We woke up, heard some music from the room next door. And kind of recognized it. This is not bad we said to each other, and we kept listening. It's coming from the room next door. It's Luna. It's Mike playing his recording from the day before. We laughed and I texted him to turn it up.
Chinatown is not that expensive like many other areas on Manhattan. We stayed at the hotel that we always stay at nowadays when we are in New York. The rooms are really nice, not dirty or claustrophobic at all. A little noisy since Manhattan Bridge runs above the hotel, but we don't mind. Mike is scared of Chinatown and prefers to stay in other areas, he is not that into Chinese food either. But he decided to stay with us because it's more fun that way. And he keeps saying that if we are happy, he is happy. He can always get a burger, he says. But there are not many burgers even in Chinatown. Anyway, we stepped out on the busy streets and went for a walk and ended up having Mexican food in Lower East Side. Just like we always do when in town. Mike swapped his beans for rice. I didn't swap anything.
Marjorie recommended me a nice Bourbon, since she knows everything, it was smooth as silk, one ice cube, and she had one glass too. Skål!
The three of us arranged to meet Frank and Marjorie in the corner of Berry and 11th in Williamsburg later that day. Just a couple of minutes walk from Rough Trade. We met them the day before for the first time and immediately felt like we've known each other for much longer, it happens quite often with Luna fans. They live in Philadelphia. Frank collects vintage guitars and Marjorie knows everything about everything.
We sat down at one of the wooden benches with a big table. Not many others in the place this early Sunday afternoon. But the light from the big windows was nice. Brooklyn light I guess. The buildings are not that tall, the sun manages to reach the streets. I ordered assorted olives and Marjorie recommended me a nice Bourbon, since she knows everything, it was smooth as silk, one ice cube, and she had one glass too. Skål! The others ordered beer.
We stayed for quite long. Not much traffic outside, it was peaceful. I told them the full story about the stolen camera, about Dean's younger brother and what happened to him after he got bitten, or stung, sucked, by a tick. They are both doctors so they understood right away. I had another olive. Mostly Mike and the others talked, I was nervous again about the filming. It's nice to just listen to others talk, especially when they are this nice. And this is exactly what's so good about going to several concerts, meet a lot of nice people, hearing stories from everyone, and later head out for one more Luna concert. The staff really wanted to have drinks with us and we couldn't say no. We emptied our glasses of free drinks and left, walking west on Berry Street, excited, towards another Luna show. My first Penthouse show. I was going to hear Hedgehog!
NYC Rough Trade is a big record store on 9th Street in Brooklyn. The room with all the records is big, almost like a warehouse. Another room is separated from the record store and that's where the stage is, with a balcony along the sides and back. You reach this room through big doors from the record store. Nothing fancy, just another room. Also a bit like a warehouse. We got there early just like the day before, it's very relaxed in the line and almost everyone that wants to be in the first row have the chance to if they get there before the doors open.
Again, the stage is completely covered in strong blue light, and Dean is looking so relaxed it's hard to tell they even have started to play. "We have come out to play", he sings. Sean is chewing a chewing gum. Lee is wearing a Britta Phillips t-shirt, the black one with the white flower power era print. Britta is wearing a black dress and white shoes. The band is all completely covered in blue light, or no light at all. It's the two hardest concerts to photograph I've even been to, and I also decided to film them. Stupid, but I had to do it.
"Feeling better tonight?" someone from the audience asks Dean. It's a relaxed evening, it's always nice to be invited to Luna's living room. This a perfect night. The light changes to red. A girl in the audience is dancing to Moon Palace. Dean is taking a step back, Sean is playing the solo on Double Feature, and keeps feedbacking afterwards, "don't you say I'm unkind", Dean sings the final words and takes over, playing his electric notes, it's burning, the light is burning and the sound too. They play tight, intense, and stop in unison with perfect timing.
Dean is talking about the season finale of Walking Dead and the premiere of Westworld. "Even Steve McQueen was afraid of Yul Brunner", he says. The actors both starred in "The Magnificent Seven", the remake of Akira Kurosawa's "Seven Samurai". Yul Brunner starred in the original Westworld movie from 1973, I haven't seen it, looks like it's pretty bizarre, about a western-themed amusement park populated by androids that malfunction and begin killing the human visitors. I haven't seen the new tv show either, about the same thing I suppose. Sean is playing a delicate, beautiful solo on 23 Minutes From Brussels before Dean takes over doing his thing, totally different in style, almost clumsy, yet perfect.
Lost in Space is one of the softest songs from the album, Dean is singing with his hands just hanging down in front of him, first in front of the guitar, then behind it. Occasionally with his left hand on his hip. Finally dragging his fingers a bit Dean-nervously across the fuzzy hair, still singing. It's a very nice rendition. While Dean is tuning, Sean removes his shirt, saying "hot cold, cold hot, hot cold".
"What did you do today Sean?", Dean asks. "I woke up late, cause I had a late night. Then I had food and coffee and then I just came over here. That's basically all I did… What did you do today?" "I bought a slide", Dean replies with a short tone and continues, "so I don't have to borrow yours anymore". Lee counts, "one, two…" and Dean uses his new slide. "And as the sun peaks in, on an afternoon drunk". It's Kalamazoo. The light pulsates between blue and almost entirely black. Lee hits heavier and more intense, Britta is playing crystal clear notes over by the corner, looking cool. It sounds truly magical and the night becomes even better. It's obvious that the band likes it too. I'm starting to really like this record by now.
The light pulsates between blue and almost entirely black. Lee hits heavier and more intense, Britta is playing crystal clear notes over by the corner, looking cool.
"Are you ready?", Sean asks. And then the drums kicks in. "It's no fun, it's no fun". And Britta nails the melodic bass part, again and again, the tempo is faster than previous songs, it's music to do dance to, it's not New Order. The light turns to green and the taller of of the two guitar players keep chewing gums. It's the bands least favourite song from the album but I love it. It's direct, fast, fun, and ends quickly, with a snap. "The fox knows many things, the hedgehog only knows one thing, but he knows it well", Dean explains after the song, and then he gets a black, shiny guitar. An Airline '59 Custom Coronado by Eastwood, according to Frank. It's time for more highlights.
"She was pointing at me, but I was pointing at you." It's Freakin' And Peakin'. It's almost pitch black around Lee but it is still the highlight of the evening. So intense, fast, crashing cymbals, few chords just back and forth, all four of them close together paying attention to each other. There's a band playing tonight, they're having a great time, and so do we. The Bonnie and Clyde album finale is just as good. The band is called Luna.
It's always such a warm and nice atmosphere at the Luna shows. It's nice to walk around town and have something to eat before the shows too. One of the funniest moments on the trip was when went to a restaurant in Chinatown on recommendation from Kelly. We followed the waitress downstairs, we where placed in the corner, close to the storage room. We didn't mind. At the other table a few girls where having fun. Ulrika ordered tofu and I asked Mike to try it. He had never tried tofu before. How exciting, let's see what happens. And he put some in his mouth. "Uuuuhhh!" He made a repulsive sound. Didn't like tofu at all, and I laughed.
The food was fantastic and when we stepped out I asked Mike and Ulrika to take us to the subway. My mind was focused on the filming and I relaxed about everything else. We walked for about ten of fifteen minutes when we suddenly stopped. Mike looked confused. We where at Subway. Ulrika's and Mike's sense of direction is so bad that we got to the sandwich shop instead of the subway station. I laughed again and felt even more relaxed. Like being on a Luna show.
My first Penthouse gig was not over, they came back and played more songs. Slide always makes feel good. It make's me feel good to hear Britta's voice in contrast to Dean's. That bass line. Seeing Lee looking comfortable. And then there is Lovedust. Donovan's Season of the Witch is a cool song to hear live, Fuzzy Wuzzy too. Dean is swaying his head from side to side, then walks up to the microphone. "Loose joints, loose joints".
The night ended up at Mugs Ale House on Bedford Avenue again, just like the night before. At that time it was just me, Mike, Ulrika relaxing in one corner, and Kelly, Sean, Ashley and Greg in the other. Maybe some other Luna fans as well, probably. Yes most likely. "The Eden of Ales" their slogan says and we went there again, open late and just a great place. This time Frank and Marjorie joined the three of us, plus Ali, Colleen and Greg too. We stayed for hours. Taking pictures, chatting, having fun. When it was time to leave, we joined Greg to eat hot dogs at Crif Dogs on 555 Driggs Avenue. A pretty crazy place, that hour, we just made it in time before they closed.
The morning after we said goodbye to Mike, we wouldn't see each other again until maybe San Francisco in 2017. And me and Ulrika went out for a walk. Had another lobster roll on Fulton Street, just as good as the ones up in Boston. Then we headed up on Brooklyn Bridge and crossed East River, it was crowded and quite annoying, couldn't walk properly, but the view was nice. It felt good to turn left and when we were just about to get up on Manhattan Bridge to walk back to Chinatown, I got a message from Britta asking us if we wanted to have dinner with her and Dean that night. It felt strange to say the least. I am almost glad we where in two different continents, we hadn't flown over to Manchester yet. But soon we would be there, soon enough, for yet another Penthouse show. Hedgehog!