The other week Jacqui and I had a chance to head off to Washington to see a concert. It was a pretty great time. Believe it or not, getting back on U.S. soil actually felt different. Everyone in the car (there were four of us, myself the only U.S. citizen) echoed that, yes, there was definitely a different "feel" to being in the U.S. Of course there is the whole rigamarole of crossing the border (finally I've used the word "rigamarole" in a sentence. I've had that on my to-do list for 24 years. Hopefully now without what experts have termed "rigamarole pressure" hanging over my head I can finally move on and live a normal life), which definitely helps to make you hyper-aware that you are now enter the land of the free and the home of the brave (As opposed to Canada? The land of the enslaved and the home of the cowardly?).
Just over the border we stopped in the sleepy hamlet of Blaine, Washington to fuel up on cheap(er) American petrol and to buy over-priced Advil from a local Chevron station. The highlight of Blaine seemed to be the Chevron (get ready for it...are you ready? Here it comes...:"Nothing ever happens in Blaine! Nothing ever happens it's all the saaay!" That joke was for 7 of you), so we quickly passed on through to Bellingham, WA. "The Ham" for short.
Side note: Jacqui and I have been doing a fun thing lately. When I say fun I mean moderately fun/lame. We've found it interesting to shorten the names of cities to "The something". For example Grand Rapids would be "The Rapid", South Haven would be "The Haven". It works better with the city names out here. Vancouver is "The Couve", Victoria (Jacqui's hometown) is "The Ria" There's a lot of interesting sounding cities out here. Say them out loud with your friends, it's a party waiting to happen. Here's a list of my favorites:
End Side Note
So there we were in The Ham. The concert was in this really cool club/bar called The Nightlight. I will say though that Jacqui and I have been spoiled by concerts at Calvin College. At Calvin, especially in the Fine Arts Center, everyone usually sits and listens when the musician is doing his/her thing. Also, you can always see because the the seats are on a convienient incline. Not quite the same at this show. At this show it was pretty much standing room only near the stage and then way at the back there was a few tables from which there was a convienient view of approximately 300 butts.
We were some of the first to arrive in line so we thought we'd be snagging the best seats in the house. Wrong. By the time everyone filled in around us our once good seats near the front had transformed into "squished-against-a-wall-glaring-at-the-hoards-busy-invading-our-personal
-space" seats. You know the ones. You've probably sat there yourself before. My favorite maneuver is when people seem to be in a "conversation" and they just slowly, obliviously, and all too convieniently drift over and plunk themselves in the convient line of sight you had been tending to like a delicate flower: watching it, protecting it, hoping it will grow. (I say "conversation" because secretly I think under their breath their saying "hey have a fake conversation with me while we walk right in front of this guy.)
However due to some stealthy mauvering of my own, by the time the opening act began I found myself at the front of the stage, all the way to one side, seated knees against my chest, on a large, raised wooden box. "How great!" I thought, "I'm well above everyone's heads, I have a clear line of sight, this should be great." Well it would have been. As it turned out, though, my convienient miracle box was actually a thin plywood casing for the sub-woofers. My ear drums died a little that night. The opening guy was an acousitic guitar guy, but by the time Martin Sexton arrived on stage in all his "ressonant-voiced, rocking out acoutistic, thumpin' bass lines with his thumb, some how doing a separate melody with other fingers, wild beat-box mouth percussion/distorted electric guitar sounding voice solos" glory, my ears had taken a beating. By his second song I was forced to weave my way to the very back and create a complex system of kneeling on semi-padded bar stools to even catch a glimpse of what was happening on stage. Don't get me wrong, the music still sounded amazing, and I'm glad I went, but this show just made me realize that maybe bars/clubs, while providing a certain asethetic all their own, are not the most condusive to my personal concert going tastes.
While at the show however (while I was on top of my miracle, subwoofer box actually) I did get to talking with a guy and his wife who were interesting. Personality wise they were a bit lackluster, but geographically they were outstanding. He was from Rhode Island and she was from Sweeden. Weird and yet somehow totally fitting at the same time.
So yeah anyway, that's pretty much it. After the show we left The Ham and made our way back to The Couve, and at about 2 am my ear drums found some much needed auditory solace in my pillow.Posted by Ryan 10/15/05