Tour Story: Species Being Pacific Northwest Tour Spring 2001
Here's the poop on this little trip:
Frank came by my house around midnight on Wednesday, the 21st, and we were going
to head up to Seattle during the course of the evening. The lineup for this tour
was me, Frank, Eli, and Mitch. Mitch was flying in from NYC this evening,
and due to a delayed flight, he wasn't ready yet. So we took our time repacking
the mini-van, and then headed on out to Berkeley to find Eli a beer and wait for
Mitch to call on Frank's cell phone.
Beer for Eli was nowhere to be found, and word from Mitch was nowhere to be heard
until around 1:30, when he called from his rehearsal space in SF. So we headed on
over the bridge to get him and his equipment, and hit the road around 2:00am.
A bit behind schedule, but whatever. Right away Mitch announced he was going to
actually move to NYC in a couple weeks due to a sudden job offering falling into
his lap, so these would be the last shows with this lineup.
Zooming past Sacramento, Frank got snagged by the police going 80 mph. The cop was
really nice actually. He knew right away we were a touring band ("You guys
gigging?" he asks) but we're all relatively clean-cut and Frank is permanently
sober. After checking his eyes for recent marijuana/alcohol use, he told us to
slow down and that was that. Thanked him and our lucky stars and headed back
I dozed off for a bit in the shotgun seat as Frank got us near the Oregon
border and I took over as the sun rose beyond the pass. Forcing myself to
stay awake listening to Doctor Nerve, I got us halfway into the
state before stopping at a redneck diner for cheap eats and a
much needed tooth-brushin'.
I slept in the back until Portland, then we were all awake and getting
excited as we approached Seattle, though we got stuck in pre-rushhour traffic.
Hit the Rainbow club, which we played a year ago, loaded in, then went to
the University strip to hang out for a bit, shopping CD and thrift stores,
putting up Sleepytime Gorilla Museum flyers (since Frank will be
back next week playing shows in the area), and just plain killing time.
We summed up this little outing with a dinner of delicious vegan Thai food.
Back to the club, we met various members of the two opener bands, all
of which were really nice people. Frank and I took a walk back to the
main strip to find a deck of cards so we could play Palace (the card
game that occupied most of our free time during the October '00 tour).
The first opener was a semi-large instrumental funk band with horns,
mono-key jams, drum solos and the like. The second band, young dudes
from Boise (who imported a crowd of friends and family who travelled
all the way to see them), were all over the post-Dead hippie-funk trip,
and even covered a Phish tune. Boy were these not the bands to open
up for us.
Nevertheless, we played a great show (one of my favorites), and the people
who watched it (including a couple who actually bought the CD and purposefully came to
see us) were really into it. But due to the relatively lame draw we only
got about $40 for our troubles.
We had a house with many sleeping surfaces down in Portland, so we loaded on
out, and headed south on I-5. Once again while Frank was driving, we spotted
flashing lights behind us as a police car approached. After cussing and
preparing to pull over, the car flew past us. Phew.
Got to what will be our homestead for the next two days around 4:00am.
Who lives here? Julie, Lara, Jamie, and Francis. Frank met Julie when
we played in Kalamazoo and she just moved to the area. That was the
whole connection to this place. I claimed a futon on the floor and crashed to sleep.
Friday morning we bummed around non-downtown Portland, getting delicious brunch
(biscuits with almond gravy.. Mmmm..), browsing antique shops, etc. Friday
afternoon we hung back at the homesteads with our gracious hosts, playing
darts, cards, guitar, or napping. Beautiful day, nice backyard and shit.
Loaded into the club, the Medicine Hat. Tonight we were playing with two
bands which matched us pretty well, the Cosmos Group and the
Opera Cycle. Due to weird scheduling with the local bands, they
both wanted to go on first and second, convincing us the draw will pick
up at the end of the night anyway. Fair enough.
Got dinner down the street at the hip and delightfully titled Chez What?
Sat at the counter and we all got meat or non-meat burgers. Before long I
realized our waitress was the drummer of the Nearly Deads who I
played a show with back in January. Small world.
Played Palace at the Medicine Hat, drinking my one allotted beer (as
opposed to the usual three or four) which could only be cheap domestic beer
or it'd cost me $2 extra. Yum. The local bands were really good in
their different ways. But that was really the only plus for the evening.
The main issue: the sound just plain sucked. I heard it sounded good out in
the house, but doing improvisational composition when you can't hear the
other musicians (or hear them way too much) is uninspiring to say the
least. A secondary issue: as expected since the local draw already saw the two
local bands, the place cleared immediately.
Still, I got an earful of compliments from those who stayed about
my rippin' bass chops. Nobody bought CDs, and the girl who booked
the show arrived after everyone left and handed us $33. Supposedly
the doorman said there were 18 paying people and 10 guests. There
were well over 50 people in the club at its peak, beyond band and
staff. And entrance to the club was a whopping $7.
I'm not saying the doorman was stealing any money, though
this a common practice I'm unfortunately familiar with and, well,
you do the math. This is what it's really like to be a rock star, people.
And by the way, this show was made even worse the next night when
we discovered that Frank lost his stick bag and nobody at the Medicine Hat club
said they saw it anywhere.
Saturday involved more sleep and bumming around downtown Portland,
looking for drum supplies which weren't bought since they were
way overpriced, getting more yummy Thai food, spending an hour at
Powell's, and then heading back to the house to meet Mitch (who
was skateboarding with a friend all afternoon).
Mitch arrived with some pain in his wrist and ribs having a bit of a fall
during his outing. We split to the Meow Meow, and by that point Mitch
couldn't carry any equipment with his left hand. By soundcheck,
he couldn't even wrap his hand around the guitar neck, and played
it like a lap steel.
He iced it over dinner (at a delicious Mediterranean restaurant
around the corner - man, we ate well this tour) and took some
pain killers back at the club. Luckily we were on first.
Anyway, here I was back at the Meow Meow, one again playing first
on a bill with many bands that didn't fit well with us at all.
There was a slightly better and more responsive crowd than when
Mumble & Peg was here a couple months ago. This was also
probably our best show of the tour, even with Mitch constrained
to minimal ambient textures. Todd, who runs the whole show there,
was incredibly nice, and we got our thirty some odd bucks and
loaded on out before the second band got on.
Searched in the rain for an unlocked dumpster to throw away
all the garbage collected in the van, said goodbye to our hosts
in the street who made our stay completely comfortable and easy,
and headed on out for another long drive through the night.
Stayed up way late yapping with Frank about politics and getting
drive-thru fast food. Had an unsettling quest for an open gas station in the
middle of nowhere while running on empty. We ended up at the
same gas station with the same middle-of-the-night attendant
who pumped our gas as the last time I drove back from the northwest.
He must only get bands making their way home to SF at this
time on a Saturday night.
I got to drive during sunrise over Shasta Lake, and then through
the really boring parts of I-5. Dropped off Eli first in the city,
and then me in Oakland. Got in around 10:00am and somehow managed
to stay awake the remainder of the day. Went to work completely
brain dead the following day.