I love rock ‘n’ roll road trips. There’s nothing like throwing a t-shirt and ragged pair of jeans into the car and driving off with the sole intent of seeing a great rock show. I’ve always liked driving and road trips anyway. As a kid, my parents used to subject us to lengthy rides to far off places, like Massachusetts, to go see relatives. The car ride was sometimes the best part. I never got used to wearing an ill-fitting hand-me-down suit for the sole purpose of seeing some grizzled old aunt whose home smelled of disinfectant and who was praying for me to get a Catholic vocation. Ha! Fat chance of that happening – the world of rock music, girls, drugs and liquor beckoned, not the world of Spotlight.
Anyway, back to rock road trips. My most recent adventure took place last Friday. I had to leave work early to drive to DC to meet a fellow rocker and go see Interpol. Yes, you are correct that Interpol tours all over the US, including Philly, and that it would have been much easier to see them here. That was my original intent, but then they decided to come to Philly when I was somewhere else and I missed them. Bummed out by that denial, I did what true rockers do all the time – I got on their website to check and see if they were playing anywhere close. Lo and behold, they were playing in DC.
It must have been a different tour or something, because the show was about 5 months after the Philly one. Oh well, I bought tickets and set them aside. I didn’t consider that the show was over President’s Day weekend (I am personally celebrating Warren G. Harding this year – next year, it’s Chester Arthur – because why should Washington and Lincoln get all the props?). There I was with a couple of tickets, but because Florida is just so choice this time of year, Helen was out of here and not joining me. I needed a running mate, and I found one. Cool!
I was driving down I-95 after a week of supreme oppression by The Man, but I was ready to freakin’ rock! I put on Spotify and jammed heavily the whole way down. Now, remember that I grew up in the DC area and I still have a very soft spot in my heart for that beautiful city. But damn, the traffic! It took me 4 hours to get there (normally 2.5 will do the trick) and people drive like crap there. Yup, even those without New York plates on their cars. I was chill (ok, sort of chill) and made it in time to catch a nice meal and go rock.
But Interpol was coming up. A business colleague in Houston told me he saw them and they were “surprisingly good.” Hey, first off, I like Interpol so what’s with that “surprisingly” comment? Secondly, it was Friday in the Nation’s Capital and I was going to ROCK. What could go wrong? These guys are from the heavily competitive rock scene in New York, home to Amazon’s HQ2 (hahahahahahaha, how’s that humble pie tasting, Big Crapple?). They’ll be great!!!
Interpol came out in a shower of lights and … well … stood there for a few hours and played their songs. They had amazing lights. Strobes, disco ball, LEDs that changed colors. Man, they had LIGHTS. I was so inspired that I kept thinking about next year’s Christmas display. I like lights (although strobes sometimes make me feel like I’ve been out with my dad on one of those crappy head boats bobbing in the ocean for 4 hours and pulling up maybe one undersized flounder the whole time). I like loud music. I like the crowd and the atmosphere. But what I really like is a band that remembers that they are PERFORMERS.
I remember seeing the Cars back in the day, and Ric Ocasek was a stander. No affectation at all. It was like his feet were glued to the floor. Well, Interpol must have seen that same show and thought, “This is the best rock show ever, the epitome of a live performance.” Rather than looking at video of Chuck Berry, Jerry Lee, Jagger, Queen, AC/DC or whomever, they watched the Cars. It got to be B-O-R-I-N-G. If you put on an Interpol album and stare at the pictures in this post, you’ll have about 85% of the experience. If you do it in the dark with a strobe light popping and making you feel queasy, you’re there and I’ve saved you about $40. BRP readers, I’m all about value and service, yes indeed, so you’re welcome.
One more “oops” to talk about. Yes, Interpol played all their best songs, which is cool because I like them enough to score tickets 5 months in advance and drive down I-95 on a Friday afternoon to see them. I particularly like Obstacle 1, which they killed, and Say Hello to the Angels. The latter features some tempo shifts, and is probably pretty hard to get just right on stage. Interpol proved that it was difficult because they had a couple of tempo shits, um, shifts, in that song that made me cringe. C’mon, that’s one of your biggest songs and you aren’t ready to smack it out of the park and into the Potomac? Ugh.
Did I hate the show? No, it falls into the “good, not great” category. They did, after all, play all the songs I wanted to hear, and they did a good job with most of them. There was no idle time chit chat, no political grandstanding, no terrible songs from the new album. They played a few hours and gave you your money’s worth. But it could have been much better and the more shows I go to see, the more I lament the “woulda, coulda, shoulda” situation. I’m glad I saw them so that I know not to go see them again. “Surprisingly good?” Nope, “surprisingly average” is more like it.
Onward and upward. I drove home from Philly on Saturday morning, made it in 2.5 hours, and was put on the rack by The Man for another 4 hour Saturday shift. Whenever I walk into the room, The Man cues up this song and waylays me:
But The Man can’t bring me down all the way because guess who’s in town? St. Paul and the Broken Bones at the Fillmore. Oh baby, now THAT was a show. Check back soon for the review and in the meantime, send me your comments on the first installment of the Ultimate Rock Playlist. You know I love you, and not just on Warren G. Harding Day or Cinco de Mayo, right? On a rock scale, my love is turned up to 11!
As I used to say in the 70s, 80s and 90s, take it easy.
My name is Bill, and I live in the greater Philadelphia area. I love music, and I have a lot of opinions. This site is primarily focused on music, but sometimes I get off track. I hope you enjoy.