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Posted on June 2nd, 2020

The Soft Core of the Earth – Summer Tour

It. Got. Cancelled. The entirety of my summer travels was planned around seeing the band [insert guess here], and now they’ve gone and postponed their tour until NEXT summer. Argh! It makes sense, it’s the responsible thing to do, it was unavoidable, but still, it stinks. I had this whole pilgrimage mapped out, crossing through 18 states, catching the band in four of them (10 shows total), now – well I don’t know what. Do I stay here? I wanted to roam. I wanted to be free. I wanted to see lots of live music in lots of different places. I love seeing live music. I’ve now had more than 20 concerts cancelled or postponed, and my guess is the end is not here yet. Now I’m reading we might be dealing with the dreaded plague for two years, so concerts might get the kibosh for the entirety of 2020. And what might they look like in the future, well, who knows? I saw that over in Demark they are doing drive-in concerts. Yuck. No thanks. At some point we’ll just have to give in to the powers that be, I imagine. Someone asked me if I’d go to a concert today, and I said “yes.” I would wear a mask and gloves, not buy anything, not touch anything, not use the restroom, not drink anything, try to avoid people as much as possible (something I always did at shows anyhow); I think I would still enjoy myself. Well, everyone is tired of hearing about Covid-19, so that’ll be the last I’ll directly say about it (unless I change my mind in a few paragraphs), so instead I’ll tell you about how my summer travel plans were supposed to look.

Starting from the Atlantic Ocean, I was going to make my way through the Midwest, stopping in to see family as I made my way out to the Rockies for my first stop. I was planning on departing in late June and arriving in Pagosa Springs, Colorado for the first week of July. From there, I’d drive through Utah, stopping for a night in Red Canyon, and then onto the Alpine, Wyoming area for three nights. Next, I would drive on to Portland, Oregon where I’d spend a week or so with friends, catching some music down in Eugene, and then we’d head up to George, Washington to catch some shows at the Gorge. I’d depart them and stay for a few days near Leavenworth, Washington, and then head on to Sandpoint, Idaho for three nights, Polson, Montana for three nights, then start my big drive back east, stopping in the Midwest to see family again and onto Nashville for two nights of music, up to rural Indiana for three nights of shows, and then head back to the Atlantic Ocean. It was all so perfect. That is, of course, why it was not to be…

Before I’d scheduled that trip, I was actually thinking of knocking some states off my to-do list; five to be exact: Maine, New Hampshire, Connecticut, Delaware and Rhode Island. These were the last ones I’ve yet to visit, so I was hopeful that I’d get those done in a 10-day road trip in May. But then I realized that the West Coast journey was going to be a lot, so I figured I’d postpone the NE romp to 2021. Well, now that the western trip has been postponed to 2021, looks like the NE will have to wait it’s turn as well (2022). And that’s fine, I guess; I don’t have any other choice, do I?

Now that I see all this written down, it seems pretty silly of me to complain about anything. First, I’ve got the ability and means to embark on these excursions, and that’s not something that everyone can say. Second, it’s not like these trips have been removed from the realm of possibility, only postponed, so good times are still ahead. But it wouldn’t be this column, and I wouldn’t be me, if I didn’t complain about something. But since I’ve agreed to not discuss the plague, and not to gripe about not getting to take my precious vacation, well, what can I cry about?

Some may see isolation and loneliness here; I see peace and quiet.

I figure it’s safe to gripe about what has been put in front of me instead of live music and travel: not live music and sitting on my butt. A lot of bands have been releasing concerts from their “vaults” and streaming them online, which is nice, but let’s be honest, it’s not like that’s something we all couldn’t do or haven’t been doing on our own time for years if not decades. Some musicians have been doing live gigs on YouTube or Facebook or other platforms, which is cool, but it sure as hell ain’t the same as being there. And even when the audio/video is clear and has no connectivity issues, it is still far less than ideal. And no truly big-name musicians are doing this; mostly just the bootstrap, blue collar ones – which isn’t a knock on them; they need to earn their money and feed their families somehow. It’s just that it’d be nice to see some bands who have gotten rich off their fans do something for free for their fans frequently aside from some corny charity benefit. The Rolling Stones delayed their tour, as did Elton John, but they could each do a weekly 1-hour performance until things return to “normal” and have people donate to worthwhile charities. But hey, what do I know? I’m not rich and famous, and I sure am not a musician…

Now that everyone has all this “free” time on their hands, they’re really annoying me because they’re out and about in all the places I like to frequent (i.e., hiking trails) when I like to frequent them. It’s not as bad on weekdays when people are trying to maintain work hours from home and retain some resemblance of normal for their kids and schooling, but the weekends are ridiculous. And the longer this goes on, and the nicer the weather gets, the more ridiculous it’s going to get. I just wish we’d open everything back up so these soccer moms would spend their time at Starbucks, Target and the yoga studio, and these dads would go back to sitting at the bar at their local Chili’s making fart jokes with their band of buffoons as they stare blankly at the idiot box and watch that sleep-inducing “sport” of baseball. Whoops, looks like I can’t shake the topic that’s got us all shook…

A lot of my friends are drinking a lot more during this pandemic, and I don’t mean Kool-Aid. To be honest, I would say I’ve drank a lot less; largely because I don’t go to concerts the way I used to – and those are always fun to have a few brew-dogs at. I also, somehow, have watched less TV – which is a good thing. I’m thankful that I haven’t seen Tiger King yet, and I’m sorry for all you people who have and think it’s good. Anything that glorifies animal abuse is not good on a number of levels and by any account… In some ways, absent the concerts and a few trips to the brewery, my life hasn’t changed that much. I can’t say that I really care about interacting with people a whole lot anyhow, and if anything, this whole experience exhibits that I would do just fine if I exited society, something I’ve been threatening to do for a while. At least I know I really don’t need a whole lot of human contact to live. Now, if I could only figure out how to grow my own food and cook it, I’d be set.

But, I imagine, before too long I’ll be missing something or someone and ultimately quite thankful for “society.” Maybe. But I also wonder of all the activities that I’ve been doing for years and haven’t been able to now for months, will I find that they were a waste of time or money, or simply really not that fulfilling and I’m lucky that they have been extracted from my routine? For instance, I started taking Jiu Jitsu lessons a while back, but I haven’t been able to attend since mid-March; and I don’t miss them one bit. Now, maybe that is just that particular activity. There is some work stuff that I no longer have to/can do which is nice (though this Zoom thing may be the worst of all of it; boundaries, people, boundaries – just because we can be reached at all times and on short notice doesn’t mean that we should). The fact that I can stay away from people I don’t want to talk to is also nice. But if I’m being honest, those people probably don’t want to talk to me either.

Well, I’ll check back in next month and let you know if anything has changed and what I’ve been thinking. Since everyone knows you can’t go anywhere, I’ll expect to find you right where you are. Consistency, at least we have that these days, even if we don’t have live music. I thought maybe this would be the best time possible to finally learn how to play a musical instrument, that way I could put on my own show, play all the songs I wanted to hear. Well, you can imagine how that’s gone. I’m far from a YouTube sensation. So, I guess I’ll wait for the tour to start up again, patiently as I can. Whenever we’re able to do that sort of thing again, I imagine a whole lot of people are going to be super-thankful; it’s gonna get weird again. Someday…

Marco Esquandoles

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