Pittsburgh, road trip to see Kristen Hersh (of Throwing Muses fame).

This past weekend, Chris and I decided to go on a Memorial Day weekend adventure and take a roadtrip to Pittsburgh, PA to see Kristen Hersh (of Throwing Muses fame). It was a 9 1/2 hour non-stop drive, but we broke it up into 2 days on the way down. The first day of the drive was pretty pleasant although it was 90 degrees outside. We were kinda dissapointed to find that many of the pit stops alongside 87 had very little in the way of vegetarian options or anything healthy–it was lots of KFC and a weird burger joint called “Fuddruckers” which brings to mind all kinds of nasty thoughts. C’mon, is it too much to ask for a veggie sandwich? or at least a Starbucks? So we mainly subsisted on french fries and ice cream–and on the rare occasion that a Starbucks WAS spotted, iced coffee.

Our first night was spent in Dunkirk NY. It wasn’t too far from the PA border and didn’t have much going for it except for a couple little known vineyards (here is an odd fact–there were a ton of vineyards past the Buffalo exit and into Erie PA–rows and rows of them! I didn’t picture out there being any sort of “wine country” but I guess it is, FYI). We did nab a super-cheap and comfy hotel room at the Comfort Inn and it was a good break for driving. The hotel was really nice with a huge room which was even more of shock

Day 2 of our trip was pouring rain, which left us bummed because we were hoping to stop over in Erie and see (one of) the Great Lakes. We stopped anyway just to say we saw it. The rain didn’t allow us much time to experience Erie, but it seemed like a pretty neat place.

Pittsburgh was about 2 hours south of Erie, and I was surprised to find it nestled into the mountains. I guess I imagined Pittsburgh more of a flat city, like New York. Our hotel for the night was on the South Side of Pittsburgh. Two things can be said about “da South side”–the good thing was that it was only a block away from the concert venue to see Kristen. The bad thing was that the rest of it was a pit. Pardon the pun, but the South Side must’ve been what put the “Pitt” in Pittsburgh. I hear that people say Pittsburgh is pretty cool, and I’m sure other parts of it our beautiful so to be fair I won’t say that the south side represented it as a whole. We didn’t see a whole lot of the rest of the city.

Before the concert we grabbed a quick drink at a cool cafe across the street (Cafe Allegra). The performance venue, Club Cafe, was very small–not much bigger than a strip-mall Starbucks (what is it with my Starbucks references? I’m not that huge a fan of them!) I would say by the time the concert started, a little less than a hundred people were there. We got good seats which allowed us to be just a few feet from the stage. We ended up sitting next to some very nice people, including a hilarious woman from Southern France who was jumping and screaming and going wild! She was tons of fun.

It was a fun concert–the group that opened for her was actually the string duo that performed on her new solo album, The McCarricks. They had a really interesting visual show playing in the background while they rocked it out on the cello and violin. (check them out at http://www.houseofmccarrick.com). The McCarricks then joined Kristen on stage with the drummer and guitarist from her “side project” band, 50 foot wave.

You’d imagine that the idea of a solo album featuring a string quartet would make Kristen have a more subdued sound, but she was still her gritty, raw, badass self. She played for about and hour and a half and the crowd really dug her–it was nice being in such an intimate place with Kristen fans.

After the concert we walked back to the hotel and had drinks at the bar–we didn’t want to chance walking around the rest of the South Side late at night.

The next morning we decided to head on the LONG ride home and along the way:

1. We stopped at the Grove City Outlets. They were the most outlet stores I’d even seen in one place–well over a hundred in one area!

2. We stopped at a Perkins restaurant in a scary small town that eerily reminded us of the movie Fargo. We overheard the longest argument in history about tartar sauce. Here is a snippet of the bickering we heard, which went well over 30 minutes: (“I Asked for just a sandwich and they put all this dang tartar sauce on it”. “Well, they put sauce on everything nowadays, that’s just how it is!”, “How damn hard is it to have NO sauce on somethin’, for cryin out loud? They outta TELL you for goodness sakes if they’re gonna put sauce on it!”, “Well next time just TELL them you don’t want sauce, OK??”, “But I shouldn’t HAVE to worry about if they’re gonna put sauce on stuff, I should just get what I ASK for!!”). You can imagine the rest. Yikes!! We ate our omelettes and hightailed it outta there.

We got stuck in the rain for most of the remainder of our journey, but viewing the thunderstorms from above when we where on hogback mountain were a sight to behold–if it hadn’t been so late at night we would’ve tried to take pictures.

That was the end of our mini roadtrip–and we didn’t even argue over the roadmap like two old fuddy-duddies! Hope everyone else had a great memorial day weekend!

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