Over the course of about two weeks, I managed to travel through New York, Detroit, Chicago and Toronto. What follows is a photo-heavy account of some of these voyages. What you need to do now, is go make a sandwhich, because lots of pictures are loading as you read this. If you do not have the means to make a sandwich, perhaps you would like to use this time to procure a beverage? Excellent.

New York

     Five of us Michigan folk decided to make the trek to Coney Island, New York for the first annual Village Voice Siren Music Festival. We left at about noon on a friday, anticipating our arrival at the hotel to be around 1ish. I don’t know if you’ve ever been on a 13 hour car ride before, but it’s kind of crazy. Around the 7th hour or so, your brain just shuts off and stops caring that you’re still in a car.

     At any rate, once we actually got into New York, we got a bit lost in the tangle of freeways-that-have-three-names. It took some turning-down-of-the-music and back tracking but we eventually found ourselves back on course. By now it was roughly 2 AM. This is when we hit a TRAFFIC JAM. At 2 AM. So we’re sitting there in a traffic jam for a while, when all of a sudden people’s reverse lights start coming on. Soon the entire freeway is driving at us in reverse. Some people have found it necessary to do the speed limit IN REVERSE ON THE FREEWAY. So, we drove in reverse back to the last exit, and got off the freeway.

     Now we are lost again, because the route the computer directions and AAA told us to take is a twilight zone of reverse driving freeway. So we go to this gas station and yank out the big map. This prompts a cab driver (Who from this point on will be referred to as “Nicest Cab Driver Ever”) to approach us and ask where we are going. Apparently he had just gone off duty and was heading home, and just so happened to live right near our hotel. He let us follow him through a series of crazy turns and a straightaway that intersected streets named after every letter of the alphabet. He pulled over and told us that this was his street and to just keep going and we’d find our hotel. And we did! Thank you Nicest Cab Driver Ever (Note: I am talking about a New York cab driver here)!

     We made it to the hotel, and had two people check in (We did the “two people but really it’s five ha ha!” thing). While two of us were checking in, three of us went to a nearby 24 hour deli / grocery / smoke shop, where the other two met us once we were all set. We then went in in small groups so as not to arouse suspicion if they actually cared.

     While waiting at the deli / grocery / smoke shop for his turn to head up to the room, Chris elected to sit down outside and put his head down for a bit, as he was suffering from “Been in a car all fucking day” syndrome. Apparently some dude thought he was “totally bummin’.” because he leapt from his car and approached Chris, hands in the air, saying “It ain’t that bad! It ain’t that bad!” over and over again. Also they sold us some beer at like 3:30 AM which I don’t know if that’s legal in NY but it ain’t in Michigan.

     Moving from the anecdotal to the photographic evidence, you’ll find I took way too many pictures in New York so I’m going to break them up into little subcategories because I’m insane like that. First up, the festival itself.

     We arrived at the festival the next day before anyone had played, so we got a chance to walk around the relatively uncrowded grounds for a bit. The stage was at the foot of the Cyclone – a rollercoaster, and was surrounded on all sides by the rest of the Astroland amusement park.

     Enon were straight up rock and roll. I was a little bit disappointed that they used so much pre-recorded stuff, instead of actually recreating it in the live situation. Chris commented that he felt too many of their songs relied on the “Inviting the audience to dance” device. Fun.

     Peaches is insane. I’ve seen her version of a performance once before, late last year (Towards the bottom). This time she was just as offensive, if not quite as amusing. It seems each performer was given thirty minutes to do with as they saw fit, and since peaches doesn’t use a backing band, she put thirty minutes worth of backing tracks on a mini disc and had it played through the PA.

Once the promoters got an earful of what Peaches was all about, they quickly realized that scheduling her at 1 PM in an open air amusement park teeming with kids was a slightly bad idea. Somewhere in the middle of the closing chant to a song called “Fuck the Pain Away,” (The lyrics are, surprisingly enough: Fuck the pain away / Fuck the pain away”) they tried to pull her off stage. This, of course did not go over well with Peaches.

     Between lyrics, she explained to the security guard that was tentatively trying to escort her offstage that “every kid already knows it” (Referring to the word “Fuck”). After ending the song, she loudly protested to the promoters that she knew her mini-disc was under thirty minutes long and that she was going to do this last song. At this point, she climbed atop one of the P.A. speakers to avoid security, instructed anyone under 12 to plug their ears, and began a song that opened with the line “I got you suckin’ on my titties like I wanted you to.” So, that should give you an idea of what Peaches is all about. If you’re not easily offended, it makes for an extremely amusing show. If you are easily offended, then stop being easily offended. It’s lame. Bonus triviality: Peaches came through Detroit about a week later and Marilyn Manson was at the show. I have no idea a.) why he was at the show or b.) why he was in Detroit, but I don’t really care either.

     Quasi was semi entertaining. I got bored with them, but here’s some pictures for all you Sleater Kinney / Elliot Smith backing band devotees.

     Superchunk played a pretty good set, including some hits, oldies, and new songs. Complaints: They didn’t play enough off of “Indoor Living,” and their newer stuff seems to be a bit too slow-core for me. I was pretty happy with that photo of Mac mid-townsend windmill, though.

     Let’s see, who else played? Man or Astroman played but I couldn’t get close enough to take any good pictures. They seemed a bit lacklustre in the daylight, without the aid of their insane stage show. They did bring out a few dot matrix printers and had them preform a “cover version” of a MOAM song, so that was pretty cool. Also, y’know that computer voice that Radiohead used on “Fitter, Happier”..? They had the voice speak the words to a song, then pitch-shifted the result, so it sounded like that voice was singing a melody. It was their computerized lead singer, they said. So yes, if you are a huge nerd, you would have enjoyed them.

     Rainer Maria also played but I’ve seen ’em a billion times so I walked around Coney Island instead. GBV played but I hate Bob Pollard. JSBX played but everyone was dead tired and we wanted to leave so we only saw about half of them. Two weird things that happened during the JSBX set:

  • The sound guys cranked the master level for the P.A. up by at least 50%. They were seriously ridiculously louder than any other band that played.
  • Some guy walked around handing out bottles of the most putrid soy drink ever concocted. We all ditched ours after one taste and some vegan guy came over to yell at us for dissing the vegan products. We invited him to try some and he ended up agreeing that it was pretty putrid.

     Oh did I mention it got wickedly crowded? By the time Man or Astroman? went on, it was absolutely ridiculous – shoulder to shoulder for like miles back. Below is a lame picture I took of one of the side channels that lead to a bathroom. Click here for an overhead view of the crowd at its peak, from The Village Voice’s own photos of the fest.

     I should probably mention that you should not go to Coney Island if you ever have to pee. There is seriously only one set of bathrooms, so bladderless only, please.

     Earlier at the fest we met up with our friend Andrea, who had graciously invited us to stay with her that night. Some of us stayed up until dawn drinking and talking, while others more wisely claimed prime couch and floor real estate. Andrea works as a packaging engineer and gave us all sorts of products that she got for free, like the kool aid seen below. At the time I was like, “Thanks!” but the wicked heat wave of last week coupled with the fact that that’s a LOT OF FUCKING KOOLAID prompts me to be more like “THANKS!”

     We spent Sunday in the car and got back home around 1:30ish AM.
Below is a drink that Joe bought on the way home. Don’t ever buy it. Why? Because it tastes terrible. Imagine, if you will, lining up a bunch of dudes and handing them each a piece of winterfresh gum, asking them to chew for ten minutes and then spit into a 20 Oz. bottle.

     That is what this drink tastes like: Winterfresh spit.

     Oh crap! I almost forgot the best story of all! When we were jockeying for position before Superchunk played, older Pete Wrigley from Pete and Pete talked to me! I swear to god! He was trying to get out of the crowd and we were trying to get in. When he appeared, Chris froze and frantcally tried to alert me to the fact that Pete was standing in front of me without using the word ‘Pete.’ I was, however, oblivious to his efforts. Instead of thinking “HOLY SHIT IT’S OLDER PETE WRIGLEY!” I thought “What the hell is Chris trying to say? I’ll let this guy by me since he’s going the opposite way.” And I did. And that guy was older Pete Wrigley. After I let him by, he said either “Thanks, dude” or “Thanks, man.” I forget which. It all makes sense because he’s going to college in New York.

     Next up: Touristy stuff. Below are a bunch of photos from around Coney Island that I thought were super cool and you might not.

Astroland gates.

The Cyclone rollercoaster.

Sideshows by the Seashore.

Horizon from the boardwalk.

Burger guy with rocket.

Wonder Wheel.

Fiji Mermaid, yo.

     Of special note are the real live sideshow pics which I thought were pretty awesome. We saw a guy lay on a bed of nails and put another bed of nails on top of him and have two people stand on it. Crazy!

     There was also a booth for the smallest woman in the world. You could go in and see her for a dollar. I didn’t really think about it at all, I was just all like “Take my dollar!” and then I got back there and saw her and she said hello and I felt like the biggest asshole in the world. I can’t really explain it, I just did. Not Fun!

     I forgot to mention that there is also a boardwalk and a beach. The background to this window is a picture of the beach taken from the boardwalk.

     Finally, a few other pictures that are great but I didn’t know what to do with them. The sign below was on a bumper cars booth.

     This is my favorite picture ever:

     For all your playa needs:

     A few final thoughts on the New York trip:

  • Truck stops with showers are weird.
  • It really pisses off the waitress if you win the teddy bear in the crane game that she’s been after since she’s worked there. 
  • If you are me, you should really learn how to put sunscreen on. Putting it on your face so you don’t cover the whole face and you stand with one half of your head to the sun for a long rock festival results in one half of “normal face” and one half of “sunburned with imprint of your own hand on your face” face. I swear, you’re so stupid.
  • Certain parts of New York try to make their 7-11’s look “rustic.”
  • Coney dogs taste just like hot dogs everywhere else.
  • Grafitti is on every available surface. In the Coney Island area, some tags we saw on the way in were already covered when we left.