Punk songs are famously short, usually two minutes or less. The drive from NYC to Nashville is about 14 hours. How much punk rock can one pack into that much time? You do the math.
Brooklyn-based punk poppers Thick are infamous for the whirlwind of chaos they bring to their shows. It doesn’t matter how packed or empty the venue is, Thick always has at least one member of their girl gang moshing carefree in the crowd. Yes, that person is sometimes me. I mean, they literally have a song called “Party With Me,” where they scream, “just take your clothes off and party with me”—who can resist going crazy to that?
Their infectious tunes will have you coming to from a black-out already head-banging. I suppose it could be a love/hate relationship, especially if you have neck problems, but for any true punk rocker, it’s strictly love.
These girls somehow convinced me to join them Friday night on their drive to Nashville, Tennessee (again, that’s 14 hours) to catch them play the Fort Houston Birthday Bonanza and be back to NYC by Sunday (again, another 14 heckin’ hours on the road, a total of around 28 hours). It sounds more like a suicide mission, but at the time I didn’t even hesitate to say yes.
We left NYC around 8 p.m. Friday and arrived to Nashville around 10 a.m. Saturday—just a few hours before load-in. The delirious night drive was a recipe for some interesting times and storytelling. We learned that frontwoman Nicole Sisti will most likely say yes to even a bizarre Twin Peaks-like situation as long as it dangles the possibility of a good time ( let’s just say the moral of that story is don’t accept prunes from a stranger …). We got spooked by a supposedly true story about an escaped mental patient posing as a neighborhood nightwatch woman and killing people. And we discovered that the key to staying up all night isn’t drugs or energy drinks; it’s chocolate-covered espresso beans. So overall, it wasn’t a bad drive.
We were all bursting with energy upon arriving in Nashville—probably because of the espresso beans, but maybe also from excitement. Even I wasn’t ready to stop and I had driven the graveyard shift from 3 a.m. ‘till sunrise. Bassist Kate Black whipped us up some breakfast tacos and we discovered that though we’ve all been to Nashville before, the friends we visit are apparently too hip to take us to the tourist hotspots. So we hopped back into the car and headed for downtown Broadway.
The swelteringly hot day gave way to hundreds of sweaty tourists on the popular strip of bars and venues of Nashville and we were part of it. Maybe it was delirium from lack of sleep and excessive caffeine, but we had a blast and landed in one of the most famous bars of Nashville, Tootsie’s.
One of the bartenders complimented us on being the only people he’s seen for days in Converse and Vans sneakers before telling the history behind Tootsie’s, one of the first honky-tonks in Nashville. Once the go-to place for convicts, biker gangs and whiskey drinking cowboys, today it’s one of the most tourist-packed bars on Broadway.
We drank our margs and played a quick card game of “shithead” before heading to load-in at Fort Houston in a much hipper part of town. We ate some food and watched Katie Schecter sing her sultry melodies and Dan Luke & The Raid rock out on stage while the exhaustion started to kick in.
But we didn’t let it sink in too deep—the girls had a show to play.
Thick played to a crowd roasting in the sun. “Hey, we’re Thick from Brooklyn, New York,” Sisti shouted to the crowd before kicking off the raw punk rock. No one would’ve guessed we were all running on only a wink of sleep. Like I said, I can’t help but let myself get caught up in the Thick of it all and I was front and center head-banging and singing along to lines like, “last night I drank too much, and I think I fucked it up.” I may have frightened a few Nashville folks in cowboy hats in the crowd, but it was 1,000 percent worth it.
I manned the merch table for a bit after their set. And by manned I mean I laid across the table using their band shirts as a pillow … I do not recommend moshing on zero hours of sleep, but again, I don’t regret a thing.
After my little disco nap on the merch table, I was amazingly able to conjure up energy that lasted me until around 3 a.m. Fellow musicians and friends Diarrhea Planet played after the sun went down as we thrashed in the mosh pit. No idea where that third wind came from but we didn’t question this gift of energy from the rock ‘n’ roll gods. (I swear I’m not even referencing drugs, it truly was a miracle.) I even got recruited for a song to sit on Diarrhea Planet guitarist Evan Bird’s shoulders while he walked around the crowd playing.
The Thick girls and I reconvened outside the crowd after Diarrhea Planet’s set to truly revel in this surprising set of survival skills we didn’t know we had. We didn’t even slow down for Twen or JEFF The Brotherhood. We moshed our little hearts out and managed to even keep dancing at the after party.
At 8 a.m. we got up and started our 14-hour trip back to NYC.
Even after this wild and sleepless weekend, these punk rockers are releasing a brand new album and playing their release show on May 24. You’d think we’d all need at least a month of sleep after that, but nope—come out to see the eighth wonder of the world that is Thick.