Get in the van. The Night Birds connect with Washington DC on a rainy Friday night. A modest turnout and a Modern Life Is War reunion of sorts awaits. First I must um, endure the afternoon ride down to a shutdown capital with New Jersey’s favorite feathered punks.
For those of you that have had the pleasure, you would agree that a Night Birds show delivers a hyperactive, hardcore punk blast with nary a spare breath to be had. Aside from a vacuum-sealed tightness, the intensity of pissed off killer bees, and tunage you’ll be humming tomorrow; if they have anything, it’s endurance. If they aren’t playing 16 songs in no-time-flat in your town, they probably will be next weekend. You may ask what caffeine, sugar, controlled substance combo elicits such consistent performance. And what fervent discussion of contemporary ills both personal and political prepares them for on-stage catharsis? Fair questions.
I can only expound on the latter. Hitting the road precisely at load-in time at the onset of Friday rush hour, meant they’d be lucky to make their set-time, let alone grab a bite for dinner or relieve a stressed bladder. Nope, yours truly was the only van occupant eating dessert first, then dinner, chased by a tumbler of coffee. Brian, Joe, PJ, and Ryan were forced to rely only on animated conversation for any fuel for this night’s performance.
If you think their van banter consists solely Seinfeld episode re-creation, horror movie debate, and visions of the near term arrival of dystopia, you’d only be half right. While it’s true that Seinfeld reverence is utmost; and it’s true that symbology in Kurbick’s The Shining yielded much discussion; and it’s certainly true that a well-thumbed copy of Jared Diamond’s treatise on the disintegration of societies (the aptly titled, “Collapse”) sat on the dash, there’s so much more to the content of a Night Birds run.
I was forbidden, for ample reason, from recording the proceedings. And thus direct quotes will not be featured here. I will spare you from my crummy paraphrasing that would rob all verbiage of delivery and character. Instead let’s look at the vast array of conversational chapters…
Poop, farts, and diarrhea in various scenarios and situational environments were discussed at length on four occasions. So were submarine sandwiches, fuckin’ nazis at least twice, and the anticipated wardrobe of modern HC kids. A general distaste for the current state of Metallica gave rise to much enthusiasm for their recent IMAX movie. Plans were hatched to view it a-s-a-p. As in, tomorrow before their next show. After all, there is a movie theater next to Webster Hall. Christopher Reeve made an appearance, as did Hall n’ Oats, Louie CK and Tenacious D. I’ll let you, the reader, decide which side of judgment each of the aforementioned landed on at discussion’s end. There were anecdotes aplenty when it came to sketchy experiences at shows. The usual - tough guys, carjackings and machetes. Three negative observations of Chattanooga, Tennessee by three different mouths yielded another’s expressed desire to visit post haste. The latest on Netflix and the inner-workings of NYC jails. Parents, jobs, swingers, and television. All talk halted when a Delorean crossed our path. Smart phones came out, vanity plate options were debated. Besides the obvious “Outatime,” “Teen Wolf” was also suggested. And no road trip is complete without warning of sketchy people that smell like urinal cakes. The merits of E Town Concrete LPs, Poison Idea and what’s more memorable, the content of Saturday morning cartoons or the theme songs for Saturday morning cartoons. Did you know there is an episode of Family Feud or some similar game show where a contestant answered “turkey” for every question? Transsexuals came up three times, disturbing movies were analyzed at dissertation level and the moon-landing. The foibles of coworkers were listed and reviewed – especially those that are willing to stop their car in mid-traffic to pick up a broken pair of sunglasses. Urination, testicles, and the neighborhoods of Manhattan. Uncomfortable doctor’s visits, pizza and the cops. Occasionally, all discourse was paused for CDs both stand-up comedy and pop-punk. These interludes were short-lived however, and the conversation picked-up where left off debating, reviewing, and expounding on breakfast, China, Pee-wee Herman, Beyonce, Nike shoes, massage chairs, Urkel, dogs, vomit, Germany, Japan, and umbrellas.
When the show ended and punks turned into bar hoppers and the Night Birds van revved up for the rainy drive back home, what then? What topics remained to keep the driver awake and the passengers entertained? How do sweaty, road-weary punks get home safely? It’s nothing a Wawa can’t cure. That, and a livid debate over Broken Lizard movies.