We—Steven, Keesha and I—left Boise on Friday afternoon. Since we had plenty of time before our first gig in Tacoma on Saturday, we decided to stop at the abandoned concrete plant on the side of I-84. It’s one of those places that every time you drive by, you say you want to stop at to explore or shoot a post-apocalyptic film at, but never actually do. We wanted to change that mentality.
However, that’s when the my trusty rusty Volvo decide to get snitty. It lurched to a halt right in front the plant. Since we chose to stop there anyhow, we decided to not to worry yet, that maybe the car just needed some rest from the summer heat. So we set off to explore and give it the time it might need.
It was a truly creepy place, that had everything from burnt-out shells of building littered with old paperwork to flooded staircases full of mechanical debris. The ruins also sported all kinds of graffiti and were infested with chipmunks. Really, it would be an amazing place for some sort of ritual murder or to slip into a hole and never be seen again. If you’re driving by, definitely stop and take a look around.
Strangely enough, there were two other cars stopped there as well, and both of them were traveling bands. One of them, Lights in the Sky, had played Boise the night before and had some mutual friends with Steven in Tacoma. Randomtastic indeed.
We spent nearly two hours exploring the factory and shot some live performance videos inside of an old concrete storage tank that had a really cool reverb.
When we tried the car again, it started no problem. We didn’t run the air conditioning after that and didn’t have any more problems for the rest of the drive.
Upon our arrival we got the bittersweet surprise of learning that The Weekly Volcano, a Tacoma alt-weekly, had done a half-page writeup on our show—see below. Awesome, except that the article managed to get nearly everything but the show deets wrong. It has a picture of Steven with a caption that talks about me being a poet. It didn’t make me mad, but it did remind me of the importance of fact-checking and how glad I am to have editors that are sticklers for it at Boise Weekly.
We spent the day practicing and taking some pictures at a beautiful park in Tacoma, Chambers Bay. It is a large grass area on Puget Sound that has ruins of an old factory incorporated into its design. Some of them look like Greek columns. There is also an underground tunnel with an amazing reverb that we played with for awhile. I’m sure it looked like we were on all kinds of drugs to those walking by, but fuck ’em.
We also met a really cool chalk artist there who comes back and draws on the same piece of concrete slab at the park every week, even though the police come and wash it away when he leaves. He said it was what kept him balanced.
After a few hours of that, we headed to the show.
The venue was in the back of a vintage clothing store, Urban X-Change, and was voted by Best All Ages venue by the Weekly Volcano. They weren’t wrong about this though. It was a great spot. Intimate, stylish, and packed with kids. Most of them were there to see The Deep Vs—which I’m pretty sure is some sort of vagina reference, though the manager of the store disagreed with me.
Bridgeport played first, powering through the four songs with the full band. It went pretty well, especially considering that I was playing bass instead of drums in Bridgeport and had only met Mike, the tour drummer, several hours earlier. After that, Godcrotch stepped up to the mic and did a few numbers. They went really well. And though it wasn’t the most engaged or dancy crowd I’ve ever played to, it stood in a start contrast to the level of apathy I often see at shows in Boise. Not just for me, but for anyone. I don’t like to denigrate a whole town or a scene, especially not the one I live in, but it was a remarkable difference.
As if just to prove it, the crowd even stayed and clapped for Run On Sunshine, an acapella performer whose performance is best described as fearless. He had no instrument to match his no sense of key or melody. What he did have, was a lot of songs about different cats that he knew in Arizona. Seriously. A lot of them. It was bizarrely compelling, a bit like the Jonathan Richman show I saw a few months ago, but with far far far far far far less talent. Arguably zero talent in fact. Just pure moxie.
After that came The Deep Vs, who played three Strokes covers, which I think is tacky, because it’s like saying you just want to be in that band instead of your own, but whatever. They’re young. Seeing the kids rush the stage for it though reminded me how little most people care for music in principle, and how much of their interest in it is actually tied to emotional experience—in this case, their friends. I remember that feeling as a high school kid, and it was rad.
But the problem was that since they were only invested in their friends and not the opportunity to see music in general, they didn’t stick around to see Rodney afterwards. He was a a really compelling singer songwriter with a soulful style and a stick to it spirit. He played through a guitar that wouldn’t stay in tune, an amp that wouldn’t work, a mic that cut out and a microphone stand that kept moving on him. There really wasn’t anything else left to go wrong. But his material was engaging enough to power through it, especially the vulnerability in his voice. I’m hoping he’ll come play in Boise sometime.
I sold one book and Steven left a few CDs at the store. Total take, around $60. Not bad for that sort of show. The next night, Steven played classical guitar at an Italian restaurant in Tacoma. That paid much better.
We’re off to Portland next, to play at Backspace, and hopefully do a house show and a book reading while we’re there.