Gary Numan is playing Detroit tonight. Did I mention we love Gary Numan? Did I mention that the booker tried to put us on this bill? Do I sound like a broken record? Well forgive me, but WE COULD HAVE PLAYED WITH GARY FUCKING NUMAN? Ah well, lets go with Plan B and just book us at the only dump in town that will take us. The good news is we are the gnarliest pack of ROAD RATS anyone's ever seen and we are here to ROCK THIS DUMP! I mean ROCK THIS TOWN. The night ends up great, Proto Martyr is a new band and the best band I've seen since the German Measles last year. The singer looks like an extra from River's Edge and gets cut off from the bar before they even play. They have a great song in which the lyrics consist of "I will not touch that screen. I will not have a drink! Jumbo-wo-wo-wos." A friend leans over and says "This song is about the dive bar Jumbo's he goes to every night and gets wasted and gambles all his money away on the touchscreen poker machine." Finally some real-deal shit. We love them. The Johnny Ill band are killer as well. The crowd is great, and just as it's time for us to start, Susanna's bass amp craps out and won't make a sound, EVEN though it was fine a second ago. (Tomorrow, when checking the amp, I will find that the sound guy accidentally turned off a switch we didn't know existed when he was plugging in the D.I. box we begged him not to use.) The sound guy decides it's too much of a hassle to borrow an amp and makes her go direct (this means her bass keyboard is just playing out of a tiny monitor and the house speakers in front of us), and with her bass in the monitor there are no vocals. But like I said earlier, this pack of ROAD RATS squeak the lid off this garbage can. After the show our guitarist, Eric, also unleashes some insane dance moves, one that skittles across the dance floor like upside down crab, and another I like to call 'Party-bot Meltdown," where he puts his legs inside his shirt and spins like a top. I Shoo Goo our air mattress and we go to sleep with our bed barely deflating to a soothing tiny "ssssssssssss" sound.
We start out the day Slo's BBQ (our favorite dinner spot) for breakfast. When you want something that sticks to your ribs and makes you want to climb back into your jammies and a nice satin-lined coffin, this is the place. We are nice and glazed for a long drive to Cleveland. We play at a nice club called Now That's Class, and are always treated well, the owner/booker was a touring musician who wanted to open a spot that "didn't treat bands like dirt." Well sir, you have succeeded. Another highlight is the food here, they buy a local guy's tamales and other various homemade Mexican treasures and serve them, as well as an incredible faux Philly cheese steak. While strolling the streets, we hear an angry street person shouting "Hey!" at us a few times in a scary tone. This begins a discussion about that when trying to get the attention of a stranger on a dark night on a creepy street, tone is everything. I suggest a more friendly and "fabulous" voice almost in the "heeyyy-girrrrll" kind of tone. We agree that instead of putting our heads down and quickening our pace, we'd actually stop. That tone alone is so inviting you'd be driven TOWARDS it. It sounds like you're going to talk about cool shoes and belts or something.
The show is okay, and we stay with a nice kid from one of the bands. He has to go to school early, and leaves me a key and gives me a tutorial on the alarm code and says to make ourselves at home and sleep as late as we want and is a gem. Before bed I notice curious notes around the house, and each one contains the same salutation: "Hey Pussies:..." e.g: "Hey Pussies: You can't leave the dirty knives in the sink. You have to RINSE them and put them in the dishwasher. If you can't handle this, maybe you should get your own and STICK THEM UP YOUR ASS!" Another one in the bathroom says "Hey Pussies: it's weird to shut the bathroom door when no one is in here, LEAVE IT OPEN!" Now I have to imagine this aggressive roomie frustratingly soiling pair after pair of pants before mustering the courage to knock on the door only to find it empty and being driven to leave this note.
Around 8 am (about four hours into slumber for a touring band, if you're lucky) some guy (the note author I'd imagine) hostilely tells us to get out because an inspector is coming to the apartment in a few hours. Our bullshit detectors are beeping so loud I can't concentrate, so we pack up and I turn on the shower and lock the bathroom door from the inside and we split. We go to the West Side Market and get the legendary Falafel and Egg Sandwich. Then we go lay in a beautiful waterfront park and try to play whiffle ball in the wind. Eric becomes aggressive and gives birth to the term "Whiffle Creep."
The party is a pretty sad sight—a deep, dark, cocaine den of inequity, and the jaw-grinding and chattering and eyeballs poppin' out is pretty grim. But it's also pretty impressive for a Tuesday. Errand Boy wants to stay, and graciously gives us his keys and we split. Unfortunately, the squalor of his place has evolved into true hoarder-style horror. The guest room door is hard to push open, and is filled with old rotten half-full beer cans, dirty take-out containers and mold-filled margarita glasses. We flip a coin to either kill ourselves or get a hotel and the hotel wins out. When we leave, I look back to see a cat in the window, and the moonlight reflects off its single tear.
I've been booked in the Pits three times, and all three it's been decided to not even unload the van. Usually due to a Steelers game. So I don't think we've ever actually played here. The booker's a legendary nut, but I like him. Inside the Thunderbird Bar and Grill, when Beren asks if we get any food or drinks, he just says "NO" and stares straight back into her eyes until she moonwalks to the van to weep.
Nice club and nice folks and nice bands. Nice Nice Nice. While hastily shaving in the teeny bathroom, I shave off a small mole and have to sport a ’70s street cop toilet paper blood blotter all night since it won't stop bleeding. The show is fine (sadly neither ?uestlove nor the Walkmen come), and they let us sleep in the empty rooms above the club, but the catch is a guy has to let us out in the morning "at 11 sharp!" So we wake up and are all set when the guy calls and says he's running late' and "would you mind waiting until 1:45?" Uh, sit in a dank dark nightclub for three hours? Not really. "Oh okay, I guess you can just open the back door then and it'll lock behind you," he says. Not sure why this wasn't an option earlier. So we stock the van with the ATM machine, cash registers, and a couple kegs of beer and lock the door behind us. For breakfast, Eric gets a giant cheese steak that is one of the best things I've ever tasted in my life.
After a traffic nightmare getting into the city, we are blessed with a miracle parking spot that gives me more relief than a negative teenage pregnancy test. We get to putter around the Lower East Side, and everyone but me has a frantic Halloween costume-finding challenge. The Cake Shop is a cool little basement, and they always treat us well. The German Measles—one of our favorite bands—are playing, and they are a joy. McDonalds open the show, and they are awesome. The singer has an orange T-shirt that he's cut a jack-o-lantern into and his nipples pop out of the eye holes. I really like the beats and am excited to see them, but they're so awful I get the feeling they are stinking on purpose. Apparently someone's sister is now playing drums. (A relief, as last I heard this junkie girl who begged us to play a rooftop show last year and then ran off without paying us and wouldn't ever answer her phone again was their drummer). The sister had a funny look of mild disappointment and bewilderment the whole time. Our set is fun, though we change the set list, and I keep getting mixed up. After the hundredth eyeroll from the band, I say "for Halloween I'm a blind guy." Later, an incredulous Susanna asks why in the hell I said "BLACK GUY" and I realize why a couple of African American ladies had cringed at my stage banter.
With South Dakota under our belts, it was time to get on down the road. Next stop Minneapolis. Right before we left on this tour, our Minneapolis show got canceled and the booking agent had to quickly reschedule. The result was a PBR-sponsored event at a bowling ally called Memory Lanes. When we got there, the first band was loading onto stage and warming up. The situation was looking pretty good. We were getting a $350 guarantee (courtesy of PBR), and the stage was sitting right in the middle of the lanes! Balls would be wizzing by us while we ripped through a set of Western music. Not bad for a last-minute rescheduled show!
We killed some time with a nice game of air hockey.
Then we ran into THIS douche:
This guy didn’t care about our music and he wasn’t looking to broaden his horizons. More than anything he just wanted us to know that this was his drinking spot. We tolerated him out of respect, but quickly realized he was the neighborhood drunk and he wouldn’t go away unless we were firm. Sugar stepped into his regular role as band “asshole” and mumbled a few words that made him walk away. I’m not sure what he said, but I can guarantee you Sugar was a dick. He is good for these sorts of things.
We played a great set of music in the bowling alley and had a nice crowd of loyal fans. This wasn’t a rock star moment, but it was definitely a win. We did our thing, sold some merchandise, and made a new contact with Craig (the PBR rep). Craig said he might be able to hook us up with some future shows. We have a day off on Wednesday and the Rodeo despises days off. Craig said he might be able to help.
The next morning (Monday) was another drive and another show. Shows early in the week are hard to come by and I usually take whatever I can get. It’s best to hit a big city. We drove into Chicago and loaded into the Elbo Room. Honestly, the highlight of this stop was a slice of Gino’s pizza before our show. We did our thing and got the hell out of town. No gig money this stop. Rooms are too expensive in Chicago and I had found something cheap on Priceline.com in Joliet. We rolled in around midnight.
As I was checking into my room, another band pulled in right behind us. I was too tired to care and got to my room as fast as possible. As I was falling asleep, Sugar texted me to say he was doing his laundry with Willie Nelson’s drummer. No fucking way! Willie Nelson was staying in the same shitty hotel as us right here in Joliet, Illinois. Turns out Willie Nelson had played Joliet that night and this hotel was the only game in town. Crazy shit. I didn’t meet Willie and I’m not much for stalking country music legends. But I gotta say, there is something encouraging about the fact that Willie didn’t sleep any better than we did that night.
As we were hitting the road the next morning I got a call from Craig (the PBR rep). He had contacted his Kansas City counterpart Jessica and she was ready to help us out with our vacant Wednesday night. Within an hour Jessica had approached a number of venues (offering them free beer if they could hook us up) and she lined us up an opening slot on an existing bill. Hell yeah! I love it when new tour connections pay off immediately. To celebrate the good news, we stopped at Cracker Barrel for some breakfast and a game of checkers.
Next, we hoofed to St. Louis for a show with Frontier Ruckus at “Off Broadway." I don’t like to make excuses, but this was a Tuesday night which happened to be election night, which happened to follow a big party weekend (Halloween). We played to a couple of hardcore fans and some crickets. As we were loading out, I noticed my guitar had a big giant crack in the side. It must have been dropped loading in to a show! This is my prized Martin.
In moments like this, it’s easy to turn to the bottle. The Rodeo found a hotel and headed straight to the bar. Things got really loud. The band was obnoxious. I don’t’ think we will be welcomed back to this fine establishment.
This is 3AM in the room. I’m not sure how Brian tore his shorts.
And we may not want to know.
Next Tiny Dancer and Sugar are taking over the Tour Diary. God help us all.
When we got to Mitchell, South Dakota, we were about to collapse. Up 28 hours straight with an all-night drive from Bozeman is something I will avoid in the future. I’ve only got myself to blame, because I book these tours myself.
As we were rolling into Mitchell, I got a text message from the promoter asking that we swing by KMIT for a radio interview. KMIT at 105.9 FM is a commercial country music radio station broadcasting to most of South Dakota. I never really set out to get my music on radio out here, but this seemed like a great opportunity. The band was wiped out, and all we wanted to do was sleep, but duty calls. The guys dropped me off for an interview, while they hit the club and loaded our gear.
I walked into the station and was greeted with a smile and a warm cup of coffee. “Big J” the afternoon DJ had already been playing our music at the station and he was ready to give us serious South Dakota support. Hell yeah! Turns out “Big J” follows our blogs. He already knew that we had landed on iTunes on the front page of the Modern Country section. This is a big break for us and totally unexpected. “Big J” played a couple of our songs and took good care of me in the interview. It was a real treat. When I walked into the station I had no idea what I was getting into. Before I knew it I was on mainstream commercial radio doing an interview. Amazing!
The show that night was killer. We slept a couple of hours before arriving at the venue to play our show. Somehow, Mitchell, South Dakota has become one of our regular tour stops, and they treat us like royalty. The owner of Signature’s (the venue/restaurant) treated us all to steak dinners. I had the ribeye and it was great. We played to a packed house of locals who were hell bent on getting wasted. We’ve done this before and we knew what to expect.
We played two sets of music to an insanely drunk crowd. During the second set I yelled at the bartender to deliver a bottle of Jack. Some drunk bastard brought it to the stage and the band launched into "Bring Me The Whiskey". The entire bottle was emptied into the crowd in minutes. Following our show I saw more than one of our fans puking in the parking lot. Success.
That night we squeezed in a few more hours of sleep and pushed the late check out as far as possible the next morning. I woke up feeling like I had been run over by a train. The combination of sleep deprivation and drinking was clearly not working out for me. The band rallied around and helped get me in the van. That day, I didn’t do anything except try and recover. The guys loaded all the gear and they let me hide in the back seat of the van. We were headed to the 5th Annual Zombie festival in Sioux Falls and I already felt like I was one of the walking dead.
That night we hung out with more zombies.
A weird thing has been happening with the Rodeo as of late. Fans come to our shows dressed like us. This was a Zombie festival, so I guess it should not have been a surprise that there would be cowboy zombies. One of these cowboy zombies found our hotel room and presented Tiny Dancer with a bottle of grape soda when we were loading in to formally welcome us to Sioux Falls. Tiny Dancer loves everything grape and was totally stoked. Pretty fucking cool. But I think my favorite thing of all was seeing a woman come to our show dressed exactly like Sugar McGuinn. Check it out:
She did such a good job that I found myself mistaking her for Sugar between sets. Damn! Things are getting really fucking weird now. I’m pretty sure we are all the way down the rabbit hole.
Both South Dakota shows were a success! Both were great paying gigs. We were fed and lodging was provided. Bryan worked our merchandise and sold a ton of CDs and Vinyl As we got on the road for Minneapolis, Benny performed his task as band banker and paid us out for Sioux Falls.
Now we’re officially broken in on tour, and the only thing left to do is get regular. All of us are on the psyllium husk at this point and we all have our own way of ingesting our daily dose. Sugar demonstrates the “bareback” method here.
Pretty sure I’ll be walking in my sleep all day tomorrow.
A highlight for us in Minneapolis is to hook up with our friend Matthew of the Birthday Suits who is an amazing sushi chef at Fujiya, and another is playing with the excellent band The Blind Shake. As they colaborate with my favorite Minnesotan musician Michael Yonkers, I am forever hassling them to tell me new stories about him. They tell me about how he is obsessed with Old Country Buffet and eats one huge meal there EVERY SINGLE DAY, and that once, while defending his habit, he explained "My family gives me a lot of grief over the amount of money I spend eating here every day, but when you look at the amount of food and amount of nutrition I get from it, I can't afford NOT to eat at Old Country Buffet."
Also, while complaining about the lack of audience in Fargo last night, I'm told '"It could be worse; years ago Tortoise played there, and the entire bar formed a Conga line and circled the stage chanting 'YOU SUCK!' during the show. On the way to the house we crash at, our host calls and says he's bringing five Meat Pile Pizzas home. When I ask for one vegetarian, he asks how many of us are vegetarian, and I tell him four-and-a-half out of five, he increadulously exclaims MAN YOU GUYS ARE SERIOUS ABOUT IT HUH!? Another band is staying there too, and they smoke so much my lungs seal themselves together and I wheeze my way to sleep gasping out the only crackable window.
As I've recently fallen off the veggie wagon, I get a text from my dad saying '"When you are in Wisconsion if you eat a cheese burger it will be the best one you've had in your f'ing life. That's just a fact jack!." I'll see him his burger and RAISE him DEEP FRIED CHEESE CURDS. Then I walk straight to the E.R. to get my stomach pumped. The show is decent; I'd give it a soft thumbs up, but the best part is staying at our friend Kevin Mistreaters's house, which has an amazing 60's style rec room basement with huge light up bar and beautiful record collection and beautiful painted floors and beds and cool kids and great breakfast. JACKPOT! His son is a lil' wild man and sneaks into the basement and asks us to pile all the mattresses on top of each other so he can ride his plastic three-wheeler off of it. I comply, and just before takeoff he says "I'm not supposed to do this,'" and flies off and lands directly onto the top of his skull and my stomach drops, but he pops right up and says "Hi-five pal!" He also gives us a new inside tour-joke when his baby sister cracks her eyes open from a nap in her swing and he balls up his fists and chants "GO-TO-SLEEP-GO-TO-SLEEP."
We have a great breakfast at Big Star Tacos and get to overhear a hilarious debate over a controversial Halloween costume:
Guy: Man my worst costume ever was as a cool black dude and I thought I was just going to a party but we had to stop at a party store and everyone in there HATED me.
Girl: I can't believe you went to a party in black face.
Guy: It's not like I was singing 'Hey Mammy.' I had speakers in my jacket that were playing N.W.A. I was just a cool dude. From the 80s.
Girl: I hate you so much right now.
I've set the bar as low as it can go for this one, but it is the birthplace to The Spits, so it's already more musically important than the entire continent of Ireland. The place is great and the morsel of a crowd is very enthused and noodle dancin' funkier than a Phish concert inside Dave Matthews's Tour Bus Septic Tank. A nice guy offers me some of the whiskey bottle he hides in carcass of the burnt-down gas station across the street (I pass). In the morning, we awake to a stray roommate grouchily asking "Where the mattress that goes to this cot?" I'm not sure, up your butt next to the stick? He realizes he sounded like a douche and gives us a box of Cheese-its. EVEN STEVEN.
Kalamazoo is a cool little town and has some great shopping. I have to pass up a fringe leather suit but get a great vintage swamp monster costume for cheap. Unfortunately, this is the night that Dean Whitmore from Unnatural Helpers calls to tell me the awful news that our great friend Andy Kotowicz passed away in an automobile accident. I loved Andy, and am so sorry for his family and friends. He just had an undeniable light and kindness emitting from him. Please contribute something here.
This is how I feel right now. For those of you who might think touring is glamorous, this picture should be testimony that it's not. I've been up for 28 hours straight. After our show in Bozeman, MT, Benny and I got voted to do the night drive to Mitchell, SD. Night drivers are required to ingest a cocktail made up of 5 Hour Energy drink, trucker speed, and anything else available at the counter to keep a man alert until sunrise.
Benny does the driving. I sit up front and keep him awake by talking all night. It always seems like a good idea when we make this decision, but late into the night, we realize we are still three hours away from our destination. The show we will play tonight is the rowdiest crowd on the tour. They will expect whiskey. Lot’s of it. They will expect us to party with them. Drunk fuckers will follow us back to our hotel room. All I want to do is sleep!
I just received a series of text messages from the Mitchell, South Dakota promoter demanding my time for radio interviews as soon as we arrive. I am not yet at the point in my career that I can turn down radio interviews, or any kind of press for that matter. I’m gonna have to power through and get it done. Don’t get me wrong, I feel really lucky to even have the opportunity. Still, I’m completely miserable.
Up until now the tour has been great. We had close to 75 people out in Yakima, WA on a Wednesday night. That ain’t bad at all. They gave us free food and drinks and we sold a bunch of merch. At the end of the night, the club owner slapped 150 bucks in my hand. I can’t complain.
We drove a couple of hours after the Yakima show and then crashed out in a roadside motel for about five hours. Spent the rest of the day driving to Bozeman, MT where we loaded in and played another show. Benny busted his head open on his own guitar while setting up for sound check.
Howdy. My name is Mr. Amaker. The Rodeo and I are getting ready to go on a three-week national tour. I’m on a mission to embed my music into the cerebral cortex of a growing number of crazy fans who, let’s say, are “not your normal music fans.” I got no plans for riches or stardom. I’m just leaving a legacy that might only be understood by a bunch of weirdos.
So it’s no surprise that when I talk about touring with my band, I refer to it as “going down the rabbit hole.” I’m confident most touring acts can relate, but somehow I have to believe that my experience is unique, that my band exists on a different plane than most. When we exit the confines of the Seattle music scene, a new world awaits us. A world where having a set of balls is still important. A world where a man can be a man, and a woman is respected for her ability to manipulate a man. But more importantly, it’s a world where the spirit of the west lives on through the lives of traveling musicians.
My band is Brent Amaker and the Rodeo. We travel the world, and we play western music.
Out on the road we tackle all sorts of issues. We’ve had our tour van vandalized by thugs. We’ve driven 15 hours straight to play to a room of four people. We’ve had our share of meltdowns, anxiety attacks, and blowups. But we’ve also packed out shows at the shittiest no-name bars on the planet. And on really good nights women show us their tits. We deal with the good and bad as a collective unit. Our suitcases are packed with underwear and socks. Nothing else. No running shoes or shorts. No casual wear. No pajamas.
Once we throw on our matching black cowboy suits anything can and will happen. This is the Rodeo. It’s pretty fucking awesome.
Like most serious touring bands, we have a large van that gets us from one show to the next. Our van has our name on the side of it in cowboy approved Kung Fu font:
Five cowboys fit in this monster. The back seat has been replaced with gear and the remaining three benches are reserved for the band. Three grown men can stretch out and sleep at any given time. This is necessary because we don’t sleep much after our shows. When on the road, we don’t allow passengers in the van. The van is our sanctuary and nobody else gets in. The Rodeo has it’s own culture built in the form of a complex maze of inside jokes, eccentric behaviors, and band rules. If you follow our stories on the road you will pick up on some of it.
Everyone in this band is fucking crazy. Not, like, psycho “I’m gonna eat your brains for breakfast crazy,” but more like “What the hell went wrong at childhood?” crazy. Tiny Dancer is obsessed with all things grape. He has grape flavored cigarettes. Sugar McGuinn has a comic book image of himself tattooed on his own body. Brian Crawford has a mild case of Turrets Syndrome. Ben Strehle uses salad spritzer incessantly and is prone to panic attacks when we runs out of snacks in the van. As for myself, I’ll just say that I believe a man is truly defined by the company he keeps. Get it?
The Stranger is letting us give you some of our road stories in real time. I’ll be shooting video, taking pictures and filling you in on our culture one day at a time. Shit, this is gonna be crazy! The van is packed, and we play our first out of town date in Yakima, WA tonight. I’ll be checking in with you down the road.
Until then, please stand by.
The Intelligence is on a six-week tour of the U.S. This is our tour journal. A clarification: If I sound like a crank, it's only because this journal will lean towards showcasing the LOWS of the trip, as I don't find much entertainment value in the "we made it there in record time/wow gas is cheap here/they gave us FOUR drink tickets/the place was packed/I found a dollar on the ground/turns out crabs actually "FEEL GOOD" good luck stories, I wanna hear about the horrors. Unless you get to do blow back at Grace Jones's hotel room or urinate into some evil band's merch tub, positive highlights are just kinda boring, okay? All right, lets DO this:
While loading merch into the van at home, (an easy task, since only HALF of the merch order arrived) we get a text message saying "Spokane is worried about the turnout tonight and wants to cancel the show and pay you 100 bucks." Apparently, there is a Coheed and Cambria show that has absorbed our potential crowd. We drive and pick up our cash (which at that point has transformed into $75), and are offered shots of "Fireball" (cinnamon whiskey). We go to kill time at a pizza place/karaoke joint until our host gets off work at 1 am. Time has stopped in this place, and it is 1997 like a motherfucker. Karaoke versions of New Radicals, Folk Implosion, Soul Coughing, Soul Asylum, and it's an entertaining waterfall of other two-word named bands until it isn't anymore, and we move on to MOOTSY'S for DOLLAR PINT NIGHT. As the ladies are deciding on a drink at the bar, a giant and hilarious dude drunkenly leans in between them and asks "WHAT TIME THIS PLACE CLOSE?" and he remains there very close and for an awkwardly long time waiting for an answer. I suggest that he maybe give the cringing girls a little space, and when he turns to me each eye is looking in a different direction. He says "I AIN'T TRYING TO HOLLA AT NOBODY'S LADY" and is immediately kicked out. I feel bad for some reason. Our host shows up, and we go to his place where Susanna and I sleep in the under-construction basement (freshly cut sheet rock and exposed wire and cloudy white dust) and wake up with sore lungs.
Tonight we are playing a house party organized by a very nice 'commune'/Food Not Bombs house (When Susanna is informed this means they might dumpster dive for their food, she says "Then I won't eat the food as a political protest because the food should be left for the ACTUAL BUMS." We are fed spaghetti and offered bong hits by five different people in the first five minutes. (We pass). Six bands play, including Whiskey Whore (sample lyric: "When I die I wanna got to hell 'cause I'm a piece of shit,"), Fag Rag, and Bad Naked—one solitary guy in a Zorro mask and underwear playing an acoustic bass and screaming "Push out the babies and push 'em in the factories!/Push out the babies and push 'em in the factories!/Make the shit we like!/Weld it good!/Sew it good!" Another favorite: "See that old man with his cane/now it's my walking stick/now it's my BEATING STICK." It is a blast. Later our air mattress deflates as soon as we lay down, and I fall asleep with my feet above my head.
It's a 14-hour-plus drive to Fargo (basically 20 after my bathroom stops). We've learned to do this at the beginning of the tour as it can be so depressingly boring that all you can do is listen to Erik Satie and stare into the void. We finally stop around 2 am in Dickenson, North Dakota, and every hotel is booked for hunting season. I thought that the whole point of hunting was to drink the deer's blood and sleep under the stars in its carcass. It doesn't seem right to bag a deer and have a Rooty Tooty Fresh and Fruity breakfast and watch Becker in a warm bed at the Comfort Inn, so we drive on. Wait, there's a vacany sign—a true dump glowing like a beacon! "One room left," the clerk says. Highlights include two towels for five people (I am answered with a blank stare followed by a shrug when I ask if we can get more), a hornet in the room, and a shower curtain that emits such a powerful cigarette smell that I want to steal it to impress others.
“Is it possible to time...travel…speed?”
-stoned Britney Spears
Last night was technically the first show of USF’s West Coast Tour 2010, and it was great. The crowd at Cairo gallery was (understandably) small, but the vibe was tremendous. Secret Colors and our secret guests both contributed terrific sets, even though the former was without planned back-up guitarist Casey Catherwood (formerly of the Stranger, currently of Witch Gardens). All in all, though, a nice hometown kickoff.
Afterwards I came home and slept in my own bed with my own cat. Ah, the touring life! In the morning, I woke up and ate Crunchberries and watched MSNBC. I can’t wait to do that every morning for the next two weeks (I do that every morning, every week).
Oh, wait. Wait. This is not actually touring yet. Touring is floors and couches and other peoples’ cats. Fuck (Oh yeah, I’ve done this before).
Today we head out for
Powell’s Portland, AKA the other city that native Californians move to when they want to stay on the West Coast but need to get out of California. I have the opposite problem. I’m chasing summer.
We’ll be playing with Hokus Majic and Ghost Animal tonight (who is neither a ghost, nor an animal), and I’m pretty pumped to hear the latter’s drowsy, no-fi pop in person. Back To The Future The Ride, contrary to previous reports, will not be joining us in Portland, or, for that matter, Oakland. But CHILL, there’s a very rational, scientific explanation for this. The man (Brian Miller of Foot Village) himself:
“Face it, you can’t get your mind around time-travel. That’s why you just fucking do it and don’t look back… or is that forward? So don’t be surprised if you go to shows on this Back To The Future The Ride / Universal Studios Florida tour and feel like you never even saw me play. Divergent time lines can just wipe out entire memories instantaneously. Trust me though, you loved it.”
Hollywood round two consists of fourteen dollar Maker's shots, and a club relatively indifferent to weird electronic music done with gameboys. However, there are a few Seattle homies out to see us. Good to see you Barry, Colin and Lily.
After a drunken night in a motel to deal with Hollywood, we head towards San Francisco. We play on an awesome pirate radio show. It feels good to play for some appreciative music fans. We crash at an old friend's loft in Lower Haight. Janelle, you are awesome.
Ten hour drive the next day to get to a really cool club in Salem called simply The Space. It is raining and cold. January in the Northwest. So close to home we can feel it. Play a relatively solid set despite being exhausted, and acquire some new fans. Again, feels great to play for some appreciative people. Thanks to Doug for having us, and Salem peeps for dancing. Crash at our friend Katie's house.
We have to drive through Seattle to get to Bellingham, and it takes a lot of effort to not just go home. We end up glad we didn't with a good show at Western, and end the night with a road sixer between us. Overall, probably too much fun was had.
While Truckasauras went on their first West Coast tour, the band's Adam Swan sent us updates from the road. Read Truckasauras' previous Tour Diary entries:
Week One in Video
"Real Life Hipsters/Viva Las Vegas"
"Why People Live In Northern California"
"I'm In Love With The Stripper"
Truckasauras are on their first West Coast tour now through January 28th—the band's Adam Swan is sending us updates from the road, to let us know how it goes. Click here to read the band's previous installment, "Real Life Hipsters/Viva Las Vegas."
Hit L.A. and roll into Hollywood. Boardner's is a cool bar with multiple rooms, one of which is actually a canopy between it and the building behind. Nice weather strikes again. We setup and wait for people to show up. Real-life hipsters start pouring in as the first band starts. All the bands have 20 minute sets, so we have to slim ours down. The format is four bands done by midnight so the DJs can take over. When they do, we notice how good looking everyone seems to be. Spend the rest of the night walking in and out of the club people watching. Have a little trouble finding a place to crash, so we end up in a really sketchy motel in Oxnard. We expect to find a dead body underneath the mattress. The next day, we hit up Amoeba Records where we are all pleasantly surprised to see our record for sale. I come up on Ice Cube and Primus tapes for Vanbo. We hit up Venice Beach at sunset, then head towards Vegas.
The next day, after a night of sleep interrupted only by Ryan's snoring, we roll into Vegas. This place is crazy. "What energy and financial crisis?" After dropping the gear off at the venue, we hit up the strip. Circus Circus, Treasure Island and various other casinos hard to escape. "Where's the door?" You can drink on the streets. People are walking around with football shaped cups full of Long Island Ice Tea. Truckasauras' take on Americana is epitomized here. We head back to the venue to watch the other bands. (Shoutout to Teenagers From Outerspace) Crash at the promoter's house. Thanks Jesse.
After driving around and record shopping in Vegas (as well as witnessing a hit and run accident), we head toward San Diego. So far, the crowd here has been the most into the music. Actually sell some merch, and get a lot of feedback on the set. Crash out in the first motel we find. L.A. Round two tomorrow.
Truckasauras are on their first West Coast tour now through January 28th—the band's Adam Swan is sending us updates from the road, to let us know how it goes. Click here to read the band's previous installment, "Why People Live In Northern California."
We are all wearing t-shirts on the beach in January.
Wake up in Medford, Oregon Monday morning. Case and a half of empties for the cleaning crew. Jump on the I-fizzle heading south. Shasta appears, and we stop at the vista point. Start filming a movie, the plot will work itself out. Lots and lots of driving where we find the appeal of the digital age through Danbo's computer editing (see video below). Roll into Sacramento for our first Cali show. For a Monday night, there are a lot of girls here. Play to a sparse but enthusiastic crowd through an awesome soundsystem. Tyler and Ryan meet "Two Player Game" posse, who let us stay at their house. (I was passed out sitting shotgun in the van. Shoutout to Derek for being the designated driver.) Wake up on Inauguration Day way too early, and head for San Francisco.
Listening to Obama speak, I realize that it feels great to listen to a president who doesn't stammer through his speeches. It's like the soundbytes are already there. We don't have to be to L.A. until Wednesday night, and hit San Fran on the way back, so today is the tourist part of the tour. We hit up the vista point overlooking the Golden Gate Bridge and the bay, then eat a burger in Sausalito where they are filming a movie. Hit up the epic big-wave surf spot Mavericks. It is both a beautiful beach, and a hazardous surf spot. Bummed we hit it at low tide, but we are there long enough to watch a couple guys catch the huge wave.
Hit the road again towards L.A. down Hwy 1 and 101. Beautiful West Coast driving in Vanbo. At this point, the inside jokes have reached a point of being our own language. "Please Stammer, don't hurt 'em." The shit is hilarious, but only to us. Derek hips us to the awesome saloon in the beach town Cayucos, and after a couple of pitchers, we head to our camping spot in Pismo Beach. I set up my bedding on the ground without a tent, and we drink ourselves to sleep.
It is January!!!
Truckasauras are on their first West Coast tour now through January 28th—the band's Adam Swan is sending us updates from the road, to let us know how it goes. Click here to read the band's first installment, "I'm In Love With The Stripper."
Truckasauras are on their first West Coast tour now through January 28th—the band's Adam Swan is sending us updates from the road, to let us know how it goes:
Portland still feels like home. Family, and friends live here. There is a better bed to sleep on than the one I own. It is also a fun town to play. The kids are into music, and come out to have a good time. We play here a lot, so the tour seems like it hasn't started yet. Although, the drive down here did have it's perks. (See Photo) Within a block radius of Backspace is Ground Control and Magic Gardens. Ground Control is an arcade with a bar in it. Tetris and beer, y'all. Magic Gardens has a totally different style of entertainment. (See Headline) It was a pretty decent show, and a fun night of drunken debauchery (details omitted to protect the guilty). Classic Truck. Check out the band Breakfast Mountain. Good shit.
Wake up with a hangover to an awesome breakfast cooked by me and Tyler's aunt and uncle. Then my uncle and I start tearing apart the van for a tuneup. No tax, and my uncle is a gearhead, so money is saved in a big way. Very important for the reality of driving to San Diego and back. Vanbo gets back on the road and we pack up to drive towards Cali to try and knock off a few hours off the road. Next stop Sacramento.