We left New York with a feeling of success, and that the Balkans had made at least one fan out of the trip. The 7 Inches blog wrote a review of the Brooklyn show and the Balkans awesome 7-inches.
On the drive from New York to Ohio I stopped to buy oil for the car and instead of offering to help me, like the gentleman he is Stanley threw his empty water bottle on the ground, like he does his drumsticks. A man in a turban (we think) who was associated with the gas station and possibly the Islamic faith, ran over and cussed out the very frightened Jewish Stanley. We were scared off of the premises, but Stanley managed to capture a photo of the man on our way out. The rest of the drive was rather uneventful except for the Joseph and the Technicolor Dreamcoat soundtrack and Russian disco that we listened to on the final stretch of the drive.
Columbus was an interesting city. It's a college town with your typical shops and college students milling around, but there were also an unusual amount of tattoo parlors, strange looking people and rednecks. The local band the Balkans and Carnivores were playing with turned out to be fifteen year-old kids from the suburbs, so the idea of asking them for a place to stay was out of the question. Stanley got his hair cut at a salon next to the venue and his hairdresser, who happened to be from Atlanta, told him about a website where you can look find a place to stay as a touring musician. So Woody looked it up and found two reasonable looking people nearby. One guy called back and said he would come to the gig and could put them up between himself and his neighbor. The plan was to check him out and if he seemed sketchy, tell him we were driving to Lexington after the gig and run to a hotel. He showed up and it turned out that the Carnivores had met him earlier in the day at the record store where he works and invited him to the gig. He ended up being overwhelmingly hospitable and offered to help set the bands up with better places to play in the future.
The host was undoubtedly the best part of Columbus. The State Fair was going on a few blocks over and I guess the bands just couldnt compete with the entertainment value of the fair. No one came, nobody got paid, the only thing the bands left with was a feeling of being unwanted.
During the Carnivores set the soundman said something to the affect of hurry up so I can get out of here since Im not getting paid. The Balkans said that not only was their set the worst of the tour, but the worst ever. Stanleys bass drum pedal just fell apart during the first song. One of Bretts guitar strings broke so he just tore off the other strings, put the guitar down, walked off the stage and sat down to watch the rest of the performance. Frankie called him back up on stage though to sing his part of the song. Then Stanley got mad at Woody and threw his cymbal at Woody as he yelled What is wrong with you, dont you know how to play guitar?! Finally he just threw everything down and stormed off stage, only to return to load out. The only redeeming factor was the recurring performance of Louie Louie. A drunken toothless guy at the bar, whom the locals call Batman," had asked the band if they could play the Batman Theme song. When they replied no the man asked if they could play Louie Louie. So after the mess of the show Batman sang Louie Louie with the Balkans, or what was left of them. After the gig Brett went upstairs and said something to himself about how bad they were. Overhearing his comment the step mom of one of the kids in the first band said in a drunken and methy Southern drawl, Yeah that was horrible. Are yall always that bad? You guys suck, I dont mean to be a bitch but you guys really suck! Is the other band going to be that band?
While most of the two bands headed off to the better than the van house, a few of us (myself included) stayed at the Days Inn near the State Fair. My night was made complete when a man who looked like he fell into the redneck category, told me that I looked pretty and then twenty minutes later knocked on my door. Realizing I had no pepper spray I hid and waited for him to leave. I am happy to report that he disappeared and I didnt see him again.
We are currently stuck in traffic, which brings back memories of the traffic that we hit on the New Jersey Turnpike on our way to Lexington, for what could be the last gig of the tour before playing 529 in Atlanta; assuming they dont get a show in Nashville before then.
As always check out the Balkans Myspace for more details on the tour.
(Photos by Elizabeth Shortridge)
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