Friday, July 3, 2009

The First Leg of the "Tour"

On Tuesday, at about 8am, we finished up a little 3 day tour of Redding, Sonoma and Seattle (yes we drove all the way up to Seattle and back. Yes, we are aware that that is a little stupid. haha) and it went really well.

Thursday night and Friday morning Rob and I spent all of our time printing shirts (the first new shirts we’ve had for the band in about 5 years) at our good friends Nic and Casey Ramirez’s screen printing shop. They were both separately dispersed in Asia on work related things, so we were left to try and make sure we didn’t destroy their whole setup in the effort to create these shirts. Rob and I eventually worked out a system that worked pretty well. But it still took a good 8 or so hours in all. Straight from there I hit up a taco truck and then went home to take care of some things before the first jaunt of this trip. While finding directions and taking care of this and that on my Macbook while eating a burrito and drinking a bottled water, in an extreme act of physical idiocy I tipped the bottled water over on my computer. I wiped the water off and seemed to make a quick recovery, but seconds after the water was taken care of, my computer screen looked like the background of some kind of Nintendo NES game. Pixilated as hell. As I write this I’m also taking care of making an appointment at the apple store to meet with one of those overpriced “Genius” sessions. I didn’t have to much time to get overly concerned though because it was time to meet up with the rest of the gang and head to Redding in Bob’s mom’s van that she let us borrow. It was time for our first road trip to begin.

The Downtown Eatery in Redding is the best place to have started this whole thing. Maxwell, the booker, provided us with a room to crash in right above the venue and was super cool to hang out with and talk music with. They gave us a bunch of free food and drink which was awesome and we got a heads up on some delicious pumpkin coconut bread. If this was how every venue treated bands it would always be a very warm and inviting atmosphere. It’s not though, The Downtown Eatery totally spoiled us, and for that we’re very thankful. We will definitely play there in the future. It’s only 3 hours away also, so it could even happen in the foreseeable future.

We woke up on Saturday and drive back to Napa to straighten some things out and get a little R&R before playing The Shop and heading straight to Seattle. It was one of those situations where you have everything mapped out in my head and I had planned on getting some rest before the Sonoma show and a long night/morning of driving, but it never works out that way. I was getting directions and just doing all the boring stuff to get ready and needless to say, a nap was never had.
Having grown up in Napa (right next door to the home of The Shop, Sonoma) I had heard of The Shop but had never been mostly due to a lot of pop punk bands playing there, which I’ve never been in to, and just being somewhat ignorant of any kind of local scene. It’s a very cool place though. It’s run by high schoolers that are some of the coolest high schoolers I've seen in a while (and I should know, I work with high schoolers at the Boys and Girls Club in the Napa Valley, which is in no way connected to anything on this blog. My boss would appreciate me saying that so that I don’t soil the good name of the BGCNV). They all run the venue together and as students come into high school and then graduate the cast of people running it just rotates. There are adults that oversee things a little, but from what I understand, it seems like the teens are given a lot of freedom to book the bands they want and run things how they see fit. I think every small town should have something like this (wink wink to the powers that be in Napa).

The show went well though, which featured ourselves, Cloverleaf Drive, Body or Brain (which we missed unfortunately due to already being on the road to Seattle. Good guys though) and Nana de Carlo (The best high school band in Napa by far if you ask me). At the last song of Nana de Carlo’s set Taylor (drummer in Body Or Brain) and I, per request of the Carlo gents, jumped on stage midway to add percussion and, what to me, felt like a shitload of energy. I worked up just as much of a sweat in that 2 minutes as I did the entirety of our set earlier that night. Rob came on stage with us to capture it on film. Should be pretty funny to watch. Stay tuned for that. Haha. After that though we headed back to Napa to get a little food and a sweet merch tablecloth of sorts that our good friend Adam Dickenson made for us on short notice. Now the trip to Seattle lay before us and o’ what an exhausting ride it was.

At 11:00 we took of from Napa, with me behind the wheel to backtrack over the same route that we drive to Redding and then onward to Oregon and Seattle. The drive was pretty painless at first and got increasingly more intense due to fatigue and really uncomfortable sleeping conditions for those that weren’t driving. I gave up the wheel in Ashland Oregon to Bob and he gave up the wheel to Rob a little ways into Seattle. Once we got there we discovered that it was the day of the Gay Pride Parade in Seattle (in my head this was strictly a San Francisco thing, but I guess these parades are held far and wide across the land at this point in time). We picked up my cousin Kara near the parade and went back to her apartment where the 3 of us proceeded to take a nap before the show. Eventually after waking we made our way to The Comet (but not before buying Rick James album Street Songs at a record store down the street) where our show was going to be. We met the fine gentlemen of Punch, The Royal Bear and Heatwarmer and before you could say drag queen, we were playing on stage.

( SIDE NOTE: While Oregon gets points for having no sales tax, points are also deducted for having no self-serve at gas stations )

The crowd was great. To my knowledge a lot of them were Heatwarmer’s people and they brought a great energy to things. We played solidly and the crowd responded by clapping (!), dancing (!!) and singing (!!!). At this point, any apprehensions I had about driving that far to play one single show were gone and I got that warm fuzzy feeling inside (this could have been due to ODing on Red Bulls as well).

While Heatwarmer played after us, I noticed that the live sound engineer had taken the (much appreciated) liberties of adding some live dub effects to their sound. Being a former live sound man myself I went over to compliment him and he told me that he had been doing the same thing for us (much of the time whole you’re onstage these things can be very hard to tell, but more apparent from an audience perspective). This was really cool to hear since we’re all three fans of dub music. A very select few bands have someone that does live effects to the rest of the musicians onstage, but more often then not, this kind of thing happens in the recording studio, not so much live. It was cool to hear that this engineer (whose name slips my mind) could hear in our music that we would be down for some dubage to be imparted on us and go ahead and make us sound a bit more interesting.

After the show we completely randomly ran into Bob’s old roommate Chris from SF and proceeded to follow him and his friends in their drunken excitement to his buddy’s apartment. We climb up a ladder (praying to god that a drunken person didn’t fall down and completely break themselves, or fall on one of us) to the roof and got a really great panoramic view of the city. After that we headed back to Kara’s apartment and finally got decent sleep. The next day we hung out with my cousin and while she was at work we were shown the sites by her boyfriend Tim. Good times were had, but it translates better to actual experience as opposed to me trying to describe it right now.

After dinner we headed back to Napa with a strong start on the road, made more invigorating by hearing Rick James shout “Hell Yeah!” and the crowd yelling it right back at him…..about 50 times. We got back in Napa at 8am the next morning. I got a speeding ticket (90mph in a 65) about 4 hours before that. A bit of a damped, but oh well. I went back home and slept until 5pm. The first leg was a success.

PS: photos and music coming very soons, but seeing as my macbook is down, things are a little limited at the moment. Hope you all have a good holiday weekend. I don't feel as bad about being American as last year, so hopefully that's on the up. haha

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