The trip had began swimmingly and we were excited to play our first gig on the tour at the long time standing venue, The Nick. Our visit to Birmingham would be a special one because we were hosted by the man around town known as Chris Hilleke. Chris was a creatively unique individual with a heart of gold. Hyperdrive had the opportunity to meet Chris a few months back while working at the Moog Store in Asheville. He offered to put us up if we played Bham and now that time came, he was more than happy to oblige.
Chris’s apartment was right in the middle of the Five Points district and he made the most of showing us some of its most authentic spots. Growing up in the North, some southern cities like Birmingham can get a bad rep from its segregated history, but we were pleasantly surprised how tranquil the Five Points area was. There were plenty of heady little shops, international cuisine, and a handful of colorful homeless characters. Chris is a professional filmmaker and showed us some of his documentaries focused on the lives of a few of Birmingham’s notorious homeless individuals who walk the streets of Five Points. The films portrayed some of the dark sides of their lives, but it also showed vibrant displays of character and culture. He even showed us the beginning 20 minutes of his zany full-length feature that he was producing.
“The Nick” was a pretty bad ass dive bar venue and considered quite a monument in the Birmingham music scene. Bands like Widespread Panic, Red Hot Chili Peppers, and U2 have graced the stage dating back over the last 30 years. A huge American flag covered the entire backdrop of the stage and thousands of stickers from over the years covered every wall.
We had some time before sound check and the area around the Nick wasn’t welcome for exploring, so we decided to hit around the birdie in the parking lot. Some young neighborhood kids approached us and were intrigued by the rackets. That night we introduced these kids to the illustrious sport known as badminton.
Although the condition of the venue had seen better days, the sound quality was surprisingly warm and rich. The show went well and it was worth every moment entertaining the people who came out to see us, even the bartender who was throwing up in the bathroom before the set.
After the show, we hit the town hungry and checked out a late night bar with chicken coop wiring surrounding the front patio. They were notoriously known for delicious late night eats that begins when the kitchen open at 11 and doesn’t close until 5. We devoured our classic cheeseburgers and patty melts with delight while being entertained by the late night crowd of Birmingham.
Our final morning in Bham, we hit up an organic cafe/grocery store that seemed to be plucked straight outta’ West Asheville. We enjoyed easy morning vibes, fresh smoothies and necessary coffee along with some interesting conversations with the gang. It was a shame we had to leave Birmingham so quickly, it seemed there was much more the city had to offer and our host Chris wanted to continue to be our guide. But the show must go on, so off to Jackson, Mississippi we went.