Over the last couple of weeks, I’ve been doing a lot of driving. I’ve been traveling quite a bit recently, and I’ve barely had time to breathe! Still, I’ve had tons of fun and many great experiences.
Traveling to Wisconsin…and more!
Over Memorial Day weekend, Sarah and I drove to a camp outside of Madison, Wisconsin for the Midwest Morris Ale, a gathering of Morris dancers that lasted all weekend. It was about a 15 hour drive, all told, so I was pretty tired at the end of it, but we still had a great time. It was a very full couple of days touring around the Madison area with dancing (and local brews) lasting all night at the campground. I don’t dance myself, but I do play music for the dancers. Usually, I’m up pretty late playing for them, but this year was different. I couldn’t make it even to 1 am! Still, it was a great time; I’m definitely looking forward to next year, if it doesn’t conflict with the wedding.
Morris was fun, but it ultimately wouldn’t last forever; on Monday, we made our way back through Chicago (the traffic wasn’t bad at all – we actually made it through the city with no delay!) and onwards to Michigan. We visited my aunt and cousins there, which was a blast; turns out my cousin Noah is quite a chef. We had a delicious tofu dish as well as a fantastic artichoke dish. (I love artichokes – I just hate eating them! So much work!) I still haven’t gotten the recipe for the tofu dish, but I really want to – it was quite fantastic. Other than the food, it was a great visit; we got to catch up on a lot of things, and Sarah and I were very happy to get to sleep on the futon rather than on an air mattress in a tent. Much more comfortable!
The next day, we got to sleep in a bit, and finally headed out somewhere around noon. We made our way even further north to Bay City, where we met up with our good friend Dan. We had all met playing video games online years ago, and hadn’t ever met up in person – but it was very cool finally getting to do that. It had been a while since we’d all talked, but we fell right into a great conversation that lasted well past the time that we had expected to be back on the road. (This wasn’t necessarily a bad thing! We just couldn’t stop talking!) Eventually, we started driving again somewhere around 7 pm, and headed out towards Sarnia to cross the border. As we got closer, I was getting pretty tired, but we needed to keep going; I had to be back to work on Thursday, and that meant dropping Sarah off in Ottawa on Wednesday. My goal was to get past Toronto that night and find a hotel.
I try to avoid 5-Hour Energy shots, but sometimes I just need to keep driving. However much I dislike using them, they do a wonderful job of waking me up for another couple of hours so I can stay alert and on the road. I grabbed one before we crossed the border, and I figured that would be enough to get us past Toronto, a 3-hour drive. Unfortunately, I was wrong; about 2 hours after we crossed the border, I was completely dead tired. Couldn’t stay on the road at all. We pulled off and stopped at a hotel, where the clerk was nice enough to give us a discount for arriving at 3 in the morning (funnily enough, I had just been thinking about how nice it would be if hotels did something like that before I walked in!). 5 hours later, we were getting ready to get back on the road after a great night’s sleep – it’s amazing what sleeping in a bed does for being rested.
Anyway, we made it back to Ottawa the next day, and after only a couple short hours (unfortunately), I had to get back to traveling – this time, home to Buffalo. I made it, but it was a rough drive; over 5 hours just to get to Ottawa, and another 5 to get home.
Canada again – and Governors Ball
There wasn’t a lot of time until I had another trip to take. The very next weekend, I found myself driving back up to Ottawa – this time, starting bright and early at 3:30 in the morning. It was just a Saturday-Sunday trip, so there was a lot less driving than the last one, and by Sunday evening I was back in Buffalo.
I barely had time to breathe, though, before I was off on another trip – this time, leaving on Thursday evening to drive to New York City for the Governors Ball Music Festival. I was staying with Matt for the weekend, which was nice – we hadn’t seen each other in quite some time. It was great both to get the chance to hang out and to listen to some fantastic music. I also had the opportunity to meet another of Matt’s friends – Vinny, a crime reporter from Philadelphia, who also came in for the festival.
That Friday, the three of us got to the festival grounds a little late, but managed to get there just in time to hear Kurt Vile. Immediately after, The 1975 was playing on the stage opposite, so we moved over there – and that was the point in the day that I knew I had made a great decision to come down for the weekend. I hadn’t heard the band before, but they played a heck of a set. Very easy to listen to and appreciate. It was nice to relax after that set by getting lunch from one of the numerous food booths while listening to Bastille play in the background. Some of the food booths that I visited over the course of the weekend included Porchetta (crispy roasted pork, quite tasty), Phil’s Steaks (genuine Philly cheesesteaks, totally loaded up with meat),L’Apicio (a short rib sandwich to die for), Momofuku Milk Bar (if you haven’t had their crack pie, you really, honestly haven’t lived – there’s another branch in Toronto, which I believe I’vementioned before), melt bakery (I had their ice cream sandwich with chocolate cookies and malted chocolate rum ice cream – fantastic!), and Toum (I hadn’t had a shawarma sandwich inmonths! There aren’t any shops in Buffalo).
It was nice just to wander the festival grounds for a bit that afternoon. Randall’s Island is apretty big area, and everything to the west of the interstate was taken up by Governors Ball. There were plenty of booths to explore, and it was great to walk around and hear the music from Julian Casablancas and the Voidz. I did end up stopping my wandering for long enough to catch Neko Case’s set, though, which was very worth it. We were close enough to have a great view of the stage, and I could tell that she was enjoying performing. It was quite a treat. After that, though, it was time to get as good a spot as we could for the closing acts of the night; Phoenix played a very energetic set on the main stage, appropriately playing “Love Like a Sunset” as the sun went down, and then it was time for OutKast.
I’m not a rap fan, and I’m certainly not an OutKast fan, but even I could appreciate what I saw – they really brought it for that night. It was a tight, high-energy set, and the crowd responded wonderfully. I was a bit dehydrated, so suffered through a headache, but I still found myself singing along to songs like “The Whole World” and “Roses” near the end of the night.
Saturday was even better; even though it was quite hot out, I stayed a lot better hydrated. We split up a bit more than we did on Friday, and I caught great performances from Fitz and the Tantrums (they’re just as good live as they are recorded – such great energy! They really got the crowd into the music, which was great), Disclosure, and The Glitch Mob before making my way closer to the main stage to hear The Strokes‘ set. They were great – played all sorts of songs that got the crowd pumped up, and finished off their set with an encore of – what else – “New York City Cops”. That wasn’t the end of the day, though – before catching Jack White’s headliner show, I stopped by to listen to Sleigh Bells, a band that I hadn’t heard of before. I was quite impressed with their set, but once it was over it was time to go see Jack White, the artist that I had most been looking forward to that day. I wasn’t particularly close to the stage, but I could still hear great. He’s really a musical talent, and it showed at this performance – getting to hear music from his White Stripes days all the way up to new songs from his new album Lazaretto(which, as my friend Drew showed me, is a work of art in and of itself) was really neat.
Finally, Sunday rolled around, and it was time to finish off the festival. We got into the island a bit late, but were in plenty of time to get great spots for Frank Turner. It seemed like there weren’t as many people there as there were for some other acts at the beginning of the set, but the crowd picked up fast, which was a good thing – he played the cleanest, most high-energy, most involved set (in my opinion) of the entire festival. The crowd really responded well, and even managed to work in some “advanced crowd moves” (as Mr. Turner put it) on “Recovery“. Absolutely a great way to open up my last day in New York City.
After that set, I wandered for a bit, sitting back on the grass to listen to The Head and the Heart. The next act up on the main stage was Foster The People, which I wasn’t extraordinarily excited for – still, I managed to get pretty close to the stage (although still back a few rows from where the rest of my group had set up camp). Although I wasn’t expecting much, I was absolutely blown away by the energy – one of the drummers, especially, was really into it. I honestly think their concert was far better than the cuts of the same songs on their albums. Plus, they brought out Spencer Ludwig, the trumpeter from Capital Cities, which was really awesome. I think he really added a lot to the songs he played on. It was quite a busy crowd for Foster The People, but it was nothing compared to the hour and a half of standing before Vampire Weekend started their set; everyone was packed in like sardines. I barely had room to move my arms. The crowd surged forward when the band came out onto the stage – I actually ended up extraordinarily close to the stage. It didn’t seem particularly safe that everyone continued to try to push forward, but hey, who am I to judge, right?
Vampire Weekend was an amazing band with which to cap off the weekend. At the end of the show – and after 3 encores! – Ezra (the lead singer) stepped off to the side of the stage and threw a fistful of $2 bills over the crowd (“for luck”). Amazingly, I actually got one of them! I’m not sure what I’m going to end up doing with it, but still – it’s a great souvenir to have brought back from Gov Ball.
After all of that driving, I ended up putting a total of over 3600 miles on the car in only three weeks. Needless to say, it was nice to have last weekend off – the time to relax was much needed! Since I’ve gotten back, I’ve taken the time to work on a few other projects on my plate, most notably FastInviter – which I’ve completely finished up at this point. I’d definitely urge you to check that out; I’m very proud of the work I’ve done on it! I’m actually planning on writing a sort of “development post-mortem” on my process for that soon where I talk about my process and how it’s evolved, as well as the lessons I’ve learned, so be sure to check that out when I publish it!