JC Brooks & The Uptown Sound are an excellent band. We’re always happy to recommend their shows so let’s get that out of the way and do it now. They’re playing Black Cat Saturday, August 15 with Shark Week. Go. We’re also happy that they’ll be in real green rooms. We can vouch Black Cat has real green rooms. Not every club has real green rooms. -ed.
It was February 2012. We were trying to lay low in Chicago, regrouping after a fall tour that took us from Spain to Seattle, moving steadily from September to December in support our first album for Bloodshot Records, Want More. After the holidays, we’d enjoyed 2 weeks of opening for JJ Grey & Mofro, while we, ahem, “enjoyed” 2 weeks of touring the upper Midwest in January. We’d planned on staying put until SXSW in March would kick off another round of touring that would last the rest of the year, but friends in Cincinnati asked us to play their record release show. We were skeptical of the 300 mile drive for one gig, but it was going to be at the legendary Southgate House, a prestigious and historic venue across the river from Cinci in Newport, KY. Seemed on the same level as playing the Metro in Chicago or the 9:30 Club in D.C.
Not long after we committed, there was some sort of shake up with the people who ran Southgate, and the venue was closed or out of commission. Our friends acted fast and moved the show to a new club in Covington and promised everything would be great. Except they didn’t have their liquor license yet. But they were totally working on that, and they would absolutely have that worked out by the day of the show.
We roll into town, thrilled to see a crowd of people outside the club. It’s the middle of the afternoon and all these hungry music fans are lined up waiting. Waiting for the methadone clinic next to the club to open. We hustle our gear out of the van into a club that looks to have been a strip joint in the 80’s and hasn’t done much to update since. After soundcheck we wandered around a vast expanse of pawn shops and sad bars.
When doors opened, it was confirmed that the liquor license hadn’t come through and there was no booze to be had. But even better was finding out that the green room also doubled as the promoter’s bedroom. He invited us in to hang out, draw chalk graffiti on the walls, play video games, and do blow off any number of Playboy magazines he had lying around. Surprise, surprise, he liked to talk a lot, and really, really, really loved the shitty techno he had pumping on his bedroom stereo. He made sure to turn it up every time he walked back into the room (after we’d turn it down every time he left). Combine this with a dinner of Little Caesars and Old Style and we were feeling pretty ornery.
After playing an OK set to a depressingly sober crowd, we plotted our escape. Our usual MO was to drive for about 2 hours after a show, everyone’s adrenaline would still be up, traffic would be light, and we’d be that much closer to Chicago when we started driving the next day. Indianapolis seemed like a great halfway point to stop for the night, so we started calling ahead to places and coming up empty. It took about six places saying that there was no room at the inn before it dawned on us that the Super Bowl was happening in Indianapolis the next day and the closer we got, the more expensive and scarce the hotels were going to get. Had to drive it all night back to Chicago.