We ditch the families and rip down to San Francisco for two nights, me and my brother-in-law. Our aim, on the first night, is to see The Cult. Except we forgot we weren’t in New Zealand and didn’t book any tickets, we figure there’s door-sales. We turn up and there are not. We’ve booked no accommodation either – so instead of hitting up the scalpers we figure we’ll go get a bed for the night and a beer and something to eat. We do that.
Next day we hit the streets of San Fran and walk pretty much everywhere – through the Haight-Ashbury streets and down through the Tenderloin and we stop in most places for a beer or a wee – usually we stop and get a beer, then need a wee at the next place but leave having filled up on another beer and so it’s then time to find the next place rather quickly for another wee. (And then another beer…)
And we end up walking past a sign that says “DJ Questlove tonight” at a little venue called The Independent. We clock this. Because our plan for the second night was to go and see The Roots. We love The Roots. I’ve seen them twice in NZ but it’s been a while and with their TV work these days they don’t tour internationally so much. So we’re hoping we’ll get to see The Roots and if we don’t we’ll do something else and go see Questlove’s after-party DJ set at any rate.
So we wander around town the rest of the day, get more beers, visit the famous bookshop, go look at some Beat memorabilia, buy some records. Some books. That sort of thing.
And then we go down to see The Roots – and it’s sold out. We hit up the scalpers this time, because fuckit, we didn’t spent any money on The Cult. And we get two tickets. And we’re happy and the scalper is laughing – so he’s clearly happy. And we join the queue – and we get in. And see The Roots. And they’re fucking extraordinary. Of course. This is just after MCA has died so they open the show with a cover of Paul Revere. And then on from there through so many great songs – covers and originals. And our heads are spinning with all the booze and great tunes.
And then we hotfoot to a cab and get to this other venue where for $20 we’re in to see a DJ set from Questlove. We don’t really know what we’re going to get, but it should be good. There’s only a couple of hundred people there, if that. And we’re right up front if we want to be. And the bar’s just a short stroll and then Quest comes out and mumbles something about “doing something a little different tonight” and plays his own tribute to the Beastie Boys with a couple of hours of Beastie Boys highlights, all sliced, diced and spliced by Questlove.
And we get home after a bout of pizza at about 4am – one of several lunches or dinners that day-and-night. And we get home with too much music in our ears and our souls trembling with all the booze. And we get home and I do my best to write about the night. Oh and “home” is the sort of place you imagine Charles Bukowski slowly, steadily going crazy in, yelling at rooting neighbours and gunshots, typing on into the night, slugging back his grog.
The next day we’re out – and off somewhere a lot nicer. Our families back in town. Our hangovers rattling along beside us.
Stubs is an occasional feature here at Off The Tracks – looking back through the ticket-stub box and remembering how the show went down.