Wednesday, July 16, 2008

West Coast Part Five: Rock and Roll Alive and Well...

Day off after Portland was prime recuperation time. I imagine had I put the strain on my knee by trying to perform that I would've only exacerbated the situation. Instead, we spent the daylong drive to San Francisco in a sweaty van without any air conditioning. By the time we'd arrived at the Hotel Phoenix I was feeling spent.

Switched hotels next morning and was the lone band member to end up at the Hyatt. Fucking swank. A welcome change to say the least.

After some calm time spent traipsing the Haight, I arrived at Amoeba for our instore performance. Put on my new bass drum head, shopped a little with my $50 voucher in mind (used copy of Beck's 2xCD Odelay reissue, Relatively Clean Rivers, Last Shadow Puppets) then sat in the lounge upstairs for an interview with former Dirtbomb and current Amoeba employee Tom Lynch.

While I generally despise all five of us being interviewed at once, for some reason Lynch was a formidable foe able to keep us all in check and conduct a provoking and spirited interview.

It took a song or two before I realized that I was playing without any pain in my knee. What a relief. We did Surrounded save for "Race to the Bottom" and "La Fin Du Monde" and best compliment of the tour came from Utrillo of the legendary ATP mainstays Comets on Fire. Simply put, his "Man, these guys are LOUD" could not have come from a more-approving person.

Immediately after finishing our set we had to tear down all our shit, load it in the van and then trek the half-mile up to the Independent so that we could soundcheck there. Some straight-up, hardcore pure giging bullshit. Our main man Kurt Schlegel came to the rescue at the soundboard and made everything run nice and smoothly.

The Terrible Twos got to play in front of a good crowd and that made me happy. Sartain vomited right before (or right after?) we played because he'd eaten some iffy oysters earlier.

Set with DB's was everything it needed to be. The room was packed and appropriate energies were both given and received from the stage. They didn't even to hesitate to dance. As a band we could ask for nothing more and I genuinely think the crowd couldn't either.

Next day a hellacious drive to L.A. The heat blazing again, the air conditioning somehow not self-repairing and some traffic snarls aside, we actually made it in time to squeeze out a soundcheck. The Terrible Twos were not so lucky. I think they finally got to the club about 15 minutes after they were supposed to start playing. The Troubadour told them to not even bother bringing in their equipment and instead they got to talk to Mike Watt and drink our beers.

During Sartain's set the smoke machine spits its acrid bile and he says "Don't you know you're not allowed to smoke in bars here?" To which the sound guy (the fucking SOUND guy!) replies in an otherwise silent room "It's water-based!"

As if any more documentation or scholarship was needed to drive home the fact that "sound" guys as a whole are complete and utter wastes of Leatherman tools and the ability to repeat the words "tsoo, tsoo" ad nauseum, I hereby offer your more grist for the milling.

Dirtbombs set felt proper. Some of the Twos joined us for the encore…Ko climbed the big metal lighting rig, Pat pulled out his floor tom and rocked that solo and while he left others to worry about the beat to "Kung Fu" and for a second it all felt perfect.

Post show ranting from Watt was welcome as he'd never seen us before and testified to his mind being blown. What a guy. As the place empties there's a few stragglers, one I feel particularly wary of. A friend comes up and says he has someone he wants to introduce me to…and the questionable straggler is Ben Sheppard of Soundgarden. To top it off, he's a Dirtbombs fan.

That alone made my night and would've topped the tour had I not ended up behind the wheel of a minivan packed with people from bands such as Melvins, the White Stripes, Nirvana, the Gories and Soundgarden trying to catch last call at the Wagon Wheel and nervous that my car wreck earlier in the week had been some sort of precursor to a Day the Music Died Tragedy.

We arrived at the Wagon Wheel safely and the most memorable exchange between the two Ben's went something like this:

BB: I saw Soundgarden at the Palace of Auburn Hills on the Down on the Upside tour…Rocket From the Crypt and Tenderloin opened…you came out and played bass with them…

BS: …I played guitar with them…

BB: …you played guitar with them for a song. At the end of the set you did the big encore…Cornell put his Les Paul on top of his amp and stood on it like it was a surfboard until he snapped the neck off. It was amazing.

BS: (nothing)

BB: So after that, the house lights come on and music starts playing and they begin to usher people out of the arena. Out of nowhere you guys come back on stage, Cornell says something like "Turn the fucking lights off! We're gonna play some more!" and you proceed to blow everyone's mind.

BS: (nothing)

BB: What I've been dying to know for over ten years is…was that at all planned?

BS: Hell no! We'd have been dying to get out of there as soon as possible. We could've never planned something like that.

BB: Good. Thank you for restoring my faith in rock and roll.

Next day onward to San Diego and I slept the whole drive there. If ever existed a club other than the Casbah in this town, I'd never know it. Only recently have I discovered that there actually exists shit to do around there. Ambled up Kettner Ave to a bar that had a horrid band and excellent cheeseburgers/fish tacos. We ordered carry-out, me with the praise-worthy cheese burg, and ate it on the water as the sun slowly faded.

Good time chilling with Twos before the show. Learned the story of their tour last summer with the Frustrations in which they had a contest to see who could go the longest without masturbating. But some tough decisions had to be made…apparently actually hooking up with a girl did not disqualify one from the competition (as depriving a band mate of that most basic need would be cruel) but if you had TWO wet dreams you were eliminated.

As they put it, one wet dream was forgivable. After the second one, though, it's like you're consciously trying to make it happen. And it seems some offense was taken in the fact that one of these wet dreams occurred while the band was staying at one of their grandma's house.

I love the Terrible Twos more and more each day.

With Sartain in his second hometown and I think we brought the noise. Dirtbombs did our thing and the Tan Diego crowd is always appreciative. Watching Craig from the Twos rock out while we're playing was priceless. He'd keep begging for "Cedar Pointe '76" and resorted to saying stuff (true or not doesn't matter) like "Yeah, uh, I was out in the crowd and, uh, there was a bunch of fans out there all complainin' that you didn't do 'Cedar Pointe' so you should probably, you know, start to, uh, do it again." We'd throw him a bone a few days later in Kansas and he danced like a fool. And I really wouldn't want to have it any other way.


Anonymous said...

it's interesting, amusing, well-written and all that but I think it's the enthusiasm for music that keeps us coming back for more.

it's something you can't really fake and something that is seemingly rare in this day and age.

Anonymous said...

C,mon, "waterbased" was a great fucking comeback, at least on par with the statement that spawned it, and you know it.

Jess said...

Hey- though you might enjoy this. Please take a chance to listen and let me know if you would be intrested in reviewing it!
Happy listening,


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cbearden said...

I myspaced Sartain about yer blog and he was curious and amused. He said he just looked for his name; "like in a friends suicide note".