Tim and Carol in NYC

2010.03.30 in personal

About three months ago, She & Him announced a few tour dates for their then-unreleased second album, the aptly-named Volume Two. I was scanning the list, noticing a severe lack of "Albany", "Boston", or "Burlington", when two dates in New York City caught my eye. The Bowery Ballroom - March 29th and 30th, they said. I asked Amy if she could go, but - being a Monday, a school day - she wasn't going to be able to pull that off.

Once I got back to RPI (in late January), I asked Carol (and Nate) if I could steal her for a day at the end of March. She managed to get a day off from work, and we got tickets to the concert and various forms of transportation. Getting concert tickets was a bit of a pain — the internet has made it very easy for scalpers to immediately consume the entire supply of tickets, especially to very small shows like this — but we eventually got it all sorted out.

As March drew to a close, it became clear that the 29th was going to be a disgustingly rainy day, both in NYC and Troy. "Oh, well," we said as we boarded a Megabus nearby the local Amtrak station — we were determined to make something awesome of the day, regardless of the weather.

We rode, chatted, and tried to nap on the top level of the double-decker bus all the way to Penn Station, getting in at just after 1 PM. After getting out and getting oriented, we meandered up Seventh Ave., heading in the general direction of MoMA, one of our potential plans for the few hours we had before the concert. On the way, we decided that food might be nice, and stopped at a small Chinese place called Ginger's which Carol spotted. The food was surprisingly good for a Chinese place, and we moved on, satisfied.

After a filling lunch, the subway seemed like a good option — in addition, we knew we were going to need to figure out the MTA so we could get to the concert on time. In retrospect I'm very glad we did this, as it turns out they made the horribly unfortunate choice (unlike Boston's MBTA) of putting maps after you've gone through the ticket machines, which through me off significantly.

The subway eventually put us relatively close to MoMA (ordinarily this would have been walking distance, but the rain coupled with the fact that we only had a single gigantic awkward-for-tight-NYC-streets umbrella with us led us to opt for the subway). We got down to the museum, only to spot enormous lines of people with the exact same idea. Walking through the lobby observing the crowds only cemented my belief that we'd never get in if we waited there. So, we gave up on that idea — we'll be back another day — and headed towards another classic NYC museum: the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Carol had been to the Met before, but noted that there was so much to see that she'd happily go again; I've never managed to visit either, myself.

Heading towards the Met, we walked through the puddles and mud up Fifth Ave., past many sights I've seen a few times before — Trump Tower, the iconic Apple Store, FAO Schwarz, etc. — up to Central Park. We decided that the umbrella would be less painful in the park, which seemed relatively empty, so we left the road for the somewhat-depressingly-wet park walkways.

I should note now that while it may seem like we shouldn't have been having a good time, between the weather and the crowded museum, we were actually having a lot of fun just enjoying the city and hanging out and looking around and chatting and such. As you'd expect!

The walk through the park was greatly improved by the various flowers just starting to pop out of the ground — it's pretty clear spring is on it's way, even if we have a month of rain ahead of us. We eventually got to the seemingly completely deserted Met, only to read the sign stating that they're closed on Mondays. I feel like I actually discovered this the last time I was in NYC, but I'd forgotten until we got there. I suppose that this somewhat explains the ridiculous lines at MoMA, but was rather unfortunate for us; we managed to spend a few hours wandering the city with our plan of getting inside out of the rain for a while continually falling down around us.

We decided to forego that plan and head (by subway, thank god) to Times Square and wander around some more (a pretty reasonable NYC backup plan, I guess!), which went well. I don't think Carol was particularly entertained by my reluctance to enjoy the various crazy stores (Hershey's, the M&M store, Toys R Us, etc.) around there, but nobody ever is! Oh, well!

At this point it was getting late — time for dinner, and to find our way to the Bowery Ballroom for the show. We decided to combine these things; the Bowery is smack dab in the middle of the Chinatown/Little Italy region, so we once again went underground and found ourselves in a new part of the city. After a short bit of looking around, we found (by found, I mean the guy standing outside the door managed to entice Carol to come inside with his descriptions of various dishes, while I was fussing with my phone trying to find things with Yelp) an excellent little Italian place, Paesano's, which served fabulous — if somewhat overportioned &mdash food. I don't think either of us came close to finishing our dinners, but we certainly both agreed that they were excellent, and were impressed that food wasn't the problem that it usually is on trips like these. The atmosphere there was nice, too... the waiters were really nice, and totally on their game the whole time. I'd definitely recommend it, if you happen to end up in the area.

Seven thirty eventually rolled around, and it was time to head over for the show, which started at 8 (or so I thought). We found the Bowery with no problem; it took us a minute to determine whether or not we could go inside, as there were tons of people standing around (apparently waiting for others). After making our way through the real-life-gigantic-scary bouncers, we found ourselves in a dimly lit room filled with the sort of crowd that frequents these sorts of things. I'm not totally sure how to describe them, but if you'd been there, you'd know exactly what I mean.

It turned out that the show didn't really start until 9:00, so we stood inside the ballroom for an hour, chatting and observing the crowd. Eventually the starting band came on — the super-hippie harmony group The Living Sisters. While it was clear that they were technically-competent and actually all had quite excellent voices, Carol and I were in agreement that it wasn't something we'd buy and listen to on our own. Still, they certainly entertained us... maybe nod in the way they'd hoped, but I suppose it was worth something!

It was at this point that we realized we had a serious problem — She & Him still hadn't come on at 9:30, and our train out was at 10:50, 20 minutes from where we were. We spend a good part of the intermission IMing and texting everyone from school trying to find someone who knew someone who lived in NYC, looking for a couch to crash on (there was no way I was going to leave without my concert!). After quite a bit of semi-panicked chatting, I decided to let Mom freak out, and sent her a text asking if she had any ideas. Luckily, I CC-ed Amy, who — after a bit of searching — found a bus company who had a 12:01 AM bus to Albany. Success!

If it hadn't been for Amy, we would have ended up camping out in Penn Station or the 5th Ave. Apple Store, neither of which would have gone over well with the staff, I suppose.

As it was, we only got to see about half of Zooey & Matt's show, but it was enough to make me very happy — it was exactly what I was hoping for, and I had a great time! Zooey is still adorable in person, they all sang/played very well, and thankfully played a mix of songs from both Volume One and Volume Two. You could tell when a song was from Volume One, as the whole crowd was able to sing along; Volume Two came out like a week before the concert, and nobody's really familiar with it (except for In The Sun, which was released as a single) yet!

All in all, it was one of my favorite concerts, even considering the fact that I missed half of it (she covered a lot of the awesome stuff; I only really missed Sentimental Heart, my personal favorite)! I'm really, really glad I went, I'm glad I dragged Carol along with me (I'm not sure the whole day would have worked out as well/smoothly with just about anybody else), I'm glad we waited, and I'm glad it all worked out.

So, yeah, the concert was excellent! Hopefully at some point in the future I'll get to take Amy and stay for the whole thing :-)

Most of the rest of the evening went off without a hitch; we got to the bus just on time, having taken a taxi (some random people saw Carol's distress at trying to hail a taxi and got one for her; that's something I probably wouldn't have been able to pull off at all!) to the Port Authority Bus Terminal. Once on the bus, we realized that we should probably look up where it was going to, since it seemed unlikely to take us to the train station, where our car was. Indeed, the bus was destined for the Greyhound station in Albany, on the wrong side of the river (though only a mile from the car, it was 3 AM, not an ideal time to make that walk!)... back to AIM, searching for people at school who would still be awake at 3 AM!

Ryan had already been planning to stay up all night, so he came and saved us (for which we are eternally grateful!), shuttling us over the bridge to Carol's car. We got home at around 3:30, grabbed water, and promptly fell asleep (some more soundly than others, apparently).

All-in-all, it was an absolutely awesome day for all involved. We had a lot of fun, and perhaps we'll do something similar again (in a few months, after we've recovered from this trip!)...