The Sweet Smell Of Success (chapter three)
Sara Century is an avant garde musician, comic artist, writer, and spoken word artist. She’s on tour for a lot of months with different artists. The tour began August 1, 2013, and will end when she runs out of luck. Previously from Denver, she is now homeless and quite literally a starving artist. These are her journals.
The end of my life in Denver went just about as quietly as I’d come into the town seven years earlier, with only slightly greater fanfare. Between Youth and I played our sets to a room of our friends. Crab Lab and Architect opened, and were amazing. A band that I am in, Night Nurses, played their last Denver show the night before with No Babies from Oakland, and our friends Mirror Fears and Lisa Prank. We drove to Salt Lake City the next day. I don’t have a home anymore, but I do have several instruments, and I’m on tour, and that’s better than having a home in many ways.
I am on tour with Between Youth, who is a dear friend as well as a brilliant musician. We will be on tour together for about 30 days, and then Between Youth will go somewhere else, and I’ll be on tour with someone else.
There is very little to mention about Salt Lake City. It’s obviously terrifying, and yet somehow also excruciatingly dull. Quick back story, I don’t partake of alcoholism, 99% of straight edge punk, or religion. These subjects all fit basically in the same category for me of “things I’ve seen enough of, and am not interested in seeing more of”. Therefore, I have no business in the Promised Land. Also, I have a personal policy that I have just solidified. If the first thing a person says to you when you walk up after a 10-hour drive to get to a show includes the words, “You guys could still play… I guess… if you WANTED to…” I shall simply ask where I’m sleeping and go to there, because the immediate indication is that the most I’m going to salvage out of the night is a decent sleep. It might seem bizarre, but this has actually been a phrase uttered to me so many times in the last couple of years of touring that someone should just make it into a t-shirt. Thank you for trying to try to care, but I’d rather have Denny’s. There was an interesting moment in the night when a guy walked up to our driver’s side door, and said, “Oh, hey, sorry I missed the show, I was around the corner playing a gig that was super packed out. Listen, all I have is this stack of twenties, here’s a dollar. Come back, we’ll treat you better next time.” Both Between Youth and I started laughing, “We’re never coming back”. Well, maybe we will, but that guy’s not going to be there, that’s for sure.
I can tell you a much better Salt Lake City story than that, but we’ll have to go back to 2012. Between Youth and I went to see Shellac at the Urban Lounge with two gentlemen that were allegedly on hallucinogens the entire night. Obviously we didn’t talk a lot. A radical cellist named Helen Money opened. The highlight of her incredible set was an instrumental version of the Minutemen’s ‘Political Song for Michael Jackson to Sing’. Shellac played for a long time, and they were incredible. Despite the fact that Albini is commonly known for his cantankerous personality, I would say that, based entirely on his behavior that night, he’s very nice. He thanked the audience genuinely, and asked that anyone who wished to meet him to come up after the set and say “hello”. Instead of obliging, we stood in a dark corner and flashed our belly buttons at him while he signed other people’s autographs. Our creeping gave him pause from all the way across the room once, possibly twice, over the course of 20 or 30 minutes. Our friends came up with signed merchandise, exclaiming, “Why don’t you go up and say something?! You can go get stuff signed! Why don’t you go say hi?”
Because. Our way is funnier. And I don’t like talking to my heroes.
We played a show in Oakland yesterday with Yogurt Brain and Karen. It was pretty sick. It was an early show, and there was a barbeque going on. Yogurt Brain played as a two-piece and did a lot of covers. I seldom feel good after a set, and focus on all that I do wrong, but I felt good about this set. I played eight or so songs, and then Between Youth and I ended on a cover of the song ‘Everyday’ by Indian Jewelry, (my favorite band currently). We slept all of 8/07/2013. On 8/08, we walked for about 40 minutes to go to a house show. Between Youth and I were cat called by absolutely every human that we passed on the streets, which was terrifying and infuriating at the same time as usual, and we got to see our friend Jacob’s first show with his new band in a punk house before we went to go to Moco art gallery to play our show. Aja Vision played and was incredible. One of the more interesting elements of the night was that my friend from Denver Tripp Nasty just happened to be in town and joined the show. His set included several abstract art elements, including that he and this fellow Justin dressed in giant, self-made masks and robes and danced to a backing track for about five minutes, then he sang along in male to female drag with the theme song of Mister Rodgers, told a few jokes about his upcoming film Hitler High: Pandora’s Bong, and ended on a metal sing-along. I mean, try following that. I did, I’m not sure how it went.
Oakland is nice, and it’s easy to feel included, and hard to have anything bad to say.
A mismatched piece, shoved into the puzzle all wrong.
We drove to LA today. Traffic sucked, blah blah blah. We are staying with the tornado of a person known as Germaine Baca, who is one of my favorite drummers ever (she has a really, really long resume of incredible bands she has been in). Germaine is a perfect person to have live in Los Angeles, because she is a hustler, through and through. I say that with complete admiration. She is a hustler, but an honest one. We went to a signing the comedian Maria Bamford was doing in LA as our first order of business (literally, we stepped out of the van and into line). Between Youth got her arm signed, “But a mother knows! Maria”. I bought three tapes: Caldera Lakes, Oingo Boingo, and Neneh Cherry.
The show was cool, although a bust financially. There were quality audience members in attendance, nonetheless. Audiences often forget that their enjoyment of a show is typically something they can increase themselves if they open their minds to existing with the performer in the moment. I can’t stand the crowd of people standing perfectly still, arms folded, glaring me down, but it is my most common effect on an audience. I like to let my mind go blank when I’m observing art, to fully understand what it’s saying to me, and I do think music is art. This audience in particular was very open to the experience, and that’s always satisfying, as a performer, to be a part of. An Italian man named Nico with only slightly broken English gushed at me and hugged me after the set, saying, “It doesn’t matter that I barely know English, music communicates. I look into your face, and I hear your music, I know you have gone through Hell. Your music brings us together, and I love you.”
8/08 all we really did was wander around LA. Germaine kept trying to get me to go to a gay bar or a strip club, exclaiming, “We’re gonna get you laaaaaid!”
What is that? What is laid? I’m not into it.
Another rad LA show, this time with Deep Magic (who plays with the Sun Ra Arkestra sometimes). Tomorrow, we go to Phoenix…
I don’t like talking to my heroes.