The Reign of Kindo (Rumba Cafe, 11.03.14)
My first two times seeing The Reign of Kindo live I spent avoiding possible pitfalls and disasters, from taxi services that seemed to know as much about landmarks in Cleveland as myself and which took 5-10 (at that point precious) minutes to finally tell us what amounted to “sorry, but no,” to me passing out mid-set during the first opener in Pittsburgh and possibly sustaining a mild concussion when I hit my head off a speaker on the way down. In other words, I saw just how true Murphy’s law, that anything that can go wrong will go wrong, is.
In the pursuit of giving the finger to Murphy’s law once and for all, of making it “third time’s the charm,” I planned as best I could, but as another saying (taken from a Robert Burns poem) goes, “the best laid plans of mice and men often go awry,” and that threatening reality loomed over my friend and I the entire day, night, and early morning, starting with my gathering of supplies for the trip. Having lost weight, my old, falling apart faux-leather jacket no longer fits and had been discarded, leaving me with only hoodies to shield me from the cold that’s been creeping in on us lately. Plus, it appears my touch-screen compatible gloves must’ve gotten discarded along with it by accident. My only option for extra warmth was bringing a second hoodie to wear overtop of the one I was already wearing if the weather called for it; thankfully, it never did, not at all.
From there, it was to the first of our two bus rides to get to Columbus, a one-hour long trip to Pittsburgh. I held off on popping any Dramamine until before the second bus ride, which would be four times as long, but neither I nor my friend, who took his, were feeling very swell come our arrival downtown. My friend was in a full-body sweat, which I know from personal experience to be the signifier of being one wrong jerk of the vehicle from unleashing the flood gates, to put it nicely, and I spent most of the second half of our trip lying down to combat the effects. And while the cold upon exiting the bus was bracing enough to bring me back down to normal, the shifts in temperature from cold to hot to cold weren’t helping my friend, to the point that he wouldn’t even come inside Einstein’s with me when I popped inside in pursuit of more pumpkin-flavored goodness.
Speaking of which, ordering a Rainbow Rowell fan’s recipe for her fictional pumpkin mocha breve from Fangirl was about as mortifying for me as expected. I tried initially to just read off what said fan, and Starbucks barista, told us to say (“I’d love a grande, NO espresso, 2 pumps chai, 2 pumps pumpkin spice, 1 pump mocha, breve milk, with whipped cream and pumpkin spice topping, steamed milk. Also, you’re fabulous.”), but he kept breaking me off with questions and I simplified matters by just showing him the prompt on my phone; I forgot about the “also, you’re fabulous” end tag and couldn’t quite parse his reaction to it. The difficult part of that particular ordeal over with, I waited for minutes as the baristas tried to succeed in creating what I was after, with the end product being this.
Nobody seemed to make the link between this and Fangirl, but I got to try my pumpkin mocha breve, and have my third daste of coffee. So what if I didn’t get the hoped for chance to bond with a (hopefully a cute, single female) fellow Rainbow Rowell fan. Considering what I did with the opportunities I was presented with later at the show (spoiler: zilch), would I have made anything of it anyway? That’s probably a no. Not without a wingman to initiate and break the ice for me; even then I could guarantee nothing. The point is, I tried the pumpkin mocha breve. Although it left this pumpkin lover a tad disappointed due to the lack of pumpkin/pumpkin spice flavor (60 cents extra for pumpkin sauce that I can hardly taste), I had none of the misgivings I had with the harvest spice cup'occino from Sheetz. With that, I waffled between wanting to dump the rest out because of the coffee part and warming up (pun intended) to it because of the harvest spice part. The pumpkin mocha breve, on the other hand, left no real lasting memory, which is why I tried the pumpkin walnut crunch bagel with pumpkin smear at Einstein’s when we stumbled across one I didn’t know was there.
Like I didn’t know Five Guys was also downtown until a day or two ago. My last concert (The Dear Hunter at Mr. Small’s Theatre) the pre-show meal was also Five Guys and that time I walked all the way from downtown to Oakland (I had the time, so why not save $2.50?), thinking that was the closest Five Guys. I could’ve saved us both (myself and my concert companion) a lot of trouble if I’d just learned of the other location sooner. Looking on the bright side again, though, I still got what I was after more than anything each time, a Five Guys bacon cheeseburger, so I tried not to dwell too much on what I couldn’t change.
Something I could have changed, however, is remembering to take my Dramamine an hour prior to the bus departing. I wasn’t far off, except with motion sickness even a couple minutes extra lead time after taking Dramamine can be the difference between the bus back from Columbus, when I doubled up on Dramamine to be safe and was probably too tired to get motion sick, and the bus there, which went for me about the same as the one to Pittsburgh. In hindsight, trying to watch The Godfather Part III on my computer during the ride is something I should’ve known better than to do; sure, I once managed that feat with Fantastic Mr. Fox during a long car ride, but that time I could stretch out in the back of the car, it was half as long a movie, and I’d taken my Dramamine on time. Every other time I’ve tried for a repeat, it ends a non-starter. I made it thirty minutes in before having to recover for the rest of the four hour trip from the resulting motion sickness.
Still, keeping with the positive slant, we both made it to our destination without barfing, so mission accomplished. But this is when we started to have flashbacks to our frantic efforts to find our way back to the Greyhound station after the Cleveland concert, as my phone was telling me “it’s a straight shot” when what it really was giving me was a straight shot to becoming roadkill, as it apparently was requesting we play real life Frogger, and maybe do some parkour, to keep on a straight path through highway traffic on a curving bridge. Sometimes I wonder if Google wants me dead; this was one of those times. In my experiences with Google Maps, I’ve been led to a non-existent bus stop in front of a non-existent building in a dark alleyway during the middle of winter, told to walk across a major body of water as if I was Moses or something, and now this. But, given I knew the venue was straight ahead 4 miles, course-correcting was easy and required only the occasional check-in with the app, mostly just to see how much further.
Despite my friend’s somewhat pessimistic attitude that I was setting us up for a repeat of Cleveland with my somewhat devil-may-care navigation tactics, the walk turned out rather nice, with us passing through one of the nicest stretches of city road I’ve seen. I want to live in or near that part of Columbus and wish the venue had been there, rather than in the somewhat run-down residential neighborhood that area switches into very suddenly once you get near Rumba Cafe. And I wish we hadn’t decided to worry first about just getting there and then figure out where we’d eat afterwards, since we had about half an hour before doors opened to scrounge up some dinner in an area that had a gas station, a pricey food truck, a wing place where my friend and I were orders #3 and 4 respectively at almost 7pm, and a windowless brick pizza place that I like to think is a front for drug trafficking, or other such illegal activities.
We ended up settling on that wing place and getting to the venue right on time to stand (and sit!) awkwardly until the show began. I was literally nervous to head for the bathroom because I’d have to walk past Jeff Jarvis (The Reign of Kindo) at the merch table, and my awkwardness and nervousness was the most vicious of circles, just fueling itself until I felt ready to burst from it. My favorite band and a bevy of beautiful ladies there to swoon (and I mean swoon) over both Matthew Santos and The Reign of Kindo alike was just too much for me to handle on little sleep and after so long a trip. So to any member of the band who might be reading this (a guy can hope), sorry for being weird. Once the show was over I was settled back down enough to have actual conversations with you guys, namely Kelly Sciandra, Mike Carrol, and Steven Padin, and you all did a splendid job of keeping me from feeling awkward again and shutting back down, Kelly especially.
Having discovered the band shortly before the release of Play With Fire, I worried I’d never get to see the original lineup live, and here I am having seen it twice. Well, once with everyone but Mike Carrol, who was at home caring for his new kid, and once with everyone, including the man who’d filled in during his absence, John Baab. The first time was my first time seeing them and I was still too awestruck then, and in too much of a hurry (had to skip Scale the Summit’s set to make it to the bus on time), to stay and hang out. I got the opportunity to do that with most of you earlier this year in Pittsburgh, but not Kelly, and I’m so glad I was able to change that last night. Whether I was watching him tear it up on the keys (something I had the perfect vantage point for, standing literally right over his shoulder) or talking to him after the show, I felt grateful to be in his presence. He was even kind enough to gift me a copy of his latest CD, Space Mountain, something I worry I didn’t thank him enough for in the moment. Had I not already bought a digital copy prior to the show, I would’ve done so anyway because he, and everyone else in any way involved with The Reign of Kindo, deserves the money in every sense. It’s why I spent $40 this time, plus $40 combined the first two times, at the merch table.
Not just so I could be like a walking advertisment for them (hat, wrist band, t-shirt, stickers, posters), or because I needed a shirt to replace the ones that are now too loose since I slimmed down. I did it (mainly) because I don’t want you guys to ever go away. That’s partly a selfish reason, because as I mentioned you’re my favorite band, but also partly a selfless one. Like I said to my friend today, I think part of what’s carried you this far is a simple love for the music and the camraderie with both your fellow band members and the fans. I’ve never felt more appreciated, more humbled by an artist before. These are the sorts of guys who’ll just give you one of their CDs for free like Kelly, or help corral the signatures of the rest of the band to save you the time because you stupidly didn’t just get everything signed at once due to having a bit of tunnel vision. I really felt selfish then, and I apologize, but you took it all in stride and I can’t thank you enough for that.
Just like I can’t thank you enough for playing a song I’d been (pun intended) holding out for: “Hold Out.” Or for playing “Out of Sight, Out of Mind” (my voice-mail greeting is “leave me a message at the tone. You see, I’m far too busy spending my time alone.”). Or for playing your longest set yet, at least that I have seen in person. About half of the setlist was stuff I was hearing live for the first time. This all combined for possibly your best setlist yet. Were I asked to nitpick, the most I could say is I still haven’t heard my two favorites (“Sunshine” and “I Hate Music”), but like I said to Steve, I know I’ll probably have to “hold out” for the latter until bringing the horns on tour is financially feasible, and I’m fine with that. No complaints for me about either that or the vocals sounding a little buried in the mix; Joey was sick and I think that probably played at least a small part. I mean, I doubt I would’ve noticed were it any other band; you guys are just so generally on-point live that what are only slight imperfections, barely even minor quibbles, are more easily noticed.
Not unlike how it’s easier to notice your own horrid attempt at singing along when you recorded the video with a phone held close to you (see above). Joey was right when he said (repeatedly) we sounded beautiful… if you mean everyone but me. Alas, in an attempt to save face, I should point out my throat was raw by that point due to a combination of not being adequately hydrated and having sung during every other song up until that point. I don’t know how vocalists do it, be that consistent week in, week out, no matter their health status. Or, in the case of guys like Bruce Dickinson, no matter how strenuous the activity they’re doing at the same time (in his case, running around the whole show) is. For that matter, I don’t know how any of you guys do it. Of the three time I’ve seen you, it might as well be a three way tie, all three sharing the title of the best show I’ve ever been to. And I don’t expect that to change no matter how many shows I go to of yours in the future. Oh, and trust me, it’ll be plenty. You book it and I’ll come, budget and location allowing. Aside from when you opened for Cynic and didn’t get any closer to Butler than Philly, I’ve seen you as many times live as possible for me since discovering you just a couple days after Christmas two years back (has it really been that long!?) and I intend to keep that up for as long as you guys keep making music and touring
Anyway, after I acquired all the merch and signatures I was after, it was back to the Greyhound. The walk back was fine, but there was a serious risk of us not being able to fit on the bus that had me wanting to curl up into a ball, especially given I was dead on my feet by that point from lack of sleep. That’s what happens when it’s 1am and you’ve been up since about 6am, been on two separate buses, walked for over two hours, and just came back from a concert where you sang along the majority of the time. This time, however, it was just a momentary scare, rather than a prolonged one like the last two times, and 5 immensely uncomfortable hours later, between the bus and the car ride back from Pittsburgh, I was back home, still feeling some of the residual adrenaline from the concert. How else do you explain me being up right now after maybe 1 hour of sleep on the bus and maybe 2 once I arrived home? All I know for sure is, even with all the difficulties, I wouldn’t change much of anything in hindsight because the good far outweighs the bad. The Reign of Kindo is one of my few constants. Probably the brightest spot in my life right now. You are what gets me through, and I really and truly mean that. So, I’ll say it one last time, thank you.