‘Narcotic’ Weekend Adventure

Sat., Feb. 17, 2007

I received an offer from a friend that I couldn’t refuse — spend Presidents’ Day Weekend on a road trip with two bands the Reserves and No Second Troy. The purpose of this “mini tour” was to promote No Second Troy’s new single ‘Burned.’ Their full summer tour to promote their new CD ‘Narcotic’ is set to kick off in May and run until July, building up to their big show at the 9:30 Club in Washington, D.C.

My weekend adventure began early in the morning as I made my way to my first destination, the Vienna Metro. My next stop was AU/Tenley in northwest D.C., where not far off I found the “tour bus” waiting at the corner of Albemarle Street. I rolled my mini suitcase around the corner and there it was … a big silver bus with red and white stripes on the side and the word Quick’s (which I assumed to be the bus company’s name). It was 11:20 a.m. and only a few people had arrived at that point. Bob, the bus driver, a sweet old guy took my bag and put it under the bus. As I climbed the bus stairs I saw a cloth interior that looked like one of Bill Cosby’s sweaters had thrown up on the seats and ceiling. There were “beer stations” containing Bud Light coolers and snacks on a few of the seats which were announced to have been sponsored by Buffalo Billiards. Very slowly the bus began to fill with band members, their wives, girlfriends and their friends. The mood seemed to be a mix of excitement and anticipation. While we waited for the last few people to show up, a girl named Jen ran to a nearby Hollywood Video to get “a good stupid movie” to help fill the time on the road.

The bus finally departed at 12:32 p.m. in late rock star fashion. The passengers cheered and “Listen to the Music” by the Doobie Brothers played in the background. A guy named Damon in army green pants, a black thermal shirt and a black knit cap, a self-proclaimed former player, shouted “this is the last time you’ll see me.” Apparently his wife would soon be having a baby girl and he knew he would not be going on any more wild trips like this one.

Tom McCarthy, the guitarist for No Second Troy and trip organizer, used the bus mic to give all us a quick run down on the trip timeline. Next, keyboardist Mike Beach took the mic and shared some improvisational Cliff Claven-like random factoids. A smart ass heckler in the back yelled, “Hey you didn’t tell us where the emergency exits are! Can I use my seat as a flotation device?” No comment.

Sitting behind me were Brian, the Reserves’ keyboardist and his girlfriend Abby. They were really nice. I was surprised to learn from Brian that the guys in both bands all actually had “normal” day jobs, such as a lawyer and CNN producer, to supplement their struggling musician incomes. Brain went on to tell me that as the opening band for the tour they were promoting their first, full-length studio CD called ‘Where Have All the Dreamers Gone.’ They worked with a local artist on the cover art and he said they’re very excited about the new CD. They piped it thru the bus sound system for everyone to hear. Someone found a National Enquirer on one of the seats and a few people played Sudoku. One of the guys teased that you buy Playboy for the articles and the National Enquirer for Sudoku. Two of the girls in the front, Anna (a twin) and Deb, became fast-friends and exchanged cell phone numbers. They pranked each other on their voice mail to store each other’s numbers.

We made a quick pit-stop along the way and then before I knew it, we were battling traffic to get thru the Holland Tunnel. We arrived at our hotel, the Millennium Hilton, at approximately 5:50 p.m. We all raced off the bus to check in the hotel because the bus was leaving for the show location at 6:15 p.m. I had no luck making it back to the bus on time and had to catch a taxi. No biggie, I considered it all part of the NYC adventure.

When I got to Alrene’s Grocery, the venue, at 7:40 p.m. there were a crowd of people waiting for tickets. The line moved fast – I paid my $10 and got my hand stamped. At the bar I ran into my friend Jeff, the lead singer of No Second Troy, and his girlfriend Yen. None of us had eaten a real meal that day and there was time to kill before the concert started, so Jeff suggested we go to a place close by called Pianos for dinner. Once inside, we headed to the second level of the rustic restaurant. Because of the size of our group we had to play musical chairs and tables to make a section big enough for all of us to fit. After eating good food and enjoying a round of drinks, it was time for us to walk back down the street to Arlene’s for the show. The Reserves did a great job warming up the crowd. No Second Troy took the stage around 10:15 p.m. — the place was packed. They opened with the song ‘Gone’ and rocked the crowd during their entire set. The show was good and it seemed to go by really fast … both bands sounded amazing.

They all headed to a show after party on the corner of the block at a bar called The Skinny. I was sidetracked from the post-show festivities … a sweet girl I met earlier that night had gotten REALLY drunk. I spent more than 45 minutes in a TINY bathroom stall in the basement of the club holding her hair while she prayed to the porcelain gods. I handed her wads of toilet paper and held my breath as best I could trying with all my might not to get sick. Her boyfriend had to come in to peel her off the floor and when we finally got her outside they took off in a cab bound for home. I headed over to the after party but didn’t stay long – the bathroom experience had soured my night, so I decided to go back to the hotel and call it a night.

Sun., Feb. 18, 2007

There was no rush to get up; the bus wasn’t set to leave until noon. So I decided to grab breakfast at a deli and go for a walk. Since we arrived on Sat. at night and on the side entrance of the hotel I hadn’t realized we were literally across the street from Ground Zero. I walked over to survey the site — I saw a long list of names of those who perished and powerful vivid images. I was overcome with emotion. Knowing that more than six years had past and the site still looked as it did was shocking. It was evident that a great deal more hard work lies ahead. Before I knew it, the time had come to head for the bus and return home.

I boarded the bus. It quickly filled with the smell of genuine N.Y. style pizza that a few of the guys had bought. They sat in the back and I was in front … I’m not sure if those pizzas ever made it back to D.C.? Once everyone was settled a few people shouted to play the movie. There had been “technical difficulties” with the DVD player on the way down so we never got to watch the “stupid movie” which turned out to be ‘Talladega Nights.’ I thought it was going to be a “guy flick” but I was pleasantly surprised how funny and entertaining it was. So on four mini retro TVs hanging from the bus ceiling the movie played to a hung-over and enthralled captive audience. The bus was shaky and the movie cut off so many times I stopped counting. Poor Mike Fisher from the Reserves, who truly has the patience of a saint, fixed and restarted the movie every time. Someone passed up their jacket to cushion the vibration of the DVD player and that helped stabilize the system. One movie and a nap later, we pulled into D.C. It was a little after 5 p.m. I bid farewell and headed for the metro back home.

Overall the trip was fun and I’m confident if you don’t recognize these bands now, you soon will! Next up, No Second Troy’s CD release party on May 19 at Iota in Arlington …

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