Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Portland

10:31 AM

It’s been rough. The past two shows have been sub-par. We played on this arena-sized stage in Portland. I hated it. I just stood there. As soon as we finished, I packed up my equipment and fled the scene. I walked around the bizarre factory area, desolate and lonely. Fittingly it began to gently rain.

I settled in front of a café a block away from the venue, the only other sign of life in the area. A bluegrass band plugged away inside. The musicians looked in their 40s or 50s. They wore wide smiles. The two dozen people inside clapped after every song. The scene laughed at me, stuck up its middle finger at me, aired its hairy naked ass at me. It was the perfect polar opposite to everything I felt. I wanted to quit, to go away, to crawl into the back of a trailer like Rollins and not see anyone the entire 3,000 miles to New Jersey.

When I finally wandered back to the show I stood and watched the last band. They were actually good. What they played certainly wasn’t the most innovative sound, but they were passionate. I watched wearing my sweatshirt pulled tight over my head, hoping no one would notice me. I wanted to be invisible, just another body. But a girl passed by and said, “Great show.” I looked at her, stunned. I responded, hesitantly, “Thank you.” I talked with her for a few more minutes. She looked the part of a bike punk in an indie film. It struck me as odd since most bike punks do not like my band. We tend to appeal more to kids with dyed black hair wearing Every Time I Die T-shirts. “You know, you guys should be playing this basement in Portland.” She went on to sing the praises of said basement, that most kids would prefer to experience us there and not in this venue. Given the sheer girth of the place and the cruel lack of kids, I had to concur. Somehow I started asking about Portland, about how she liked it, about vegetarian restaurants. I enjoyed having an actual conversation. But soon the band packed up and departed.

I should mention the LGS episode. They went on and did their thing, which of course involved Alexander doing his thing. He pulled a kid from the audience up on stage. Said kid donned fishnets and a sleeveless black shirt. He looked thoroughly confused. He tried to jump off the stage, but Alexander wouldn’t let him. The kid asked for earplugs. The band tore into the next song. Later we were told the kid was “slow” and “mentally challenged.”

Next day found us in Bellingham, WA. It seemed quite a bohemian town, very clean and very green. We ate at Bandito Burrito, which featured a heavy anarchist motif. The food was great. The show was ho-hum. We crammed into a musty basement. 30 kids stood and yawned.

The most amusing part of the night was Jamie riling up a member of my band. My band associate made some claims about him being the least high maintenance guy on the tour, to which Jamie burst out: “YOU are the most high maintenance guy here!” “No way, you are wrong.” A game of yes-you-are, no-I’m-not ensued.

Otherwise, I yearned to wander around, but there wasn’t a whole lot to wander around in that residential neighborhood. We hit the road after the show for Seattle. This is tour, soaring highs and crippling lows and a whole lot of the mundane in between. What choice do I have? I’m thousands of miles away from home. I hate my job. I don’t want to go back to school. No answers.