TROUBLESHOOTING WITH PALM TREES
Finding perspective with the Hiss on a road trip through Florida
By J. Winter
Life moves pretty fast. And if you dont stop to look around every once in a while, you just might miss something.
I dont know how they do it, but they can have an amazing effect on you.
Its not scientifically proven, but Im pretty sure they release some sort of chemical endorphin in your brain that makes you feel better. Gives you a careless confidence. Coupled with the right light and a nice breeze on the fringe of an afternoon buzz, they can sometimes make all your problems go away.
With the summer months wearing thin and the sight of the same city faces wearing thinner, an impromptu road trip with the boys is welcome relief from the dog days of August. In a last minute decision, I joined the Hiss in a weekend romp through the Sunshine State. It's the same trip we made last spring in which we appointed ourselves to a fictional state department the Department of Nightlife.
After a quick pass through Gainesville to reminisce at the University of Florida, where Todd Galpin (drums) and Adrian Barrera (lead vocals) met, we roll into Tampa for a Thursday night show. Three of the four guys in the band hail from here, so its a homecoming gig of sorts.
Tampa Bay is a weird town. Its not so much the heat; its the chlamydia.
Its also the unofficial capital of central Florida, which isnt much of a compliment. The winners and dreamers of the one-car-wash towns that lie off highways in the middle of the state make it to Tampa. Then the overachievers and malcontents from there move on to cities like Atlanta; the unofficial capital of the south. Its the minor leagues of social success. An icky step ladder.
The show is in the nightlife district of town, Ybor City (pronounced E-bore). Ybor is an attempt by the city to create a 90s Buckhead for Tampa, but it came out more like Underground Atlanta 2000s, with an Orlando semi-gloss. It should be pronounced E-boring. Sounds like a job for the Dept. of Nightlife.
After what I assume is possibly a Brian Jonestown Massacre cover band, the Hiss take the stage. Or actually, its more a patio. Were at New World Brewery, a bar/former brewery that stopped brewing its own barley and hops because apparently every beer tasted exactly the same. Located on the edge of Ybor, its very un-Ybor; torn and frayed with an uneven front brick patio secluded by overgrown Oleander.
Wide open French doors lead to the bar. Fifty foot palm trees and an over running fountain give it a Hemingway, Key West feel and thats a good feeling. Whether you're in the Panhandle, South Beach, or a food court in Conyers Ive said it once and Ill say it again palm trees can really change your outlook on shit.
After the show, theres a Hiss afterparty at a club down the street. And for Ybor standards, Czar is a fancy establishment. High ceilings with white curtains, illuminated bar, and booths with Ybors finest. Some guys have product in their hair, and some guys look like the product of a failed marriage.
Sadly, my Czar experience is cut short after Im tossed out the back door following a mishap in the bathroom. Obviously the bouncer doesnt know Im with the Dept. of Nightlife. Its an honest mistake.
With Ybor looking like E-snore at the moment, the only other place that looks open is a gay bar across the street. I shrug my shoulders.
While taking shots with the promoter at the bar, he keeps explaining that it's a gay bar; but luckily not tonight, its just techno. Funny, I never knew there was a difference.
My phone rings. Its Todd. Dude. Where are you?
I explain that Im at a gay bar across the street. After a pause, I can barely make out, Yeah. Bring half the
It trails off, so I call right back just in case I missed a Classic Todd. Its only seconds later and hes already forgotten, Dude, I said Magnums or something . Dont worry about what I said, just come back to the hotel and lets party!
Fair enough. Its the lightning round and in an attempt to round up an after-after party, I give the ol Ybor try to a 20-year-old little duggy behind the bar. No dice. She has a fake boyfriend or something. I shrug my shoulders.
So I roll out with the promoter and a dancer named Katie. In the two block car ride to the hotel, Katie explains that shes been in adult films. But only with her boyfriend at the time. Fair enough.
Hilton Chapman (guitar) sees me get out of the car at the hotel with a dude that, well, looks like he promotes techno at a gay club. Oh, no, is his first thought he says later.
But luckily, the next pair of legs he sees have on fishnet stockings and a halter top and its a girl.
At the after-after party, an odd assortment gathers. Stand up for the Dept. of Nightlife roll call: Drummer. Bass player. Wife. Mixed martial arts fighter. Bellhop. Producer. His hot ass singer/songwriter friend. Half-assed writer. Techno enthusiast. And an adult film star/night club dancer. Theyre all here. Present and accounted for.
Ive said it once and Ill say it again; Tampa Bay is a weird town.
Thank God it has palm trees.
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