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Skating American Tobacco Trail, plus Toad the Wet Sprocket and Mark Kano of Athenaeum at Cat's Cradle Aug 10 2011

roadskater's picture

I'm in Chapel Hill at the Panera. I came down to do something near Cat's Cradle in Carrboro this morning. Then I was (and am) planning to do the American Tobacco Trail Wednesday night social skate, as I hear Jay from Atlanta may be rolling in, and Tom GotSkates is likely there, plus skatey-mark and more. 

On the way into town I saw a bus that looked like a rock band bus...nice, but not announcing who they are...toting a trailer, too. I wondered who it might be, figuring they were on the way to the Cradle. 

After my meeting, I went by the Cradle and there was the bus...so I went to see who was playing tonight. Well there's only one band that would tempt me to spend my money and that's who is going to be there tonight: Toad the Wet Sprocket. I was in a daze about that for a few minutes, calculating what I might be able to do, so I got my skates out and worked on them a while in the parking lot, taking my guitar and some other stuff out so I could sit on the bumper. 

While I was working on the skates, Glen Phillips of Toad  came by and said, "Hey those are our stickers," nodding toward my battered guitar case with at least 3 different kinds of Toad stickers, along with lots more. We talked briefly, but while he seemed content enough, I didn't really want to keep him long since it's his time off in my view. I basically told him some of the places and times I had seen them (for Pale tour in Winston-Salem, several other times in WS, also at the Tabernacle in Atlanta, solo at WS). I also told him that I played solo acoustic in bars and festivals along the way, and since I didn't like many of my own songs, I often ended up playing a lot of theirs, which is true. He seemed happy to hear it, and to know I wasn't asking for anything, I'm sure! His main interest was to see about getting a shower (I thought perhaps he had been running). 

Once I got my skates finished and was getting hungry, I came over to Panera for a big sandwich and some wifi.

So I will likely come back over to see Toad tonight, especially if some skaters want to come along. I didn't think I'd need to hurry to get back, but I found out that Mark Kano of Athenaeum (a Greensboro band of Toadlovers) is going to be the lead-on act. So i may be hurrying from the skate to the Cradle.

Anybody want to come with? Call my cell or send me an email if interested. 



roadskater's picture

Inside Outside Leave Me Alone

After the American Tobacco Trail Wednesday Night Skate, I had some tough choices. I could yum it up with some skateys at a mexiplex, or go see the Toad the Wet Sprocket show on my own, somewhere in the middle of the festivities. Or maybe something else. 

When I made my choice to go on the Carrboro, I didn't know how far along the night had progressed at Cat's Cradle. I had a sense that Toad like to get things done earlier in the evening than many bands, while still giving a full show. Of course you might as well not call the answering machine at the venue, so I headed over there to see. 

By the time I arrived, Mark Kano had finished (bummer), and I saw Glen and other mucisians out in the parking lot but didn't speak to them, as they were having their own conversations and I'd spoken to Glen earlier in the day. I think the Toad guys or at least Glen helped Kano's bunch bring their instruments out to the cars...a nice touch and completely in keeping with my expectations of the band. 

I saw Mark come back through to go back in the bar, but didn't try to speak as he was in post-show get this stuff off the stage so the headliner can play mode. That was not the time for a real conversation. 

By the time I went to put some stuff back in my car and returned, Toad were starting. The air was going out of my spending-money balloon. Being companionless for this one, and having gotten a last-hour email suggesting that Toad was coming to Greensboro in the next few weeks (see below), I opted to hover around outside and listen to a song or two and then decide whether to plop down $25 and go in or to just get some food and roll on home for some needed sleep. 

Research was not showing Greensboro dates, but songs were passing by clacketyclack like train cars  as I was listening to the band, but watching my fingers type on my phone. 

After some hawing and even some humming, the choice to go in was getting less likely of course. Every missed song raises the cost per dollar to see the rest, ha.

As I was missing more and more of the visuals, I was thinking I might still not be able to see much inside (not knowing how many were in attendance). I was also reconsidering the things I have been trying to save money for, not the least of which would be some new skate boots! Meanwhile, I was hearing Toad, or at least a band pass filtered version of it. 

I didn't seem to be bothering anyone, including the security and entourage and the drummer, Randy, when he came out (and no I didn't try to talk with him on his mini-break, but at the Tabernacle in Atlanta years back, eebee and I had a nice long chat with him and he's really nice, too). So I made a middle choice, to keep my money for the skate fund, or at least for another space-time when I could go with pals and enjoy the full experinece, close enough to watch the guitar playing up close and decipherable. In fact, I'm more inspired to plan for future standup music trips, including Toad if we are all around next year. 

It's important to re-re-remember, that the greatness of a standup bar show is that for less money than a lawn or theatre show you can be right there up front and watch all the musical performance if you just get there and stay there. People in front of you go away and come back behind you.

Had I remembered that, I might have gone on in, because any mythical Greensboro show, if ever, is likely to be a numbered ticket affair, where many other power of money factors hold sway over fan durability and fret-position interest to determine your distance from the actual show...hands and fingers and mouths. So it's great that Toad is touring small venues along with some lawn shows each summer. 

Well, after all the dicisions and indecisions before the taking of toast and tea, I was too late for flagplanting and it's not Toadlike to mosh it up to the front. So I listened and pondered and talked with some of the staff guys out front. Songs passed. My money obtained gravity, hiding in the dark recesses of my wallet, ready to run away in an instant. 

Meanwhile, Toad sounded great even without all the treble, the beat lumbering now and then as live music will do, but mostly glowing and gliding from minor to major with an added ninth here and there for slow motion sparkle

I saw the band briefly during the encore break, but again didn't engage because really I'm here listening by the front/back door without the commitment to go in, but I might look more like a stalker collecting bug bites waiting for the band to get them to autograph my chinchilla's ears, or else! 

Without an hour or two to talk about lyrics and recurring thematic elements of failures and lies and references to characters and conflicts in the story of Christianity, what's the point?

After the encore was over, I cleared out of the exit area to make way for the lemon parade of others who wanted their time or photo or whatever, having actually paid to see the show, now wanting their 15 seconds from fame. 

Finishing at 10:30pm, Toad had put in another good 90-minute set worthy of their history, with all but maybe three songs from their original group of discs. I'm assuming these extra songs to be new Toad songs, not covers. I know they've done an album ("All You Want") wherein they rerecorded and in some cases reinterpreted some of their fan faves, in part because they did not own their own recordings, and wanted to create something new from the old that was fully theirs. 

There was plenty of energy, though I wonder if they've been playing on stage a lot lately, all of them, as parts were maybe a bit rough around the edges and perhaps some of the band seemed to lack stage stamina slightly (just going by the sound, all of which one would likely not notice so much when focusing on visual content as well). OK, none of us are as young as we were, eh? That's the only thing near negative I could say. And one person's rough is another person's "live." My impression was that any uneven beat got better and became unnoticeable after the first few songs, and really I don't know if I'm even making sense about the stage stamina. 

Their voices seemed good and they all seemed to hit the original notes, even though time has lowered some of the tenor from us all, especially at times when voices might be trashed from lack of sleep and not enough rest on the road...and maybe some unhelpful yelling here and there. But it wasn't a Stevie Nicks or Roger Daltry thing, where those notes were gone forever or at least for now, ripped out from countless road screams and various sorts of abuse, leaving those gifted singers at some concerts seeming to work with less than an octave of range (not usually, I'd add, but at shows I'd paid to see by the Fleetwood Mac and the Who). 

So Toad sounded pretty rested, not overworked, and maybe just a little bit less fully trained for the physical rigors of obsessive traveling and performance right now...which is why you'd do small shows in standup bars before going out to meet the gold circle sitters perhaps.(Another standup bar show tonight in Greenville, SC, before joining Hootie and the Blowfish in Charleston, SC, for what appears to be elite seating with the fans watching it on tele from the lawn). 

Going back to early days, I'd say this was another great show (or hear), as they are consistently excellent or at least very good as a band. Inside the hall it might well have been amazing. Reception would indicate at least very good, but maybe there wasn't critical mass and it was a bit early for the omg this is aMAYzin screams of the alcohol amped adrenalized woohoos of potential genetic replicators pairing up in the DNA game yet once more for the night. 

I was a bit bummed and maybe even embarrassed about not just putting down the money and getting the whole show, but I couldn't make it to that point quickly enough in the evening to feel I'd get the whole show. And skating with friends old and new was well worth denting the perfectionism of this chance at the full Sprocket. 

Overall, it was a great day and night of getting some work done, seeing friends and respected acquaintances, skating with pals and hearing music and lyrics that have informed and inspired my life, and still do. Perhaps it was better to get this dose from far enough away to be able to enjoy it differently, in a buffered, fluourescent way, rather than being immersed and swimming in the vibratioins of complementary magenta and cyan stage light gels with oscillating strings creating currents in magnets, amplified by warm tube amps, sent back through magnets and fabric to push the hot waves past my head. (Huh?) 

Today it turns out my email rumor sender, who was only trying to help, had gotten their Big Head Todd mixed up with their Toad the Wet Sproket, so there's no Greensboro Toad show in sight (or sound). Maybe we should do something about that. So my speed skate fund is no less rich and seeing Toad for the tenth time or so just didn't happen...but I heard them, or a partial spectrum of them, and it was good enough to hope to get there early the next time and put my money down. Greenville, SC, anyone? Too late! I'd only get there in time to come to the same indecisions.

timv's picture

Didn't See That Coming

While I didn't anticipate finding out that you finished the evening eating pâté off the bare flank of a teenage groupie with the band in their hotel suite and throwing TVs off the balcony, I didn't expect that ending either.

But all it cost was a bit of your time and you got to hear some of what they're doing. I suppose that a tour bus and its associated diesel fuel aren't cheap these days, and a band of 40-somethings with families and mortgages might have very different expectations about how well life on the road needs to pay compared to what they were willing to do to promote their careers nearly 20 years ago. But I would likely have been taken back a bit too had I known about a $25 cover charge.

Too bad that you didn't get to talk to Kano or hear any of what he did, though I suppose he plays around here from time to time--certainly more often than Toad, or even Todd--even if we generally don't hear about it.

roadskater's picture

The Old Buy It Now Thing

At 3pm when sales opened up I was still around town, and had they been still offering the presale price, I would likely have bought because of the adrenaline of just finding out about the show, and the (artificial) discount factor. But it was definitely "day of" and I did not expect the venue to do that.  However, the time delay allowed thinking about it, the killer of so many sales, ha. 

We haven't been to many shows lately so there has been a gap in time where prices have gone up even for standup bar local band shows, I'm sure. And $25 is partly due to Cat's Cradle, as the Greenville show was a few bucks cheaper. But money was not all of it, because I figured it would be good value compared with traveling to another show, especially one with numbered seats. 

I think it just fizzled for me as I went over there a bit late (usually feeling getting there before the lead-on quits helps with getting a good spot for the headliner, as lead-on fans walk out for a few minutes in between). Also, on the way reading the rumor of perhaps another show closer to home was a factor (made more believable by the fact that Kano was leading on for this leg of their touring and he's from Greensboro).

By the time I figured out (with an assist from eebee) that this was not the case, I had heard but missed at least three songs. Having seen Toad so many times, it was good enough to stay and listen for a while, but not quite compelling enough to pay and go in to swim my way through people to somewhere close enough to see.  

So I think their price is way reasonable and they offer great value, but the same is true of many things I no longer do or buy (or do or buy less often...Lucky 32 meals come to mind) because I am protecting assets I hope to keep, or am saving for items I need like skate wheels (or boots). I do pay more for social events with a pal or several, and this one was just me, so the bubbles escaped from the cola on this one over time. 

We'll have to see about Atheneum or Kano playing about. I read they do some charity shows of the old stuff, and are individually working on some things. There may not be much incentive financially at this point.

Also we need to watch next year for Toad to come back around. It seemed the southern atlantic part of the tour was just a way to go from Nashville, TN to a bigger gig in Charleston, SC, with some college town standup bar practice in between. I'm glad they are including the Carolinas. 

It's not too far of a stretch to imagine they're working with Darius on some country music, eh? Or jangly pop music played on country stations? I think there's room for alternative pop to revive there or among the traditional music eclectic collection stations. Hope so. I think Glen has interesting things to say and their music wraps around those things well. 

Still bummed I didn't go in, but glad I put the priority on skating with the guys. Hate I missed dinner with them, though! I'll have to go back for another Wednesday night ATT trail skate. 

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