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Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Journey to CMJ 2011: the true story of a band on the road: Part 2

It was just after 8 PM when we finally passed through the gleaming Holland Tunnel and made our way into the Big Apple. Minutes outside of Brooklyn, we found our venue, a midsize bar filled with a bunch of recognizable bands that had also journeyed up from the southeastern states to rock the CMJ showcase. Towers of band equipment filled the small room backstage, so we piled Misfortune500's instruments and amps onto the sidewalk as we waited for their set to begin.

Soon enough, I found myself watching band after upbeat band cycle through their short sets in front of a crowd composed mostly of friends they too had brought along with them. At times, the tunes of all the bands ran together in a blur of sound as the names of groups I'd seen before - Shallow Palace, the Winter Sounds, Sleepy Eye Giant - drifted in and out of my consciousness. Maybe it was all that time on the road, rushing to get to the city or the contrast of the quick pace of the New York streets with the bands' southern attitudes, but time seemed to just speed by as I stood there watching the show. What felt like mere minutes later, Misfortune500 was setting up and prepping their sound. Once they launched into their tunes, I began to feel a bit more alive as the numbness of traveling through eight states to get to this moment finally wore off. As always, I relished in every one of Misfortune500's dark rock songs, but much too soon, it was time for them to leave the stage. Atlanta's Today the Moon, Tomorrow the Sun followed them with a sexy, almost gothic sound that I quite enjoyed, underlined by thunderous drums. Then it was the aforementioned Sleepy Eye Giant's turn to give us a bit of their very whole and complete progressive rock style as we stepped back out into the cold city air.

Before ending our six hour jaunt in the NYC, the band and I, along with some pals of theirs, partied it up in a bar nearby around 2:30 AM. No 2 AM curfew for New York! Traipsing through the streets near Brooklyn, in the shadows of buildings that stretched far into the sky, I felt comfortable and revitalized. Yes, the lights were brighter, and people still filled the streets long into the night, but at that moment, I didn't feel so far away from home. In some ways, this little slice of the city wasn't so different from our own Athens town. One day, I'd like to visit this place again.

Then, with that small taste of New York still on the tips of our tongues, we drove back to Jersey, eager for one more nap in our cozy motel room before our journey home. The next afternoon, we began to make our way through the states we had traversed just days ago. I've always found that, for some reason, no matter where a trip takes you, the return journey always feels faster, and indeed, this notion held true this past weekend as well. Even with our stops for snacks and gas, the 13 hour ride back flew by. During one of our snack runs in Maryland, we caused quite a bit of a stir among some young teens merely by getting out of the van. At that moment, it hit me just how awesome it was to be traveling all the way to New York City and back with a band that looked and acted like a band. There's a camaraderie there that that emanates from such a band and fills onlookers, even ones unfamiliar with the group's music, with a sense of awe. It was quite inspiring just to observe such a thing.

The remainder of the ride passed relatively uneventfully as we crossed Virginia and slipped through the Carolinas, but that feeling of accomplishment, of satisfaction at having traveled so far together and seen so much in such a short amount of time... that feeling lingered. It was simply an incredible, unforgettable journey!

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