[Photo Credit: Mark Cowan]
I have caught them before. So when push came to shove it wasn't that hard of a pill to swallow. That, and, well, it was my own damn fault. I spent the weekend in Tallahassee helping a friend out with a short film he was shooting for the Graduate Film Conservatory at Florida State. To say that it was a blast would be a gross understatement. I was on cloud nine from the time I stepped off of my plane in Jacksonville, until I got in the car to head back to Jacksonville on Sunday morning. Fucking exhausted and working on three hours sleep, I began my journey back to J-ville at around 9:30 AM. It's about a 2.5 hour ride, but I rocked my coffee, plugged in my iPod and began rolling through another listen of The National's Boxer.
If you're doing the math out there, you are probably wondering why I flew into Jacksonville instead of Tallahassee. For starters, it was kind of a last minute thing, I just finished my job here in DC and I start grad school in LA next fall. Everything was fairly hectic leading up to the end of my days at work and I didn't grab my ticket until late. Me being a veteran of Southwest I chose to rock out to Jacksonville, because it was cheaper, worked towards my Rapid Rewards and I would have to rent a car even if a flew to Tallahassee.
So there I am, "Brainy" creaping across the airwaves, when I make my fatal decision. I head West on I-10 instead of East, towards Jacksonville. No big deal. But, I don't notice it until I am about 80 miles in. Luckily I was on the phone with the First Lady when I realized my mistake. After yelling out "Fuck" about 10 times and U-turning at the nearest exit I had two choices: Go 120 miles an hour for the next 2 hours and hope of making it on time. Or resign myself to a later flight, which had a changeover in Nashville and still provided a window of opportunity to catch all of Bloc Party due to the fact that the Noisettes and the Maccabees were opening.
Plan B begins, I get on the later flight and all is well and good. I'm too tired to be pissed and there is too much road ahead of me to let my own doing unravel me. The iPod car jack shits the bed. I'm left to the radio. I can't buy a break. "Bohemian Rhapsody" is followed by "Only Wanna Be With You". Fucking Hootie. The perfect mix of yesterday's hits and today's favorites is melting my fucking skull. I drive by exit signs to Tallahassee and ponder, for a moment, driving back to set. The worst case scenario is missing the show and missing the shoot. The 'Hass was a sure bet, but there are very few opportunities that the First Lady and I have like this: Pearl Jam, Arcade Fire, Bloc Party, Birdmonster, TV on the Radio, etc. I seize every chance I get to take in a show with her. And she was pumped for Bloc Party. And I'm doing the best that I can. To get there.
The good news at 4:00PM Nashville Standard Time was that I was gripping and ripping a pulled pork sandwich from Whitt's Barbecue. The bad news was that the flight was pushed back. Then it was on time. Then it was pushed back. It was of no solace to me that Steve McNair reacted the same way I did every time an obstacle appeared. He was on my flight with his family and was going largely unnoticed in the airport of the city he used to play quarterback for. The city he helped bring within a yard of a Super Bowl Championship. But I'm sure he preferred it that way. The worst part? The plane was right there. The crew was ready to fly. When I finally boarded around 7:15 EST, I felt like a slow motion version of Kevin Dyson stretching that ball out. My Bloc Party is his Super Bowl ring. The light at the end of the tunnel dims. Time is running out.
Boxer sinks in at cruising altitude. I forget when exactly we landed at BWI, but I grabbed my shit and sprinted towards the Lot A Shuttle. Everyone else was late for a connecting flight and as I run a rather large lady sees me running and yells "Are you on the flight to Norfolk?". I don't think she heard the "No, ma'am" through my heavy breathing. The shuttle was closing it's doors as I got there. Timing could not have been better. Things are looking up. I find my car quickly and I am out of the lot in record time. The Noisettes are on stage. The First Lady is in her seat. The word is that Bloc Party gets on in 45 minutes. Doable. And then the Baltimore Washington Parkway - the last domino I needed to fall perfectly - rears it's Jekyll head and morphs before my eyes into the Baltimore Washington Parking lot. I slug my way through a traffic jam that costs me, easily, 40 minutes. All the while, the First Lady is shaking her money-maker wishing I was there and texting me the setlist. Alright, it wasn't a perfect setlist, but it was close enough. I knew that "absentminded" was "Positive Tension"...we're good like that.
When I finally burst into the District they've finished the initial set. By the time I was running past the White House (after locating her car and grabbing my ticket out of her glove compartment) I figured I had about a song left. I ran anyway. I didn't need the ticket and I definitely drew some odd looks from people that were sitting outside smoking (why is this fucktard running to this show when it will end in a song?), I burst in and find entrance #3 and there is the First Lady perfectly outlined in front of Bloc Party's lights as the boys rip through "Sunday". I thought this was it. Big hugs, a big kiss and we start dancing. But they aren't done. "Helicopter". And later, "The Pioneers". A moral victory of sorts.
Looking at the setlist the following morning was salt on my wounds. I missed a great set. They are building an incredible catalog that will only get bigger and better as the years go by. My one hang-up is that they have so many ridiculous B-sides...but they rarely play them. I look forward to the day that this band brings the pain in the same way Pearl Jam does: so many songs, you never know what you're going to get, but you know they are going to dip into everything. Here are my Top Five Bloc Party Rarities/B-Sides I Want to Hear Live. Eventually. Next time.
MP3: Bloc Party - "Staying Fat"
MP3: Bloc Party - "The Once & Future King"
MP3: Bloc Party - "Version 2.0"
MP3: Bloc Party - "Two More Years"
MP3: Bloc Party - "Secrets"
Wednesday, June 06, 2007
[Photo Credit: Mark Cowan]