Besides that night’s show in Cincinnati, I had one thing on my mind when we got up Sunday morning — breakfast.
And that’s when the day got weird.
Mrs. Crappy found a place in Fairlawn called the Sweet Pea Cafe that had a fabulous-looking breakfast menu and sparkling reviews on Urbanspoon and Yelp. I had taken a cursory glance at the menu the week before and hadn’t noticed the corn-and-bacon pancakes — please allow me to repeat that: CORN-AND-BACON-PANCAKES — and I was stoked when we placed our order. The wait certainly would be worth the payoff, right?
Unfortunately, I can’t answer that question. We arrived in time to spend about 45 minutes on breakfast before we headed southwest towards Cincy, and while I didn’t expect breakfast to hit our table Pamela’s fast, I also didn’t think waiting for our meal would eat up that entire 45 minutes. When we finally gave in, we were met with a shrug from the owner, who made us wait to ask him about the wait for our order.
No food. Indifferent owner. Sweet Pea Cafe outside of Akron? Avoid.
And while we gamely made do with our day-old Giant Eagle subs for breakfast, we got lost in Akron. We found the nastiest rest rooms we’ve seen for years in a gas station-Subway combo south of Columbus. We had to switch hotel rooms in Mason — our Cincy-area stop — because the bathroom in our first room hadn’t been cleaned. We encountered horrid traffic outside of Riverbend. We even had to move once we got parked because the kids who were directing traffic weren’t bothering to direct traffic.
But once we finally kicked back in the lot with a beer or two, the crap of the day started to melt away. It wasn’t as hot in Cincinnati has it had been at Blossom. We met an excellent dude from Louisville who works as a brewer for New Albanian in southern Indiana, who was happy to give us a taste of his excellent APA before we went inside.
And then there was the show.
I loved the set list from the start, but I have to admit that I was still feeling a little clenched from everything else that happened that day — so the band sort of snuck up on me a bit. I hadn’t heard a Punch You In The Eye before; I hadn’t seen a Twist in a couple years. But when Mound started up, I finally started paying attention. A smooth Jibboo, a Fee that Mrs. Crappy almost missed and Backwards — still my favorite song from Joy and one that’s turning into a monster live — wrapped up the first set, with a cool breeze and a stunning sunset to top it off.
The second set started with an indication that the band wasn’t fucking around: Carini. Bam. My first Tweezer, a Crosseyed that rivaled the one we saw at Star Lake in 2003, a Boogie On that might not have been in the ideal place in the set — I was awfully happy to hear it nonetheless — and the capper: a raging Julius into a perfect YEM. Encore? Loving Cup and a thunderous Tweezer Reprise.
Maybe with the exception of Steam, this show had a different feel than the one the night before — a little darker, a little more intense. Blossom was an explosion of energy; Riverbend was about plumbing the depths. Different shows, yes, but the band was near its best both nights.
We didn’t make the same mistake at Riverbend that we had at Blossom — this time, we found food in the lot before we left. Mrs. Crappy found a guy selling the ubiquitous veggie burritos: still warm, beans, zucchini, carrots, peppers, rice and cheese. It couldn’t possibly be more cliché; it also couldn’t have been any better at that moment.
We had a 30-minute drive from Riverbend back to the hotel, and we kept passing exits along Cincinnati’s outerbelt that teased with gleaming White Castle signs. I drove past them all, full, tired and happy.