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Because I enjoy Gothic themes in American literature and the beauty of the kudzu, I am a great lover of the South. Thus, I lobby for tours that follow “the Southern route” to the West Coast. However, I am also a great lover of financial solvency. Thus, I dread tours that follow “the Southern route” to the West Coast.
As anyone who has ever toured or considered touring knows, the former Confederate States of America do not have a stellar rep. Shows south of Mason-Dixon and east of the Mississippi can be hard to find, and when they are found, are often ill-paying, alcohol-fueled, or just plain weird.
In 1997, in Greenville, N.C., a guy at a house show had to give me a ride to another house to pick up a microphone from his friend. He drove me across town in a pickup while drinking a beer (in flagrant violation of open-container laws) and talking about his prospective army service. Of course, this interaction could conceivably take place in Boston, Mass., or Portland, Ore. However, there was something “Faulknerian” about it.
Because of my love/hate relationship with the South, I feared our first show at this converted police station in Richmond would be a bust. Typical doubts troubled me—-i.e., “Has anyone in this town heard of us and will anyone come to this show?”—-but I have had a few negative, “Faulknerian” Richmond experiences, including a heated exchange with an audience member at a house show in 2005 who screamed “I hate myself!” at me repeatedly.
Fortunately/surprisingly, last night’s show went well. The opening bands were decent and very loud. The audience was attentive. Some merchandise was sold. Internet and vegan food were available. Most significantly, no one drove told me about their prospective army service while driving me drunk around town.
So, I look forward to returning to Richmond and cultivating the unlikely flowering of Richmond/D.C. punk scene unity. After all, in quiet moments—-on its grand avenues and in its swampy summer climate—-Washington, D.C., fancies itself a Southern city.
Still, D.C. is a government town—-i.e., a watered-down version of Faulkner’s south. This is fine by me, as I prefer watered down versions of “the real thing.” This is why I eat at Taco Bell when I want Mexican food and enjoy trips to Astroturf Park in Silver Sprung, where this person recently had a bad date.