Road Blog: Saturday March 12, 2016 - Akron, OH
March 12, 2016
We pulled into Akron mid-afternoon and checked into a Super8 in the northwest suburbs. We’ve stayed in some nasty, nasty Super8s, but every once in a while we end up in a really nice hotel (for a budget price) and this one, being a converted Comfort Inn, was right up there. I changed the broken string on my Telecaster and published the blog from Columbus while Patty watched some NCAA basketball and Gabe chilled out. After that it was into the city for some record shopping and dinner before the show.
We stopped into Square Records and Gabe and I picked up a few things. They’re carrying our records now too, so if you are in Akron, stop in and see them! I also realized that I knew the owner and we’d worked together before around shows in Cleveland. Small world! From there, we had dinner at a Lebanese joint called Alladin’s that was right up the street from the record store on the popular little strip. We split the appetizer platter with hummus, baba-ghanoush, falafel balls and stuffed grape leaves. I got a shwarma wrap and it was decent. Not quite the caliber of Mideast food we’re used to around Detroit, but certainly better that average. The show was in the basement of a house, so a stop at a liquor store was mandatory, and Gabe and Patty stocked up on some local craft beers and I got a bottle of water, as my turn had come to be the designated driver.
The Spacement is a converted basement in a big house just off the main drag of Akron. We were met by the local band, Hard in the Pink. Original locals Time Cat had to cancel as Jeri (who also lives at the house and hosts the shows) was in the hospital with appendicitis. Very sorry to hear that - all the best for a speedy recovery! You never know what you’re in for with a house show. You might end up setting up in a half flooded basement next to a box of kitty litter and behind an antique furnace. That wasn’t the case last night, though. There was a small stage, an ok little PA, and a paint-splattered floor that glowed under the blacklights. We’ve played plenty of “real” venues that had less to offer. There was a really friendly dog named Ona who took to me right off, and didn’t mind the music one bit, and there was a good turn-out of kids and older folks in various states of inebriation, but all into the bands.
Alone at 3am set up and went on first. Nothing much to say that hasn’t been said the last couple nights – just a flat out fantastic band with great songs and great execution. These guys put a lot of time into how their songs are delivered, and it shows. From the harmonies down to the breaks and arrangements, everything works perfectly (but not too perfect for rock and roll). We were up next and decided on a whim to play about 60% unrehearsed songs. It wasn’t our best set of the run – we weren’t as tight as we like to be and we were working with only half of our back-up vocals and had a lot of trouble hearing each other, but it was a fun set and people seemed to dig it. Those Crosstown Rivals took the stage after us to the best crowd of the night and played their best set of the run. Each night Will settled in a little bit better on second guitar and they really found their groove in front of a great room full of attentive Akronites.
Around 12:30am local band Hard into Pink took the stage and they were something else. The rhythm section and guitarist were a tight, bluesy band in the vein of a more punk-rock Jimi Hendrix Experience, but the singer really mixed it up with some angry, punk-rock vocals reminiscent of The Jesus Lizard or Laughing Hyenas. They were super tight and had a lot of power behind them and all the touring bands really dug their set.
When they finished up we had a couple drinks with our pals, took our time loading out, said our goodbyes and headed back to the Super8 where we did a little damage to our leftover Lebanese food and what was left of the Rebel Yell Small Batch Rye before bracing for the shitty time change and an early lobby call to get in on the free breakfast. We hit the road at 11 and landed at the house at 2, the whole way in the same conditions as our drive down on Thursday – poring, miserable rain.
This was a good run. Not the most fruitful, financially, but lots of laughs with Alone At 3am, who we haven’t had much chance to hang with before, and with TCR, who we always hate to part ways with. Forging these relationships is a huge part of why I like doing road shows so much, and it’s always bittersweet when the truck is unloaded and Gabe and Patty head home. On one hand, it’s great to be home to my wife, who I always miss, and also my toilet, bed and couch (pretty much in that order) but on the other hand, I’ll miss my friends and the routine of drive > play > crash that we so quickly settle into on these runs. Fortunately, in 3 ½ weeks we’ll be doing it again, with The Plurals and Vibrolas across lower-Michigan! Till then….