It can be a tired cliché to declare that you really find out a lot about yourself while traveling around the world. Just last week I found out about the latter before I even began my latest journey–namely, don’t get hammered when you are booking a cross-country flight, otherwise you could potentially book the wrong date and miss the band you are traveling with. Thankfully, I arrived in Los Angeles ahead of the east coast blizzard and in time for Cult Of Youth’s show, the first of several I am riding along with on the way back to NYC in support of their latest album, Final Days, on Sacred Bones.
I arrived at the venue right after doors and immediately ran into Dais Records co-founder Gibby Miller (and friend of BULLETT). This was an exceptionally sentimental reunion because I had first met Gibby along with Cult Of Youth bassist Jasper McGandy when we were fellow young scum on the slab outside of a train station in Harvard Square in 1995. It was called The Pit, a brick sunken quadrangle with steps. There, we would meet before pouring clandestine cocktails of cheap booze into convenience store cups along the Charles River. Although the show had yet to begin, we enjoyed gawking at the bronzed goths of LA re-taking Instagram selfies in a feeble attempt at cutting through the murky fog of the venue in between complaining about a severe lack of cocaine available in the ugly swath of Los Angeles that is Glendale.
We made our way backstage to meet up with the band where we found guitar player Christian Kount slumped across the sofa; his leather jacket draped over his face. “I drank half a fifth of Jameson in 20 minutes!” he shouted from beneath. Fortunately this was not a handicap as the band tore through their set of neofolk-tinged punk minutes later to an enthusiastic crowd, which even curiously contained some beefy goth moshers?
I have admittedly never had the unreasonably rabid hatred of Los Angeles and it’s residents that can infect the icy veins of my fellow East Coasters. But it can be hard to tolerate a bunch of kids who look like malnourished spawns of Zod from Superman II while they complain about walking 15 minutes in 70 degree weather while we received updates from Brooklyn regarding Zola Jesus performing outside St. Vitus during a blizzard that briefly caused the city to shut down.
After a quick performance on the radio at Loyola Marymount University the following day, we all hunkered down at the excellent Masa on Sunset for some deep dish pizza where we were flanked by David Yow as well as Michael K. Williams, better known as Omar for The Wire a.k.a President Obama’s all-time favorite character. (Presumably, Yow is Clinton’s all-time favorite vocalist, and I do mean Roger Clinton.) “I just wanted to say I think you’re great,” my friend Zed whispered to Williams. “Nah, man YOU’RE great!” he shouted back.
After our meal we hit Little Joy’s up the street to hear more people complain about walking, perfect weather and cocaine dealers who apparently have either no ambition, or more plausibly, no desire to waste the gas money on these wimps, because we had no such problem ourselves.
Before leaving for San Diego I caught a late breakfast with my friend Dre who is currently tour manager for Bruno Mars and discussed plans for his upcoming performance at Rock In Rio this year in Las Vegas, which BULLETT will be at in full force. Bruno has long been a secret part of the Boston hardcore punk scene that many of the people in this story came from: His old booking agent is Matt Galle, who took Mr. Mars from the suburbs to one of the biggest acts on Earth.
After a few rounds of cocktails provided by Sean Ragon, Cult Of Youth’s singer and guitarist (and owner of the excellent Heaven Street Records in Brooklyn), it was time to drive down to the land of the freaks and the home of the bro: San Diego, where Sean and I discussed how easy it was to tell if a band sucked simply by looking at their facial hair. “I think shoegaze is the worst fucking music ever made. I’d rather listen to two 4 Non Blondes Records than hear one shoegaze song,” Ragon mused while not averting his eyes away from an intense game of Zelda.
San Diego proved to be a pretty uneventful evening even though the stretch of El Cajon Blvd we were anchored to looked like it had seen some pretty fantastic episodes of COPS, which was underscored by a vagabond who tried to gain entry to the show by nonchalantly mumbling about his heroin habit while rolling up the sleeves of his ratty crewneck to expose his abscess ravaged arms.
After a long night of whiskey, weed and fish tacos we are making the drive to Arizona under the ever watchful eyes of burly border patrolmen and sleek drones snaking in and out of the arrid, rocky desert along the Mexican border dotted with cacti and cowboy hats, which has been quite enjoyable, besides missing my deadline thanks to the slight hallucinations I have been suffering from after gobbling the rest of our shrooms before a surprise checkpoint stop on the Arizona/Mexico border. Tonight’s show is at The Flycatcher in Tuscon. Let you buy me a beer.