CHOKE ON THIS: SHORT LEASH TOUR DIARY

Short Leash, photo: Walter Wlodarezyck
Published  September 2016

Molly BizekShort Leash’s momentum came in the form of a phone call from an estranged friend. Dan, being a notoriously brutal drummer in Minneapolis, decided that it was time to spread his shit wings in another town and try out New Orleans. Seeing this as a think-fast operation to finally create the dream team band which had haunted Tamara (bass) and me (guitar) since the crumbling of our previous band Snot Rag, I tried to call dibs like a dog pissing on his owner’s sleeping bag. I told him he could stay with me for a while as long as he drummed in this band.

 

Dan agreed, jumped on a plane and I swooped him up with not much more than his skateboard and drumsticks. Grizelda was the first choice to sing. She doesn’t know how to shut the fuck up and her jail face is terrifying, but you still wanna kiss it. The perfect match to add some validity to three drunks who just wanna party. The icing on our dump cake.

 

The continual challenge of agreeing on anything came early on with deciding the name. “You better keep your girl on a short leash” came up in a crappy ‘90s movie. Bam! They had to be down. I choreographed it with its own potentially hardcore dance move and proposed it to my fellow bandmates. Turns out it wasn’t the greatest idea ever and they wanted to spend some time sorting through the crap list of other options, like Safe Space, Genital Wartfare, Fat Hot Poopy Mess ( feel free to use any of these). They came around and agreed Short Leash was the lesser of the stupids, plus it rhymed with snort bleach and looked cool when Tamara wrote it in hot topic lettering.

 

Within a month, maybe three, we had our six song set and NEEDED to play, anywhere. There was an upcoming show at that clowny warehouse off Broad Street with our friends’ new band Rim Job, and we convinced them to add us on. Grizelda wore a little league get up, baseball bat and all, and we powered through our first show. It was on. This was two-and-a-half years ago. Since then our catalog has doubled! (shut up) and we got adopted by Joe Separated. Joe held our sorry, disorganized, broke-ass hands into James Whitten’s studio and helped us get out a demo and 7” (sidenote: sorry James for not throwing your name on the 7”, then forgetting, then telling you it’s in there. It’s not.). He also pulled through last minute to take us on our most recent East Coast tour.

 

This is my tour diary of that. This is NOT! anyone else’s fault. I always keep a diary cuz I am forever a neurotic nerd who enjoys stream of conscious cursive anyways. With that said, I tend to be the one who runs outta speed first and passes out in the final witching hours of our hyperextended evenings. I know a lot more went on than I can recount, and some of it’s just trashy and makes us look like idiots so whatever.

 

PITTSBURGH

We booked our first show in Pittsburgh. We’d planned for two days at least to get there, and with the disheveled caravan situation, it was well needed. Our exiting parade included Grizelda’s pickup truck pulling a trailer with her motorcycle, and Joe’s temporarily pristine SUV. Inside included our band, four dogs, a temporary gimp, and Joe.

 

As we embarked on our lengthy drive, the convoy was split up within minutes and me, Dan, and Joe ended up making it to Pittsburgh WAAAAY too fast. Pittsburgh is the home of Tamara’s mother, Leslie Fuhry. No matter what horrible things punks and their dogs have done in her apartment, she always welcomes you back with beer served in plastic wine glasses and snacks for days. We wasted the afternoon shooting the shit at her kitchen table, telling her all Tam’s secrets and guiltily indulging in the spread she had made for her daughter.

 

The show started at 8 so we decided to go down to the venue and make empty promises of the rest of us showing up any minute. The Rock Room is the Pittsburgh equivalent to St. Roch Tavern, but hosts tons of punk shows and the bartenders are nice instead. As we loaded in the gear and the first band started up, the rest of the crew rolled up, and finally Tamara and her mom were united. The first band, Underbitch, were tight, harboring that classic ‘90s crusty punk, except no vocals could be heard. Apparently no one tested out the joke of a karaoke PA and all the bands were left to instrumental sets. Grizelda made it work because she will always give it her all, regardless what you put in her hands (ha!). Kollison, our local friends’ motorcharged band, was last to play and slayed it as always. We pissed a bunch of people off after, but the situation was quickly resolved with a miniature bat, and almost everyone stuck around to blackout and dance to sleazy dad jukebox.

 

PHILLY

We left Pittsburgh in hopes of getting to Philly early enough to skate or drink 40s in Clark Park. This again was a huge task. Our show was at a new bar in South Philly called The Century, for Philly Still Shreds. With traffic and early signs of speed bender distractions working against us, we got to the venue at 11 p.m. Nothing started for another hour, so we at least had to get right or turn up. The bar was packed and ran outta beer halfway through the first band Jenkem’s set. Fortunately, Philly knows how to party and everyone had backpack beers to share. Someone knocked the PA off its table, which came within inches of smashing into some poor kid’s head. Tamara busted my lip, Grizelda had blood running all down her throat from getting smashed in her mouth. It was real fun. Especially when people had to use the bathrooms, which were directly behind us. By the time other local straight-up punk band Incisor finished, it was the get-the- fuck hour. We were rushed to the streets to piss off the neighbors/ cops and try to score any last-minute drugs we could find. Our dear friend housed us up and we faded out in his living room, arguing about what songs to listen to and where all the stashed beers went.

 

ABC No Rio (photo by Walter Wlodarezyck).

ABC No Rio (photo by Walter Wlodarezyck).

NYC

We left Philly in the morning early, anticipating heavy traffic on our way to New York. Our first show of the day was at the infamous ABC No Rio. The space has been the home to countless shows, art exhibits, community outreach programs and activism since it was founded in 1980. After almost 20 years of defending the space through protesting, arrests, and petitioning, the city agreed to sell the building to the collective for one dollar if they, in turn, agreed to raise enough money to rehabilitate the building and dedicate it to community use. The collective was able, over time, to save enough (like fucking millions), and was preparing to start the process of tearing down and rebuilding a space designed to hold all the different veins of outreach they wanted to support. Through Grizelda’s contacts, we were able to get onto the last hardcore matinee they would be hosting in the original building. The room felt empty when we started, but halfway through the set, slam dancing prevailed. Our set was followed by old school 8NYC hardcore bands Agitator and Astroland. Watching the room explode into family-style energy from these bands, including bantering of inside jokes and funny stories about shit going down at the space, kinda made me feel like I was crashing a stranger’s retirement party, but I didn’t care. It was amazing to be a part of it all.

 

Afterwards, we rolled back to the Chicken Hut, where we were playing a later show that night. Our friend Andy had recently moved in and welcomed us with a feast of food and a cooler full of beer, because he is a wonderful human. I chilled on the rooftop looking over the city, trying to avoid feeling like an excerpt from the terrible book Evasion as I journaled. We could hear our Pittsburgh buddies rolling up on their motorcycles a mile away. The second they arrived, debauchery began uncurling into tentacles of temptation. The show was supposed to start around 10. Unsurprisingly, it was Brooklyn on a Saturday night and 237 other things were going on, so no one really showed up til midnight. At this point we were trashed. I convinced Griz to play in her swimsuit because there’s nothing more terrifying than a babe belting out hardcore in a string bikini. The majority of people tried to avoid Griz, dreading being the person that dumped her tits out. Bummer. Kollison’s set was more wasted and rowdy, allowing for our revenge. We trashed the place and everyone was real nice still in the morning, and we got to drink coffee with them and boof speed up our asses.

 

The next day we had another hardcore matinee at a place called Grand Victory in Manhattan. We unloaded the gear back down the four flights of stairs and rolled the caravan, plus our newly added motorcycle gang, and weaved through New York. It was the first show on tour we didn’t have anywhere to put the dogs, so we took over a bus stop, sidewalk slam style. Bumfeeder opened up the show, our friend DJ from Philly’s new grindcore band. Then the legendary John Dolan, of C-squat, followed with his acoustic serenades. Us and Kollison closed the show but my amp blew right before our set and we lost Dan, so overall it was our bust show. Kollison sounded great, being the more professional of the day drinkers. The show ended by 6 and most of us were lit, again. This was trouble because we didn’t have any more obligations minus starting trouble in Manhattan. We dropped the dogs off at C-squat and hit the streets. Starting with the Dictators bar Manitoba’s, we got real stupid, real fast. After a line-up of back-to-back shots from strangers, we were kicked to the curb and the curb happened to be covered for trash night. Garbage can backflips into everything felt appropriate. Manhattan has drastically changed over the last two decades and without going into a uneducated google-wiki-cut-and- paste-gentrification history, it was apparent that we were going to spend all night running from the cops. We made our escape to Tompkins Square Park with cases of beer and tried to hide in the after-hour shadows. Obviously we get rolled on again, because ten rowdy punks are incapable of being collectively stealthy, so we used one way streets to our advantage. Eventually we stumbled into a place directly across the street from where we were staying and fell in love with the Viking mermaid running the joint. It was the edge of last call but she fortunately had taken a shine to our idiocracies and locked us in, allowing for an extended version of the construction rock dance party/spin the butthole/look what I can do until BAM! The fucking window smashes out. She looks at all of us, and even though the break came from outside, knows we had something to do with it. She kindly tells us we blew it and to get the fuck, cuz the cops were on their way. We bail to find Dan flipping outside, screaming that he was trying to get our attention cuz two street kids had just tried to jump him with a knife. We dip around the corner trying to avoid a connection between our messy dumbasses and C-squat. A couple other people stayed behind and dealt with the cops. We were finally caught after getting chased all night. Unfortunately, the rest of the evening ended with drunken internal conflicts and some missing persons, but everything was pretty much solved by morning fart parties in the funkiest basement north of the Mason Dixie line. P.S. Thanks John Dolan for the new speaker cables, you’re the best.

 

JERSEY

We left in the afternoon, parting ways with our dear friends Kollison, true partners in crime. Our show tonight was in Jersey at the longstanding DIY venue The Meat Locker. Our friend John Foraker of Space Cadaver had grown up going to tough guy hardcore shows there and was hyped to hook us up with a sweet show. Jersey’s wicked close to NYC so we actually got there early! I blew it again by walking on the tracks when we found a nearby park, and got the cops called on me by Amtrak. Luckily my trespassing warrant didn’t pop up, so I was informed if they did charge me it would be a mail-order summons. Cuz I’d totally come back to Jersey for that?

 

 

ABC No Rio (photo: Walter Wlodarezyck).

ABC No Rio (photo: Walter Wlodarezyck).

On tour we have a dietary system which involves barely eating, taking any and every upper we can shake down, blasting too much coffee, then eating like greasy snakes every couple days.

On tour we have a dietary system which involves barely eating, taking any and every upper we can shake down, blasting too much coffee, then eating like greasy snakes every couple days. Today was doomed to be a Slytherin day. We found a BYOB Mexican restaurant and had an eating competition that no one won. After, we drug bloated, exhausted carcasses into the Meat Locker and tried to combat the itis. The space is your classic East Coast basement venue, decorated in the stylings of a Foot Clan hideout. Our friend Ms. Martha ended up being in the same town that night, so she came out to support our “devil music” and heal our achy bodies with chilled shots of tequila. The show was a blast. Death Vacation and Ides, local female-fronted hardcore bands, were so fucking solid. Totally dynamic styles, both tough as fuck. The DJ spun records for us as we chugged any half-drank beers we could find. We bonded over our love of the ‘90s group Polaris. Eventually they left and locked us in. Having nothing but the ends of our half gallon of vodka, we called it and crawled into nooks to find a forced bit of shuteye.

 

PROVIDENCE

Our show in Providence never pulled through so we ended up with a day off. Me, Joe, and Dan still went there to visit H.P. Lovecraft’s grave. Griz and Tamara drove to Worcester to get a motel room and wash their asses. We met up with them later, also to wash our asses. Unsurprisingly, we all still smelled like shit because the filth was sweating from our pores. And I don’t think anyone brought enough clean underpants.

 

Waking up in the town you’re playing that night is the best feeling, after perpetually dragging ass every morning. We legitimately got to split ways in the fashioning of what we wanted to do. Assuming our gender roles, the females went to drink coffee, swim, and go steal shit from thrift stores. The dudes drank beer and went to the skatepark. We met up at the show space called Distant Castle. Touring the East Coast reminds you that there are houses that figure out how to function with too many punks and have basements shows and not punch holes in one another’s bedroom doors. This place was some straight fuckin “Rats in the Walls” status. The show got a late start because the drummer from High Command had gotten into a car accident, so we played sandwiched between Foxfire, local dad hardcore, and our old friends Truth Decay.

 

It had started to feel like our common sense and agility had come to an end. We were fried animatronics, working off of dirty alley neural pathways and totally obscure inside jokes. Then our pants came off, extra bullet belts, and Tamara found a tutu. We mainly pulled our set off, partially due to the fact that we didn’t know if we’d ever play together again, and Joe went ballistic.

 

The last band to play was Truth Decay. Last summer we had played their first show in Massachusetts and they ruled then, so a year later they were even sicker! They capture that snotty Poison Idea hardcore style, but way faster and less annihilated. We sat upstairs and tried to sell merch, but the hardcore bro scene wasn’t feeling it so much, especially when we just started screaming to buy our feminist literature. We got one last dance party that felt more like a tactic to contain us into one room, and I woke up holding hands in matching leotards next to Grizelda, tucked in a nook in the attic.

 

HOME

Then it was over, I threw all the gear in Joe’s car and split up our tour cash, which ended up being $56 a piece. There’s no fulfilling way to part with two of your best friends that you aren’t gonna see for a long time. Griz was planning on making her way towards Iowa to tassel corn and Tamara wanted to try out living in Philly for awhile. Dan was planning on buying a car right when we got home and heading up to Maine for blueberry harvest (or cranberry, i don’t fucking know…). We hugged, I lost the keys, I found the keys, and we left. I also forgot my dog in a bush. When we came back for him he was still there like the cutest little homebum. The drive home took 28 hours, in which we finished totally trashing Joe’s used-to-be-nice car as we sweated the shakes out, and tried to hold off for that last emergency Mexican speed pill. We made it all the way home without discussing if we’d ever get to play together again. Hopefully that’s not the case. Considering the internal bullshit we’ve put each other through and prevailed, it seems unfair to end it on a good note. Hopefully we get at least one more chance to go out in a complete blaze of wasted feral childish glory, ending in sweet matching face tattoos or whatever.

 

Short Leash, photo: Walter Wlodarezyck

Short Leash, photo: Walter Wlodarezyck

For more info on short leash, check out shortleashsnortbleach. bandcamp.com

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