Thursday, 8 July 2010

448 Small Axe, DRYER, The Users, Valentines, Albany, NY USA, Saturday 27 May 2000

As we wind to the end of this, Rachel's first Boston trip, we're planning a road trip today! After breakfast with Kevin Camara (ex Wheat crazy bassist guy and now a Shyness Clinic inmate), a shopping trip to Harvard and a brief afternoon meeting with James Horrigan, we catch a Greyhound Bus and travel the 4 hours to Albany, New York's state capital. We find this venue on arrival at 10 and immediately run into Bob Dryer at the cash desk, who greets us with a joint bear hug. I think he's pleased to see us... Bob helps us get our bearings, then we have a bite to eat in the burger joint next door before getting into the venue (guest list!) in time for The Users. Featuring Bob's fiancée's little brother (we discover later), they play some spritely young powerpop which is half-formed at times and sorely in need of practice, but ends with a fun run-through of The Monkees "(I'm Not Your) Stepping Stone".

After the obligatory tuning-up, Dryer get going at 11, and from the opening bars of new song "Starry Skies" (not new to us - Bob had sent us a demo!) it was evident Bob had saved something special for us Brits. Tonight, Dryer rocked, big time! Dryer's rock is a haphazardly thrown together mishmash of early new wave stylee and post-grunge US straight-ahead rock'n'roll - imagine Superchunk giving the Undertones a good kicking and you're halfway there. All catchy choruses, gloriously shambolic driving ramshackle guitars and good old jump-up-and-downable rock. Live, however, they're much more in-your-face, and almost "punk" rock - Bob really gets it on! Great stuff, particularly the impromptu "MTV" - "for the kids!"

Oh yeah, the kids. You can tell from the clientele that you're out of Boston. The appreciably younger Albany Dryer crowd do a lot of jumping about - a sharp contrast and blessed relief after the more reserved (spoilt with too much rock?) Boston crowds. That said, "the kids" were out-jumped by a couple of visiting Brits...

We wait around while Dryer pack up their stuff afterwards, catching headliners Small Axe in the process. A weird combination with Dryer, as they were a bunch of beardy weirdoes playing appallingly bad Hendrix/ Cream muso boring hippy dribble. Hmmm.

We eventually all pile into the Dryer van afterwards, after bassist Rachel's boyfriend's flatmate, the entertainingly drunk Justin, was "rescued" from the downstairs bar, and drive the 1/2 hour back to Saratoga Springs, to Bob's funky place where we crash for the night. Next day Bob and fiancée Amy offer to drive us back the 200-odd miles to Boston - a real trouper! So after a hearty breakfast we hit the road, arriving back at our Boston digs at 3 for a final bit of shopping, then tearful and heart-felt farewells to friends EdV, James and Michael before our overnight flight back to Blighty. Thus endeth another brilliant trip to Boston!

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