Sidebar: What’s that sound a horse makes? Not a whinny but when they are just doing a horse version of a deep sigh. Every time on this trip we told someone we were playing in Northwich, they responded with absolute certainty and confidence, “You mean Norwich.”
We did not.
Northwich is a town so small that the vast majority of English citizens we met didn’t even know it exists. For reference, it would be like a British band coming to the states and saying, “We’re playing Friday night in Pittsboro.”
“Oh, you mean Pittsburgh”
*deep horse sigh* “No. I mean Pittsboro.”
For as long as this band has toured, I’ve always sung the praises of playing small towns. Big cities require logistics and always involve complications and the shows just feel less personal in my own personal experience. I know many of my colleagues have had different experiences, but mine have always driven me to the suburbs and hidden gems of the states. Something about small town life brings out a level of confidence in people that allows them to engage with performers and artists before, after and even during their performance. Everything Veseria has built has been balanced on the backbone of our small-town circuit in the Midwest.
In Northwich, we would be sharing a bill with self-described “death folk” trio, The King’s Pistol at the hole-in-the-wall rock club, The Salty Dog. As far as we could tell, it was one of two businesses open in town after 9:00pm (the other being the local McDonald’s). Naturally, as dusk fell the locals instinctively spilled into their watering hole and the bartenders began their familiar ritual of pouring beer after beer from old cask pump taps.
A last minute addition to the bill, James Kitchen of Seegulls took the stage first with solo acoustic versions of songs we had heard just a few days prior in Liverpool. His songs packed as much power in this subdued, intimate form as they did being backed by his four bandmates. Next up was our new local friends in The King’s Pistol. The raw aggression of their lyricism and modern take on folk melodies sent a wave of boot-stomping raucous energy through the crowd. It’s always intimidating following an act like that – especially on their home turf. Ending their set with a wall of sound that more closely resembled the final note of a Metallica concert than what you would expect from a folk trio, my hands began to shake and my stomach grew uneasy.
We refilled our beers and took the stage, By the end of our second song, “Let’s Burn Some Bridges”, there was almost no chance of knowing where the band ended and the audience began. We pushed harder and they returned our fury tenfold. We responded in kind and the cycle continued. By the end of our final song, a wild and completely out-of-control adaptation of “Helter Skelter”, the air was thick with sweat and smelled like everyone had sweat the beer in their bellies out of their skin. As a rock musician, this is everything you hope for in a show: the push and the pull. A band, not of four, but of a hundred. You create a bond with everyone in the room because for a moment they were no longer spectators, but active participants. We ended our night with more drinks and laughs. Tomorrow will be our final day in this country. Our spirits are high and our hearts are full.