(all photos by Jon Paul Douglass)
You Get What You Pay For
(Hamburg Airport, Newark Airport, Kansas City)
On Mayhem, we pulled off an impossibility. We played 3 of our In Waves-release dates simultaneously world-wide (well - semi-simultaneously). We knew it’d be hard (and goddamn, lemme tell ya it was), but it had to be done: finishing the Raleigh, NC show, we piled into the bus and flew to Hamburg, De to play an 80,000 person festival (the most metal festival in the world to boot: Wacken Open Air) on our German release date, then to London to open for Iron Maiden in front of 20-plus thousand on our UK-release date, then to what was supposed to be Oklahoma City.
After the hellaciously long lack of sleep and flight back into the US of A, our tour manager Brian Griffin softly mutters “Fuck” (He is typically a reserved dude; all emotions are usually around the same volume-range (even for being a sound guy)). We find out that our moronic driver of our discount-bus company in the US (let’s call them Hoe Jal with the driver Fid) left a simple voice-mail, then turned his phone off: “The bus is broke down. I ain’t gun’ be gitten ya’ll at the aeroport."
A week before this (and one before that) the bus started leaking from the outside-in, to which - Brian calls the company, receiving the response: "Drive it off a cliff fer all I care! I’m loosin’ my ass on this comp'nee anywho!” and hangs up. Another classic was something along the lines of: “Light it on fire fer all I cayer!” Customer is always right my ass.
So basically, it had been a downward spiral for the whole scorching summer-tour. We had days where the A.C. stopped working, a bus so unsanitary I found myself cleaning it twice a day just to keep the body fluid and Jaeger-spills at bay (and off my shoes). Drivers typically get a daily cleaning fee too - so Fid was getting paid for my nasty-house-keeping-work.
Back to the airport.
So I call Fid myself (I knew he wouldn’t recognize my number) and said “Dude. What the fuck is going on? Why are you evading Brian’s calls? Here’s Brian.” I put Brian on - we sort it out (sort of) and piled into the plane.
For some odd reason, Fid, instead of driving from Raleigh to the airport he was supposed to get us from - he hung out in Nashville or something - then must have driven a lot, then the bus “gitted dun messed up” somehow.
So now we had a bonus day off in Kansas City, and hopefully the new bus (yes, with Fid) would come get us the next day to drive us to OKC for the USA In Waves-release show. Once checking in, I jumped on my computer - researching the best local restaurant to drink and eat my troubles and worries away… and what’d I find? The Westside Local. Amazing reviews on yelp, online, etc.
My good friend, Jon Paul Douglass (quoted by me as being my “plutonic muse” as far as In Waves inspiration goes, also a man so damned talented at photography it’ll make your knees and heart buckle) was with us and was down to get out and eat. Everyone else in the band and crew stayed at the hotel that night due to “tiredness” (justifiably so due to the 4-6 hours of combined sleep from the last 3-4 days).
JP and I grabbed a cab and headed to Westside.
(All photography (thankfully) by JPD)
Westside was tucked away in a city/neighborhood. Away from the noise of the busier downtown, bordering suburban neighborhoods. The outside was beautiful - obviously an old building, purchased and renovated and rebuilt into the idea of what WsL wanted to make; something visually sound - humble, yet modern and artistic. When you enter, to the right is the dining area, the left - the bar. Large windows allowed the days-ends’ sunlight to flood in at the perfect level; a tattoo-ed and bearded bar-tender greeted us at our high-top for two.
Super friendly and knowledgable in all things Westside Local, the bar-tender gets me a Pimm’s Cup with Pimm’s gin, cucumber, lime, mint; JP gets the 17th St. Mojito with Cane rum, garden mint and fresh lime juice. Our bar-tender’s mixology skills are at artisan level - a doctor if you will. We mention a few key words of what we’re looking for, and he crafts it all just so to know exactly what’ll cure our jet-lag and whiplash. Without a doubt in my mind, My Pimm’s was the best Cup I’ve had to date. Something so simple can be destroyed by the wrong ratios - mine was exactly as it should have been. JP’s mojito? It was liquid crack. Anything in cocktail form with basil or mint, lime or lemon - I am sold. This elixir instantly drowned away all sorrows and tribulations of recent… then gave a nice buzz after that.
Our beautiful starter (the specific picks were assisted by our new best pal, our bar tender) were the Westside Localties, featuring: peaches, gruyere, braunschweiger, Spanish chorizo, prosciutto, castellavetrano olives, deviled eggs (orange vinaigrette, basil aioli, local microgreens). My thing with eating - is to be able to try as many things as possible; to be able to share the same tastes and experiences with the ones I am eating with. This was it. This was a celebration of all things good, of all things local KC - each little bite of each separate starter was as exciting as a meal in itself. Everything was just as fantastic as the last - i seem to remember the deviled eggs as being some of the best damn deviled eggs I’ve ever consumed. This starter was something special - something you talk about life over with loved ones, where you truly enjoy where you are at that moment in life.
I moved (or maybe it was JP… we were pretty buzzed by this point off euphoria, lack of sleep, and alcohol) to the Blanton’s Manhattan: Blanton’s bourbon, carpano vermouth, bitters, Westside local brandied-cherry. Ah wait - it was me - picture reference.
We ordered two mains - and hilariously, in my notes it says to “(look on site)” for the description… unfortunately. I am currently in a train from Edinburgh to Newcastle with no internet - good job, Me.
We had the Westside Local Burger and the Tenderloin. The burger was juicy, meaty - not comically large - it was gastro-pub sized and done right. All local ingredients, crispy fries, perfect pickle. Outstanding burger. The tenderloin was another magical cut of meat - when you’re in an area like KC, you know that the meat will be good. It it’s a place that prides itself on being totally local and sustainable - it’ll top even that. The mac and cheese and greens were a perfect compliment to the meat - mac and cheese and fries definitely kept WsL into the familiar, but gourmet gastro-territory.
Meat is always a good choice, and a place that does meat right - that really takes the time to consider the cut, the breed, the treatment of the animal - you see it in the cut, you taste it in the bite. Perfection.
I asked the mixologist for a beer recommendation - to which I received the Sixth glass quadruple ale. Strong, delicious ale. Our desert was the French toast bread pudding. Bread pudding is a beautiful thing, French toast is a beautiful thing. In both separately, the most fatteningly-delicious of suspects are crammed together into a sweet - but what happens at the combination of the two? This thing. This delectably devious hunk of compressed bread topped with (most likely) house-made ice cream was the closer to a perfect meal.
My final note from Westside Local was “Some kind of port (drunk!)”. The bar-tender, having obviously been pretty stoked on our genuine interest and excited-ness over everything we were collectively experiencing, brought us some amazing port. I wish I got the name of it - but it was a delightful closer to a long travel into a perfect meal. I find that when you truly show some appreciation and politeness to the people helping bring you your food and drink - sometimes they show their gratitude in you not being a complete wanker with something fantastic. Let’s all always be kind to the people we meet at all points in our lives (especially the people involved in your food and drinks.)
Westside Local goes down in history with Parlor Market in Jackson as one of the best food experiences in the USA on tour for me.