Eyes go wide on the rail first level balcony 40 yards from School’s thunder striker, fields of monks, a legion at least, in white robes n skull caps before me, below me Jimmy blowing fire like a dragon, JoJo in luminous levitation over his ice cold hammers, translucent Sunny’s smile glows red orange moonlight, School’s black mane blowing back as if he’d launched as a human canon ball, Duane a throwback hippie drumming prodigy, and JB, well that’s where it got interesting, he’s suspended rotating on a sphere his own design, a skeleton in a TSA screen view, Uncle John’s band was real, as Hunter decreed long time ago.
Bourbon Alice is my sweet omen tonight, parked in front me as I wait for Bruce my trucker friend, a beautiful nymph talent, black curls wet as from her shower, oh lordie, she smiled I froze, for once Bruce was slow getting out of the truck looking for change, I had these 5 seconds of beauty all to mine own eyes, oh youth so pure, then she was gone leaving us to mess with quarters for parking. Dodging raindrops skipping we made it to Bourbons damp not wilted, the panic was waiting, we pull up to the bar and Alice smiles up says hey,
what are you drinking?
I gaze looking for a place to rest my awe deep in her glowing black curls, the girls in the movies and we both laugh delicious. We’d come to feast, lay down a layer.
Well hell sweetheart we meet again. Howdy, how’d you get here so fast? What’s up w parking?
Not after 5! Says this vision in my heart,
Now you tell us! Says me.
Laugh. More beauty. I’m thinking of stayin to wash the dishes.
What’s your name? A bit of sunshine on a dreary, gorgeous rainy day, what luck we meet our bar-beauty before we even arrive. Gonna be a hot night tonight. Lots of panic fans in here. Parents in here too right next to us, failure to launch, this their escape. I get that.
Friendly friendlies in the bar and at the show. A bit more standoffish at the emporium out back of Township.
Fly away old man,
I leave with a
Fuck u very much. I mutter, shit I hunt for favors anywhere I goddamn please, already orbited this earth many times, enough to make you my dog sitter, but I wouldn’t trust you with any of my animals you fucj. Grow up, you ain’t done nuthin yet.
Joshua, love the prophets, he got my floor tix for 20 bucks and some greenstamps, goes nicely with the vegetarian gumbo in my belly,. Only 3 shrimps, fuck, is there a shortage in Caroline? But the mushrooms made that dish, they were giants, fuck you shrimps. And greens stamps underneath, and Talisker beneath that, and the Rocky Patel cigar beneath that, I would survive, shit now my legion of white-robed monks in white skulls I mean white light white heat somebody said that yeah? Well truth is revealed. Prophets need dream seers, those that interpret, like the good books say. Close my eyes for visions, open them wide for JB to preach, preach it little brother, we march down the runway spread our wings and hydrofoil above the chilly water, shit we all did, these monks were teachin, JB was preaching and we were sky high . Looking down, the monks are crystal balls a micro-layer deep, higher higher they become a Nano layer of lubrication between me and immortality, god I love these folk. They got our back. Monks?
Maybe I should been more appreciative of the assholes advice to flyaway? Nope, life is about intentions and I read those like literature wherever I travel.
Oh Rachel, we talk Nick Hornby, Abbey, HST, Brothers Karamazov, Alyosha’s vision of jesus, her short flaming ginger curls frame sparkling smiles and laughter oh what a 24 hours, smoking RomeoyJuliet Reservas together talking biz and literature and its not even breakfast. SanAnton I gotta get down there quick, what is it with me and gingers, my first awkward gropey kiss, tasting a girl’s taste it all comes flooding back, behind the tele-coop me and Christy. It’s why I celebrate so hard so balls out I guess, as she’s been gone 25 years too young. Except I’ll never forget that kiss, her taste, a tongue to go with my own, shit we’re only talkin minutes maybe, getting up the courage was most it. Ha, now she’s gone, and come again reincarnate, let’s do panic sometime girl. Alice laughs. Maybe a yes laugh, maybe a not another one laugh. I’m only caressing a jamais vu, making sense or fantasy it’s all the same. Tonight just 18 hours after the last one. There would be others.
Started with up all night, or at least early, panic is tight, know their crowd, panic does, read our tweets? Knew we’d have to dig deep tonight. Another candy please, they burned it up from there. No shame in this first set. Jimmy exploded transubstantiation, bred of flesh, he became a flaming sword, marching to Mordor we took turns leading, riding the white stallion, I love Jimmy, he can take over a room, load it w c4 and poof marshmallows of love everywhere. The white-robed boys, gooey sticky marshmallow cream of ecstasy. Yep he blows up love with that Strat.
Jimmy or Jake? Ask two people, get a dozen different answers. Jimmy is a classic power stroke diesel fire breathing guitar god, ok stipulate to that, he anchors panic, penetrates the room with a presence displacing granite Gutzon Borglum was from down here one time before Rushmore, learned their trade together, talking powder, displacement, power riffing endless variation, only my opinion.
Jake can do that too, but he spreads the room taking each of us one at a time and wrapping flame around each of us, whirling dervish he kills us with kindness though, know what I mean, he can fret pick like a harpist, go flamenco, go spinal tap the reality show, break into Pastorius on lead, then Hendrix on same, abuses every style, masters them all pitch perfect for whatever the moment. Serenades, makes the audience cry, duels w Brendan or Joshua, or anyone of the few that are called. Jimmy looks his intensity, the Gandolf of his generation. Jake smiles knowing his gift, his artistry as good as our generation has born. He can tickle or wrestle or knock you over with a feather. Bawling tears is an every day thang for anybody getting over the blues.
Same but different, gifted men blessed to be gifted and to have discovered it, what heaven must be if each of us could be doing what our divine gifts have on offer? Enjoyed Cigar Box on Main in the rain all afternoon. With the director of the Columbia Botanical gardens, Andy y’all come out and we’ll tour ya Desert Botanical, Saguaro National Monument, Boyce Thompson. Ain’t Carolina. It’s desert heat. His story. Be nice to do something in plants, always loved gardening and plants. College what the fuck horticulture sounds good, screwed off then dialed in, still what to? Part time at Columbia Botanical and now he’s director at 40. A calling, but he’s got no love for panic, its ok, we can’t all be called.
Wore same old young Dylan shirt as Portland Schnitz, he loves Dylan, funny half his age, but it’s a sweet T and has been a part of some Sweet Tea in the south and honey granola in the northwest. The Dylan T was another log on the pile of clothes for me today, it was chilly N2 compared to steamy N1, and considering I had begun the day with cigars out front with Rachel, then cruising the lobby in my black skivvies, incidental, thanks god I didn’t sleep naked last night. It happened the second night in a row, woke up and thought I was on that goddam Bulgarian’s yachthole. Had to exit the boat at the bow, climb up and out to pee, well they don’t make basement bedrooms like that no matter how creative my mother might have been with her nautical themes in the Dakotas, I never had to climb up and open the hatch to pee.
Well I been waking in my yesterday’s world and trying to fumble my way up the same hatch the last two nights, except I wasn’t on a boat anymore. I might have been in Kansas for all I knew. Easily corrected in the basement the first night, where I wake up rub my eyes and reconnoiter. The holiday in this morning post N1, early morning N2, not so fast, vague memories of watching as the door shut behind me, and thinkin wait that’s no hatch and this is no boat fuck me! I gotta pee and there’s no bathrooms, except behind all these doors, 803, 804, 805, there’s a pattern here, smiles, fuck the Holiday Inn, maybe the corner by the ice machine? Nope that’d be gross. Elevator couldn’t come fast enough, when you really gotta pee you get over your embarrassment! This elevator had an annoying habit of beeping at me, all the way down. Busted? Mocking me. Ground floor at last, one final beep, good riddance says Otis . Straight around the corner to piss, barefoot in a public toilet, not my cup of…it’d just make me have to pee more.
Then the penultimate walk of shame, this before I had even heard Cersei’s name, down the mile long well-lit hallway to the huge expansive lobby, spotlights everywhere I swear, a Lighting Director running this show, tryin to walk fast and timid at the same time, try it some time, live a little. Like I said glad I didn’t sleep naked last night! The clerk hardly looked up, she probably gets this every day, occupational hazard, dude comes up the other direction checking out early flight, he’s the gotta run type, I look up its almost 4. He looks up, cracks up, rough night fella? I nod, have a good flight you MOFO under my muttery breath. Now fly. Clerk knew me, no id necessary, wanted to know my birthdate? What’s she doing entering me in the buck naked idiot guest of the month contest? I might have a chance in my age group. Ha. Got my key, went back up, saw nobody, lucky. Back to the boat, err hotel room, the fucking elevator has a hole in the wall, but the beeping finally calmed the fuck down.
Next morning, hot bath and new skins, with Dylan watching over me for this night he gets it, golden halo swathes his cherubic face, this shirt was so old the moths won’t touch it. And that was how the day began – the white robed monks weren’t even up for vespers yet. Hang on man, just hang on. We’re coming for you.
Ray’s diner and Kiya served up some fine service, cause she’s a fine girl, been with a couple of black girls, and what I like is no attitude, Shirley and Ocie both were ok with just hanging, no expectations, you’re a man and I’m a woman, just do your job, that’s all I need, all I expect, and that’s what no expectations is about to me, can’t explain it. Kiya made up some perfect collards, mixed it up with a salmon patty and two eggs medium sun and some pepper oil. Hmmmm with apple juice to washdown. Ray you do it up right. Loving South Carolina.
The Cigar Box is on Main, with beautiful live oak and pistache trees lining the street leading up to the Statehouse, yep, I’d forgotten it was the capitol of the confederacy, least this confederacy, ya see a confederacy ain’t really a confederation, since nobody down here believes in joinin anything right, so it’s kind of an oxymoron to me. Federalism never caught on here at all, the war’s just on hold until they run out of southern hospitality. And watchin the Obama hate shit, I’m thinkin they’re already running on fumes. But what the fuck do I know, I’m a corn-holin yank – put that in there before you could think it. Momma always insisted on calling it bean bag, and It took me a while before I learned why she could be so insistent. She mellowed with my younger bros and sisters.
Treelined Main, must be gorgeous when those pistache trees burn red in late fall. Nice shop, huge humidor, bricks raw from at least 100 years ago paint the smoke on the inside walls, and great craft beers, nice wines too but I didn’t check. Had a Yuengling Amber with me still from the truck, and then finished with a LeftHanded nitro stout. Bruce had a ballast point grapefruit sculpin, with nary a touch of the bitter aftertaste I associate with grapefruits. As for me, I’m always lovin stout for breakfast, can I get a “that’s what she said”. Delicious. Smokin, talkin, meeting the locals, real hospitality and conversation. That’s where we philosophize about why panic is a black and white choice for a lotta people. Just like so many issues, only this one really matters!
JB’s voice is other-worldly, it’s like a haunt, a wail, a siren in the middle of a fierce gale, a lullaby, so many things, ghost like, my girl says panic music is ugly, it’s gonna catch up with us some day, been told, but she let’s me tour, you’re probably wondering bout that, and I promise that’s a story coming soon. Might be some inferences a person could take to their own kennel. But touring to me, well Can’t Get High with out it, and you Take What You Need, right Umph. Yep truth. So I tour, addiction is not always a bad thing, it’s about context, and JBs voice gives a mushroom cloud of context to panic shows. Shit, Honky Red, Going Out West, Blue Indian, last night carried me inside my mind, no blank spot, shit I was full up, the gumbo was working hard and I went down south til the Medicine really took and the Poor House of Positive Thinking opened for business. Driving Song kept me from flying over the edge.
JoJo had a prominent role last night, a definite NOLA vibe on quick-dazed recall. Disagree? We all have our own memories, and mine are mostly stuck on dancin between two beauties last night, and I never knew their names. Right at the rail, the only downside to last night, the rail semi-guarded me from a 20 foot drop to the concrete ramp to the wood floor. I mean the rail was just below waste level and when I swoon I go to a 120 degree forward angle. Usually the limit is whoever is sitting in front of me and their tolerance level. That rail would have tolerated my funeral I’m pretty sure. At least it wouldn’t have mattered if I slept walked naked this night, I’d just be all laid out right for the mortuary. Shite, I kept having visions of waking up thinking I was on the fuckin boat, that yachthole. So every time the starry starry nights invaded my trance, I’d have to pinch myself. I’d face planted one time, it was a few years back at Irvine amphi to DMB. Ended up two rows in front of my seat, kinda on top of a very pissed off guy and his gal. I am told my girl was frantical trying to haul my ass back up to my seat and get me under restraints. Took weeks for the bruises to go away, so I am always wary of gumba and heights, and these girls thank god, kept me dancing with my eyes open. Thanks chicas! And I never knew their name, that’s a song I think?
Schools rules, shit man, he added some cool voices last night, felt like his bass was right up against my spine took over my central nervous system, rewired the pulse and autonomic shit, make that the atomic clock spin, reset my watch to the present for ever. Love sitting School-side watchin his mane blowing back like his hair’s gonna light up any moment, and it did a few times right? The best is when he comes back like last night after Duane and Sonny go off on their beat rant poetry slam. Duane has been so on since October 2014 when he joined, replacing Todd, he just brings such power, mischievous teases, and mesmerizing interplay with Sonny. What song did Sonny pound the Klavas on last night? I think it was Poorhouse? The NOLA song in the encore. So subtle so perfect, putting the right atmosphere behind the lyrics. Gotta learn that tune.
And that really makes panic, imho, besides JBs voice and soul, JOJOs NOLA funky keys and Jimmy’s shredding, the rhythm section is a floor and a wall of pulsing power that makes you dance involuntarily, could teach Elaine some moves with out saying a word. They are so powerful and together, it elevates whatever the leads wanna do lights the way wherever they want to take it. They can put a pitched roof, a flat roof shit they can do a thatched old school Euro roof it don’t matter, the structure laid by the rhythm section is nuclear hardened it is that fundamentally solid. And last night at Township we got the treat of two drum solos, the traditional with Schools taking them back home, and then later with the full band jamming off the magic rhythms. Shit what a slam you back in your seat powerful hammer, I’m all jacked all over again.
Freeing JoJo, JB and Jimmy to just go where the spirit moves them with the rhythm section panic has begs the question, speaking of relationships. Where’s Todd, made a special announcement this week about his own band, panic did that, and he was touring Denver way back when panic spring tour kicked off in Boise. Well the oxy is the rumor. He’s still a founder, still a core part of the legacy, but that’s not to say, we all don’t need a change of pace, not for ourselves alone, but to let others in our role set, our captive community find their own freedoms. So maybe this is just a very mature way to do a refresh in panic, Jimmys sons-in-law added to the drums, it’s goosed Sonny, shit its reenergized the whole band, a reboot mebbe? Pound em Duane, and god bless Todd, all the best!
Southern Rock is heavy-duty steel fabrication, love the smell of cutting oil in the morning. Panic is the shit, bossman with a bulldozer with velvet tracks plowing right through the center of your being, they are magnificent, the magniffucking 6.
Township had Paul Hoffman’s, the LD, had his brother helping out last night, no let down in site, a gradual crescendo of dark to reds for Honky Red, the close with the hallucinating white splashes god I love that, Paul you got a gift. You know he can’t smell, yep he told me so, well Jennifer did, no morning breath issues for her, farts no problem either. Girl can be free as the Yeti, it don’t matter! No smell, so taste is affected too. Wondering if there is a compensatory synesthesia component? Don’t know the answer to that, but he has a gift and Bandit Lites has a franchise for sure. Thematic lights are panic’s formula, not as synchronized to the rhythm, rather planned out and formatted to the set list. That’s my perspective. Wawful is totally dynamic and interactive from the lead in to the outtake. Not saying which is better, just different. Panic’s themes are like performance art in an art gallery sort of way. Wawfuls are interactive and dynamically wed to the music in an EDM vibe sort of way, tough to do with a band as improvisational and wild as Umph. If that makes any fucking sense at all?
The panic crowd? It’s diverse and older, the kids here been listening, especially down south since grade school, sort of like Zep, Cream Traffic for me. It is just the language a person speaks growin up, so panic folk know every song, lots of them are nerdy like Umph fans and write the set lists down, and all that stuff, but the key is they go so far back in most cases. Umph will need another generation for that kind of latency, the persistence of memory to set. Secret handshakes are also a different feature in the south, that’s panic home so seeing a show down there, despite the beautiful gals and the southern greens, and general hospitality, despite my best affected drawl and just being a farm boy gets me in the door, but not into the back room. Gotta have that handshake. I don’t feel that with umph north or south, The St Aug and Columbia venues were like an experiment in socialization. Not sure what the hypotheses were we were testing, but it’s curious to look back and contrast.
Even the difference between Columbia and the northwest panic shows is worth mention. The west crowds are more laid back, dope is mostly legal, favors are just a part of the ticket, in the south they could legalize it but it would take a generation to accept the reality, it’s just not how they done it for the last 100 years. Just thinking out loud. Columbia is a show I’ll keep coming back to, but those north west halls the Morrison, the Boise, the Schnitz, were like a fantasy camp, Columbia was like a natural history museum.
And now that I mention it, the best two-step experience of the year? Top of my head, the Wiltern Umph with the Getty the next day with the Wiltern streaming in ears. Now that was VIP without the extra fee. Shit walking through paradise gardens in Incan architecture overlooking the ocean, dreaming into Picasso Monet, Munch, and jamming to umph now that’s what heavent with the door bashed in looks like. Glad I can taste and smell, because for umph you need all your senses and a lotta RAM to hold it all together. Just hang on man. I’m comin!
It’s raining now, hard rain’s gonna fall and it’s falling present tense. I close my eyes. There he is, a skeleton stroking his stick, wailing like the original human creature at a campfire dance before anybody ever heard of a thing called rage. It’s JB. It’s JB and he grins at me. Yes, I’m sure my eyes touched his gaze touched my eyes. The monks, must have draped me in white too, carried me on air to the fountain, lay me gentle down. I’ve fallen, over the edge the concrete floor rises fast to meet me. I softly weep, with fear and joy and something beyond, deeper we fall, the end is nigh. I open mine eyes to meet my destiny. It’s JB, still grinning, he winks this time. His eyes are glowing redder than the soul of the universe. Hold on man! Hold on man, I got you!
I don’t dance to forget, I dance to remember.
Copyright April 16, 2015 All Rights Reserved
** “PanicStream: 4/15/2015 | The Township Auditorium | Columbia, SC I: Pigeons Up All Night Holden Oversoul Cotton Was King Honky Red Tall Boy One Kind Favor Bust it Big Proving Ground II: Driving Song > Shut Up & Drive > Blue Indian > Driving Song Rebirtha Goin’ Out West > Drums > Saint Ex Chilly Water E: The Poorhouse of Positive Thinking Trouble”