This is our Celebrated Midlife Crisis

Mike from Five Eight wrote this great essay! We have a show Friday 22 November at Nowhere Bar in Athens! You should come see Five Eight! It’s an early show because we are old!

Sean drove his Audi through the hills of Tennessee the fall colors rolled out before us as sun set golden behind the mountains. There was new music to listen to but no shows to play. I had got away early from work, but I forgot my dopp kit and jammie pants. I had a pile of cash from selling my extra Jason Isbell tickets and a nagging feeling like I forgot something besides just sundries.

The road trip was really about our friend Doug. His love of music but more specifically his top two bands Dinosaur Jr and five eight. A few months ago, Doug (Rasmussen our old manager owner of Mighty City Music) sent a text asking who wanted to meet him in Nashville, “Dinosaur Jr was playing at the Exit Inn!” and ordinarily I would have just filed that idea in the box marked “Really cool stuff that I have no time for what-so-ever”.
For me a road trip with five eight is a chance to connect, to share the latest music, what has happened to everyone’s family and friends, what’s happening with the various side projects and most importantly how will we survive the current political climate. This trip however was just me and Sean driving to meet Doug. We had no set list to write, we had no radio station interview to go to, and when you start removing Patrick, Dan and PDP members from the van, I start having this weirdo, out of body, anxiety feeling, like hey, what am I alone with Sean in his car, for five hours for, and what the hell are we going to talk about, but this time magic happens, one on one.

Being a sensitive liberal, artistic type, middle aged man, I wonder how to connect with people sometimes. This weekend road trip helped me find one more way to do it. At one point between my theories on how to parent and what new books I’ve listened too on audible, Sean asked me to teach him what I knew about meditation. I said I would love to. Nothing, maybe happens, but something does at the hotel, and later the next morning Sean finds himself alone in the water of the universe of his thoughts. Sean is going through a hell of a lot of changes.

We were running late, and it was cold out. Doug was even later. I wore my red scarf from an Old Delhi street merchant. Dinner at Bartaco. I had cauliflower tacos and split brussel sprout tacos. We drank homemade alcohol-free sodas. Upside down wicker baskets for light fixtures and dimly lit bare bulbs hung from wooden shelves, interspersed between wine bottles. The place had an outdoor patio carnival vibe, perfect for the Mexican street food it was serving up. We raised our soda glasses to a clink, then we three brothers got to talking.
Sean had us leap into his world; with his wild story of depression, surrender, confusion and rushes of crushed hurt, love and longing. I won’t be able to relay the power of his divorce story in specific detail, but I love him, and his ex-wife and I wish them all the happiness they can find. Somehow this tragic mess of pain is carving a place for the two of them to find themselves in and maybe a remedy to the loneliness. I’m not sure anyone could get close to so much loss and transformation in one meal, but Doug made a go of it. You know when divorce comes it never just effects the two. It grabs the rest of us on the side lines with our opinions, our jealousy, our envy and cups of bitters.

This 57 year old got to the show in time to watch a gray long-haired Jay Mascis pour his lonely closed eye melodies into three Marshall stacks. I became aware that I was living my perfect dream life. A life I was watching through the lens of Sean’s camera, which was opening a wild world around me in the crowd of Dinosaur Jr. fans. A world that I never knew existed. The longing love affair of a creamy skinned mascara girl’s soft kiss. Her thick Maybelline lashes on cheek of the campy jacketed boy, “They speak the language of heroin” Sean whispers to me “it’s a deep drug sleep” he spoke between the 133 DB songs. Was that wishful thinking of an addict or just surreal truth surfacing?

Don’t you love it when someone says, “The show kicked ass?” or “Had a blast on the trip!” Do you ever stop to think “What does that mean?” I think people want to share the “amazing moments” with someone. That night I saw Kevin Sweeney back behind the shaky stacks of amps. I yelled at him yet he didn’t hear but I didn’t want to lose my audience vantage point, so I just let the connection slide.

The mix of the show was amazing. I could hear Jay’s voice clearly and Murphy’s drums thundered. I could have used a little more-base but Lou’s manic, body swaying, head banging, long hair in his face, sweating, thrusting, smashing, fierce, about to lose his shit, temper tantrum, greasy song energy, made up for lack of tone. At one-point Lou kept running behind his amp stack constantly yelling to the backstage crew. It was obvious to everyone that something was terribly wrong, but the abandoned playing, did not let up, for even a mil a second. He was running back forth like a mad scientist: from Murph’s side to lock in, then quickly back to the side stage. Finally, he explained to the crowd and his band mates that he was happy to be here playing but the lights were so bright on his side of the stage that he could not see the frets of his bass.

As I write this, in Sean’s Audi, as a passenger, doing about 90 mph, the weekend has ended for the three blood brothers and although we didn’t, “bag a buck, throw any beer bottles, place dollars on any girls, score fifty yard tickets to the bulldogs game” (not that any of these things aren’t worthy pursuits) we did see a kick ass punk rock show and ate at least two awesome meals. We barely missed getting sucked up into the Nashville strip bus tour tourist trap, saved by lack of clearly delineated parking and a used copy of Tobias Wolfe short stories that was calling my name form the trunk of the car.

Finally in a moment of sheer masculinity and determination to “get shit done” Sean made us fill out our 7th SXSW application and we’ve been accepted!!! No doubt thanks in part to Marc Pilvinsky’s documentary on the band.

So the point of this little rant is to tell you to celebrate these momentous achievements of our midlife crisis at the early Nowhere Bar this Friday doors at 7:00 pm.