En route to Portland

We returned from Europe with 1 day to rest and then headed up to Milwaukee Wisconsin to start our 6-week(?) (open-ended, we don’t know when it will stop!) tour, playing at Marquette University, in the cafeteria, where we’ve played a bunch of times with Soul Asylum. We were complete basketcases; I know we played with two great bands that night, but all I remember was Rob from the band dis- letting me into his office to check my email. I don’t even remember where we slept – we left for the west the next day. We’re all pretty disoriented, but happy.

Buffalo Are Not Yet Extinct

I am sitting in the passenger seat of the van, typing this as Howie, our drummer, attempts to manuever the van through the green, tree-covered mountains en route to Portland, Oregon. Howie already doesn’t really like to drive the van, and he’s pretty nervous on these twists and turns. We are all from Illinois, which is completely flat. There are no twists, turns or mountains where we live. As I marvel loudly at how beautiful the landscape is, I wonder if I’m trying to calm Howie or irritate him more.

Portland, OR, is the most punk-rock city that I know of. We are playing tonight with Clawhammer, Tsunami, and Zumpano, at a club called La Luna. I was worried about the high ($6) ticket price of this show because I know that Portland shows are generally inexpensive, but I think that the lineup on this show will bring people out.

Since we are almost on the west coast now, every truck stop has espresso machines. It’s an odd sight for a midwesterner to see; a guy in a “Protected by Smith&Wesson” fishing hat walking around with a double capuccino. Not as odd a sight as the herd of 9 buffalo we saw earlier, shuffling down the side of the road around the Continental Divide between Montana and Idaho. I screeched the van to a halt, woke everyone up and we ran out towards the friendly buffalo with our cameras, just as a huge police truck came barreling the other direction down the interstate, sirens blaring and lights flashing, a techno-cattle-herder. He drove straight into the herd of buffalo, blaring his sirens, and had to slow down because the animals just sort of turned around and looked at him like, “What. the. hell?” He was trying to get them off the interstate, to protect both them and motorists, I’m sure. I was waiting to hear a gunshot, but I heard none.

Portland ROX

Portland, Oregon, is an incredible town. For one thing, they have a huge bookstore called Powells, which we will spend about 3 hours in tomorrow. They have The Spinanes, Pond, Hazel, and some other great bands. Once after a show in Portland, at about 4am, we went to a restaurant in a tiny house, that served the greatest macaroni-and-cheese gourmet meal I’d ever tasted. The waiters wore formal attire, the place was dark and candle-lit, and the stereo blasted AC/DC. There are many wonderful used-clothing and furniture stores in Portland. And one of my favorite sights is punk rockers hanging around a bookstore, reading. You see that a lot here. I love Portland. I could live here.

Bozeman ROX MORE

The most amazing show we had in the last couple of days was in Bozeman, MT. Those people really know how to drink on a Tuesday night. This was the 2nd crowd this week with people hanging off the lighting fixtures on the ceiling as we played. There is such a difference, night-to-night, in our crowds. Sometimes there are the snooty indie-rockers (the group we belong to) who don’t dance, and then sometimes there are the frat guys in backwards baseball caps, only here to mosh. We appreciate anyone who walks in the door, but as absurd as it sounds, it’s a lot easier to convince yourself that people are enjoying the show when they move around. All shows are fun, and all must be played with the exact same intensity (200%); no matter who is watching you, dancing people, bored people, or no one. Poster Children Rule #1.

Portland Epilogue; Tsunami For President

It is after the Portland show, and we are getting ready to fall asleep on Rebecca from The Spinanes’ floor and amazing 10ft long couch. The show was a load of fun, and I especially enjoyed seeing Tsunami for the first time; I had met them before and we have mutual friends, Gods Of The World: Mercy Rule. The Tsunami girls can sing, and the music is not wimpy at all. It is a wonder to me every time I see a band that has actual people who can sing like professionals, coming from my indie-rock background. La Luna was sparsely populated tonight, probably because Ice Cube played there last night. (Yeah, right.) Anyway, we had a blast, and this was the first show where audience members knew what POGs were (our record label has made little Poster Children pogs for us to pass out to people, but no one in the midwest has ever seen a POG. Variations in pop culture across the country are astounding sometimes.) I look forward to playing in Seattle tomorrow, especially since it’s only a 3-hour drive.