I think I know a few things about you. I'm guessing you are approximately 32 years old, give or take 5 years. You have .5 children and most of a dog. In your professional life you have a JD, work at a university, or you perform some other perfectly awful set of job tasks that make you want to hug a cactus. Your significant other is employed in publishing, marketing, education, or devil worship. You just got a new furnace, and you know you're going to have to call a plumber pretty soon.
And the worst fucking thing in the world is trying to make new friends.
Only slightly less unpleasant than making new friends is going out with your current friends. Not the bunch of louts and loudmouths who accompanied you as you committed unspeakable acts of knavery in high school and college. No, I'm talking about the colleagues who you sometimes have dinner with, or the parents of your half-a-kid's schoolmates. Some of those folks are glorious salt-of-the-earthers, and you enjoy the moments you get to chat with them when not wrangling your demon seed. But a vast majority of them are simply people with whom you have conversations about water heaters and debates about which schools have the best extra-curricular activities.
And somehow, despite your benign apathy for most of these acquaintances, every social encounter involves you reaching desperately for something, some shred of personality or cultural awareness that will impress these fellow hive members. And every encounter ends with you feeling shitty and inadequate because, despite the relative ease and overall good fortune of your life, your garage is not as organized as theirs and your vacation (what vacation?) pales in comparison to John and Jane McDisneyass over there. They didn't mean to make you feel like a worthless jerk—you don't mean enough to them for them to have feelings, much less antipathy, towards you. If you died, none of those people would put down their latte for more than thirty seconds.
Life. It's really happening, isn't it?
Every once in awhile you take a stab at making a real connection with these semi-friends, though. You try to find a commonality that will unite you in some sort of pre-middle-aged brother or sisterhood. So you suggest that you and your husbands and wives all go to a concert together. Maybe they'll like the music you like? That would be cool, right?
You stupid dummy. That's a horrible idea. It's just so terrible. Just think for a second. Think of what that will entail.
Meeting up before the show. Finding a table or a place on the venue floor that fits all of you. Getting elbowed by shithoused co-eds who think they can just walk up to the front row, even though they got there two hours later than you did. Having a drunk dude lean over and whisper something egregiously offensive at your wife, so that now you either have to get in a fistfight or leave this godforsaken monkeybutt of a bar that you already paid fifty dollars to get into and somehow ran up a tab of another sixty bucks for a round of goddamned Bud Lights that you didn't even want in the first place.
Fuck all that.
And the worst part, especially if you're the one who suggested the band, is that you'll still probably never impress any of these peers. Unless the performance is simply transcendent, chances are the effort and cost of evening will never be fully paid off by the experience at the show.
And that's why you're going to go see Two Cow Garage.
I know, that sounds ridiculous coming from the guy who tells people to shout the merits of their favorite unknown band from the rooftops.
But I've done it before, seen this band alone, and holy fuck is it worth it.
The first time I saw Two Cow Garage they were on tour with Glossary and I was the only person there. No one else in the crowd. It wasn't me and few disinterested people milling about. I was literally the only person attending the show.
Even the sound guy who booked the show seemed to have disappeared. I had planned on meeting a few friends, but it was a Thursday night and everyone turned into a pumpkin at 8 o'clock. Standing around with a dollar draft in my hand, waiting for the show to start, I felt awkward, uncomfortable and self-conscious. But then I thought, "Hey, that's how I feel all day every day. So, fuck it. Let's do this."
And as a testament to their professionalism, dignity, and respect for themselves and their art, Glossary and Two Cow Garage were absolutely spectacular. They each played tight, rip-roaring sets, acknowledging the absurdity of playing to one guy, but never once letting up on the gas-pedal of the show. Two Cow closed the night with a stunning version of AC/DC's "You Shook Me All Night Long," that was equal parts plaintive Merle Haggard, acid-flashback Afghan Whigs, and incest-guilty Drive-by-Truckers.
Two Cow Garage will remind you of nearly every alt.country group you love, but will feel derivative of none of them. The energy of the show will be like a punk scene that finally grew up and got a decent apartment and car, but who paid their own way instead of finally taking the money that their dad promised them if they'd quit with the hair and the drugs. They based a song on a story by Donald Ray Pollock. Other bands don't do that.
And unlike the first TCG show I attended, there will be people at the show you go to. You'll see interesting characters and die-hard fans. Or, depending on the spot, it might just be locals who just came in for a beer and didn't know there was going to be a daggone rock show, but by the end of the show they will be converts. And you'll make friends with the bartender, because you're going to drink cheap, cold beer all night and probably need them to call you a cab.
You will arrive by yourself, though. No joining up with work pals or texting the dumbasses who can't find a parking spot. None of that shit.
See, you don't need company to enjoy Shane, Micah, and Murph, the band members who you'll meet and shoot the shit with for a minute or two after the show when you go buy all their records at the merch table. Once the show starts, you won't be alone. You'll be there with a band who is ready to knock the walls of the joint down with a goddamned wrecking ball of rock and roll. You will nod and shout and scream along with a group of musicians who know just how inescapable the slow-sinking misery of day-to-day life can be. And so, instead of beating against the tide in solitude, you'll gather with the band and the crowd of sweaty hipsters in the dive bar where you're watching all this, and you will all get sucked down into the ear-splitting whirlpool of life together.
But you won't drown. You'll come out on other side, with new friends, friends you may never talk to again, but friends nevertheless. These are friends who you won't need to impress, who don't give a shit whether you have a new tankless water heater, because they could give a fuck about that stuff. These are friends who you will see again the next time Two Cow Garage is in town.
And maybe, only MAYBE, when that next show rolls around, you'll bring one single, like-minded soul. And you two will never have to talk about plumbing again.
Established: 2001, Columbus, Ohio.
Genre(s): Rock and Roll, Alt. Country, Cow-Punk.
Micah Schnabel - (vocals, guitar)
Shane Sweeney - (bass, vocals)
David Murphy - (drums)
2002 Please Turn The Gas Back On
2004 The Wall Against Our Back
2008 Speaking In Cursive
2010 Sweet Saint Me
2013 The Death of the Self-Preservation Society
My Great Gatsby
Your Humble Narrator
Bastards and Bridesmaids
Skinny Legged Girl
Great Gravitron Massacre
Lucy and the Butcher Knife
Other Fun Stuff:
Micah Schnabel, the lead singer made a spectacular solo album called When The Stage Lights Go Dim. Here's a song from it.
Shane Sweeney, the bass player and sometimes vocalist, made a spooky feeling lo-fi record called The Finding Time.