Thursday, July 29
i'm thinking we will split our time roughly 50/50 driving and hiking, maybe a little more hiking overall. i like this idea of driving as a leisure activity. and it has more or less been that way, even today on the mostly unimpressive I-40, which is as suburban and strippy as anywhere else in the country. in the passenger's seat i read and listen to music and look at the scenery. driving i do the latter two and i'm new enough to it that it's a small thrill still. and the parkway will be a good thing to have on my driving resume.
yesterday afternoon we played in carrboro, "the SoHo of the south," which is full of thrift stores, good cheap mexican joints, and used book shops, which meant we had to go to borders to get what we really wanted (an up-to-date guidebook.) and we were back in the evening for the opening night (or maybe the pre-opening night?) of the merge15fest at local 506 ("music. bar.") which was awesome! (a 9, said ben, would have been a 10 if the crowd had danced, already. at least they were into it.)
first, unassuming, self-depping loo barlow, with travel stickers on his guitar, played a short sweet set of songs he didn't want certain people to hear (an old "very mean" song about a good friend, and a risqueish one implicitly about cheating on his wife, or wanting to) and then one about a kitty. he was quiet and nice. and then. we were in the very front (nobody wanted to be in front?) so we had an excellent vantage point to watch as the next band set up, one member after another taking the stage with more and more instruments, unintentionally but very effectively building our anticipation, at least. the arcade fire, who i'm pretty sure most of the audience had never heard, had everyone amped to rock and roll in about ten seconds flat. and then stopped. because the bassist broke a string. but fortunately they started again after a little while. i won't tell you much about the music, except that it was great and fun and dancy and rocking and interesting, and they all changed instruments a little too much for the sake of putting on a smooth show, but whatever. and they were cute.
and then, the headlining event (or something): merge karaoke. which meant, they had copies of the entire merge catalog, and mics to sing along, and if the lyrics were printed in the booklet you could read them. ben and i did "let's pretend we're bunny rabbits" and got a good response. i introduced myself to christina, the merge publicist who i know from many e-mail exchanges, because i recognized her from her picture in the indy weekly. she was just a giddy bundle of drunken energy, ridiculously excited to meet me/us, and talk about bears and audiences and "i love sending you cds!" then she and richard (the tall guy from arcade fire who looks like ben e-c and/or napoleon dynamite) did karaoke of that lambchop song with the "ooh-ooh" chorus. they didn't know any of the words but they got that chorus right on. better still, win and regine (also from the band - regine being the crazy vampy keyboard-drums-accordion player) got up and did "born on a train," with guitar and tambourine and dancing. also some guys who work at merge did all of "king of carrot flowers" which was pretty funny.
so. that's north carolina, for now. i also want to mention lika, ben's friend who was, as advertised, generous to a fault with her house and her food and patience for our hours. fortunately ben almost balances her out. and even though i had a cold and/or allergies coming on when we arrived, somehow her five or so cats didn't make it worse and i was perfectly fine the next day.