Early, yeah. It doesn’t matter if it’s 7:00 AM or 1:00 PM, I can never seem to pull myself out of sleep. I’m probably not drinking enough water. Or eating enough. So it goes. The rain hammers hard against the van as we drive through Oregon.
Last time we rolled through here, someone thought it a wise idea to book a show in Seattle the day after a show at Gilman. That’s over 800 miles, a trek that mapquest tells us should take between 12 and 13 hours. To guarantee on-time arrival, we drove through the night. Now I don’t know about other bands, maybe they’re made of more durable, rugged fibers. But all of us were train wrecks by the time we reached Seattle.
We took shifts driving. Josh and I did the midnight to 6 AM portion. I sat with nerves frayed as we narrowly averted disaster at every turn up the black winding highways of northern California into southern Oregon. It was mountainous, treacherous terrain, with hulking logging trucks racing by us as if we were an old woman with a walker. How we survived I do not know. Perhaps it was listening to hometown boy Bruce Springsteen’s Nebraska on repeat, preceded by multiple listenings of Three Mile Pilot’s mesmerizing Another Desert, Another Sea. Because of that experience we vowed to never again drive overnight.
This time we make that path back south in broad (albeit rain soaked) daylight. The show in Seattle last night was a welcome respite from the glut of lackluster ones. We spent the day in that wet, gloomy city. As soon as we entered its border, it began to rain. I walked around for a long time alone, which was refreshing. You need room to breathe, to think sometimes. I noticed hordes of panhandlers. I bought a magazine and ate falafel-, which the girl did not charge me for. Did she forget? Am I that cute? Who knows, I saved $5.
As for the show, I was apprehensive to return given news Billy imparted upon me prior to my arrival back at First Avenue Pizza. Allegedly, a girl took the bus from Spokane to Seattle, just to meet yours truly. Apparently she was a fan of my zines. I concede that it is flattering to hear that someone found some worth in my creative pursuits. And I conveyed as loudly as many other zinesters during the 90s that the whole intention was to communicate, to engage in dialogue, to construct a personal dialectic that could perhaps make us better people and potentially change the world. Or something. Those were heady, idealistic times. I feel sad for the kids of today who completely missed that phenomenon, since the internet is a piss-poor proxy.
The problem with this scenario is that I am not a social butterfly. When it comes to interacting with someone who only knows me via a zine or a band, I feel like I have to live up to a persona that doesn’t exist, or I am not comfortable to let exist to a complete stranger. Needless to say, I took my sweet time in the drenching rain making my way back to the show.
Upon returning, I was told that the opening band did not bring most of their equipment. They evidently live just outside Seattle in the burbs. C’mon, common sense- bring your gear! Don’t rely on bands who’ve driven across the entire country to supply it. Our gear has already taken a serious beating on the way to your town, and it has to last us the whole cross-country drive of shows home.
I saw Josh. He told me a prostitute accosted him in the parking lot. He relayed the brief encounter, “She said, ‘I’ll suck yo’ dick fo’ six dollas and twenty fi’ cent.’” He shrewdly declined the offer.
I entered First Avenue Pizza. As soon as Greg saw me, he approached, grinning: “Dude, have you met her yet?” He loved having something to goad me with, since I always keep quiet and don’t let much out in the open. During the show, he would commence yelling my name, “Here he is!” I had to chuckle, though I was in no mood for laughs.
We played and had fun. A lot of kids showed up wearing costumes for some reason. They danced and sang along and everyone seemed to enjoy themselves, for a change. As soon we finished, the girl introduced herself. She said that she loved my zine. Turns out, the zine she referred to was from seven years ago. As if anything I scribbled when I was 21 has any bearing on me at 28. Well…who am I kidding, I am not much different. She seemed like a nice enough person, and after a few scant minutes of discussion, we were off to our next location.
We drove a half hour outside the city and stayed at another hotel (since lodging is much cheaper beyond metropolitan city limits). I slept on a bed this time. I am quite content with the floor. Give me a six by three feet swath of good, carpeted floor and I will sleep soundly.
Just finished reading interviews with Ian MacKaye and Q and Not U. Inspiring. Inspiring to me in my quest to operate bands in non-traditional and uncompromising ways. But I understand why bands choose to use the tools of the rock biz. I see those reasons everyday on this tour. Bands existing at our level get just as fucked as any major label band, if not more so. Some show promoters feel the need to do as frighteningly little as possible: no flyers, a crappy or no PA, putting every one of their friends bands on the bill so someone like us finally play after six hours of unendurable music for a total of 10 minutes since the place needs to shut down due to the late hour. These circumstances reoccur with dependable frequency on this entire tour. It should come as no surprise that bands see that hope of a better way, of solidly booked tours by music professionals, of guarantees and food, of maybe, just maybe, receiving some paltry financial reward for the time and the effort.
I love playing non-rock club spaces. But I also love being able to sing through a functioning microphone. The only times we have been fed on this tour have been by promoters at more traditional rock venues, with the exception of Daniel in L.A. Still, I want to find that middle ground. Though rare and fleeting, I’ve experienced tiny moments when this is something special, particularly in Oakland and last night. Small spaces of time when every element clicks. Again, they are uncommon moments. They are ideal types and they are hardly detectable. But when they occur- when they decide to grace us with their presence- all of this just might seem worth it.