I feel bad for the waitstaff at Johnny Rocket's. Not only are they required to shout mass salutations at every customer who enters the establishment, which personally makes me feel extremely self-conscious, but our poor waitress, a lovely woman who kept her energy up as much as could be expected while drawing ketchup smiley faces in cardboard bowls for no discernible reason other than that maybe toddlers would find it cute?, performed her job with the thinly-coated veneer of an employee who just under the surface very obviously wants to shoot herself in the damn face.
It's easy to see why. Early on in our Johnny Rocket's experience, it was pointed out by our server that gratuity is automatically added to the bill. We thought nothing of it initially, but after receiving our food, it was obvious that the tip is automatically added on to prevent what had to have been a rash of tip stiffings resulting from wide-spread dissatisfaction with what initially seems like a reasonable menu. How many waiters and waitresses have ventured in and out of this place after the thirty-second tip consisting of three pennies and a loose button? The "help wanted" sign was prominently displayed in the bay windows. I can't imagine they ever come down.
A quick note about pricing: if your sandwiches are going to float in the $8-$9 range, industry average dictates that this is a price that includes a side. The fact that your fries come in a "darling" little metal deep-fry basket does not justify charging an extra $2.75. And let's not even get into your cheese fries. Nah, fuck it--let's get into them. If they're gonna be $7, shouldn't the pile of nacho cheese, jalapenos and sour cream have more than 10 fries underneath them?
No chorus of hellos, no army of corn-syrupy ketchup smiley faces, can conceal the fact that your food is the saddest joke since the final scene of Solondz's Storytelling. The difference here is that no one should feel remotely bad for laughing at your cluelessly misguided "product."
By the way, tonight we played at Southgate House for the first time ever. The fact that the best conversations of the evening involved discussing Brainiac with the sound guy and our new awesome friends in the Jesus Lizardy Swear Jar should tell you all you need to know about how awesome the evening was. While only 11 people paid, which wasn't enough to garner any gas money from the door, the combination of band dudes and audience members filled out the room to the point where, after a night of playing for three people in Pittsburgh, it looked like a packed party house. I personally played the best sets i've played in days; not sure why, since i only got three hours of sleep the night before. But my wrists were more relaxed than they've been all tour, and my fills benefited from whatever zen trance i managed to put my body into.
HiFi Southgate Set: Tunguska/Paulding/Imp. Walker/Black Holes/X-13D/Pot. Energy/Arson/Success
Tunguska was played as a special request for our pal Dale Freeman, who's been following us since the old Pop Machine days, but man, was it sloppy. Everything else sounded great, though, and based on the CDs we sold, most of the people there agreed.
But most definitely, the best part of the night was yet another example of Why Bands Tour--to find link-minded people in different cities. One such dude was Shane from Swear Jar, who shares my love for noisy punk rock, snark, and calling bullshit on most of the lightweight, MOR nonsense that passes for "indie rock" these days. We were instant pals and i can't wait to drag these guys up to Wisconsin to play and hang out.
We had a minor designated driver incident tonight, as everyone thought someone else was the DD, which resulted in Yale willing himself sober enough to drive us to our friend Jonathan's house to stay the night. The designated driving--hell, the driving all tour--has been very unevenly distributed, and my resentment is starting to bubble out in all sorts of passive-aggressive ways. In Brooklyn as we were led to our friend Patrick's house, i cranked Reign in Blood in order to drown out the distracting, drunken jabber going on in the van. Because i've been trying to keep my body from wearing down while drumming two sets per night, i haven't been doing a lot of drinking on this tour, which suits me just fine, but results in the DD position defaulting to me a little more often than it should. It's been irritating, but so it goes.
Tonight, though, was not one of those nights, as the Southgate House parlour's bartender does not fuck around with the whiskey. The Jameson shots Dale bought us all were clearly doubles; still, i slammed mine in one go, much to the protestation of my gag reflex. Screw you, body, you're going to take this rapid-fire inebriation and like it. For once on this tour, anyway. After all, writing Yelp reviews is the most fun when drunk, i have just decided right now.