January 23, 2014 - by Nick Schneider
Woke up spacey and distant, probably from all the cigarettes and that joint consumed on Venice Beach last night. Writing in such a scatterbrained state is like playing drums while missing a finger- you can get through it but it’s gonna be painful, difficult and, ultimately, not very satisfying. And you’ll be glad when it’s over.
We decided not to stray too far from home-base and stuck to Santa Monica. I always feel a bit strange in any ‘nice’ parts of LA. I lived in Hollywood for a year. Not West Hollywood, not the Hollywood Hills- dead center Hollywood. Grown men dressed in superhero outfits, obnoxious tourists of all nationalities cluttering up the sidewalks, gutter punks, musicians playing for pennies on the streets, decrepit homeless people using the world as their bathroom, screaming vaguely anti-Semitic phrases as you pass by- that’s the LA I remember. If you’re wondering where all the freaks, weirdoes and malcontents are in your comfortable little suburban hometown, a quick walk down Sunset Boulevard will reveal they all moved here in some kind of Grand Misfit Migration.
Out in Santa Monica, especially at the 3rd Street Promenade, things were quite different. The streets were clean, the people well-dressed and even the tourists weren’t that annoying. Even accounting for the oddball street performers, the area was pleasantly, maybe even unnaturally, serene. Weird…
The Proof Bar
I loved this place the moment I walked in. Fugazi was playing through the sound system, a tattoo-covered punk rock chick was pouring drinks behind the counter, and the 1960s’ Batman television show was being projected onto the walls. So cool in so many ways. It’s a place with its own distinct personality, a trait I look for in everything- cities, people, bands…It’s all too easy just to be another copy, a shadow of a shadow, and thankfully our bill that night included nothing but originality: a melodic indie-rock trio called Storm Giants, a traveling singer-songwriter who looked like she lived out of a suitcase, armed with nothing but a bass drum and acoustic guitar against the world, and a fantastic pop/punk/rock/ska band called One High Five who were so good that, if they don’t make it big someday, I will forever lose faith in music as a sustainable art form.
We played well, possibly even tighter than last night. Half-way through the set I caught myself thinking, ‘yeah, I could get used to this.’ Wake up, hang out at the beach all day, play a show at night, get loaded, repeat. Sounds like a dream, and it is a dream. One look at your bank balance can sober you up pretty quickly.
The lifestyle of a musician is not exactly an enviable one, especially in the early, nebulous stages of a band’s life. It’s costly, exhausting, stressful and the rewards amount to little more than a few drink tickets at the bar and the adrenaline buzz of performing live. But, damn, that buzz is potent. Certainly better than any drug I’ve ever taken. Either music is really that powerful or I need to start taking better drugs.
I think I’m gonna end this one with a quote because, hell, I’m kinda tired of coming up with original thoughts at this point. My legs are sore from skanking, my brain is numb from the lack of adequate sleep, and, whatever it is I’m trying to say, someone else has probably said it better. I’m reaching back to the 19th Century for this one, but it’s a good one and I think it accurately sums up the weekend. It’s by Dostoyevsky from The Idiot when Ippolit, a man dying of consumption, declares, “It is life, life that matters, life alone- the continuous and everlasting process of discovering it- and not the discovery itself!” So even if we didn’t quite discover the meaning of life on this long weekend, at least we had a damn good time. What more could you ask for?