Lots of surprises tonight. First was the start time and lineup. The web site said music at 11 and all we knew was that Drawback was the only other band playing. We show up to load in and there is already another band on stage setting up and ready to play. Waiting in the wings are The Royal Tees who are up second. So in a few minutes this went from a late two band bill to an early four band bill with one of our friend’s band opening. After unloading Dave and I went to park the van. If you’ve been to NW Portland on a weekend you know this is pretty much impossible. We drove around so long and parked so far away that when we returned the first band was on their last song. Never even caught their name either. The Tees took forever and a day to get setup. Not because they are slow but because the first band took forever (I hear it was their first show ever?) but more significantly there was no sound person or microphones. Turns out the first band were the only ones who had mics and stands. Fortunately they were nice enough to let the other bands share their equipment. Had they said no, we were fully prepared to “fix the glitch” and just go home. The Tees played well (as they always do) and ironically the PA sounded great thanks to the knob turning skills of the first band. Drawback was up third and they were damn entertaining. Don’t know if they’ll care for this comparison but they reminded me of a more technical Lawrence Arms. Fun to watch for sure and I definitely wouldn’t mind playing with them again. We started last (after midnight) and I guess it was ok. We played pretty well but there was lots of sitting. It’s hard to rock for people planted into their chairs. Eventually some friends of Drawback got up and got sort of rowdy almost knocking out Dave’s teeth at one point. Props to Jeff for checking out the show and forcing us to play ‘Still The Same’ for the first time in well over two years. We’d like to wish him luck in his move to Chi-town. Thanks to Drawback for hooking up the show, The Tees for being a pleasant surprise to our evening and the few friends that showed up and hung out.
We arrived a little after 9 via pickup trick as the van is still dead. Watched the Peabodys, setup, played and were loaded out before 11. Dateless played last and the whole thing was wrapped up by midnight. I like late nights, but at the same time I also love a quick and timely show. The Peabodys were good and it amazingly was our first time seeing them despite having Dave’s roommate on bass. Our set was pretty good. It got a little rowdy there for a bit and I felt like a fight was going to break for a song or two. Cooler heads prevailed and thankfully there was no such incident. Dave said it best when he proclaimed “I don’t care if you fight or not, just don’t do it in front of my teeth.” My man gets enough microphones to the mouth when people are having a good time, an angry one would be far worse. It was all good and everyone seemed to enjoy themselves. Dateless was up third and despite listening from the back of the room they sounded pretty damn good. Kind of bubble gum pop punk, but a little too fast and a pretty raw. Very cool. Thanks to Eric and Jill for setting up the show. If you haven’t checked out their zine yet (called ‘Scene Not Herd’) it’s worth a look and listen.
Pretty cool reason for a show tonight. Our friend Brandi has a brother named Arthur who just got back from Iraq literally this morning. His gift? A show just for him. Needless to say we were more than stoked to play this one. Our van is still not functioning so we had to move what gear we could in a pickup truck and VW Golf. Nice. To make our load in worse part of it was over and across a stream of urination courtesy of some nasty crack head perched in a doorway. Despite all the constructions, condos and cleanup it’s really amazing how little has changed for life on 6th avenue. Our first time at this venue back in 1997 we saw a pimp while loading in. Tonight, literally ten years later we see a woman pissing on the street. As for the show Super Kung Fu Masters were up first and I was stoked to finally see them after stumbling across their songs many moons ago on MySpace. Very energetic and very entertaining to watch. Dying Days was up next and sounded pretty solid. We’d really like to thank them for letting us borrow their guitar cabinets as ours wouldn’t fit in our makeshift ride. We were up third and had a good time. Whenever Brady is at a show you know it’s going to be good. There was a decent sized crowd there considering it was all local bands so we were pretty stoked with that as well. Better yet they all seemed entertained and happy to rock out and have some fun. Not a bad crowd reaction considering we hadn’t practiced since Olympia. The Royal Tees were up fourth and we’d like to thank them for taking the late shift and playing last so that I could more easily make a plane flight. I think the slot was well suited for them though as all their friends were there standing up front cheering and singing. I’m not sure we could given the closing spot it’s due justice, so all it all it went pretty well. Thanks again to Brandi, Arthur, Brady, Lucas, Bri, Shell-O and all at the Satyricon.
When we arrived at the 4th Ave our first thoughts were “ok, this is going to be the worst show we’ve ever played”. We walked in and it was a sports bar. No cover charge, no flyers, ESPN on the televisions and the place was populated by a mix of jocks, thugs, skanky looking girls and some pool playing cowboys. We soon noticed the back room which did have a very large stage with a band playing. The sight of real stage was encouraging but the vibe was not. The band was ok, sort of an alternative/indie/rock thing, but the “crowd” consisted of 20-30 bored looking people sitting at tables drinking heavily. I don’t mean to sound jaded but when we go to a show we expect other similar bands. These people had no idea what they were in for and from the looks of the patrons they would be not be enjoying their evening with 800 Octane. I had a quick meeting with Justin and confessed I was totally cool with turning around and just going home. He agreed. We went out to run our idea by the others but it was too late as they already met the promoter. He was well aware of what we sounded like and had actually requested us so we were finally a little encouraged. Additionally we met a couple that drove down from Seattle jut to see us. Game on. The promoter said we’d play second which was cool since the first band was just finishing their set. The third band was not stoked by this decision and one of them broke off into a cursing fit and started bitching at everyone for changing the order. I wanted to offer up a “we only play 30 minutes” explanation, but in the end decided I really didn’t care that much. Let him be angry. They probably wouldn’t like us anyway. We set up and tried our best to dodge the looks of the country and western fans a few steps away whose pool games we would soon interrupt. We’re getting ready to start and an amazing thing happens, a steady stream of folks in black band shirts shows up and stands up front. This is good. People are standing and they might actually be there to see us. Amen. We started and thank god for the folks up front as they made the show amazing. They shouted, cheered, sang along and were a fricking riot to play to. There were only a dozen of them but we quickly forgot about everything else there and played what I even thought was a pretty badass set. In my head we could have been playing the Rose Garden. It’s amazing how easy it is to forget your surroundings when you’ve got people that are genuinely entertained in front of you. We can’t thank the group of folks that showed up enough. The last band (who was still irritated they were playing last) did admirably. I’m thankful we didn’t have to follow them because as I predicted they were on stage for over an hour. They do get the prize for owning one of the oddest band vehicles ever which appeared to be an airport shuttle bus. Funniest moment was while we were loading up the truck (the van is still immobilized) when Dustin, who has a few drinks in him, gets accosted from across the parking lot by a girl who is inexplicably looking for a cheeseburger. Girl: “Do you have a cheeseburger?”. Dustin – “Yeah I got a cheeseburger”. Girl – “You have a cheeseburger?”. Dustin – “Yeah I have your cheeseburger”. The girl then turns to her friends and begins to walk away. Dustin proceeds to shout “Come get your meat baby”. Quite possibly the strangest interaction I’ve heard in ages. Anyway, thanks to the manager and sound guy at the club as well as those who stood up front and had a good time with us.
Ok, now that was a good show. Good music? Check. Lots of friends? Check. Home made cookies delivered fresh? Booya. Plan R started off and started correctly with a blend of smart but snotty punk rock the way we wish could deliver it. It was definitely nice to see them back in action again. We were up second and our set was pretty solid. No real highlights to speak of, but no real lowlights either and with our limited practices schedule for the last month that’s a good thing. The Mercy Killers were up third and were very cool. They were best described as Rancid meets Alkaline Trio with a little bit of a crust edge to it. I dug them immensely. The reason for the crowd was TSOL and they did not disappoint. I will say I actually thought they sounded better last time we played with, but it was a whole different ball game seeing them in an all ages setting with such a diverse and rowdy crowd. Nice to see such a legendary band can still throw down live. Thanks to Thrasher, KB and the Satyricon staff, TSOL and those who came out early to see us and the other Portland natives. No thanks to the failing electrical system in the van
You know your night is going to start off wrong when your vehicle has no brake lights, no speedometer and no cruise control. We’re not sure why but despite the lack of brake lights Dave seemed to insist on braking suddenly and often the entire way out of town. I am fairly sure this is the first time everyone was adamant about buckling up, attaching headrests and maintaining good posture while riding in the van as we were certain a truck would plow into us at any minute. There wasn’t much traffic on the interstate so gauging our speed was tough. We thought we were going fast enough until we got passed by a late 70’s model Plymouth with no muffler and rust holes big enough to put your hand through. First we thought we’d get pulled over for speeding but soon realized we were actually running the risk of getting stopped for impeding the flow of traffic. About half way there we realized the GPS could be set to display the current speed. Problem solved and a consistent speed was obtained. It should be noted that the GPS also contains the voice of Mr. T who barks out directions, calls you a “fool” and threatens to “jump out this tiny machine” if you go the wrong way. After a 25 minute stop at Jack In The Box we arrived at the show. Sadly we missed all of Something Orange so I have little to report on their set. Another small detail is that when I walked in there was literally all of about 8 people there. I actually went out and apologized as it really was looking pretty grim. GGTS set up and fortunately a few more people wandered in. They sounded great as usual, with stronger vocals and even better sing along parts. A cover by the man in black is always a plus too. Pirex was third and sounded pretty good as well. I wasn’t sure what to expect when I saw make-up, blood and vampire teeth on the stage but was relieved to learn I would not be enduring a black metal band. We were up last and thankfully a few more people wandered in. Dave was in rare form tonight. My favorite comment was his observation that “you may think I’m an active guy but I’m actually much more comfortable at rest.” At some point Justin inadvertently mentioned we missed the first band because we were waiting at Jack In The Box. That statement has made my Top 10 list of things never to say on stage. Say you were stuck in traffic, say you were in jail, say you were doing lines off a stripper’s back, but never, under any circumstances, say you were late because you were waiting on chicken strips. Ironically the strangest moment of the evening also involved food. At some point between songs we were interrupted by an announcement from the sound guy who offered this query to the crowd … “did anyone order a turkey sandwich and forget to pick it up? We’ve got an extra one here.” It pretty much rendered us speechless and I am quite sure in 13 years it’s the first time we’ve heard that over the PA. The crowd sang along, moved around and made an otherwise tiny show pretty kick ass to play. The drive home only had one highlight, a small electrical fire in the speaker wire. Our van is seriously going to explode soon I just know it. Anyway, thanks to GGTS, the Matrix and all who traveled long and far and made the show fun for us.
It’s a day later and I’m still not sure what to think of our MusicFestNW show. Kelly’s Olympian was a really cool place, the sound was good and all the staffers were very nice. All the bands on our showcase were really good as well, which is always a huge plus. Most of the bands leaned towards the indie rock side of things. By indie rock I mean good musicians, meaningful songs and generally hip looking people. In other words, pretty much nothing like us. They were all very good (especially the first band) but we stuck out like a sore thumb. As soon as we set up there we noticed a quick change in the attendance. I guess three large skulls on the amps is a turnoff for some people. Appearances or not I can’t say I blame some people for bailing as our setup was a bit problematic. The band before us took a really long time to unload so we were already about fifteen minutes behind. We got up there, got tuned and began sound checking. Somewhere in there Justin’s tuner decided that tonight was the night it was going to stop working (despite having worked 3 days prior) and that pretty much threw him into a panic. He hit things, slammed his guitar on the stage and cursed repeatedly. I kept thinking we were selected to play from hundreds of applications to represent the best of the NW and here we were standing around unable to even sound check properly. By 12:15 Justin was tuned, checked and we finally started with ‘Radio’. Within the two minutes it takes to perform the song Justin was out of tune, I was out of tune, Dustin’s kick pedal had come loose and Dave couldn’t hear the monitors. I think the subsequent pause was longer than the song we had just played. The next song started off promising enough but afterwards it too was met by another pause of indeterminable length filled with guitar tuning and drum set adjusting. By about 12:30 we’re three songs in and we’ve finally gotten our shit together and have started playing well. Only problem is we’re supposed to be done in 10 minutes. We blasted through the songs as fast as we could and finally picked up some momentum. So how was the crowd? There were more people than we expected but they were all a good 20 feet back from the stage leaving a large and empty floor right in front of us. Somewhere in there the “dancing” began. In the beginning the “dancing” was limited to one rather preppy-ish looking guy with flip flops and a collared knit shirt head banging and air guitaring by himself in our previously established “no standing zone”. There was a moment where I was honestly wondering if he was possibly retarded and that I would go to hell for making fun of him? I quickly deducted that he was just drunk. Eventually a few other people joined in up front and started moving around (including my neighbor of all people) and everyone seemed to be having a pretty good time. We finally looked and sounded like a real band. All good things must come to an end and during one of the last few songs one of the revelers fell down and twisted his knee. He laid there on the liquid covered floor of Kelly’s for half a song while a circle of people formed around him. They moved him out and the “no standing zone” quickly returned to it’s former size. It’s only inhabitant was one drunken guy who kept slamming into bystanders and those at tables, trying to grab them and get them to move up front with him. Charming. And that was it. Twenty five minutes had passed and it ended just as awkwardly as it began. For the average observer I guess the show wasn’t that bad overall but at a showcase like this I always hope a little more. If any of that stuff went down at a “normal” bar show (equipment failure, drunk guy dancing, retarded air guitarist, etc) I probably wouldn’t have cared. Tonight it was all a little disappointing. Maybe my expectations are just too high for such an event? Anyway, we got off stage quickly and Amadan closed the night very nicely. We watched a few songs, then watched a few fights and finally went home for a long night of sleep. Thanks to those who stuck around and I hope this doesn’t taint your recollection of our show!
We’ve played two free house shows in the past few weeks and I couldn’t imagine having them being at any further opposite ends of the musical spectrum. One was a loud hot drunken mess in a dingy basement, while this one was outside near cute dogs, soft drinks, bowls of candy, a trampoline and a high ratio of straight edge folks. The reason for the season was Michelle’s 24th birthday. We actually had a horrible surprise planned for her where we were going to dress up as clowns. Seriously. In fact we all spent quite a bit of time and money procuring appropriate clown attire over the past week. However after having to setup the gear, change band lineups on the fly and soak in how few people were in attendance we opted against it at the very last minute. We do apologize to the few who were in on the secret and attended the show in hopes of seeing that spectacle. The good news is, sometime, somewhere, someday we will put those shoes, oversized neckties and horns to good use when everyone least expects it. Broadway Calls opened the show and yes, they are still my favorite local band. Now that I have their CD in my possession and have learned many of the songs I like them even more. Every time they play it makes me want to quit because we’ll never write hooks that good. I’m not sure we did as well but we did have one secret weapon up our sleeve, a whipped cream pie with Michelle’s name all over it. Predictably she came up to sing Golden Road and when we got to “her part” Justin smacked her in the face with a cream pie. That wasn’t some sort of sexual innuendo; it was literally a whipped cream pie. Within seconds it was picked up off the ground and applied to Dave’s face, only with the less appealing addition of dirt and grass. Yuck. The New Found Glory Holes were up last. They could best be described as several guys who probably know better, playing pop punk songs and sung by a gang of people who knew not all, but many of the words. By all accounts it really was pretty terrible, but then again I’m pretty sure it was supposed to be. It did make me smile though and in all reality I think that was the goal. Happy b-day to Michelle and thanks to those who attended on a lazy Sunday.
It’s been a while since we’ve gotten to play a good basement show. Our recent Portland shows have ranged from “sort of ok” all the way to “totally underwhelming” so when Krush Klamath asked us to play their basement we were all over it. Everyone there was totally cool and although we didn’t know too many people we all seemed to know the same people. All night was a perpetual game of two degrees of separation. Before the show we headed over to Dial A Pizza. Let’s just say I was correct to be skeptical of any place offering two pizzas for $9.99. Should have been dial a toilet for the next half hour. Embrace The Kill (aka – most of Valid Effort) opened the show playing a handful of good songs. Krush Klamath was the main attraction and I was totally impressed. Their songs were catchy but totally rocking too. In fact I should point out all of those dudes were totally cool too. All I knew was their song called ‘Can’t Skate’ from the Crash Assailant comp and I really enjoyed seeing them play in person. We played last and it was a blast. It was incredibly hot by the time we went on, people were sloppy drunk, the floor had about a quarter inch of beer on it and we were playing on borrowed gear. I swear I lost about 5 pounds from sweat alone. Totally fun evening. Thanks to Krush Klamath for setting everything up and letting us use your gear!
Now that was a damn fun show. Sadly Mourningstar couldn’t make it due to a tour cancellation. You know, come to think of it at our last show in Richland the touring band we were going to play with cancelled too. In fact both shows were on a Friday the 13th. Weird. Although Mourningstar was absent Stupid In Stereo filled in which was cool because we knew their singer from a previous band in Pullman. Nice to see them play finally. I don’t have much else to say about the show other than that it was a total blast to play. Kind of a small turnout compared to some past shows, but I think we played well and that’s something. Thanks to all at Atomic, the other bands and those who stayed until 1:00 in the morning to see us play!