Sunday, September 2, 2018

come hear uncle john's band

At the end of July, Mrs. Pincus and I went to the three-day XPoNetial Music Festival (remember the story about the ridiculous parking situation?). Besides hearing some great music and eating free ice cream samples, we were able to snag some other free stuff from a variety of vendors who set up informational booths every year. In order to build brand awareness (that there's a marketing term), these businesses and services offer free bag clips, ball-point pens, reusable shopping bags and magnets — all emblazoned with company logos. Among the local businesses are several concert venues offering free tickets to the winners of a lucky spin of a wheel (like those seen at carnivals... but not rigged. At least, I think they're not rigged). One year, I won a pair of admission tickets to see something billed as "Extreme Midget Wrestling," which I attended by myself... on my 53rd birthday, no less. Last year, we won tickets to see Father John Misty. We passed those on to my son and his girlfriend. We also won tickets to a performance by a Philadelphia-based band called Box of Rain, who offer a tribute to beloved hippie jam band, The Grateful Dead. Despite my wife's love for all (most) things Grateful Dead, tribute bands are where she draws the line. With no desire to attend this show, we asked around at the festival if anyone wanted the tickets. We had no takers. Mrs. Pincus posted an offering for the tickets on Facebook and received the internet equivalent of crickets in response. The date of the show came and went and suddenly the tickets transformed into bookmarks.

This year, we won more tickets. This time, to shows we will actually attend. In a few weeks, we will see surf guitar legend Dick Dale, who I was shocked to hear he is still alive. I saw Dick Dale almost a decade ago and he looked like he was standing on death's doormat. Hopefully the 81-year old will make it to August 16. We also won tickets to see folk icon Arlo Guthrie in October and crooner Rufus Wainwright in December. In addition, once again, we were blessed with a pair of tickets to see Box of Rain.

Again, we asked around at the festival to try and ... er... unload them. No one appeared interested. Even our friends Cookie and Consuelo politely declined. Surprisingly, Cookie, a veteran of numerous Dead shows and a lover of live music, was just not interested. I guess I understand, though. Tribute bands are a tricky sell. You either like them and appreciate their place in the hierarchy of music or you flat out have no time or patience for them. I find myself in the camp of the latter. (Remember my Queen tribute band experience? I sure do.) 

So, when we got home late Sunday evening, Mrs. P put out a plea on Facebook to take these tickets off our hands. The very next day, she got an inquiry from a friend, a young lady nearly twenty years our junior, but a Dead Head just the same... just a little late to the party. She expressed interest in the tickets with a caveat - she needed a date. A few hours later, she replied with her regrets. She could not find anyone who wished to accompany her to the show. So, Mrs P's Facebook post remained.

Early Saturday morning — the day of the Box of Rain show — Mrs. Pincus got a Facebook message asking if the tickets were still available. Indeed they were. The interested party — Sheila, whom we do not know — said she would love them and asked how she could get them. Mrs. P explained where we live and made it pretty clear to Sheila that she would have to pick them up. Sheila lives in Vineland, New Jersey. Box of Rain's show was at the TLA, a venue on Philadelphia's South Street. Throw our Elkins Park residence into the equation and you have a perfect, totally-inconvenient triangle. Mrs. Pincus told Sheila that the tickets would be in an envelope taped to our front door. As promised, I put the tickets in an envelope, drew some Grateful Dead-ish pictures on the front and taped it to our front door. The rest was up to Sheila.

A few hours later, Mrs. P's Facebook messenger signaled an incoming message. It was from Sheila. She sent this picture of the envelope and a word of thanks. 

Mrs. P acknowledged the message and we thought that would be the end of it. It wasn't.

A few hours later, Sheila sent another picture. It was a stage bathed in trippy purple light with a backdrop of some fractal pattern of something suitably psychedelic. Evidently, she was at the TLA and the stage was set for a night of Grateful Dead tributing. I suppose it was nice that Sheila was keeping us abreast of the evening's activities, but, honestly, if we wanted to know what was going on at the show, we would have gone ourselves. And we obviously weren't interested in doing that. 

Click for video, if you must.
Soon, we got anot her message - this time a short video. Mrs. P politely acknowledged it, something I would not have done, but she is nice and I am not. I figure any acknowledgement will only encourage Sheila to sent more highlights of a show we had no desire to go to, but my wife, as we have already established, is the nicest person who ever lived. Mrs. P replied with an "I'm jealous LOL. Have a good time. Glad you could use the tickets." I would have hit "delete" and moved on, but that's me.

The video was the last message for a while. Later in the evening, Mrs. P received a picture of both sides of a flyer that was handed out at the end of Box of Rain's performance, making patrons aware of another Grateful Dead cosplay event occurring every Sunday at a bar in South Jersey. Guess where we won't be going...

Sheila's messages soon stopped. We were just happy that someone was able to use the tickets and enjoy themselves. But, we really could have done without the play-by-play.

Next time, we'll just be happy with new bookmarks.

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