. . .

“Raise your drink in the air. Did I come all the way to Newfoundland to be the only one with a fucking drink in the air?”

As far as icebreakers go, that one seemed to work pretty well. Last night A/V and The Kettle Black played at Distortion in St. John’s. We didn’t have a venue so the guy from Distortion emailed me and offered us a slot opening for a couple of rock bands. I didn’t really have high expectations for the show but it turned out OK.

It was different playing for rock people instead of new-wave maniacs. There were a few people who showed up early in the evening for some dance-party styles and it wasn’t hard to tell who they were, they were the ones going off on the dance floor to A/V. Most other folks hung back a little bit, bopping a little and enjoying it, but maybe a little tentative about throwing down some moves.

There was a table of people sitting right beside me (I set up on the dancefloor, as per usje) and they were completely stone-faced, obviously just waiting for their friends in the rock band to come on. I was determined to try to warm up this table of people, and it was a hard go. At one point I even sang to one of these guys: “Ring the alarm, another dude is sleeping, whoa-oh hey.” It didn’t even register on him. Something weird about his eyes, I honestly couldn’t tell if buddy was awake or asleep.

Eventually one woman smiled and got up and started dancing as electro beats finally broke through the wall of stone.

Maybe I held back a little bit during this set, well as much as an A/V set can be holding back when I’m dancing and falling down on the floor and climbing all over shit. I mean I had fifty feet of mic cable and I probably only used 10 or 15 feet of it, I just know things could’ve been crazier. Tonight at Roxxy’s is being billed more as our show so I hope we’ll get a new wave party crowd for our last show in St. John’s. It’s still hard to picture it surpassing The Spur for sheer nuttiness but I have high hopes.

(Did I mention these people I saw at The Spur: Mark Bragg, Craig Francis Power, Jill Pasquet. All enjoying St. John’s. Did I mention that Cherie Pyne rocks. Vampires Of Love were rad. Sugary sweet pop songs about love and blood and sucking on necks. Dance hit: “Who put the garlic on the pizza.”)

The staff at Distortion were awesome. The bartender knew we were “from afar” and threw shooters at us, improvised recipes, one for himself of course. It’s hard to tell when bars close here. The bands end but there’s still music and 20 people walk in the door at 3AM and there’s booze all over the place.

The manager apologized for missing my set. Turns out he was off “having a baby.” Buddy goes off for a while and comes back a daddy. He was so humble and happy about it, it made my night. Welcome to the world, little Mitchell. Born on November 11, somebody straighten some stuff out in the world for the sake of this kid.

Everyone everywhere just loaded, on the bars, up and down the streets. Girls who can’t walk in their shoes. Buskers every two blocks and people running up to them to sing along the last verse of a song.

Across the street from the van buddy was playing “Guns Of Brixton” and we were yelling along with the lyrics across the street. That’s 4AM in St. John’s.

I walked from downtown to back to Blatch late late at night. The trick is I didn’t quite know where I was going. Streets in this ancient city are so chaotic, there’s no grid to it. Roads just run every which way and cross at every angle. Whenever people try to give directions they have to stop and think. “Well the street goes up the hill and then it turns into this other street, and then you gotta sorta veer to the right a little bit…” and so on. There’s no “three blocks down, two blocks over.” No grid. It expands my mind to walk around when every intersection is a non-linear exercise in creative geometry.

I’m a hermit and being on tour around people constantly might’ve had me craving some alone time. So I set out at 4 in the morning to get lost in St. John’s. Easy to do. I just wandered around up and down ramshackle streets with colourful houses stuck everywhere at every angle. I want to live here soon.

A clear crisp fall night with stars shining bright over the city and me completely lost, and just when I thought I’d have to hail a cab and say “take me there,” I came around a corner and knew exactly where I was.

Today Nick and I walked from downtown up to the top of Signal Hill. Quite a hike. We pretended we were French invaders on our way to take over the fort and burn down the town. A board said something about St. John’s being the most invaded city in North America or some such thing. Cannons are at the ready for the next one.

Wish I had my videocamera to get a shot of the sunset reflected in the harbour. I stared down over the cliffs for a long long time. It’s been a while since I’ve gazed off a distance from a height and perhaps my depth perception wasn’t used to it. I had the illusion that I could hold the city and the harbour in my cupped hands. I would do that if I could, I want to feel like I could look after this place, protect it, keep it safe forever no matter what.

I want everyone who reads this to come out to Roxxy’s. Tomorrow is Corner Brook, Tuesday is Sydney at the mighty Maple Leaf. Then I’ll have a couple days off in Halifax. Help me out Halifax, email me, tell me what to do. You know I like to lay low in town these days, spend time with a few friends. Find me. I want to go to Bach’s Cafe.

Marconi received the first wireless transmission up on Signal Hill, three dots, a Morse code letter S, all the way from England. I live his legacy with wireless Internet here at Hava Java Cafe, on the oldest street in North America, Water Street, St. John’s Newfoundland, reaching out to you all the way around the world. xo philip

~ show review at thescope.ca

4 thoughts on “. . .

  1. Sorry man, but Marconi was a thief. He stole Nikola Tesla’s ideas whilst working as his assistant. Poor Tesla, hardly anyone realizes all the stuff he did.

    That’s the only Heritage Minute that ever pissed me off, because it doesn’t reveal the backstory. Oh well.

  2. I’m happy to hear that my hometown has once again treated you well. I’m not familiar with Distortions, though…must be new. I hope you treated my dearest friend Grace-the-boy at Hava Java well, and vice versa. Not only were you drinking the best coffee in town, you were also being served by the best damn java slingers around. If only Halifax could boast as such.

    yours, Violet

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