Sometimes in life, there’s this very clear moment where you realize that things are going to end horribly and there’s nothing you can do about it. Night one of my mini vacation had one of those moments, and I knew that I was generally going to be miserable for the rest of my trip. Which is terribly disappointing because this vacation had such potential.
I flew off to Florida to stay with some people I had met through the music world. I’ve never had a bad experience with this sort of thing. Before grad school, my house in Chicago had become somewhat of a youth hostel where I would house a ton of awesome people I had met through my favorite band. Hell, we even had a band themselves stay at our place. But never before had I had such a terrible, no good, awful experience as I did over the weekend.
I should have known when someone described themselves as Jake Barnes from The Sun also Rises that I was doomed. That book was one that when I finished, I threw against the wall and said “that was stupid!” So to find myself staying with someone who personified that character was a challenge.
The perks of the vacation, though, were that I got to check out some new bands. And while I was in perhaps the worst mood of my entire life (not that it wasn’t warranted, but I’ll keep the details to myself), I did get some tastes of new music I’d like to explore further.
The night before the Tropical Heatwave, we took in a show by Have Gun, Will Travel who are an alt country band from Florida who were, in truth, pretty great. Any band playing banjo unironically is a-ok with me. They were clearly a fan favorite and they were worthy of the praise.
Saturday was a day of lots and lots of music and some of it questionably good. The highlights were certainly Orlando-based Alias Punch who in only a few short songs I knew I was going to dig. So much I even dismissed their corny lyrics for their Halloween song – “trick or treat, smell my feet, I know you’re a vegan, but eat this meat” haha what?
We ventured over to another venue where as we waited around for some people, I came across this stunning woman with amazingly blue/green streaked hair that perfectly matched her eyes. And she clearly had this charisma that drew people to her. It turned out to be Geri X and the only prep I got for her music was “she’s Bulgarian” I’m not sure what I expected with that minimal amount of introduction, but I took away a decidedly early Tegan and Sara, Ani DiFranco feel about her, without all the angsty rage sound. Although, her lyrics were pretty angsty.
The highlight of the night was surely seeing Carolina Chocolate Drops. At this point in the evening, I was in a bad place and was convinced that every band on the bill from this point forward was crap and I wasn’t going to think otherwise. Until I saw these guys on stage. No drums. No bass. Just singing a capella and making their own beat either via beatbox or tap dancing. Their performance was a refreshing relief from the sea of bland I witnessed from others that day.
In the end, however, it was the behavior of the people I was staying with that really overshadowed the festival experience. I left the vacation pretty disheartened and a little gun shy about forming friendships with people I met at shows. Will it happen again? Sure. But not any time soon.