All Aboard the S.S. Failboat!

All aboard the Failboat! FAILBOAT! on Flickr, originally uploaded by mintytrina.

So, last night, Amy, Stephen, and I went to Nashville to the Cannery Ballroom to go see The New Pornographers and Okkervil River. Early in the trip, Amy and Adam were talking on the phone [or maybe it was texting at that point], and Adam indicated that we needed to name the road trip. “All good road trips need a name.” Well, last night shall henceforth be known as “The Voyage of the S.S. Failboat“.

Let’s just review the list of things that went wrong:

  1. I failed to do the appropriate level of research on the show, not knowing all about Cannery Ballroom. I’d been to Mercy Lounge upstairs, and so I figured our chance of getting to sit down if we got there early was 50-50. FAIL factor: 7.5/10.
  2. I dumped photos from my CompactFlash-based photodrive yesterday morning but didn’t check the disk out until right before I left the house. Something went wrong in the deletion process, rendering the CF drive unusable. I didn’t know this until after I’d left the house, because I didn’t take 20 seconds to find out what “Err 02” was on my Canon 10D. FAIL factor: 4.5.
  3. Also, despite putting a decent amount of thought into my mic selection, I didn’t double-check to make sure that I’d packed the desktop mount that might have allowed me to use my cardioids, leaving me stuck with my omnidirectional mic as a practical concern when I got to the show. FAIL factor: 5.0.
  4. I never fully realized that there was battery draw on my battery box/bass roll-off when not in use. The battery was dead when I got to the venue, which I didn’t realize until trying to record. FAIL factor: 7.0.
  5. I had done a lot of work trying to choose a great place for dinner. I’d picked Noshville, which I had heard really good things about. I even checked with my friends about it. But I didn’t realize that there were multiple locations along the same road, so I assumed that the one I knew would be open for dinner wasn’t. FAIL factor: 8.0.
  6. We left a little late, as Stephen was continually sucked into a vortex of meetings. Amy and I went out to the car when we thought he was done, which was a mistake; we should have stayed right by him to ward off the vultures. FAIL factor: 0.5, completely nullified by the fact that I was driving the WRX, and bitch, please, like we’re gonna be late when that’s happening.
  7. Adam asked if the WRX was fast. FAIL factor: 3.0 for the dumb question, 4.0 for me not throwing him in the car when he was in town last. No worry, I’ll scare the hell out of him next time he’s in town.
  8. We get to the Noshville location south of Green Hills Mall, only to find out that it had closed at 4:00 p.m. FAIL factor: 8.5.
  9. We ended up eating at Pei Wei, which was pretty good by my taste. Plus, it inspired a discussion amongst us about how we all liked Thai and needed to coordinate going to Thai Garden for lunch on a semi-regular basis: FAIL factor: 0.5. [Only the possibility that the Thai Dynamite contributed to my feeling ill later does this get any FAIL factor whatsoever.]
  10. Realizing that we’ve got lots of time left, we decide on a coffee shop stop while we’re driving. Knowing where I am, I take us to Fido. FAIL factor: -10, because I have great memories of Fido and always enjoy going there.
  11. Seeing the other Noshville location on 21st just as we get ready to get onto Broadway. FAIL factor: 8.5. “But now we know where it is for next time, and now we have multiple dinner ideas for when we come to town again for a show.” FAIL factor revised down to 6.0. [A&S, do either of you remember what the other place we talked about eating at was? Was it just the Pei Wei? Seems like I mentioned another place or something. I dunno. I’m brain-fried.]
  12. Getting a decent spot in line because we’d gotten to town early. FAIL factor: 1.0, but only because it was raining.
  13. Forgetting my Moo cards and having to go back in the car, to find out that where we were standing by the building was leeward [read: I got pretty wet]. FAIL factor: 2.5, ameliorated to 2.0 by gentle, playful mocking when I talked about not going back out to the car when were clearly going to be in line another half-hour.
  14. Choosing dress shoes to wear yesterday, not realizing that there would be lotsa standing. FAIL factor: 9.0.
  15. Heading to the back of the room in front of the soundboard to record while sitting on the floor, because I was not gonna survive standing for three-plus hours in those shoes and be capable of driving home later. FAIL factor: 6.5.
  16. Suffering all my technical problems with mics while sitting by the soundboard. FAIL factor: 8.0.
  17. Bailing on the OR set after a few songs because I was way too hot and just not feeling well at all. FAIL factor: 7.0.
  18. The sound guy at Cannery Ballroom sucked. FAIL factor: 11.0.
  19. Text message sent from me to Amy early in tNP’s set, explaining that I was in the car. FAIL factor: 0.5. Only reason this registers is because I could’ve sent it a half-hour or more earlier and probably saved them some frustration. [To be fair, they probably would’ve wanted to see if tNP’s set was going to sound any better. It didn’t, of course.]
  20. The drive home, where we talked about concert experiences and listened to Andrew Bird and M. Ward. FAIL factor: 0.0.

And see, at the end of the night, it was still quite enjoyable for me. Despite the rampant failure of the night, I got to spend an evening with a couple of my good friends, something that doesn’t happen all that much now that we’ve gotten away from being “young adults” and are now just “adults”.

I Tweeted last night that the night had been a failure, which got John to respond, “[W]ould you rather voyage on the S.S. Failboat with friends or take a trip on the S.S. Success by yourself?” I’ll take the former every time, and here’s why: despite the fact that it was a terrible night, it’s gonna be a great memory. I’ve had awesome concert experiences solo, but at the end of the night, I had no one to share them with.

As I mentioned, we talked about concert experiences, and Amy mentioned seeing Damien Rice at Workplay a couple years ago. I know someone who went to that show, too, and was similarly blown away. Amy’s response:

I kinda just wanted someone to talk to after that to make sure that what I experienced had really happened.

That’s an understandable reaction. Ultimately for me, live music is a shared experience, and it’s altogether sweeter when shared with friends. [Wanting to preserve those memories is why I have become a concert taper and take lots of photos at shows.] My favorite concert experience that I didn’t mention in our discussions last night was seeing Caedmon’s Call on tour at Liberty University [!] right after Derek left the band: I gave Cliff a bottle of cognac before the show as a way-inside joke [!! Cognac on campus at LU!!!], then watched the show with a bunch of friends who’d all traveled from across the eastern half of the country to attend. Me, I left Huntsville at 0700 on a Saturday morning with my friend Ross [who’d left Tuscaloosa around 0430 to get to Huntsville] and drove to southern Virginia for that show.

The band got us on-the-floor seats, and we stood right in front of center stage during the show. I took photos of both the band and our group, and I remember the photos of my friends more than the band. I also remember Jeff Miller watching us during the show, just shaking his head and laughing as he played the bass. That night, I hung out with about 15 or 20 friends from The Rumor Forum and slept on the hard floor of a new acquaintance’s apartment, then driving back home to Alabama on Sunday in time for UMYF that night. 1100 miles in under 36 hours. Wouldn’t trade that memory for the world.

Somehow, I expect that I’ll remember last night almost as fondly.