"Don't fuck with HGJ"
"Don't fuck with HGJ"

Hand Grenade Job is currently on tour throughout the great American south and mid-Atlantic, and over the next six weeks, HGJ’s Beck Levy will be chronicling her experiences on the road. Read part one here and part two here. Stay tuned for more adventures.

March 4, 2017: Atlanta, Ga. at Drunken Unicorn with Bitter and Priests

Bitter is all younger women and gender non-conforming people and they majorly shred. It’s kind of funny playing after a rock band like that, with lots of members and parts and hooks. Then we come up and it’s like three notes per song with ample silence between. I mostly get off on it. When we get on stage we get blasted with cold gusts of air, to the point where it’s blowing my hair a little, like I’m in a ridiculous music video. I’m freezing while we play, and half the audience is chatting loudly throughout, and there’s constant high-pitched feedback from a monitor, but we soldier on. Before “Bullet” I talk about becoming ungovernable, using the atrocious pro-Trump marches that took place that day as a jumping off point. Before “Wildfire,” as I often do, I dedicate the song to every woman in prison for killing her abuser. “Oh brother,” the three loud people nearest the stage moan. In a rare moment of “when they go low, I’ll go high,” I demurely say “you’re welcome,” and we play the tune.

After the show I meet a guy in the parking lot who asks if it’s safe to walk a mile to his hotel. I suggest he pays us to drive him. He laughs like I’m joking. He is from Chicago but used to live in Pittsburgh, so I make him say various things in the Pittsburgh accent, like “Don went down to the corner store and they were selling tacos.” It is hilarious.

March 5, 2017: Durham, N.C. at The Pinhook with Truthers and Priests

Early on in our drive, somewhere in South Carolina, we pass two of those huge fireworks warehouses and unanimously agree that we must stop. The first, most attractive one, is closed, but we make good use of it and stage a photoshoot. The second, more humble, fireworks warehouse is open. We go wild.

Perhaps an hour or so later something terrible happens. In August I’d been in a car accident. I was sitting at the intersection Piney Branch Road and Georgia Avenue, at that long red light headed west from my dad’s apartment in Takoma Park, when I got hit from behind so hard that it caused a four-car pileup. I suffered a brain injury, a back injury, and a neck injury. It has largely defined my life ever since, particularly in that I have a constant low-grade migraine. It was an unmanageably intense migraine, but then I had some success mitigating it with Gabapentin, Lidocaine injections, and Botox injections. Still, it disables me significantly.

“Baby youre a firework”re a firework” Credit: Photo by Dee Martin.

Sometimes the migraine spikes and renders me totally unable to do anything. It’s unclear what the triggers are. On this drive, it came back sudden and hard. Perhaps it was from a week of poor sleep, or allergies, or just all the recent new and unusual activities of touring. My skeleton wanted to escape from my body and the pain was so bad I felt like I was going to throw up. We pulled over and I decide to take the maximum allowed amount of the medications I’m prescribed for breakthrough pain. If it doesn’t work I’m going to have to find a hospital. After 10 minutes—fast because I always take part of my medications sublingually—I start feeling some relief, and the rest of the drive is an over-medicated blur of trying to keep my energy up for playing.

I’m perspiring heavily during our set and can’t quite help from speeding up songs or rambling between them, but I’m proud to have gotten through, and the crowd response is positive. We sell more tapes and shirts than usual. Erin and Dee do shots with Priests, because it’s drummer Daniele Daniele’s birthday. My meds start to wear off and first I’m tired, then suddenly I’m suffering. The lights and sound are swirling. I stand with my head against a pole and a cup of water on my head, waiting for people to be ready to leave. Then I sit on a couch and try to use my hands to block out all light and noise. When we get back to my friend’s house, I’m pretty well fucked up. My friend slowly administers lidocaine shots to my face, neck, and trapezius. By 3 a.m. I can finally fall asleep.

Erin wakes me up three hours later to drive home. We’re supposed to leave again six days later, to tour for two weeks to Austin, Texas and back. But that doesn’t exactly go off as planned.