I got up Sunday morning a few minutes before six and was on a plane to Pittsburgh by 8:30am. I was inside the train at noon. Since I am a journalist from VICE, someone put me to work right away, folding and organizing piles of clothes. Then I met up with the guys from Hypebeast, who are also coming along to cover the trip. They were setting up a video shoot with Eddie Huang inside the train, so I offered to sit outside the door and stop Station to Station crew from barging in while the cameras were rolling. That seemed like more fun than folding. Once that wrapped up, I barely had time to take a shower and shove a piece of pizza down my throat before doors opened for the Pittsburgh party.
The Station to Station event was in the main lobby of our Amtrak station. The place was huge and ornate. Thurston Moore was set to perform, along with Ariel Pink, No Age, and YOSHIMIO, who played at the New York event, too. But I spent most of my night exploring the train. I missed Thurston Moore’s set because I was hanging out in the two-story dining car with a whip-cracker named Chris. But I got to watch Thurston try on jeans in the Levi’s® train car. That was better than the show itself.
The Levi’s® car has a typewriter from 1901 that is somehow able to tweet whatever you type. There are old cameras that shoot Instagram photos and Instagram videos. And a Gibson hollowbody electric guitar from the 50s that will upload whatever you play to Soundcloud. It’s all very futuristic.
Everyone on the train has a leather wristband with a microchip sewn inside. Wave your wrist over the guitar or the typewriter or the camera, and it will automatically sync with your accounts. My New Age-y mother once told me that wearing a watch is bad because the magnets mess with your chi. I’m sure she would have something to say about my microchip wristband. I’ll try to avoid mentioning it to her.
The Levi’s® car is my home, but there’s also a recording studio car, a video editing car, a double-decker dining car, and a caboose built mostly of windows and full of overstuffed chairs. Thurston and Ariel Pink were holed up in the recording studio car a few days ago. For a full recording studio compressed inside a tiny train car, the music is sounding great. Ariel was listening to some rough mixes and I happened to grab a few seconds on video with my iPhone.
The Pittsburgh after party inside the train started before the event fully wrapped up. It kept going all night. Ariel Pink stuck his tongue out at me and later, a bunch of cops in bulletproof vests walked through, but they were maybe the nicest guys I’ve ever met. They were looking for an excuse to check out the train. By the time I passed out, it was just about time for me to wake up and start the train trek to Chicago.
We got pulled out of the station by 9:30am and didn’t arrive in Chicago until after 6pm. I was underslept and could have found a corner to curl up and sleep the entire trip away, but I couldn’t bring myself to do it. Thurston Moore might have been putting on shirts in the train car next to me. Didn’t want to miss that.
To check out the rest of the collaborations and contributors, go to http://levi.com/makeourmark