✿Tour Recap - Week 2✿
Reading: Devo’s “Freedom of Choice” (from the 33 1/3 series) by Evie Nagy
Listening: Lucinda Williams, Lexie, Devo, the Have Company Podcast, the Rookie Podcast
Best Meal: Combo Platter (bbq tofu, mac n cheese, collard greens & cornbread) from Souley Vegan in Oakland
Favorite Show: San Francisco @ Rickshaw Stop
We hit the two-week mark a few days ago and I’m afraid I’m already slipping a little behind on my weekly commitment to post. It’s been difficult to create and probe my brain when during my downtime I’m most interested in napping. Also, the clicking function of my computer broke. But now I have a totally retro mouse attached to this old laptop & there’s still a lot to say! I wrote most of this post on the 14th, in the few hours I spent in the passenger seat as we drove toward Arcata, CA:
The last time I posted we were about to play our first show in Texas, in Houston at Walter’s. Walter’s is a big beautiful warehouse space, with some of the kindest crew of sound/ promoter/ bartender people I’ve ever met. The sound is great, there’s a cool record shop in the front, and they got us bahn mi sandwiches before the show: a diy-space utopia. After Walter’s we continued to make our way west, stopping in Austin for some vegan bbq at BBQ Revolution & to play at our friend Theo’s house. After our set I lay on the wooden deck out front and listened to Adult Mom through the open door while enjoying the summer night and the almost-full moon.
After Austin, things got weird. Firstly, the landscape changed drastically. We drove for hours down long empty roads, the land flat and barren and stretching for miles in either direction on our sides. We had to occasionally slow from our permitted 80 mph speed to accommodate a road runner’s crossing or avoid a little dust-tornado’s path. Other than an occasional abandoned home with boarded-up windows or a sign for a ranch, we didn’t see any indication of anyone.
About half an hour outside of Marfa, we cautiously drove through a little town, aware that cops in Texas are sticklers about speed, especially toward people with out-of-state plates. Three years ago, just as we were leaving the highway and entering a town in Texas, we immediately got pulled over. They’d trapped us: we’d barely had time to slow down, and thus were charged for going 70 in a 30. We got a $300 ticket, which I’m realizing now that our dear friend Ian, the driver at the moment, unfairly payed for in its entirety. Sorry Ian :( This time around, cautious as we were, we still got pulled over. I was especially nervous because I had a little vial of weed oil on me that I use to fall asleep. The cop wasn’t a hard-ass, thankfully. He just told us we were going a whopping 37 in a 30, and hilariously asked Fran, “sir, is there a reason for your speed?” We got off with a warning.
A few minutes later, back on the quiet highway, surrounded by not much at all, Fran dropped me at an alcove off the road so I could take some video of our van. After I filmed the van drive past and disappear, I realized I was so alone. I looked around in all directions, and behind me noticed two men with cowboy hats and crossed arms, leaning against a white truck and watching me. As a woman, of course I’ve heard the warnings about women traveling and being alone in unfamiliar places. I didn’t want to be afraid, or prematurely judge complete strangers. But I was afraid. I tried to call Fran but couldn’t because of lack of service. I watched the men begin to talk with their heads bent and decided to walk a little closer to the main road, where still no cars other than our van had passed. A nervous minute later, our van swooped in to pick me up, and soon after, we arrived at the famed campground El Cosmico in the tiny art-hub of Marfa, TX. We snapped a dozen pictures with their pinterest-worthy yurts, tents, and candy-colored trailers and airstreams. We then kicked back in hammocks for a few minutes before dining on our supplies of instant rice, seaweed snacks, nutritional yeast, and avocado.
It’s hard to communicate how strange Marfa is. I’d been wanting to stop there ever since my friend Celia interned at the Chianti Foundation Museum a few years ago and posted strange and beautiful pictures of her in the desert with weird art sculptures. She described the place as a haven for transients and weirdos. It sort of was, but maybe not in the most authentic way. In our brief tour of the two-mile wide, 2000-population town, we encountered a disparity of architecture, one moment passing a row of abandoned homes with broken windows, and the next a seemingly 5-star restaurant with an accompanying $20-per-entre menu and a clientele that could have walked from the pages of Vogue. The town WAS charming and cute and strange, and I think I’d go again, but by the time we’d gotten there, it seemed like everyone was in on the perfectly-marketed secret.
For the show itself, which we played in exchange for free drinks and accommodation, we stood on a little stage outside as people sat at picnic tables and watched, the sun setting in the desert behind us. By the time Adult Mom played, the sky had faded to a dark blue, and with the christmas lights strung above their heads and the distant sound of crickets and unknown wildlife, we could have been at a cute summer wedding. We drank wine from cans then retreated to our tents.
The next morning I had a mean hangover and loudly exclaimed to anyone I passed that I was Never Drinking Again. We stopped at Marfa Burrito, which is really just a kitchen inside a woman’s home. She didn’t speak much English, and I know embarrassingly little Spanish. She kept pointing to her eyes and then to me and saying “muy bonita” and nodding her head. I ordered “dos burriots, no queso” and Fran and I ate them as we drove out of town, Heeyoon opting to eat more instant rice & seaweed.
The burritos were SPICY and turned evil when paired with my black coffee from the campsite. By the time we were twenty miles out of town, I desperately needed to go to the bathroom. A sign told us we were seventy miles from any services and I was becoming frantic. In the distance we saw an abandoned blue porta potty and pulled over quick. I stepped out into the 100+ degree desert heat and cautiously approached the structure. I opened the door slowly, with my arm outstretched, standing as far away from the stall as possible, half-expecting a rattlesnake to jump out at me. A few flies buzzed out of the stall and around me. Already kind of knowing what to expect, I lifted the lid of the toilet with the tip of my shoe. Immediately, a swarm of flies shot up out of the bubbling murk and I ran screaming back toward the van. I made it in one piece to the service area, which we could see from ten miles away because of how flat and empty the surrounding land was.
After Marfa, we played in Tucson, which I’d also consider an unusual town by my east-coast standards. Because of how expensive it is to dig deep foundations, most of the buildings are only one-story high, painted colors that faded to pastel in the sun. Each home seemed to have its own gigantic, almost cartoony, cactus in the front yard, which I guess is the south-west version of the east-coast’s maple or oak tree. In all the traveling we’ve done, most places in the US at least have some semblance of familiarity: green grass, leafy green trees, two-story development homes… Tucson had none of that. Everything was tan and pastel and miniature and brittle and it was over one-hundred degrees as our show started around 9pm. The show was ok- the person I’d been in contact with about it had dropped the ball and stopped responding, but luckily a sweet person named Logan stepped in and saved it, helping run door and promotion.
Afterward at Logan’s, he explained that he was a 5th generation Tucscon-ian, with his great-great grandparents moving there when Arizona wasn’t even a state yet. He’d been told stories from his family about how Tucson used to be the true “wild-west,” where cowboys really did murder indians and visa versa. The only form of government or police was a collective of townspeople at the local saloon who let their family and friends get free passes on crimes and murders.
The next day we stopped and got pre-made sandwiches and massive bottles of water from Trader Joe’s, then made the two-hour drive to Phoenix. When we got there, we went to Goodwill, where I bought two dresses, and then to a place called Nami for their veganized version of the DQ Blizzard. Afterward, we spent a long time contemplating “what to do,” not used to having so much free time. I grew frustrated with the scheming and instead of articulating that I’d enjoy some alone time doing nothing, I became cranky, crawling into the backseat of the van and passive-aggressively putting my headphones on as my bandmates asked what I wanted to do. We eventually settled on swimming in Tyler’s parents’ pool with the Adult Mom crew. I apologized with my tail between my legs.
After swimming, Bruce and I switched off on calling local Chipotles to try and get free meals, a successful endeavor in four previous cities. I’d call and say something like, “hi, my name is Katie and I’m in a band that’s playing in ___city, I was wondering if you do complimentary meals for touring bands?” Sometimes people said no immediately, that they’d never heard of that happening, sometimes they offered us half off, and on a few lucky occasions, they said, “sure, come on down!”, or, once, a very grumpy, “I guess so.” After calling six or seven with no luck, we settled on just going to Taco Bell for dinner with the gift cards we’d been given as part of Taco Bell’s “Feed the Beat” program. While waiting for everyone to dress, and hankering for a vegetable, I took one last shot at calling Chipotle. I tried one just outside of the city and lo and behold… they bit the hook.
Our show in Phoenix at Trunk Space was fantastic- lots of excited and kind people came out to showed support, and we played with Diners, an incredible life-affirming band with unshatterable pop hooks. The next morning I grabbed a tasty breakfast burrito from Nami and we set out for Pomona, getting to town just an hour before our show. We played at the infamous diy space VLHS & afterward stayed with our friends Rachel & Tony in their cute cottage on a hill in Redwood. I slept poorly because their sofa-bed dipped a little in the middle and Fran rolled right into it, leaving me at a slight angle on the side. I’m used to just sleeping on the flat floor, so I can get pretty fidgety on squishy surfaces.
The next morning we ate vegan donuts in from The Crumb & Heeyoon convinced me to go to a Korean spa. I sat in a hot bath and in a sauna and a salt room and even snoozed for a second on a cot in a dark & cool designated “sleeping room.” Part of me felt a little anxious that I wasn’t going out and exploring LA but I mostly didn’t care & deeply enjoyed being quiet and taking care of myself. After the spa I grabbed a sloppy veggie burger and cheesy fries from Doomies with Eloy before braving the LA traffic en route to our early show at Junior High. Our show went well & ended at the blessedly early hour of 10:00 PM. Afterward we stayed with Aaron from Lauren Records, who had saved our butts earlier in the evening by bringing a few microphones to the space when there previously wasn’t any working ones. We introduced Aaron to our favorite show to watch on tour, MTV’s Catfish, & the next morning, like a shining star, he brought us donuts from Donut Friend.
We finished up week two on a strong note with a pretty well-attended (both in terms of the general crowd & crowd of friends) show at Rickshaw Stop, where we played with SOAR, one of my favorite bands I’ve seen on tour so far. Afterward, pancakes & a stay at my friend Amanda’s place in Oakland. Till next time. -kb