.
- Every time I glanced behind me, I thought I saw him, but it was always one of the other 8700 guys wearing a blue flannel that day.
- Even though I was quietly stewing over this hoodie/t-shirt emergency, I still found some room in my head and heart to enjoy the Menzingers. I only have a very base knowledge of them, thanks to my friend Terri, and since I know how much she loves them, I made a point to check them out. It was a good way to start the last day, because they got everyone pumped right out of the gates.
- I texted Terri the lyrics to the one song they played that I really liked, and she was like, “That’s from their new album. That song is so emo!” Which totally explains why I liked it!
- After their set ended,Ipanic-strickenly made my way through a moving wall of people, desperately looking for Henry, near tears (I HATE FEELING LOST), but then he grabbed my arm and I suddenly forgot that I was in the middle of hating him because YAY I’M NOT LOST ANYMORE!
- “You were never lost,” he sighed. “I knewwhereyouwerethe whole time.”
- In case you were wondering, Henry apparently exchanged the t-shirt for an XS for Chooch, which made me mad all over again because why the fuck would Chooch want a t-shirt from a festival he didn’t go to?! And to back this up, when we gave it to him, he was like, “Ok….?” and then right away noticed that one of the bands on the back of the shirt was Pity Sex, so then he was like, “REALLY, MOMMY?! REALLY?!” all annoyed and exasperated.
- “You were never lost,” he sighed. “I knewwhereyouwerethe whole time.”
- There was nothing on Sunday’s line-up that was OMG URGENT for me to see until Billy Bragg played around 2.
- To Henry this meant: YAY LET’S GO FIND A TREE TO SIT UNDER FOR A FEW HOURS AND CLOSE OUR EYES AND HOPEFULLY DIE.
- To me this meant: Let’s wander around and check out the other stages! We might find our new favorite band!
- Of course, my plan won out and that is how we wound up at the Rise Stage in time for Laura Stevenson, who has an accordion player and is just the most adorable thing I saw on stage all weekend. I’m notoriously picky when it comes to girl singers, but her style was kind of old Tegan andSarameetsSherriDuPreefromEisley, in a way. I immediately adored her.
- Especially when she pretty much announced every song as, “OK, this is a sad one.”
- I love sad music.
- Her music was the deceiving kind of sad though, where it sounds happy and upbeat but, no.
- Especially when she pretty much announced every song as, “OK, this is a sad one.”
- Laura’s between-song-banter was painfully awkward at times, which endeared her to me even more.
- Fuck it, go listen to her on Spotify and then buy her albums!
Henry’s mad because we were kind of matching. Also, I think this was right before La Dispute and he hates La Dispute.
THE FRONT BOTTOMS
- Right after Laura was done playing, The Front Bottoms came on the adjacent Revolt Stage. This is another band that I have read and heard a lot about but just never bothered checking out. Since we still had a little bit of time to kill and the stage they were playing on was conveniently located near the one Billy Bragg would later be playing on, I dragged Henry through droves of lost locust-people and claimed a prime spot near the side of the stage.
- And then they came on and proceeded to captivate us for their entire 30 minute set.
- If you can win me over with your stage presence alone, then you’re doing it right.
- If your music is good enough to back up your stage presence, then you’re golden.
- I thought Henry hated them, but he admitted later that they were a high point for him.
- Last week, I came home from meeting my friend Katrina for coffee, and Henry was flat out listening to them on xbox music. “SO WHAT?!” he cried in defense, like his mom just busted him watching tranny bukakke.
- They reminded me a little bit of Never Shout Never for grown-ups, so I wondered if Chooch would like them too. Spoiler: he does.
- My favorite part was when Tiny Moving Parts stormed the stage and started fucking with them. I LOVE IT WHEN BANDS ARE FRIENDS WITH EACH OTHER.
- WhenIsawBillywas listed on the line-up, I died a little of excitement. This guy is a living legend and I made Henry get right up front for him.
- We were surrounded by a lot of Older People so I thought Henry would feel safe.
- In high school, I dated this real piece of shit. Pretty much everyone called him Psycho Mike, because well, that’s what you call a guy who intentionally sets his best friend’s house on fire (thankfully,whilethe whole family was on vacation, but still) all over a video game.
- Yes, I knew this going in to things, but warning labels don’t ever deter me.
- Anyway, Psycho Mike and I didn’t have much in common, musically. I would cringe when he would play Anal Cunt in his car and even though I bought him the Misfits boxed set for Valentine’s Day one year, I made it clear that I didn’t want to listen to it. We would meet in the middle with classic rock mostly, but occasionally he would play things for me that I actually liked. Some of those things were: Neutral Milk Hotel, Hayden, and Billy Bragg.
- Billy Bragg is a British folk/punk singer-songwriter who sings a lot about politics, which usually isn’t my cup of tea, but there is just something about him that has always appealed to me. I thought Henry would be all about him too, since Billy is known to sing in favor of all those blue-collared blokes like Henry. But Henry was just like “eh” when I asked him if he enjoyed it, which basically means Henry is clearly a fascist.
- My favorite Billy Bragg songs are “Must I Paint You a Picture,” “St. Swithin’s Day,” “She’s Got a New Spell,” “The Man in the Iron Mask” and “A New England,” none of which he played, but he did play my ALL TIME FAVORITE which is “The Milkman of Human Kindness” and the 17-year-old slut-who-was-fucking-around-with-a-psychopath-in-1996 in me was so stoked.
- Billy also made me super stoked about Scotland, which I had otherwise not really thought about at all because it’s basically me and my music under a rock. But on this day, I was like, “YAYSCOTLAND! GO GET ‘EM!” And then suddenly I understoodwhysomemenhad been walking around Humboldt Park all weekend in kilts and carrying Scottish flags.
- I catch on quick.
- Might sound extreme, but getting to see Billy Bragg live was a milestone for me. I have literally waited half my life! This man is a living legend. Familiarize yourself with him.
TINY MOVING PARTS
- On our way to the Rock Stage, immediately after Billy Bragg, we got to catch a little bit of Tiny Moving Parts.
- Henry said he doesn’t remember this happening at all. I think he might have been buying more cheese-on-sticks and beer?
- TMP iskindoflikeneo-emo I guess? It’s definitely a sound that I really adore. And they are really energetic and passionate on stage, which is what made me stop mid-trek to the Rock Stage and say to Henry, “They are calling to me.”
- I like them way more live than listening to them, say, while driving to the dentist or writing in my blog.
A rare moment where Henry got to sit for a few minutes until the girl next to him annoyed him to such extreme levels that he suddenly didn’t care about resting his weary joints anymore and actually stood up and moved. And no, surprisingly, that girl wasn’t me.
- I let Henry stand far away for La Dispute because he can’t stand them. But I was like, “See ya, sucker” and elbowed my way through the crowd along the side of the stage until I was nearly to the front. I stopped right before I hit prime crowd-surfing / circle pit real estate. Sometimes, I have to remind myself that deep down, I have some fragments of the “Sensible Mom” gene and I remember to keep myself safe.
- Otherwise, I just feel like I would be such a great candidate for Idiot Who Broke Her Neck At a Show.
- Have you ever listened to La Dispute? They are a part of a music genre that I am in love with. Like, if I could mold it into a penis, I would fuck it. It’s technically post-hardcore, and Jordan Dreyer shouts and barks the lyrics with so much emotion, that it’s, for me, the equivalent of listening to some kind of passionate Sunday sermon. Their songs tell stories that make the hair grow erect on my arms and I spent most of the time standing there with my eyes closed and, at times, wishing I had a wall in front of me to punch. There’s an urgency to the music and the way the vocals are delivered that make me feel uncontrollably aggressive. And then….sad.
- When they played “King Park,” we all went fucking nuts. This song is about a shooting and all of the elements and emotions surrounding it, and it is raw, devastating, angry, sad, honest—this song is REAL LIFE. The way they build up to the crescendo of this song, OMFG—it’s like climaxing for real. Jordan started hoarsely shouting “Can I still get into Heaven if I kill myself?” and that’s when I realized that I had been crying through the whole fucking thing.
- “Wasn’t that fucking amazing!?” I cried afterward, reunited with Henry. “Not really,” he mumbled.
- I walked away feeling like I could start a revolution. Or at the very least, make a REALLY GOOD POSTER about MAYBE starting a revolution.
TEGAN AND SARA
- I first saw Tegan and Sara in the year 2000 at now-defunct club in Pittsburgh called Rosebud. I didn’t know anything about them but my friend Wonka was like, “I heard one of their songs on WYEP. PLEASE GO WITH ME!” Wonka was my prime concert-buddy back then, and we went to tons of shows where we barely knew who we were seeing, plus I was buying my ticket with my AmEx that my mom paid for, so why not? It was us and maybe 40 other people and I think Tegan and Sara walked away with all of our hearts that night. They were VERY different than they are now, way more stripped down, way less pop. But their stage banter was just as on point. We got to meet them that night and I still look at that picture, of these twins who look so different now, and I laugh because I remember saying to Wonka, “Holy shit, these girls are going to explode!”
- They were playing on the main stage at Riot Fest to some tens of thousands of people, so I’d say that they definitely exploded.
- I didn’t want to get too close because I knew we were going to have to split before they were done, and I didn’t want to make our exit any more difficult than it needed to be, so we stood pretty far away. The problem with that is that the further away you stand, the more likely you are to surround yourself with people who couldn’t give a fuck what band is playing, they’re just going to stand there and brag about what college their daughter is going to. Sometimes old people are WAY WORSE at shows than young people.
- The first time Henry saw Tegan and Sara was with me in 2002/2003 at the Hard Rock Cafe. He didn’t know anything about them but it didn’t take him long to realize that he was a man in a roomful of lesbians. At one point, he tried to go to the bathroom, but a girl with a shaved, rainbow-tattooed head was blocking his way (not even menacingly! she didn’t know she was in his way!), so he turned around and came back. I think about this EVERY TIME I hear a Tegan and Sara song. GOOD TIMES.
- And before you’re like “Tegan and Sara are so Top 40,” please watch this video:
- Sure, they’re mainstream now but I will always believe that they still have a little bit of that quaint singer-songwriter ethic that they did when they were teenagers. I just love them.
Never had time to play Riot Putt. :( Or go through the Zombie Contamination Unit. Or ride any rides. Or see the sideshows. TOO MANY BANDS.
- We cut out of Tegan and Sara in order to run back to the Rock Stage just in time to see Mineral, who have recently gone on tour for the first time in 17 years. I’m so happy Riot Fest was on the super-shortlist of shows they were doing, because god knows Pittsburgh was nowhere on that list.
- I fucking love emo.
- Mineral broke up in 1997, before I ever had a chance to see them. The singer went on to form The Gloria Record, another band that I fucking loved so hard but never got to see live. Henry claims he has no absolutely no recollection of a band called The Gloria Record and I was like “ARE YOU FUCKING STUPID, I LISTENED TO ONE OF THEIR ALBUMS COMPULSIVELY IN 2005!” Then I even played him my favorite song (“Good Morning, Providence” — if you look at my Spotify sidebar, it’s actually the second song listed in my “Perennial Favorites” playlist, COME ON HENRY) and he was like, “Nope. Don’t know it.” That man is a master of tuning things out.
- However, Henry admitted that Mineral was “pretty good.” The whole time I was just standing there in awe, thinking of how grateful I was to get to see them after all this time. So grateful that I almost wrote an emo poem about it.
- After Mineral, we decided that we should probably make our way back to the Riot Stage because if we waited too close to The Cure’s start time, we would never be able to get close enough. Patti Smith was playing at the time, so we pushed our way through the outskirts of a crowd of aging hippies screaming along to “Because the Night.”
- If it wasn’t for the sake of the Cure, I never have would have stopped to watch her. I’m sure that makes me something of a heathen to a lot of people. I can definitely respect her! I understand the mark she’s left on not only the music industry but also the political landscape. She’s a living, breathing legacy. I get it. And while it’s not particularly my thing, I am definitely glad that I can say “I saw Patti Smith.”
- She is old as shit but fuck if she wasn’t rocking the shit out of that stage.
- There were men older than Henry standing around us who were screaming “PATTI!!!” so fiercely, I feared that they were going to hemorrhage.
- In between every song, Patti would stand on her soapbox and promise us that we can change the world. “PEOPLE HAVE THE POWER!” she kept shouting and everyone screamed so loudly that they turned into South Park Canadians.
- By the time her set was over, I definitely didn’t feel like I could change the world, but I would have liked to have changed into a pair of more comfortable shoes.
I’m going to end this here because I’ve been writing it for four days and I want The Cure to have their own post. Because they’re the motherfucking Cure.
If you’ve read any of these word-dumps, I am eternally grateful (and extremely shocked)!No tags for this post.
Staying true to our chronic unpreparedness, Henry and I arrived at Humboldt Park Friday afternoon wearing newly-purchased raincoats from Target because we stupidly failed to account for a weather forecast that clearly stated 50 degrees and rain.
It started raining before we even made it to the main entrance. And then basically never let up. TGFRC.
The whole time we were walking to the entrance, my heart felt like it was going to explode. Henry kept telling me to slow down but I was like YOU SHUT YOUR MOUTH! My god, I waited months for this day! I couldn’t wait a minute longer to be among my people. I was so giddy, it was scary.
The tickets said that the gates opened at 2pm but of course that was all a sack of lies. We were among the first 100 or so in line, so at least when they FINALLY opened up around 3pm, we pretty much had the run of the place until later in the day, when the less hardcore fans started showing up. There were already bands playing on 4 stages by time we collected our bearings and scoped out the layout. And admittedly had a fight because I was apparently looking at the map upside down and kept telling Henry he was wrong about everything. But then I realized that Circa Survive was playing on the Riot Stage (the main stage! Because they rule!) in less than a half hour, so I dragged him through mud and made him stand all the way in the front, which he hates. While we waited for Circa, we got to catch the last few Title Fight songs on the nearby Roots Stage, so that was nice.
It looked like this for a few hours until about a million more people showed up. Then it looked like this with about a million more people. And mud. Because the more people, the more mud, y’all. And guess what your girl was wearing?
Like an amateur! I don’t know what I was thinking. But I also wasn’t wearing socks so that was really great by the time the temperature dipped into the low 40s.
- This girl was standing in front of me while we were waiting for Circa to come on and she kept making intense eye contact with me and then raising her eyebrows and I was like WHAT DO YOU WANT FROM ME, STOP. And of course, out of the estimated 160,000 fans in attendance that weekend, I saw her repeatedly.
- What a way to start off the weekend. A Circa Survive set in the cold, drizzling rain with a shit ton of people. It was fantastic and Anthony was stomping around the stage like your basic psychopath.
- During “The Difference Between Medicine and Poison Is the Dose,” Anthony jumped off the stage and started smearing mud on people’s faces and I was like OMG I WANTMUDDED BYANTHONY! But we were over too far. Even Henry KIND OF smiled when he saw what was going on. (Surprisingly, he actually watches even though he doesn’t like any of these bands. Although, he found some winners that weekend! We’ll get to that later.)
- Here is a video that I pulled from Instagram from user elizabeth__edens. I was standing near the guy in the yellow rain poncho; too far away for Anthony to reach:
- I’m not sorry, Anthony Green is a fucking scene godfather at this point in the game. I have so much respect for him, it’s disgusting. (Henry wishes I had that much for him, haha.) Here is a man who kicked a drug addiction, married the woman who stood by his side through it all, created a beautiful family with her (two little boys and another baby on the way!), and somehow manages to juggle more than one musical project at a time with panache. AND HE’S A NICE GUY. Jonny Craig should take some pointers from him.
- I kept thinking, “I’m watching Circa Survive instead of being at work. My life ain’t so bad.”
- Henry kept thinking, “I’m watching Circa Survive instead of being at work. My life fucking sucks.”
- But we all know he would have internally been like FUCK YES if Anthony had rubbed mud into his grisly beard.
- Henry kept thinking, “I’m watching Circa Survive instead of being at work. My life fucking sucks.”
- Immediately after Circa wrapped up, we had to run over to the Rise Stage, where Emarosa was going to start at 5:00. I had major heart palpitations while waiting, OMG. I love these fucking guys so much.
- As they usually do, Emarosa started their set with a long, dramatic lead-in until Bradley finally ran onto the stage and basically puked up his soul for all of us. I honestly couldn’t take my eyes off him, it was pretty pathetic.
- I don’t think I ever used the cat-with-heart-eyes emoji as much as I did during their set.
- Bradley Scott Walden > Jonny Craig.
- Some Jonny Craig sycophant tweeted that she stayed for one song and then had to walk away because “new Emarosa is just so terrible, like a joke. They should just quit.” And then of course Jonny retweeted her. I was still OMG JONNY CRAIG4L when Emarosa released their first single with Bradley, and even I was able to honestly admit that they struck gold with this new guy.
- They played A Hundred Crowns and I don’t think I took a single breath during it. Flawless.
- I asked Henry repeatedly, all weekend long, if he thought they were good and his answer every time was yes. HENRY SAID YES.
- Gah, you guys. I love Failure, but they broke up in 1997 and I was too busy being a yo-girl then to know they existed until I went through a pretty heavy phase in my early 20s where I was obsessed with Ken Andrews. So, the closest I ever came to seeing Failure was when Ken’s other band, Year of the Rabbit, opened for A Perfect Circle in 2003. But fuck, Failure’s “Fantastic Planet” was (and still is!) such a solid album. I used to call Henry “Sergeant Politeness” all of the time, after one of their songs. (With a heavy dose of sarcasm, of course.)
- The huge problem with festivals is that it’s impossible to see every band because there are so many stages. (Riot Fest had SEVEN.) And of course the universe was against me in putting Failure up against Emarosa. Luckily, there was enough overlap that I was able to bolt back to the main stage from the Rise stage in time to see/hear the last three songs, once of which was The Nurse Who Loved Me, which is my all-time favorite Failure song.
- Unfortunately, since their set already started and they were playing on the main stage, the above picture illustrates how close we were able to get, haha. I mean, we could have attempted to fight our way through the crowd of two stages (the Roots stage is just out of sight on the lefthand side of that photo, so a lot of that crowd was actually waiting for the next band that was about to take that stage), but I just wanted to be able to focus on the music and not elbowing my way though a wet, miserable crowd.
- Here is a picture of what my feet looked like during Failure. What kind of shitty blogger would I be if I didn’t include gratuitous shoe shots.
FROM INDIAN LAKES
- It was a happy accident that we got to catch this set. After Failure, I checked the schedule and deemed that it was a safe time to get food, because there were no must-sees. So I grabbed a Thai tofu wrap and then wandered over to the Revolt Stage while Henry was busy finding something for himself to eat. (He has to take care of me first.) I had heard of From Indian Lakes, but not heard them, you know? So I didn’t even know who was playing until I consulted my app.
- I was feeling them right from the start, but then they played this song, and I was like FUCK YES:
PIANOS BECOME THE TEETH
- I’ve liked these guys for some time now but this was my first time seeing them (although, I’ve seen their bassist and drummer play with United Nations) and they blew me away. The style of post-hardcore that they play has quickly become one of my favorites, the lyric-delivery is emotional but somehow even more urgent (like with Touche Amore and La Dispute, the latter of which I would get to see the next day and thought my heart was going to explode). I would put them high up on my Riot Fest highlight reel, and I’m even more stoked to see them open for Circa Survive in December.
- Henry was like, “meh.” He haaaaaaaaates this genre of music so bad, you have no idea. Which is why he is not going to the aforementioned show in December. WHICH IS IN PHILLY WHICH MEANS I’M GOING WITH TERRI AND CHRISTIAN!!
- I sacrificed Mastodon for Pianos Become the Teeth, and I stand by that decision. However, we made it to the Rise Stage in time to catch the tail end of their set on the nearby Rebel Stage. It was really raining hard by then and for some reason, three separate groups of people approached me to get directions to other stages/inquire who was playing next on the Rise Stage, all of which I shockingly knew the answers to because this is my wheelhouse, you guys. So it was OK that people were seemingly mistaking me for an official Riot Fest attendant. Maybe I have a future career, after all.
One of the two ferris wheels.
OF MICE & MEN
- I’ve seen these guys so many times at Warped Tour, so I could have easily swapped them out for someone else, but truth be told, there wasn’t anyone else playing at that time that I really cared about. And besides, these guys inflate my soul and make me feel like I can do ANYTHING. BECAUSE THEY BELIEVE IN ME.
- Henry was miserable at this point. It was like 8:00 and fucking colder than Sarah Palin’s heart.
- He made it to the second song before mumbling about going to “stand over there.” I didn’t even look to see where he was pointing, because his exodus meant that I was free to move closer to the stage, woo!
- Admittedly, this is not a band whose albums I rush out to buy when they’re released. Actually, I rarely even listen to them at home. But I goddamn love them live. Austin Carlile is so charismatic and he just makes me feel so pumped and like I’m 16 again, and that who gives a fuck if my TOMS get even more ruined, I’m going to fucking jump around in this mud with everyone else.
- Henry said he thinks Austin Carlile seems like a dick, so we fought about that later.
- This was a great end to the first day.
It was 8:30 by the time OM&M were over. I think the only two bands remaining that night were Jane’s Addition and Rise Against, but I’m not into either of them enough to endure any more time in the freezing rain. I honestly think it was briefly snowing at one point, and I promise there is no hyperbole usage there.
We passed some of the zombies from the haunted house on the way out. Then we took Uber back to the hotel and spent the next hour trying to warm up.
Here is a little video compilation from Day One. WATCH IT OR NOT, I DON’T CARE!No tags for this post.
The aptly-named “Riot Feast” food vendor list.
When we go to Warped Tour, I usually smuggle in some granola bars because:
1. Food there is exorbitantly-priced
2. There are basically no options for vegetarians. It’s burgers and chicken strips or GTFO.
I was pretty worried about the food sitch at Riot Fest, since we’ve never gone to it before. But apparently, this year’s Riot Fest was the biggest one yet, so I don’t think a lot of people really knew what they were in for it. Which was: food trucks for daaaaays. It was the best of the county fair and local staples all lined up on one street and even the options for vegetarians and vegans were downright staggering. There was so much for even me to eat that I was sad I ran out of time!
We honestly had no time at all to do any tourist-y things in Chicago (it was literally: get up, stand in line, watch amazing bands for 10 hours, go back to the hotel and crash), so it was really awesome to still get to eat like we were vacationing in the city. And we could see the city skyline from Humboldt Park, so there was that, too.
Riot Fest didn’t start until 2pm on Friday, so we only ate once that day. Henry had some sickening duck sausage contraption and I had a fucking fat Thai-tofu wrap. This bitch was goddamn rotund, all distended from the gluttonous amounts of tofu and vegetables rammed into that sturdy wrap. It was cold and raining when I got it, and I ate it like a hobo in a snowstorm: double-fisted, jacket sleeves half-covering my hands, hood pulled up over my face, like I hadn’t eaten since that day 6 weeks ago when someone threw a can of anchovies at my forehead. I kept talking about how good it was, but really I’m not sure if I was even able to recognize tastes and flavors at that point of the day, because the weather was so miserable and we were exhausted and overwhelmed by hordes of people. But I sure as fuck felt 1000% better after that was able to quickly go back to dictating which stage we needed to slip-and-slide to through the mud.
The thought of drinking coffee at Warped Tour makes my belly ache. But last weekend at Riot Fest, the temperature fluctuated between 40-65 degrees. Coffee was welcome. Especially on Friday when it was so cold and wet that I’m not sure it wasn’t actually snowing at one point, but the line for Dark Matter was Cedar Point-levels of long. We actually couldn’t even find where it ended because there were so many people everywhere, that food lines just kind of snaked around in no real order and then disappeared into the masses. So I did my standard JUST FORGET IT!!! foot-stamp and went back to shivering beneath my flimsy, lightly-lined windbreaker. It was OK though, because I hit it up the next day before a line formed and it was delicious. Coffee is such an efficient attitude-adjuster. Henry can attest to that.
The only gripe I have is that Dark Matter apparently teamed up with the band Mastodon to make a limited edition blend that’s aged in bourbon whiskey barrels. Mastodon was playing Friday night, so I feel like this would have been an obvious thing to have available. But I know that I will be ordering a bag online, at least!
THIS CHEESE, YOU GUYS. THIS CHEESE WAS EVERYTHING. The menu:
Queijio de Coalho Brazilian-style Grilled Cheese on a Stick:
Original w/ black rum maple syrup
Hatch Chile w/ hot pepper jelly
Garlic w/ mojo de ajo
Smoked Bacon w/ pineapple chipotle
The Hatch Chile was my favorite. Also, I liked it better when I thought their name was Drunkow.
Over the course of the weekend, we had each of the top three. Surprisingly, Henry didn’t get the smoked bacon one for himself, unless that’s what he was doing one of the 8298374892759093245 times he slipped away to “pee.”
Ugh, I wish I was eating this damn stick-cheese right now. I CAN STILL TASTE IT IF I SQUEEZE MY EYES SHUT TIGHT ENOUGH.
I also buried my face into an arepa on Saturday, which is like a savory corn cake and mozzarella, cooked on a griddle. I miss arepas. I want more arepas. Fuck the pie party, let’s have an arepas affair. (Thank god Pittsburgh’s Conflict Kitchen is focused on Venezuela right now because I’m going to eat the ever-loving shit out of some arepas this weekend.)
At some point on Saturday, I also inhaled a bowl of sweet coconut rice loaded with fresh blueberries, strawberries and raspberries, so I was in a pretty mild mood. (Henry thanks you, food trucks.)
(And this is not to mention all the STRONGBOW I chugged all weekend too. Strongbow is my favorite cider in the whole entire world, and pretty much nothing was going to bring me down with that shit in my system. Not even the $7 Henry had to continually hand over for beverage tickets.)
On Sunday, I finally grabbed a grilled cheese from the Cheesie’s truck I had my eye on all weekend. I got the only one that didn’t have MEAT on it, the Caprese. A grilled cheese is no longer a grilled cheese once you start desecrating it with meat, I’m sorry. Those sandwiches need to have another name. (No offense to my carnivore bros out there.) It didn’t matter though because my Caprese was wonderful and it came with a small tub of pesto mayo, of which I made sure to scrape clean and I didn’t give a fuck who was looking. Pesto is the shit.
I also had more stick-cheese, and also a roasted red pepper and goat cheese tamale from Dia De Los Tamales, which was so good that I wish I had ordered more than one. I’m such a food-ordering fuck-up. At some point, we also ordered some baos from Wow Bao (mine was vegetable wheat, Henry’s was who cares) and they too, like everything else lined up in that park, were a mini riot fest for the mouth.
I think Henry ordered something from Big Pork, but I was way too involved in my own masticating to give his stuffed maw even a glance. I wanted him to get a Chubby Wiener just so I could tell Facebook that Henry was eating a chubby wiener but he “wasn’t in the mood for a hot dog” and I was like “Who said anything about a hot dog?”
Oh and we split a peach and bourbon hand pie from Blue Sky Bakery! I liked it but Henry wasn’t impressed, probably because it cost $4 and was really small. Every time we walked past their cart that weekend, I swear their menu kept growing and I wanted to eat it all. But….bands > food.
Oh, but we didn’t gain a single pound*. I estimated that we probably only sat down for a total of 30 minutes a day (and by “day,” I mean a Riot Fest day, which was approx. 10:30am-10:00pm; Friday was only about 12:30-9:00, though). The rest of the time was all walking, standing, running (for me), bouncing (for me). I found out afterward that it was about a mile’s distance from the Rise Stage to the Rock Stage. Contrary to the map below, there was no way to cut across the park other than following the road along the perimeter.
Which, by the way, didn’t connect into a full circle. All the water was fenced off and the road going through the middle wasn’t accessible. It was also nearly impossible to cut through the grassy areas to get to each stage, because there were ridiculously-placed VIP sections blocked off and as the days on, the population around each stage had become so dense that the only way to cut through was to put your head down and charge. It’s a miracle that Henry and I never became separated. Can you imagine? I would probably still be in Humboldt Park, laying behind a porta-potty in the fetal position.
I wish I had worn my pedometer, because it would have been interesting to see how many miles we walked each day. Saturday especially had us going from the Rise Stage to the Rock Stage more times than I would have preferred. (And one of those times, I ran most of the way because during Television’s set on the Rise Stage, I realized we were cutting it close for Saosin on the Rock Stage and I needed to BE UP FRONT FOR THAT SHIT.
So, I ran.
Henry did not run. But I was wearing a bright orange Epitaph backpack so he said he knew where I was at all times. Like I’m his child.
Thank god for accidental exercise.
*(There was a funnel cake truck there that probably would have made this statement untrue had I caved and indulged in one. Each one basically had the contents of an entire dessert cart balancing on a bed of funnel cake. AND I SAW BRADLEY SCOTT WALDEN FROM EMAROSA IN LINE FOR ONE ON SATURDAY AND ALMOST HAD A HEART ATTACK!!!!!)No tags for this post.
You know that feeling you get after you go to a really fucking amazing show, that sinking pit you fall into once the adrenaline and euphoria wears off? That emotionally-crippling post-show depression? If you give even a tiny turd about music, you know what I’m talking about.
This is the hardest and farthest I’ve fallen post-show. All three days of Riot Fest were like a fucking fairy tale for me; and I mean all of the good parts, no poison apples or trolls under bridges. It hit me really hard this morning. I came into work and slammed my purse down, sighing heavily. Glenn asked me in his standard non-caring monotone, “What’s wrong.” I HAVE POST-SHOW DEPRESSION, I cried. “OK. You can still listen to their music, you know” was his dumb, non-helpful advice.
OMG THAT’S NOT THE POINT UGH. You don’t think I haven’t been obsessively YouTubing Riot Fest performances, GLENN?!
I have so much to write about. The bands, obviously. But just the whole atmosphere, the sketchy Uber rides, the FOOD OMG THE FUCKING FOOD — there is so much I want to tell you guys! I’ve been on the verge of exploding every day at work because I want to talktalktalk about it so much but no one carescarescares!
But before I even get started, there’s something totally painful that I need to do: I need to thank Henry on this space. Because aside from buying the tickets (literally the only thing I did), Henry took care of every last minutia to make this past weekend a reality for me. Even though he hates this shit and hates spending money and hates crowds of music fans and hates standing around all day, Henry did all of this for me and I am pretty overwhelmed by it all. I mean, not that Henry doesn’t normally do anything for me, but this was something that I honestly thought he was going to say “Fuck no!” to. I mean, when I asked him three months ago if we could go, I actually laughed a little bit because it didn’t seem like something he would ever say yes to.
It just meant so much to me. I’m a pretty lucky broad. And even though Henry frowned a lot (like in this picture, where he was frowning because we matched), we barely fought at all (and the few times we did, it was because I missed my last feeding), he admitted on the way home that he had “a little” fun. It’s going to be hard to top Riot Fest.
I mean, unless WE GO AGAIN NEXT YEAR?!?! HENRY?!!??!No tags for this post.
Almost home from Chicago. Brought lots of dried mud with us. No liveblogging this go-around because I’m emotionally drained and too busy jawing off to Henry about all of my favorite parts of the last three days (like, everything) and you guys, he admitted that he had a little bit of fun!
This weekend started with Circa Survive and ended with The Cure. My head is still spinning. This made up for all the unicorns I asked for and never got. I have the best boyfriend ever and I guess I’ll let him be my #mcm. #blessed <–no really, for real this time.No tags for this post.
“I Paid $7 For This Beer; The Numbing Sensation I Feel Is Priceless” half-frown.
“Waiting for Rx Bandits; They’re Going To Suck” frown.
This is a collection of Henry-frowns from the first two days of Riot Fest. I’m sure many more will be inspired today!
6:54PM: Hi. Henry and I are on our way to Chicago for RIOT FEST, wooo! Supposedly, South Bend, IN is our final destination for tonight, which seems so far away. BECAUSE IT IS. I can’t promise that this live blog installment will be very…lively. But I will give it the old college try! (Which, to me, means half-ass your way through a few semesters and then quit.) Anyway, you know the drill: keep checking back for updates or just wait until tomorrow and binge on the stupidity at once.
7:07pm: We have never been away from Chooch for more than over night so this is kind of sucks but he doesn’t seem to care. I told him I’m going to Skype him during The Cure on Sunday and he was physically repulsed by this notion because he HATES The Cure. (I still don’t know why, other than because I love them so much.) Anyway, Henry’s mom Judy is staying at our house and she’s super pissed because her idiot son waited until TUESDAY NIGHT to ask her to babysit for us for FOUR DAYS. So yeah, I’d be pretty fucking pissed too. Good one, Son of the Year.
7:16pm: CONFESSION! Today I deleted a blog comment and I very rarely do that. But I was having a stressful morning at work and I just happened to check my phone at the exact moment some douche-sausage commented on my I Hate Jonny Craig post from last spring and said that I was clearly boring as fuck (I mean, duh) and that I’m a bitch for spreading made up stories about Jonny and who cares that Jonny tweeted terrible things about women? You’re right, guy. Who cares about that? I mean, other than self-respecting women. So yeah, I was like “I hope Jonny gives your gf herpes in the back of his van” and then deleted his typo-riddled comment because I’m a boring-as-fuck bitch.
8:02pm: Today Sandy found out that one of the guys in our Australia office is the frontman of a METALCORE BAND and I have been obsessed ever since because I watched one of their videos and they are LEGIT. So I emailed him (don’t worry, we have a rapport from when I was working late shift all the time and I would have to email him to tell him that a RUSH was waiting for him, OMG do it now) and gushed for multiple sentences about how much I love his band and please don’t think I’m a creep but I just liked your band on Facebook and here’s a list of some bands I like too and I go to Warped Tour and please some to Pittsburgh because HAHAHAHA YOU HAVE A CRAZY-EYED FAN HERE! Anyway, I didn’t hear back before I left because of that time zone hoo-ha, but don’t worry because I’ve spent the last hour scrolling through the last year’s worth of Facebook updates on their page and THEY OPENED FOR IWRESTLEDABEARONCE LAST WINTER!!! I LOVE THAT BAND! And they have beanies for sale so I’m buying Henry one and Sandy just texted me and said he could probably just interoffice mail one to me and I can’t stop laughing. I HAVE HAD TOO MUCH COFFEE. We’re at a rest stop now, bye
8:29pm: just ate pizza at a rest stop in Ohio. Henry is mad because I took a picture of him, as if this isn’t his norm.
9:08pm: We’re listening to the Riot Fest Spotify station and out of 100 bands, it’s The Used that keeps playing over and over because the universe loves grinding salt into my wounded heart. Fuck off.
9:21pm: I just jumped through all these hoops to show Henry that The Used gives a nod to their old song “Buried Myself Alive” in their new(ish) song “Cry” and after all that, he was completely underwhelmed and just said, “Ok. Yeah, I get it.” FUCK.
10:05pm: Somewhere near Toledo. I heard Henry rustling something and I frantically asked, “What is that!?” “Energy,” he calmly answered. “I WANT AN ENERGY!!!” I cried. But then it turned out to be one of those energy shots. I don’t know what I thought it was going to be. But now he’s mocking me. “I want an energy!” he keeps saying in a whiny voice.
10:42om: Apparently, Toledo has an airport.
11:04pm: Oh great I just saw something on Facebook about some notorious school shooter breaking out of prison in Ohio and I’m freaking out. Henry is trying to explain that this happened on the other side of the state but all I can see is HE IS WANDERING FREE IN OHIO AND WE ARE IN OHIO.
12:17am: Oh don’t worry. We’re still driving. :(
12:18am: I just asked Henry if he was touching his weener and he very defensively cried NO I’M SCRATCHING MY LEG as if we all don’t touch our weeners every now and then and constantly.
12:21am: A cop car with its lights on just sped past us on the other side of the highway and I screamed, “OMG! Maybe they found that kid! The one who escaped from prison!” And Henry yelled, “THAT’S ON THE OTHER SIDE OF THE STATE!” Except that we’re in Indiana now.
12:47am: oh thank Christ we just arrived at our shady hotel in South Bend. If I don’t post again, I’m either passed out from exhaustion or chloroform.
12:53am: Henry’s all excited because the last checking him in asked to take a picture of his ring finger tattoo. I’m like IDGAF about anything but a bed. Show me the fucking bed.
1:07am: This place actually isn’t a shit hole like I thought it would be! But apparently I’m not supposed to get used to this because the place were staying for the next three nights is apparently going to be a real shack. (Yet hopefully a step up from the HOSTEL Henry originally wanted to stay in. People, can you imagine me, Erin Rachelle Kelly, in a hostel? I didn’t think so. Also, I think Henry is too old for hostels. Unless he’s the murderer running it.)No tags for this post.
This is my “Going on a Date-Thing” face, I guess. Fake smile? Check. Vacant eyes? Double check. DON’T LOOK TOO EXCITED, ERIN.
When I asked Henry to go to Cleveland with me to see a show on July 5th, I figured we would do our usual routine of leaving home with just enough time to maybe grab some quick food before the show. But instead, Henry planned all on his own to leave Pittsburgh at noon so we could have a full day of “quality” time together.
Haha, quality time.
Of course, everything was fine until we parked the car downtown Cleveland and realized that every restaurant we had considered eating at was closed until 5pm. So that set off my internal hunger time bomb and I got real attitudinal with Henry, but he’s used to that, so it’s not like we broke up or anything. (Except we did. But not on Facebook this time, so it’s cool.)
Henry, searching for our wandering waiter.
We ended up at this new-ish soul food joint downtown called Stonetown. I was unimpressed with the name, but it was the colorful chalkboard sign outside alerting us to the home cookin’ desserts they were offering that drew me in. The menu on the door said FRIED GREEN TOMATOES and CANDIED YAMS so I turned to Henry and said, “This. This is the place. I can feel it in my heart.”
But Henry wanted to keep looking, which made me panic because it was already 3pm and I wanted to have time to go and look at the lake. (“For what?” Henry sighed, and I was like, “YOU KNOW HOW I LIKE TO SIT BY WATER.” I mean, do I, though? Not really. But I thought it could be romantic-like and lord knows we need some of that shit up in our lives.)
Anyway, I threw a micro fit and we turned around after a block and went back to Stonetown. Right before we walked inside, some man said to me, “Hey I saw you guys looking at the menu before and I just want you to know that I just ate there and it was really good.”
Oh OK, thanks guy.
And then his two friends were like, “THE CHICKEN WAS GOOD, YALL” and then the first guy was like, “The service is…kind of slow…but the food is worth it.”
So we went in and the hostess immediately hated us, except that I think she just hates everyone because she never smiled at anyone. I watched.
The table we were seated at was wobbly and Henry was 100% fixated on it. At one point, he got down on the ground under the table and I shit you not, I thought he was going to whip out a screwdriver, but it turned out he was just picking up his napkin.
But still, what a typical white person thing to complain about.
Anyway, my whole intention of going there in the first place was for CANDIED YAMS and SWEET POTATO PIE but they were fucking out of CANDIED YAMS and then I got too filled up on fried green tomatoes, Hoppin’ Johns (that’s black eyed peas for all you dumb white people out there), collard greens (which turns out I don’t like) and FRIED OKRA to have any room left for SWEET POTATO PIE.
Sorry, my inner soul girl is making me use all caps. We likes our food soulful, y’all.
And for fuck’s sake, service was slow as…what do they say in the south, molasses, right? Yeah, service was as slow as that shit. It took us so long to get our check that my skin was starting to twitch. Hi, we had shit to do, not go home and lay in a hammock while drinking sweet tea from another fucking mason jar.
Meanwhile, the couple behind threw a fit because the broad didn’t know how to read the menu right and her fried chicken came with grits (which Henry also got and had some alarming sexual experience with them right there at the table) and she didn’t want grits, she wanted something else, and the waitress tried to explain that there was a $1.50 upcharge for side subsitutions in that situation and the bitch lady was all, “BITCH THEN I DON’T WANT THIS” and shoved her plate back at the waitress, who was about half a second away from losing her shit, god bless her.
So the waitress sighed and said, “Fine, just pay for your drinks then,” and it was really depressing watching the waitress take these two plates of untouched food and scrape everything into a garbage can. People are such wasteful assholes sometimes and it makes me so angry. Perfectly good food, in the garbage, because some bitch ass pig wanted to argue over a dollar and fucking fifty cents.
I WAS SO ANGRY.
But at least I wasn’t HANGRY anymore. Regular angry is more tolerable for those around me.
Anway, it’s a good thing I didn’t have room for dessert because we probably would have missed the show. Fucking molasses-ass service. The food was decent enough that I would maybe go back if I had absolutely nothing else to do and nowhere else to be. But only because I want that damn SWEET POTATO PIE, ugh.
Naturally, I had room for ice cream after approximately 3 minutes of leaving Stonetown, but Henry was being a twatbucket and wouldn’t stop at any of the ice cream places in the vicinity, and then had the audacity to say we didn’t have time to walk to the lake, so instead we had to DRIVE to a different part of the lake a little ways out of the city. It was this little park area that had a snack booth offering the most basic softserve of all time, so I complained about that too. No, I wasn’t hangry again, I was just being my normal brat-self.
Things improved about 20 minutes later when we arrived at the venue in Lakewood (Mahall’s) and still had about an hour to kill. So we walked around and discovered that we were a block away from the Museum of Divine Statues that we visited last summer! For as many times as I have been to Cleveland and its surrounding neighborhoods, I still have no directional bearings. It was a real “connect the dots” moment for me.
We ended up discovering this no-name junk store, which I had seen from the car and felt pretty confident that it was going to end up being a bust, but I still wanted to at least check it out for a minute. The proprietor and his helper were sitting on the front stoop, painting a chair.
“Are you open?” Henry asked.
“Yeah, you can go on in,” the man said, flashing one of those avuncular “You can trust me little girl, get into my car” smiles that always make me nervous. Because I’ve been kidnapped so many times. “Maybe you can find something in that mess,” he laughed as we stepped inside. Literally, there were just piles of things and stuff and furniture and mismatched earrings. I felt claustrophobic and panicked and nothing was really catching my eye (I am terrible at thrifting—one cursory glance and I’m done) so we started to trip and stumble our way back to the door just as the owner came in and leaned in front of it.
“Did you guys get to watch any of the fireworks last night?” he asked casually.
And in my best deer-in-headlights, please-don’t-kill-us voice, I said, “NO WE’RE FROM PITTSBURGH.”
“OK,” he laughed. “Do they have fireworks in Pittsburgh?” he asked, slightly patronizing me. And then, thanks to my big mouth telling him where we live, he proceeded to spend the next 45 minutes talking to us, starting with the fact that he was a driver for an envelope company and his route for 27 years was in Pittsburgh because no one else wanted it since it’s so hard to drive there. (Is it? I guess I wouldn’t know since HENRY is always driving.)
“You had to tell him we’re from Pittsburgh,” Henry whispered. I was starting to feel like I was in captivity at this point, like it was some fucked up junk store version of Wolf Creek and I was about to be impaled by an antique bicycle spoke so that someday my dried out hide can reupholster a 1964 bar stool. I just got that feeling from him, that’s all.
After hearing about how Ed (he’d tell us later this was his name) is a part-time pastor and how refridgerators just aren’t built as well as they used to be, Henry interrupted him to ask about an amber swag lamp hanging in the corner.
I HADN’T EVEN SEEN IT. See what I mean? Thrifting is not my forte.
Ed told us we could have it for $40, totally an easy sale. I love midcentury things so much!
As Ed was writing up our receipt, I asked him if he ever comes across any old wheelchairs.
He snapped his head up and looked at me. “Nah,” he said, shaking his head and laughing.
WHY IS THIS SO WEIRD?!
But then he started thinking about it and decided that I should give him my number and he’ll call me if he ever comes across any. (Henry thinks he just wanted my number in general and has asked me chidingly every day since then if my new boyfriend Ed has called yet.)
(No. No, he has not.)
I thought we had escaped, but Ed followed us out of the store and continued to talk to us for another fifteen minutes and my skin started doing that twitching thing again. Maybe he should get a job at Stonetown.
And then his sidekick, this Amish-y looking man who spoke only in grunts, I’m not joking, slowly approached me, pointed at my purse and started to grunt. I looked down and realized that my purse wasn’t zipped up all of the way, so thank you, Wolf Creek Sidekick.
We finally broke free and walked super fast back to the car before any vintage weapons were flung at us. Just kidding, Ed was a gem and I’ll definitely stop back next time I’m in town. Especially now that he knows the shit I collect.
Seriously though, totally worth the 45 minutes of small talk in a dusty junk store. And so was our date day. Sometimes you need to get away from the back-talkin’ children, you know? Bonus points if a concert is included. We even held hands for maybe a second.
I loved Frankenmuth so much that I’m already dreaming of my next visit, where I will definitely be staying in the Bavarian Inn and inviting all my Michigan playas out for some water slide and schnitzel action. I might even want to write my own travel guide for Frankenmuth because that’s clearly what the world needs: some obscene version of Fodor’s full of sex analogies and dirty motels.
However, Chooch was NOT a fan. Which isn’t surprising because really nothing we did there that afternoon was kid-oriented, because four against one. It wasn’t until the next morning when I learned that the visitor center had some kind of Find the Gnome action, where kids have to go around and, you know, find the gnomes, for a prize.
Oh, wait there were horse-drawn carriage rides that had him dangerously close to throwing a fit, but they were $40 and this was no romantic getaway, boy.
Chooch, running away after terrorizing Bill in the Frankenmuth Visitor Center bathroom.
Looking for awnings off of which to smack Chooch’s face.
Ah, the goddamn Cheese Haus, home of chocolate cheese. I sampled the mint chocolate variety and was floored by how much I liked it so I bought a chunk of it and tried it once since then but I guess it only tastes good in Frankenmuth, because my second impression was “What was I thinking?”
Also, this is where I had to teach my select learning disabled son not to motherfucking double dip with store samples or, you know, EVER unless you and your fucking cheese dip live alone. Don’t worry, people who were in Frankenmuth that day: I grabbed his wrist right before he was able to complete that dreaded second dip.
You guys, I think someone shot the Zehnder’s chicken in the face.
My peeps. Coincidentally, I found out that Jessi used to play the accordion when she was a kid so now I’m going to need her to relearn this for my entertainment. Also, she could come in handy when Chooch is ready for me to be his post-hardcore band stage mom. Having an accordion player is surefire way to set them apart from the rest of the bands at Warped Tour.
We can make this work, you guys. It’ll be hot.
And of course we visited the Lager Mill, where we took a tour of their brewing memorabilia and I made Henry buy me and Jessi a bottle of chocolate peanut butter wine, which we drank that night over a frivolous game of Cards Against Humanity, and yes, we let Chooch play because…frivolties.
Another successful moment in parenting.
…is it time to come back, yet?
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It might seem weird since I’m a vegetarian and all, but what I was most looking forward to in Frankenmuth was eating at one of their famous Bavarian chicken joints. There are two to choose from: Bavarian Inn and Zehnder’s, and they supposedly HATE each other. My friend Michelle told me that the two families basically built Frankenmuth so no matter which place we picked, it would be a big deal.
I mean, if you’re like me and give a shit about these things.
Zehnder’s and the Bavarian Inn really are right across from the street from each other, but there were no picketers or chicken dinner sabotage that I could see. No one was egging each other’s windows or passing out derogatory flyers. But since Roadside America mentions their rivalry, I know it must be true. I just wish it was more blatant and spectator sporty.
I personally wanted to eat at Bavarian Inn, because it just had more of a Black Forest aesthetic to me, but Bill kept piping up with the merits of Zehnder’s, which just looked like some dumb colonial slab and not at all lederhosen-y. Turns out Bill might have eaten there once sometime in his liftetime and I think he forgot to tell us the part about how a Zehnder’s busboy saved him from choking on their world famous chicken dinner so now he feel indebted to them.
But then Jessi mentioned that she has eaten at the Bavarian Inn before and liked it, so PRAISE JESSI, we settled on the Bavarian Inn because girls rule! There was no blantant anti-Zehnder’s propaganda inside the doors of the BavInn (my new, sweet pet name for it), but I should have at least wrote “for loose bowels, call Zehnder’s” in one of the bathroom stalls. Ah, hindsight.
Fuck you, Zehnder’s.
I want shutters like that on my imaginary never-house.
I anticipated a long wait, since this seemed like the type of place that was like the Disneyworld of Old Country Buffets* for elderly tourists, but we had a table within 15 minutes! And even had a scantily-clad Bavarian beefcake entertaining us with an accordion. (I mean, he was showing a lot of thigh and calf, but not a lot of below-knee, because that was covered with a modest swath of wool.)
*BavInn isn’t even a buffet so I have no idea why I wrote that, other than the fact that it’s 150 degrees in my house.
I told Chooch that this place was going to be like the Hooter’s of Frankenmuth, with Bavarian boobs spilling out of corseted beer garden dresses. Partially because I was trying to get him stoked on eating there (he’s at that age, guys; boobs are everything), and also because that’s what it looked like in my hopes and dreams. Turns out the waitresses’ costumes were way more modest than the accordion player and his scandalous leg-skin.
There was no cleavage to be had. Not even of the accidental variety.
Back to being a vegetarian: I was pleasantly surprised that the Bavarian Inn had an entire vegetarian menu! Bill said he only asked for it because he overheard someone in front of him asking for it. It wouldn’t have even crossed my mind to ask because places like that usually don’t cater to my kind and I was fully prepared to just get some side dishes but instead I got to have vegan chili and BY GEORGE it was fucking great. It had quinoa and perfect little cubes of sweet potatoes and was just a true delight my tongue even though I can’t imagine a real Bavarian eating that on their lunch break at the cuckoo clock factory.
It didn’t matter, because I still ordered a side of SPAETZEL. You guys, spaetzel. That is my ultimate comfort food because my Pappap, whose family was from Austria, made a huge pot of these buttery Alpine dumplings every Christmas and they were just spectacular. After he died, my mom tried to carry the torch but they just never tasted quite right. And then I asked Henry to make them one year for Thanksgiving but his came out really small and pathetic because he doesn’t have any of the good European regions in his genes, I guess. I mean, I still ate them of course because anything coated in that much butter is still going to taste rad. But I just haven’t had any as good as my Pappap’s, not since 1995.
And these noodleturds were by no means bad! Bavarian Inn has their shit together but these were just seasoned in a way that deviated from my Pappap’s spaetzel perfection. I still ate the ever-loving fuck out of them though. Why wouldn’t I?
Can we talk about our amazing waitress Kristi for a minute? Chooch spilled his lemonade all over the table so she swooped in and moved us to a clean table right next to us, all without making Chooch feel like a heel for being a normal 8-year-old who spills things in restaurants. And she brought us copious amounts of this delicious sweet bread (bread that’s sweet, not sweetbreads) which we enjoyed with ridiculously magical homemade strawberry jam. And our lunches were delayed so Kristi also brought us out bowls of German potato salad, coleslaw and something else that I forget now, but it was all perfect and made me want to book a Globus tour ASAP.
Chooch was really anxious to sayeth Prayers from the Psalms before he ateth his chickeneth. (Everyone at the table got chicken, because duh—Bavarian Inn is world famous for that shit. Maybe one day they’ll be renown for their faux-chicken too. Now I wish I had ordered the fake chicken patty on pretzel bun. Oh well, there’s always next summer when we go back and stay at the Bavarian Inn, because yes, they have a huge resort-y hotel too. WITH WATERSLIDES.)
My second favorite part of the experience (hello: Spaetzel #1) was when I mused out loud about the comfort of the waitresses’ dresses and then a few minutes later, upon Kristi’s return to our table with more iced tea for Henry, Bill asked her what might have been the creepiest thing she had been asked by a man all day:
“Excuse me, but is your dress comfortable?” he asked casually, like he works for Cotton and it’s his job to determine a woman’s comfort as research for the next commercial featuring some random blond actress who can also kind of sing alright.
The Fabric of Our Lives: Dirndl Edition.
“You know,” she said after thinking about it for a few seconds, “it really isn’t too bad. It’s the nylons that drive me nuts, though. I can never wait to get home and peel them off, you know?” And Bill nodded knowingly.
PSHHHHH. You wish, Zehnder’s. In your dreams.
This is the back of the glorious Bavarian Inn. Surely there’s a nook or cranny somewhere in which I can live undetected.
You know I must have been stuffed full of spaetzel when I declined dessert, and they obviously had streudel, you guys. Motherfuck, do I love streudel. My grandma’s side of the family always made some sick streudel.
Streudel and spaetzel. These will be served at my pretend wedding. By Bavarian beer maidens, all named Gretchen.
Jesus, is it any wonder I’m a slut for Bavarian things? My childhood memories practically reek of edelweiss.No tags for this post.
On the third night of our road trip, we had a quick dinner at Merriman’s Grill, where a waiter brought me a cup of coffee and enthusiastically told me that it was straight of a fresh pot and then kept lurking around our table with an unhinged smirk on his face like he was waiting for me to take the first sip and choke on hemlock. Totally weird. Henry ended up swapping dinners with Chooch, who wasn’t aware that ordering the kids spaghetti with marinara meant “kids spaghetti with sauce,” so he got to eat Henry’s huge bacon cheeseburger while Henry ate a child’s portion of spaghetti while slumped in his seat. It was incredibly funny to me.
We left straight from there to meet Bill & Jessi at their comic and game shop, Warriors3, which has grown exponentially since we were there for the grand opening 4 years ago. I’m so proud of them! Later that night, when we were back at their (new and amazing!) house, Bill was talking about something and offhandedly mentioned that we were going to Frankenmuth the next day.
SCRATCH THAT FUCKING RECORD FOR ME, PLEASE.
“Wait, what? WE’RE GOING TO FRANKENMUTH!?!??!” I screamed.
“Yes, I thought you knew that,” Bill calmly answered. “You said that’s what you wanted to do.”
“YEAH BUT I DIDN’T THINK WE WERE REALLY GOING TO GO!” I screamed again. You guys, I even sent away for a Frankenmuth brochure last year, that’s how down I am with the ‘Muth. “HOW AM I GOING TO SLEEP TONIGHT?!” I continued to scream, in spite of Henry’s full frontal frowning.
But first, we stopped at The Red Apple for breakfast the next morning and that place was a fucking delight: cheap, dimly-lit and definitely somewhere the Bunkers would have eaten on a 1970s road trip. I am so happy Bill and Jessi took us there, and I’m excited to go back the next time we’re in town, only this time late at night when the strippers get off the pole and come in from some black coffee and…what do strippers eat? Peanuts and Slim-Jims.
(This just reminded me of the time about 5 or 6 years ago when I decided I wanted to do a photoshoot/interview with washed up strippers and placed an ad on Craigslist but the only one who responded was like, “I will do this on my terms only and no photos” and I was like, “Oh well, fuck you then.” Maybe if my standards weren’t so rigid, I might have gotten some really important answers. You know, like what do they eat. Other than rotten dreams in tear-sauce.)
Chooch ate a hot dog for breakfast but none of us said anything because sometimes it’s a miracle to get Chooch to eat anything other than ice cream and paper (don’t ask), so sure, happy breakfast, Chooch. And then when he proceeded to get mustard ALL OVER HIMSELF, I just sat back and let Bill handle it because that’s the price you pay when you sit next to a kid at a restaurant.
It took about 90 minutes to get to Frankenmuth and the first thing we came upon was Bronner’s Christmas Wonderland, the largest Christmas store in the world, even larger than the one in the North Pole! I don’t even give a shit about Christmas aside from getting presents, but even I was pretty stoked for this because when in Frankenmuth, you know?
Chooch immediately pointed to Giant Santa’s weener and then lamented the fact that he wasn’t tall enough to touch Santa’s nipples as well, and that is how I found myself thinking about Santa having nipples for the first time in my life. I clearly need to add more Christmas porn to the collection.
They have signs in every language because Santa loves you all. I mean, Jesus does.
You guys, this place is so big that they have some angry old lady at a desk handing out maps as soon as you walk in, and even then, we managed to briefly lose Jessi when a rack of penguin ornaments sucked her in.
The store had this old, indescribable musty smell to it and it just followed us around every corner. I couldn’t quite place it, but it was equal parts comforting and sickening. There must have been a lot of old people there.
If this would have said, “DON’T YOU READ MY BLOG!!??!?!” I totally would have bought it. On that note, there is an ornament out there for everyone. (OK, not everyone. Cannibals and Nazis are screwed. Didn’t see anything relevant to death row inmates or manure packagers, either. Fuck it, Bronner’s, you DON’T have something for everyone.)
But if you know someone who is REALLY INTO Sudoku or Geocaching, then Bronner’s has got you covered. There were even ornaments for insurance agents, if you feel so inclined to get your insurance agent an ornament or if you ARE an insurance agent and want to buy one for yourself and pretend that you actually have a client who really gives a shit about you.
They had actual Easter bunny costume heads for sale but they were like $400! And Jessi and I learned that Nativity sets are really expensive and nothing is included! Not even one lousy camel.
Chooch found the cat section within 3 minutes.
I don’t even want to know what this place is like in November and December, holy shit. The shit stain of humanity under one roof, I’m sure.
It was impossible to walk 10 feet in that joint without stumbling upon some kind of historical shrine Mr. Bronner himself. There was even a presentation room with millions of Hummels behind glass where you could sit and watch documentaries about the Bronner legacy. It was in this room where we found a fan that was blowing puffs of that weird cinnamon/moth ball/1970s airport aroma. They must have had hundreds of those fans hidden around the store, because that stench was inescapable. Maybe it was supposed to be frankincense?
We managed to get out of there before Chooch had the chance to break anything (or before Bill had the chance to break Chooch). There were like 63946923875 ornaments I wanted to buy for our shitty Christmas tree, but in the end I wound up only buying a commemorative Bronner’s ornament because you can’t go to the world’s largest Christmas store without getting a souvenir. I also got a magnet for my cabinet-thing at work and I made sure to tell Glenn all about it when I stuck it on. He seemed pretty unimpressed. I wonder, if I made Christmas tree Glennaments,would Bronner’s sell them…
Down the street from Bronner’s is the Silent Night Memorial Chapel! OMG.
Currently under renovation, obviously.
Henry tried to run away. Maybe if it was the Faygo Vending Machine Chapel, he’d have been a bit more piqued.
I was just going to end this by saying that I can’t believe Bronner’s passed up the opportunity to hand out religious literature, but then I remembered that they slipped some pamphlet in our bag about the heavenly father and Chooch was like, “What does this have to do with Christmas decorations?”
We’re doing a fine job.
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