Strange Times with
The State Department

This Sunday, local post-punk bad boys The State Department will be bringing their special blend of madness to the Black Cat, where they open for garage rockers Gringo Star. Some new material is in the works, but in the meantime, guitarist Patrick Kigongo took a minute to reflect on the strange and wonderful times past. Fear and loathing optional, chaos and destruction likely.

I had no idea that being a guitarist in a rock band would cause so much trouble…

 “Lost Dranks”
In January 2010, we played a show in Pittsburgh that went unexpectedly well. Even better, we met a group of very friendly girls who invited us to crash at their place. We decided to celebrate, so we purchased a case of 40s for the after-party. Everything was lining up perfectly. (Though, en route, [vocalist] Mike [Medlock] managed to run over a sapling in front of a cop!)

But somehow, between loading out our equipment and getting to the house, the beers vanished. Tires were kicked, fingers were pointed, heated language was exchanged, but we never found the beers. The party turned out fine, but we were befuddled at what happened to all those Mickeys and OEs… The next morning we found quite the surprise while preparing to drive back to DC. There were the 40s, hidden underneath a coat and the (flat) spare tire!

The State Department | Bon Vivant

“Don’t Carry Me Back to West Virginie”
We drove to Morgantown play a house party with fellow DCers Loose Lips. At the last minute, the hosts got cold feet, so the show was moved twice before we finally found a place to play . We found ourselves in an old bungalow that had rickety floorboards and was chock full of BROS.

It was a nightmare playing in there; dodgy wiring, guys in rugby shirts running into each other, beer cans flying. It didn’t help that I wore a PITT (WVU’s arch rival) t-shirt given to me by the girls we’d stayed with in Pittsburgh. What happened after the show? Errrr, basically unprintable. It was that insane on every level. We don’t even talk about it at band practice or in the car, it’s that bad.

“Microphone Theft, One Two—What is This?”
After playing at Lit Lounge in Manhattan’s East Village, we found ourselves face to face with a very pissed off English soundman. He’d been in a prickly mood ever since we arrived for load-in. But now he was foaming at the mouth. Apparently “someone stole a vocal mic.” It wasn’t us, and it certainly wasn’t (despite their bad boy looks) the guys in Byrds of Paradise. After many accusations and frantic searching, it turned out that the soundguy had misplaced the mic. Dickhead.

“Hot Hot Heat”
During a show in an unventilated living room in July 2010, our previous drummer, Nick Valcourt, began slowing down tempos and playing rather erratically. We figured that he, like the rest of us, was a bit drunk and maybe a bit warm.  Turns out he was actually succumbing to heat exhaustion.  When we finished trudging through a cover of the Velvet Underground’s “Waiting for the Man,” he collapsed. He was immediately dragged outside and given water and a small portable fan. In retrospect, we probably should’ve kept the windows open. Whoops.

The State Department | Waiting for the Man

 “Crash Boom Bang!”
In a stroke of good luck, we were asked to headline the second-to-last night of BYT’s vitaminwater uncapped LIVE! And on the night of the concert, good luck became great luck when a sudden torrential downpour scuttled most peoples’ plans of leaving early. As a result, we got to play to a pretty full room.  Within a minute of the first song, Mike had tossed the microphone stand off the stage. I could only look in horror as the ceramic base shattered against the floor.  It was going to be chaos. But yeah, the next thirty minutes were wild as hell.

We strutted and sweated our way through what was probably one of our best shows. It should be noted that Mike jokingly thanked every single one of vitaminwater’s competitors—Powerade, Gatorade, Skinny Water, etc.—during gaps in the set. (We later found out that some folks were very displeased with our singer’s sense of humor, never mind the shattered mic stand.) During the screeching wall of feedback at the end of the last song, Mike swan dived into Aaron Baird’s drum kit à la Kurt Cobain.  What a way to start the summer!

What havoc will they wreack Sunday? We shall see…

Photo by Sara Nabizadeh

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