11
Jul

Red Tank! Tour Diary II: Oakland through Sacramento

The following events took place during a tour which ran from June 24 through July 11, 2015.

In the morning, our host, Kelsea, took us to a Brazilian breakfast restaurant. She also took us through a trail in the redwoods, which was, amazingly enough, just around the corner from Storey House. We turned the corner from civilization and instantly found ourselves in ancient forestry. In Oakland, we ran into some more trouble. After our mishap in San Diego, we double-checked to make sure all of our bar shows would still be kosher with the underage performers.

Apparently the Oakland bar owner wasn’t talked to directly and it totally wasn’t kosher. Jeff’s communication was with a band who helped book the show (but wasn’t actually playing that evening). For a while the other underage band, Twitches, and the other band on the bill, The Truants, tried to figure out an alternate location to play. I drank a few beers, let Jeff run damage control, and waited for things to sort themselves out. The bartender was sympathetic and gave me a free beer. Someone from the other bands came up with a spot, a warehouse / art space called The Foundry in Berkeley. We drove over and congregated around a locked gate that was flanked by resting panther statues. We smoked cigarettes and killed time for a while–only to find that the address information was wrong and the actual address was a few blocks down.

We all drove and walked to the third location. A strange stew of demoralization, frustration, and serendipitous adventure was in the air as we made our way to the last stretch of the proverbial scavenger hunt. We pulled up to the warehouse, climbed the steps and found ourselves on a suspended wooden platform that was furnished with recycled church pews. It looked like a skeleton of a building that Spiderman would fight a bad guy in. It was, truthfully, the venue I wanted to play all along. The owner turned on the lights, laid down the rules, and started drinking a few beers. He explained how he had just returned from some jam band festival in Colorado that his girlfriend dragged him to.

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The Truants and The Twitches performed before us. Despite a few mishaps, the show turned out to be one of the best so far. Somehow there were still about 30 people who made it (including some of the bar staff who, themselves, played in bands). The energy was palpable. Our performance was frenzied and focused. The other bands were great and it was amazing. Afterwards, we drove to San Francisco and stayed with Jeff’s friend, Phil–a zany former Mormon with wild hair and circle-frame glasses. The other guys headed in while Sam and I sought out parking. While the city was beautiful, parking was a psychosis-inducing hellscape. We ended up having to park about a mile and a half from Phil’s and walked up and down hills to get back.

We got breakfast in the morning while Phil went to his dentist appointment. I had an inkling that the waitstaff were secretly my best friends, seeing as how they were wearing Guitar Wolf and RVIVR shirts. We stopped by a used book store and picked up anti-capitalist, subaltern, etc. reading materials before playing soccer with some local kids in the park.

We played at a bar called El Rio. It was a really cool place with an extensive back patio. We were parked in a precarious spot, but Jeff and I went in to greet the owner and get the details for the show. The bartender gave me a beer but Jeff suggested we unload the gear first. Because of our parking situation and inability to anticipate the best course of unloading, we ended up having to move the cargo four separate times in order to get it to a suitable location. I was getting progressively more frustrated with each movement phase. My beer warmed for half an hour and I was acting like kind of an asshole to Jeff as a result, even though it wasn’t anything he could have feasibly foresaw.

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Though it’s important to be efficient and have foresight on the road, ultimately our gear is more important and expensive than a cold beer. I guess sometimes captains lose their cool. The show itself was alright. We ran into Dadadoh (one of our friends from Phoenix who was on tour with Fairy Bones). I talked to an architect from Portland and another young couple about anime before our set. We played with Spank Bank and Parae. One of Spank Bank’s members was originally from Phoenix, so he was stoked to play with us. I think he mentioned seeing us a few years ago. Parae was cool, dark, wavy stuff and their drummer had a really interesting idiosyncratic style. We had to leave almost immediately after (because of the parking situation) but we went back to Phil’s and played a home-brew, freeform “Alice In Wonderland” inspired session of Dungeons & Dragons before bed.

We drove over the Golden Gate Bridge and drove 6 or 7 hours to Sacramento. Unfortunately we didn’t get a chance to see the “Full House” house.

C’est la vie.

In Sacramento, lush forestry and dense urban landscape settled into flat terrain and a less dense cityscape. City streets were condensed to single letters and it felt a lot calmer than the considerably more frantic San Francisco living we had just left.

We played a bar show at The Press Club in Sacramento with Pisscat and The Baddest Beams. One of the dudes from The Baddest Beams wore a Bauhaus shirt and had some bizarrely interesting lyricism. I had an inkling that he frequented a particularly popular online music imageboard, which he confirmed. We talked to the Pisscat guys about Dungeons & Dragons and comic books. The bands were good, but for a city which was the breeding ground of a band like Death Grips, you might have imagined a bit more exciting scenery.

 

We also ran into Dadadoh and Fairy Bones, who helped provide a place to stay for the evening.

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Roles, responsibilities, teamwork, and maturity are certainly important things to keep in mind, not just on road, but also in a band in general (and possibly in real life, but I wouldn’t know anything about that). We’re all out here together trying to “take care of business” and have fun. Sometimes things just have to be done for the sake of the group. I’m making tough decisions, delegating and basically being a dad when I have to. Jeff is the first mate and treasurer. Sam primarily handles driving duties. Dean and Elijah handle miscellaneous duties such as tying bags to the car. Cohesion, being respectful of each others’ space, and doing what needs to be done keeps things moving. We also crack jokes constantly, which tends to put everyone at ease (especially hosts and other bands).

However, it’s also very important to carve out some alone time or go for a walk, even if it’s just a few minutes to keep your head clear. When you’re breathing the same air and sharing the same space with anyone 24/7, there is bound to be conflict occasionally.

“It’s how those conflicts are resolved and how good of a relationship you have with your bandmates in the first place that dictate how smoothly things will go from there. I’m glad everyone in the band genuinely cares for and appreciates each other, even outside of the context of the band. Sometimes you hear about bands falling apart on the road because of the stress, constant proximity or maybe from not really liking each other in the first place. In our case, I feel like we’re all growing a lot and becoming better. In general, touring is a tumultuous affair with mental and physical states often on the verge of fragility. There’s no choice but to stay calm and thrive on the waves of chaos.

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