Friday, April 08, 2011

Coast To Coast #2: Higher Place

There are many different types of shows.

There's the "Everything That Could've Gone Wrong--Including Locust Attack--Went Wrong Show."

There's the "Everything That Could've Gone Right--Including Backstage Engagement To Minka Kelly--Went Right Show."

There's everything in between, including the "Good, But Not Memorable Show," the "Grinding It Out Through Illness Show," the "Homecoming As Glorified Excuse To Party and Trade Songs With My Favorite People Show," the "Fun, But Playing At the Wrong Venue Or For the Crowd Show."  The list goes on.

I'll be honest: Wednesday's show at the Hotel Cafe in LA wasn't in the "Minka Kelly" category.  Don't get me wrong--it was much closer to the "Minka Kelly" category than the "Locust Attack" category.  The room's one of my favorites to play.  It sounds like heaven, and the staff's great.  The crowd was very nice and complimentary after the set, and I made some new friends and fans.  All the external stuff went well; I just felt off.  Maybe it was first-show-of-the-tour energy, maybe it was singing-too-much-in-the-car throat fatigue, maybe both, maybe something else.  I didn't really get settled until the last few songs of the set.  Hey, it happens. 

I remember when Pearl Jam released their Binaural tour concerts for individual retail.  I bought the CDs for the two shows I attended, plus one more that had a really unusual setlist.  That happened to be their first show of the tour.  Halfway through a pretty sharp set, Eddie apologized to the audience for catching the first show, saying it was their misfortune to hear the band "rehearsing," working out the kinks.

Am I comparing myself to Pearl Jam in this scenario?  Sure, why not.

Anyway, after the set, I was still feeling a bit off.  Then, I checked my phone to find a few voicemails and texts from friends asking how the set went.  I saw a few tweets pumping up the show.  I met some folks in the crowd and handed out some CDs.  Later that night, I read an email from a friend saying she's enjoying the tour blogs.  Another email--from a venue booker across the country--offered me a gig and implored me to "drive safe."  Then I spent the rest of the night getting a late dinner and catching up with two old friends.

By night's end, I certainly didn't "feel off."  So, what I'm trying to say is this: thank you.  Y'all are rocketfuel.

Meanwhile, back on the road...

The good and bad thing about the drive up California and into Oregon: it's gorgeous.  This is good because it makes for a really scenic, fun, interesting drive.  This is bad because, at some point, you start driving through all those pretty mountains, and then there's a snowstorm, and steep hills, and sharp turns, and semis on the side of the road, and trucks kicking up ice onto the windshield...and this goes on for 150 miles. 

By the time I stopped in Medford, Oregon, I was so tired and my eyes so fuzzy that I felt drunk.  I had a phone conversation with my brother that I hardly remember before falling asleep in front of a Utah Jazz game. 

One night and another 270 miles later, I'm in Portland, Oregon!

Here is what I know about Portland:
1) This song, which is completely awesome, and playing in my headphones as I type this sentence.

2) It has one of the most star-crossed sports franchises of any place not named Cleveland.

3) There is a new show called "Portlandia," which people seem to like and not like.

4) A lot of good music has come out of here in the last 5-10 years: Blitzen Trapper, The Decemberists, anything Carrie Brownstein (Sleater-Kinney) does, etc. 

4) Everytime I told someone I was coming through Portland, their immediate response was either:
a) "Ohmygod, I LOVE Portland!" OR
b) "Ohmygod, I want to go to Portland!"

So, this city's got a great publicist.  Or, it's just awesome.  Or both.  After a quick loop of downtown and a few hours hanging out in the very-walkable-super-trendy-yet-relaxed neighborhood of tonight's venue, I'm leaning towards "just awesome."  One thing I've already noticed: people here are folksy.  Not faux-folksy in a "we demand you spell it S-H-O-P-P-E" way.  Really folksy.  Landscapers tip their caps to passersby.  Baristas look you in the eye.  Everyone seems at ease, and nice, but also like they could be dropped in the woods and have a cabin built in thirty minutes. 

And, in a twist of quirkiness straight out of "Portlandia," tonight's show is at converted funeral home that rapidly became one of the city's best music venues.  And, naturally, it's called The Woods.

Can't wait to play again.

How's your week going?

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