Day 52: Hard Rock Cafe
This was our 3rd trip to Memphis, and every time so far has been a ride. The first time it was a smoke filled room full of old people playing trivia, where the room had no sound system to speak of, followed by the infamously good BBQ restaurant with the gargantuan rat. The second time was the record attendance breaking Monday night at the Hard Rock when 80 Wisconsin kids took over the dance floor in what must have appeared to onlookers to be a staged event.
This time, the city was ours. Almost literally. From the time we pulled into the city, we noticed a complete lack of people.
The weather that night was cold and rainy. The neon lights glistened off the puddles, creating a glowing effect that reverberated off of the storefront glass of the Beale St. shops. The few people that were out scurried with a determinedness, an end goal already in their mind.
We set out to do some street promo in order to bolster our attendance numbers, and found it as difficult as fishing an unstocked pond with a shoelace as line and a baitless paperclip as the hook.
Around the time the opening act, Tori Tollison (an acoustic artist with an amazing voice that we played with last time we were in Memphis) was beginning, the NBA game at the arena across the way let out. All of us walked through the crowd, trying to strike up conversations and drag some of them into our show, but most of the people moved with blinders on their ears and eyes, intent on going home.
As quickly as the herd of basketball fans appeared, they were gone. The streets returned to their ghost town status, the occasional drunk stumbling aimlessly along the cobblestone roadway, searching for a bar that would serve them in their inebriated state.
The guys went on and played for the late dinner crowd, which wasn’t as epically energized as the one on our last Memphis foray, but very appreciative nonetheless. Among the crowd was a father and son from New Zealand who were making their way across the United States on the type of intercontinental road trip you wished you could go on when you were 16, a long time Man on Earth fan from back when Knox used the music in his claymation videos, and a young traveling folk duo who were passing through Memphis.
After we loaded out we hit the road, on what felt like one of the bumpiest highways ever. All I could think about was that scene in The Empire Strikes Back when Han Solo was piloting through the asteroid field… I honestly was waiting for Mochello to start echoing ‘We’re doomed’, but it never happened. I passed out as soon as the bus pulled into the parking lot we were staying in, John Williams music bouncing between my ears.