Road Trippin’: Toronto

It’s funny how if you live enough life, you start to see cycles repeat themselves.

My first concert was at age 14. It was Lenny Kravitz and Blind Melon.

I went with a friend because he had tickets. I wasn’t a big fan of either band, but I wanted to see live music. We got dropped off and picked up by his mom in a minivan. Totally sober concert. This would be the last time for that over the next 25 years.

The following year I went to my second live show. Six punk rockers piled into a Suburban and drove to the Big City. It was for Buffalo New York hardcore band Snapcase.

They were still local level, but quite popular. They were playing at the State University for an animal rights benefit concert. Sounds like something we could get behind. We show up dressed in leather jackets and boots, drunk off our ass. Apparently the vegan college kids weren’t impressed. People were harassing us from the get-go. Meat Is Murder. And it’s tasty 🥩

The show starts and I experience my first mosh pit. We were teenagers against college kids, but we were like a pack of hyenas. At one point my friend grabs me and yells CROWD SURF! Nope. So he yells STAGE DIVE! and before I could say no my friends grab me and throw me onstage. I had witnessed several people before me stage dive. They jumped off, people caught them, it was all a smooth transaction. So I go for my big dive, and the sea of humanity parts. Except one person. An Asian girl who was a professional band photographer. I flying shoulder tackled her. She wasn’t injured, but she got blasted hard! Sorry Asian camera lady. I understand you had a job. We end up getting mouthy with PETA guys on the way out and got chased to our car by an angry mob. From then on, that was the standard bearer for concerts for me. 25 years of drunken shenanigans and rock and roll had led me to today.

This concert road trip is the first I’ve taken my wife on in several years. Mostly because she doesn’t like some types of music as much as I do. But when I did drag her out the trade off was I drove and bought her drinks. Fair deal. Because of medication, my wife has had to quit drinking. I have made the pledge to myself not to drink around her. She says it’s fine with her if I drink. But we have been drinking partners for 20 years, so it’s been difficult on her to give it up. That’s part of being in a partnership. I don’t want to make it harder on her. So I make a small sacrifice. We spent Tuesday in Toronto seeing a few shops and getting a nice meal. Wednesday we went to Lee’s Palace for the show

Lee’s has a giant mural painted on the front of the building. Cool place. We got there early and staked out a good place. There was a spot on either side of the stage that was higher than ground level. It gave you a great view of the stage. So we settled in and watched the first band Jjuujjuu (Jew-Jew).

All you need to know about them is Phil Pirrone is a poncho wearing mad man who makes the sounds of LSD with his guitar.

And the rest of the band looks like burned out gypsies

They were trippy and heavy. Fun band to see.

During the set, the place started getting packed. A small Asian girl asked if she could “sneak in for a couple pictures” I let her get in front of me to take some photos.

The next band starts playing. The are called Kikagaku Moyo, from Japan. They appear to have stepped out of a time machine from 1964. Bell bottoms and paisley. And some guy playing an electric sitar with a wah-pedal.

It’s far out in a groovy sort of way, MAAAN!

During this set, the Asian photographer showed back up with friends. They both have cameras. She asks if I will move so they can film. I told her I didn’t want to. She said there was no where else to shoot. And they had a job to do. It’s my payback. The Asian photographer from 25 years ago. I stare at the back of their cameras for the entire set. At one point she pulls out this giant hand held camera that looked like it was from 1984. Records to Beta Max. After the band ends my wife asks me to get her a beverage. I make my way up to the bar. I hadn’t had a drink on our trip and I didn’t plan on it. But here I was, away from my wife. So I ordered her a Diet Coke. And a double shot of Jim Beam for me. I said I don’t drink in front of her. I didn’t say I don’t drink at all. That warmed me up and set the mood just right. I made my way back to the front and got ready for Earthless. As they are setting up gear, the Asian mafia show up again. This time I don’t budge. They tried to give me grief about it. I told them Too Bad! I traveled several hours to see this band. I got there early to find a good spot. I didn’t pay money to look at your camera. I stood my ground. Maybe I’m an asshole. Ok. I’m an asshole. But enough was enough. Earthless starts playing. They have the old school oil on a projector light show. It’s cool as hell

There is a guy standing next to me who lights up a joint. He looks at me and I ask if I can get a puff, I traveled from NY to the show and couldn’t bring my weed across the boarder. He looks away and keeps smoking the joint. Then passes it off to someone else. No big deal. I love weed but I understand it’s odd for some stranger to ask for free drugs. He turns back and says You came all the way from New York to see this? Finish it! And he gave me the last third of the joint. Thank you Canada for your hospitality.

I had assumed I would go completely dry at a show for the second time in my life. But I managed to sneak a shot and score some free weed. Then, after Earthless put on one of the best shows I’ve ever witnessed, as the buzz was feeling as perfect as it gets, the band breaks out an amazing cover of Communication Breakdown by Led Zeppelin to close the show. It’s not exaggerating to say these guys are the best rock band on the planet. Mind blowing live.

Watch this video. I’ve often wondered what it must have been like to see The Jimi Hendrix Experience in 1968. Honesty after last night, I don’t wonder anymore.

After two days away from home and surrounded by metrosexuals, it’s great to be back home