Our buddy Pete Schreiner (Thousand Arrows, The Coke Dares, Magnolia Electric Company, Sam Lowry & The Circumstance) is adding a new gig to his resume as he plays sideman to Scout Niblett on her current tour. Pete is keeping us in the loop of the ups and downs of the road with this tour diary.
Wake up cold in my sleeping bag with all my clothes and my coat on. Hat has slipped off in the night. I put it back on. The wifi is back so I get on the internet for a bit. This morning Scout needs to head downtown to deal with some stuff at the British Embassy; meanwhile Dan and I have the day off until load-in tonight. Actually we have to meet back at the warehouse to load our gear back into the van so we can go to the show. We had brought it all in for anti-theft purposes. Our host Dave makes a couple press pots of coffee for everyone before he goes to work.
Dan used to live in this ares so he’s my guide. We walk to Four Barrel Coffee and I’m impressed as soon as we arrive. Dave has a shop in the same building where he does welding for the coffee shop and other projects. Out in front are two amazing vertical bike racks with trellises over them. Totally cool design. They are the first vertical ones approved for street use in SF. We get some coffees (excellent) and have a quick tour of the place and the welding shop in the cellar. Dave shows us some works-in-progress.
Dan has contacted his uncle and we’re gonna meet him for lunch at the wharf. We walk for a bit and get on the BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit) train. The subway kinda reminds me of the one in Warsaw, Poland. Could they be by the same designer? I haven’t checked. Few stops and we go above ground. Walked out a pier with a view of the Bay Bridge. Good view of the skyline walking back. San Francisco is a cool place. i’ve never had a great handle on it. Seems like anything goes there. All kinds of people in all kinds of states. We meet up with Uncle Jimmy and his friend John. Jimmy is definitely a relation of Dan’s. Both of them are super friendly, outgoing, good guys. We were gonna go to a counter at the wharf but Jimmy decides we should go to the Tadich Grill, an upscale seafood place that’s been around since 1849. The chowder was awesome, maybe the best I’ve had, with the perfect amount of sweetness. I had a broiled Sea Bass which ruled and I gotto try the Dungeness crab salad too. Killer.
We head off together and stop for pics at the public holiday park that had a giant fake Christmas tree and temporary ice skating rink. Back on the BART toward the Mission. Hundreds of kids are returning from a field trip. I can’t imagine wrangling all of them across a city on the train. They are crowding the subway cars and annoying other riders but I thought it was great. Kids have crazy energy and exuberance and especially in mob form. Off the train, above ground, walk to Dolores Park where we see a blimp and the moon out. Then to a co-op style yuppie grocery to meet the gang. I got talking to some random dudes and managed to lose my party. I had a key to the warehouse so I headed back to get some work done.
Worked on the computer for a bit. I felt scummy from sleeping in my clothes so I took a quick shower. Folks showed up and we loaded the gear up and drove to the venue. Hemlock Tavern. I’d heard it was a good spot. Barup front and music room in the back. The old double-edged sword. Great for patrons who aren’t there for the show, but it’s a bummer if the bar is bumpin’ and nobody comes in to the music room. We did OK on that end. I missed the openers unfortunately while I was visiting with my friend Maral. Picastro did well. We set up and played a good set.
I only missed two bands that we played with on this tour. That’s pretty good. I always try to see everyone if I can; at least a few songs. I like hearing new stuff. Sometimes on tour though you can get burned out on too much music or just need that precious time for something else.
The club was cool enough but they wanted us to load out right away. We mobilized and got everything packed up fast. In the haste though it seems that we left Dan’s black bag with his pedals and cords in it. That blows. Drove back to the warehouse. Unloaded all the gear in to the space again. There’s a bar at the corner where we can catch last call. I make a phone call and go in for a Tecate. Bar’s closing. The warehouse often becomes the after party spot so we sneak out and across the street to beat the hangers-on. Few show up. Couple drinks. Band is ready for bed. We find the quietest spots but it’s mainly one big open room. Tired enough to drift off even though i can’t find the sleeping pad from last night. I laid the sleeping bag down on the uneven wood floor. The bag is thin and I need to be inside for the warmth. Clothes and coat are on. Most uncomfortable sleeping spot of tour but not bearable.
Woke up at 4:30 or 5 when I hear an argument blow up in French or Belgian; nobody was certain the next day which language it was. Others seem to be dealing with it so I stayed down. Seems that it was a couple fighting; at least the dude had been blowing coke all night and was getting physical with the wife. Not cool. Word was also that they were swingers and were trying to get with various ladies and men throughout the wee hours. Most of this is second hand and unverified so I can’t say for sure but there was definitely an obnoxious blow-up. This is why we were sneaking around avoiding the after-party scene.
Morning comes. We are gonna grab coffees and some food and head out for our twelve-hour drive north. Joe from Picastro is riding with us to hang next day with a friend in Portland. I generally like to leave early on long drive days to avoid fatigue later. But I’m patient about being on the more normal band schedule of dawdling aimlessly and making pre-departure stops. We get some more Four Barrel java and snacks at the market. Roll out around noon.
Three drivers take turns at the wheel and we have a pleasant trip home. Joe has a bunch of avant/experimental CDs that we cycle through. I enjoyed some of the discs, respected others. We have yet to stop at an In n Out Burger. It’s been a staple on the last tours; at least an enjoyed novelty. Decent-quality fresh made burgers and fries at fair prices sold by friendly people in clean restaurants. Not bad but you’re still eating burgers and fries in the end. And giving money to Christian propagandists. Anyhow the last location on our route is in Redding, CA at a convenient interval so we hit it. Joe’s first time there and he was into it. I got the single and fries and a choco/vanilla shake. In n Out is known for the secret menu. The store menu has just burgers, fries, and shakes and drinks. All the secret menu items are pretty tame though—just different combinations of the regular ingredients. For instance, you can get cheese, grilled onions, and burger sauce on the fries; this is called “animal style.” You can just order what you want directly though which is less fun maybe, but easier.
Starbucks stop and back at it. Great clear driving weather until three hours outside of Portland. We get to town around midnight. No show tonight but we play here tomorrow. Scout drops me off and I get to sleep in my own bed, which is a mattress on the floor. I pride myself on specifically NOT living like a college kid, but I still have a goddamn mattress-on-the-floor as a bed. Ridiculous.
I do laundry, unpack and catch up on a few things. And feel sick. Sometimes homecoming means your body lets itself relax from hyper-vigilant germ fighting road-mode. Then the accumulated filth-life can take over. Sleeping on dirty party warehouse floors isn’t even as bad as hotel floors. Hotels are disgusting. Ask for the average room-cleaning time at your favorite chain. If there are still pubes on the bathroom floor, stains on the bedspreads (have they ever been washed?), and M & M’s in the chair, what else did they miss? A different set of dirty careless humans are in that room every night, spilling various forms of DNA and filth on every surface. So it’s not hard to pick up some germs.
Meet up at Mississippi Studios in North Portland at 5 pm. Good sound check with Jason. Mississippi has a nice system with plenty of monitors on stage. Kill some time and then show starts with Dan’s band H∞kers. Instrumental three-piece. They are really good; gotta be to keep the instrumentals interesting. Fast and tight set. Some equipment issues didn’t slow ‘em down much. Picastro played well too. We got up and played well to an enthusiastic crowd. My first time playing at the venue and it’s a good place. I hope to play there again soon in some capacity.
Pack up and load out. Drop off the gear and get a ride home. I had planned on walking but my place is an hour by foot so I’m happy for the lift. Tour is over. Back to regular life. I haven’t had much work lately so I don’t have a grind to get back to. Dan has to work at 7 am. He says, “I wish I wasn’t working in the morning.” I say, I wish was. Grass is always greener…
I have a show drumming in the Early Hours later in the week and a solo tour to plan. Gotta figure out Xmas gifts on no budget. Crap. Tour is an escape. It’s work but mostly enjoyable. I think of it as a working vacation. Great way to see the country and/or the world in tiny doses. You may see a good side of a given town in your 24 hours there or you may see some shit. Next time might be the opposite and the place is still batting 500. Go back a few times and you can form a better opinion and get a deeper sense of the town or city or region. We are born and raised without much choice in the locale. Touring has been a great way for me to survey the USA and foreign countries and I cannot imagine my life without those experiences. Thanks for sharing these ones.
Photo notes: all pictures by Pete Schreiner except:
Pt. 3 me at the computer by Amy Drever
Pt. 6 Dan and I packing gear by Chris Barber
Pt. 7 me doing stand-up by Emma Niblett
Pt. 7 Bob and I’s sausage tug-o-war by Dan Wilson
Pt. 8 Scout and I repairing mirror by Dan Wilson