An Artlyr by any other name
by Caitlin Caven
At about 3am on the day before we embarked, Peter messaged me on gchat. “A blog wrote us up as ‘The Anters’,” he said. “I didn’t notice at first. Darby pointed it out.”
“Hey, that’s the oh-nedders,” I answered.
“That’s what Darby said,” he replied.
A few days later, a venue wrote up our show on their website as “The Andlers”. We giggled about that for days: “You guys, I hear The Andlers are playing. They have a way with groupies and a hedonistic streak like you wouldn’t believe.”
“Have you heard The Anters? They’re kind of neo-grindcore post-industrial pre-Flaming Lips slow jams.”
That snowballed into a series of further bastardizations of our own name: Antwerp, The Anteaters, The Old Yellers, The Anti-Tillers, The Ramblers, etc., etc., etc.
As comedy embraces a rule of threes, we showed up at the venue in Cincinnati to see this:
The cold medications in our systems only intensified the glee.
For the rest of the day, Peter’s been calling us “The Ann Taylors”.
“I love that store,” Darby added.
The show in Cincinnati was free, at a bar called Blue Rock Tavern. It had a pool table, some lovably dingy couches, a couple of dogs wandering around, and a bleached-blonde, neon-shirted bartender with stellar taste in music. It’s the kind of place I would frequent if I had occasion to.
Before the show, we went into a rad record store called Shake It Records. We did our best to continue to hemorrhage money. They recommended a homey and cute sandwich place across the street called Melt. I started chatting with one of the servers, who was super cool. She said she'd try to swing by and check out the show.
The Ann Taylors played with Wonky Tonk and Joe Thomas, two intensely charming singer-songwriter types. The crowd was one of the most supportive and dedicated yet. In between songs, a dude kept shouting, “holy shit!” My new server-friend came and brought her boyfriend, and we all sat at a table and drank and talked as if we knew each other well. By the time the show was over, they’d offered us a place to stay, we’d exchanged contact information, and hugged each other goodbye with a familiarity that suggested we were going to meet up and grab coffee on Tuesday.
Joe, Jasmine of Wonky Tonk, and their friends invited us out for Cincinnati-style Chili (…?), and we lamely had to decline and go to bed in preparation for our seven-hour drive the next day. That’s the mindfuck of maintaining this schedule: you’re not really anywhere long enough to do everything you’d like to, but the abbreviated-time pressure allows you a freedom to form connections and embrace dumb luck with more abandon than one normally might in daily life. It’s a spontaneity I hope I can maintain, even once I’m settled back in the real world. I think it’s a good way to live: “make friends like you need a place to stay tonight.”