News

Just a band and its will to surviiiiiiiiiiiiiive

Wednesday, June 21–Philadelphia

My throat starts hurting first thing. It feels familiar, as if I’ve been waiting for this all along. Only two more shows to go; hopefully, I can limp it home like an ailing car, block by block.

I nap in the hotel while the boys go in pursuit of a famous cheese steak. They bring me back one, but tell me they have misgivings, that the cheese steak joint might be really racist, that it had plaques honoring the officer shot by Mumia, etc. We find out later that this is a well-known racist cheese steak joint.

A homeless man calls Mike “Rocky.” As in “Got any change, Rocky?” Mike is slight and a redhead. Perhaps that’s the default address here, like Hoss or Boss or Man.

The Standard Tap is a 200 year-old space, beautiful and glowing with warmth; you can feel that people have been having a good time here for centuries. The person we’re playing the show with tells us that this bar has only recently started hosting shows. Normally this would be terrifying, but in this case it’s intriguing.

The stage is very small, an arched alcove, and we have to rig up my kick drum so that it’s hanging off the front, in order to accommodate the whole set. I have fantasies about kicking it into the audience on the last song. A couple of songs get bailed on because of my throat, but it’s the most fun we’ve had on stage, with a head bobbing audience who knows the words. Every person seems 100% like they want to be here, like they’re in it for the night.

After the Midwest the Dandy mentions dwindled, but have now been replaced by Counting Crows references about Omaha. We get two of these tonight.

To me, the difference between a person who makes art and an Artist is not the quality or quantity of what they produce, but their orientation to the world. They are like aliens our planet gets to borrow. Kurt Vile, who headlines the show, is an Artist. He is a crazy cocktail of seemingly incompatible elements—looks like Robert Plant, sings like Dylan and Jagger, plays like Sebadoh Freed Weed era and early Liz Phair. When I compliment the show he says, cryptically, “It gets worse every time.” He gives me two CDs and, along with them, the sense he is insanely prolific.

I befriend a guy named Patrick and because I am a singing drummer, we discuss Don Henley and both admit how much we like him. Perhaps, Patrick offers, Henley has too many “yes men” around, and this results in too many un-questioned musical choices, subverting his shot at worldwide domination. We make a plan to start a club called Henley’s, where only Henley’s music can be played. Henley himself will give regular live shows. We decide a California beach is the best Henleyesque location, but that there are obvious franchise opportunities and soon we will evangelize the whole country. Henley himself, of course, will be deeply grateful.

Kurt Vile’s posse has brought its own turntables and records, and once he’s done, they hold court in the red, womblike room, full of the totally game, totally onboard, crowd. Springsteen comes on and we laugh about how perfect, cliché even, that is in Philly. Who would have thought that the indie kids actually do love the Boss? Soon, the DJ quits pretending anyone wants to hear anything but the Boss, and the night turns into a total Springsteen fest. Everyone is dancing, going crazy. Patrick is not only a Henley devotee but an unbelievable dancer, whose style is a hybrid of Springsteen himself and Westside Story. He incorporates chairs into his routine, kicking off them like a donkey and swooping his leg over the backs. As a matter of fact, a lot of people start incorporating chairs. Patrick gets a glass shard in his hand when I show him how to do a vaudevillian dance move called a “coffee grinder.” As people get drunker, chairs go flying, and the waitress keeps saying, “All right, I’m shutting this party down,” but then she stops to dance.

I leave with a renewed appreciation of the Boss and in awe of how cool the people in Philly are. This is the most fun we’ve had on the whole tour, hands down.

In bed, the fun dissipates and I am unable to sleep, swallowing compulsively to gauge how screwed my throat is. Now it’s not just my throat—I’m officially sick. I pray we don’t have to cancel tomorrow.

Hot Shit

Tuesday, June 20–Buffalo/NYC day off

Buffalo to New York is longer than I think, but once we emerge from the Holland Tunnel, the city lights are energizing. Nick is the most competent driver I’ve ever met, swerving expertly and narrowly missing cab after cab. We pull in front of his old apartment around 9 o’clock and go to dinner with his old roommates. Mike eats a double cheeseburger, just to fully cement the stagnant load in his colon, which is growing so enormous, we had considered declaring it at the border. I feel for our dinner guests, since our level of discourse has devolved. We talk shit—literally–most of the time.

My second glass of wine knocks me out; my body is obviously spending most of its resources keeping me upright, leaving little left over for the processing of alcoholic beverages. The walk home is nice, but New York is starting to stink. The first time I ever came to New York was at this same time of year, June, with my college boyfriend. We were hanging out with a bunch of friends in a downstairs bar, and this older Russian guy kept forcing us to drink shots of vodka. I started stealthily pouring them into the pockets on the pool table, but my boyfriend wasn’t so lucky. Leaving, we all waited for him at the top of the stairs to the street. A garbage truck idled out front, and being fresh from Colorado, I was shocked by how foul the city smelled: everything hot, fetid, and reeking. My boyfriend finally stumbled up the stairs, took one deep sniff, and puked everywhere.

And that’s the truth, ththtpppppt.

Buffalo Soldiers

Monday, June 19–Buffalo

We hit Tim Hortons one more time on the way out of Canada. The landscape at the border is unbelievably beautiful, eerie with inlets and small forested islands. Crossing the border makes us very nervous, and as we’re driving away I can’t find our IDs. I pull over panicked and Nick and I explode into a huge fight from the buildup of stress over the last two weeks. It’s ugly, and afterwards I feel inexorably lonely.

Mapquest has a tragically incorrect entry for the club in Buffalo (the club has written 6 letters to the website trying to get it corrected) so we end up in a grandma neighborhood about 15 miles from the club. This is probably the only time bad directions are a relief, as it means we are not playing a show in a remote patch of ranch houses just off the highway.

We set an all-time record for the longest navigational/logistical goat rodeo. Our ETA for the club is 6PM; we roll in at 8 and they want to know where we’ve been. I’m begging telepathically, Please just be nice to us, or I’m going to completely lose my shit. And the wish is granted. We meet the other performers, Marianne Dissard and Naim Amor and their bands, who are just lovely, lovely people in all ways. The club is dark and sexy, very chic, and has a backstage where I can clean up. They’ve scheduled the night as a Francophilic extravaganza, as Marianne and Naim and both French singer/songwriters (via Tucson).

We play perhaps the best we’ve played all tour, and even if the audience is sedate, more prepared for Marianne and Naim than our garagey wailings, they are warm and kind. The Soundlab is my new favorite club (I’m fickle, I know).

Afterwards, we ask some local boys about Buffalo’s famous bands—they list Goo Goo Dolls, Rick James, Mary J Blige, and then tell me about some local band named, like, Fx7 that beats up other bands as a pastime, a second arena of distinction and talent. This is an exciting prospect, since our combined band weight is under 250.

As I’m walking back to the hotel alone, a cab driver honks and slows down. Suddenly, it dawns on me he thinks I’m a hooker, in my red lipstick, black dress, and sequined vest, so I flip him off (like that’s the international ‘I’m not a hooker’ signal).

In the morning, I get called a “dickhead”—by a woman!!–when I walk in front of her car as she’s trying to park. The streets of Buffalo and I are evidently having issues.

Les Francophonies

Sunday, June 18–Montreal

We have the day off, and fully intend to take advantage of an opportunity to do Francophone record shopping. But first Andrew makes us breakfast, as if having three virtual strangers and all their gear strewn about was an insufficient act of generosity. We hit three stores and find a jackpot. Tons of record singles—France Gall, Francoise Hardy, and Jacques Dutronc, and a Harmonium (70s Quebecois prog rock) album with a trippy butterfly drawing on the jacket. At Primitive, we meet Marie who informs us that the Michel Polnareff album Nick has in his hands is a huge steal. She gave it up from her own collection just this morning because she felt she “didn’t deserve it”. She is happy it will be traveling all the way to Portland, and recommends the store across the street, called Francophonies. As we leave she says, “Don’t be scared of the Celine Dion.” That was an understatement, as the store is an unofficial Celine Dion Museum, with about ten glass cases full of Celine paraphernalia, including her first albums, her perfumes, a complete discography, around 100 photos, and menus from her Montreal diner, called “Nickels”. I hope she knows about this place and visits regularly, as this man clearly wins the #1 fan award. More scores abound here, including a sweet Dutronc single, on which he looks like a Vegas Magician in his tux and mustache.

We get smoothies. They hit the spot, although our bodies might be confused by the introduction of fruit and vitamins. The boys note that the girls here are gorgeous, including the woman who made the smoothies.

A small crowd has gathered around Café Barouf to watch the France/Korea game from the street. We stand with them for a while but leave before Korea scores, thankfully.

The Fringe Festival is going on, and somehow this translates into a ten block long sidewalk sale, punctuated by drink tents. The main goods for sale appear to be socks, mangoes on a stick, and women’s sunglasses. Brazil has won in soccer, so people in green and yellow are having parades, impromptu dance parties, honking, screaming, all day long.

Claire, Andrew’s partner, makes butter chicken for dinner and rhubarb pie. We’ve won the kindness lottery.

I wonder how one orchestrates a move to Montreal from, say, Portland. . .

Jolie Laide

Saturday, June 17–Montreal
I am obsessed with Tim Hortons, so I force us to walk around looking for one. We fail, and finally settle on Starbucks. Mike spills his coffee as we’re loading the car so we get to stop at Tim Hortons anyway. Well, I was the one who set it on the amp. . .

I guess it is time to explain about loading. Perhaps a few, or many of you are in a band, but I’m assuming many also are not, so here’s a peek. My least favorite part of being in a band is loading, which is a huge proportion of the time one spends. For example, let’s say we have a show in Portland. This means that we need to allow about 20 minutes to pack up the equipment at home. Then, the car gets backed into the driveway and all of the gear is packed into it. Another 20 min. Then we drive to the club, where we need to first send an emissary in to make sure there is an appropriate place to load. Then we park illegally while we load. With two people it’s sort of tedious because one person needs to watch the stuff, leaving the other to do all of the hauling. For this reason, we usually take shifts. Then, after the gear is loaded in, Nick finds a parking place. Next is the task of setting up onstage. This takes us about twenty minutes. For my drums, which are very minimal, that means setting up four drums, three cymbals configurations and one pedal. You can’t just throw them together. Ergonomics and replicating the set up I’m accustomed to are crucial, so I may keep moving things an inch here or there, over and over again. Sometimes, when the club has an official sound check, we have to set up and then break down again, to make room for another band to sound check. (Which means we set up again when it’s our turn to play the show.) Once we play, we then have to break down the equipment again, pull the car around, take turns loading out, pack, and bring it all home again. Then the next day we have to set up again to practice. So, for example, for a 30 minute set, one might spend an hour and a half to two hours loading and setting up.

When you stay overnight somewhere, it is wise to bring the gear inside if possible. As I write this, we’re staying on a 3rd floor walk up, so imagine. Then our kind hosts have all this gear in their apartment. The Toronto hotel was on the 9th floor, so we had to get two luggage carts and do shifts. It’s pretty easy to spill a coffee in that situation, especially if you’ve set it down on a wobbling cart. This is why I got to go to Tim Hortons, for a second coffee. Yay for loading!

We pull over after a couple of hours because the boys want to see the US / Italy match. The town is beautifully quaint and is called Brockville. Coincidentally, the bar’s satellite radio plays “Don’t Go Back to (B)rockville” on the stereo while we’re there—or maybe it’s a hint. The place is jammed with rugby players and rugby boosters, who are wearing hawaiian shirts and funny hats. They stagger periodically to the bar, with black eyes and bum knees. One asks the waitress to fill a rugby boot with tap beer. A minute later they start singing and force a team mate to slam the foot flavored beer. I keep trying to engage them because I am bored by soccer. One guys wanders up with a penis-shaped hat. Of course I have to ask. He explains that the biggest loser of the game has to wear the hat. What did he do? He took a job in another province.

US ties. We leave.

I start reading aloud from Motely Crue’s The Dirt, one of my favorite “lite” books of all time (Go buy it NOW.) The band at one point calls groupies “human entertainment.” The boys think this is so funny, and will now refer to it as “H.E.”

When we enter Quebec, for some reason I’m shocked when all the signs are in French, Nick keeps pretending not to understand them. Like–, “Wha? Toon-ell? I need to find a tun-nel!!” We are tired so this is hilarious.

Montreal is very old-looking, go figure, and seductive, like an older French woman. The first person on the street I see is wearing a vintage-style sailor suit.

The gig is at a club called L’Escogriffe, which is an underground, stone=walled place with a cool marquee, which our names are on(!). We play with two country/rockabilly bands, and have our first real “dancer” (who gets kicked out) and our first heckler. He keeps asking questions of us onstage, like, “Did you really come all the way from Portland? Why are you so eighties influenced? What kind of amp is that?” Finally, I have to do something, so I say, “Wow, our first heckler. Exciting!” He is hurt and embarrassed, denies that he is heckling. Then he skulks out. Bad Flirt show up to cheer us on, our first band friends in Canada.

Bloodshot Bill is up after us and he sounds uncannily like Wanda Jackson. I hadn’t known one could get that sort of guitar sound these days. The label guys tell us he played 250 shows last year. This makes him an alien to me, another species.

Afterwards, we go back to Andrew’s, where we are staying. I sleep while the boys go looking for trouble. They fail.

We wake at 1:00 PM the next day, sweating in the bright sunlight, not knowing where we are.

Played it till my fingers bled

Friday, June 16–Toronto

This tour is profoundly altering my sense of the universe. It seems there is a great cosmic equalizer at work, and thus nothing is ever totally shitty, nor totally good. It may be the first time in my life I, an Olympic-level bitcher, am fighting the urge to put a “good” or “bad” sticker on everything that happens. Each day—even each phase of the day–is a consistently mixed bag, and that consistency is reassuring. We as a band are slowly learning to employ our lemons for lemonade purposes. I hope we will only get better at this.

As wished, we get to walk around and explore, have our first sit-down meal since Omaha. The boys lose me in the Eaton Centre when I sneak off to shop at H&M. Nick has been through my disappearing act before, and has little tolerance for it.

Rancho Relaxo is a Mexican-themed, stucco-walled, upstairs venue, which is a nice change of pace from black walls and duct tape. Tonight we share the bill with three other bands, and as we’re all waiting for the sound guy to show, all the bands sit around and chat (sort of a rare occurrence). It gets raucous, a real bro-down, and I love it. When the sound guy finally shows, it is worth the wait. He is carrying a flute and has a ponytail with full-on sixties bangs. As he sets up the mics he plays the flute into them. He introduces himself as Spock. I do not ask if this is his birth name.

We do a radio interview with a DJ named Daria, who asks one of my favorite questions ever: “If you were in a cover band, what would it be?” Quelle coincidence. I AM in a kick-ass cover band, the Shee Bee Gees. Nick says he would cover Thin Lizzy if he could actually shred on guitar. In fact, sometimes we feel like being in a band is futile because Thin Lizzy already existed. Brian Downey’s drumming is so insane it makes me want to set the sticks down for good.

The bill this night absolutely kills. The first band, Terror Lake, is just awesome, like the children of Dinosaur Junior and Sleater Kinney. Bad Flirt is terrific, really infectious and fun. Even though we go on insanely late, 1:30 AM, our set gets the most enthusiastic audience yet, and so we pull out some songs we never play. They’re pretty dang rough, but no one seems to mind terribly. I beg Spock, whom I totally adore by this point, for a picture together.

We set the alarm for four hours of sleep, because Nick wants to catch the US / Italy soccer game en route. It’s standard sleep duration at this point, so we think little of it. In fact, we stay up an extra hour talking.

Canada: It kills

Thursday, June 15–Hamilton, Ontario

We wake after four hours of sleep, faced with an eight-hour drive and the unpredictable task of crossing the Canadian Border for our show in Hamilton, Ontario.

Over the border, we note how much less sinister it seems here. Like if we totally went crazy–drove off the road and ran naked through the streets spray painting cop cars and harrassing kittens—the locals would feed us a hot meal and call our parents, rather than stealing our gear or beating us up.

My jeans are falling off from the lack of eating. A government road sign advises, “Fatigue Kills. Take a break.” Its frankness is impressive; in America, someone might try to sue, saying the sign upset her children. We heed the warning and pull off. Nick says, “I sure wish there was a different kind of fast food here.” Bingo! There’s a sign for a place called Tim Hortons. Inside, the counter people are ridiculously nice and the food is a huge step up. The coffee is perfect and they serve our sandwiches on real plates. I love Tim Hortons! I can’t wait to wake up tomorrow and buy some more of their goods! Right now, as I write, I wish I were swimming in a pool of Tim Hortons coffee, floating lazily on a giant glazed donut innertube.

In the parking lot, a kind farmer–a total roadside anachronism–points out that we’re awfully far from home. For the next fifteen minutes, he explains the dire straits of the bean farming economy, and shows us pictures of his dog, who he claims can actually count and sometimes multiply fingers held aloft. (The dog barks the correct answer.) The dog also, judging by the pics, loves riding shotgun on farm equipment.

More road signs keep popping up. A first version in English and about a mile later, the same thing in French. Drunk Driving Kills. Tailgating Kills. It’s a wonder anyone musters the courage to get behind the wheel.

Mike took a Greyhound us to Hamilton, due to some coordination issues, and arrives at the club shellshocked by the experience. Two buses in a row broke down, and a prostitute named Lisa, a woman with a tiny pink dress, cat-eye makeup, and a nasty rash, befriended him. She was the most normal person on the bus.

Mike recounting this story reminds Nick of his own stint selling sex ads at Portland’s local newsweekly. Few things are more incongruous than imagining Nick, Mr. Deadpan, regularly collecting cash from Ladies of the Night. He’d field complaints (for example, that the font on the ad for “Sensual Massage” looks like “Lensual Massage”) relentless bullying for discounts, and occasionally, threats from pimps.

Our t-shirts and 7-inches that we shipped here never arrive, all but killing our gonzo merch campaign. We meet this cool band called Yip Yip, who come out wearing checkered jumpsuits inclduing face masks and goggles, so that no skin at all shows, and play keyboards and toy saxophones. They’re sort of terrifying,

We decide to buy a hotel so we can sleep in. Yes, tomorrow, we will sleep. And explore. And eat. Oh yeah, and play a concert.

Bad math

Wednesday, June 14–Chicago

Having grown up in Nebraska, where the whole world is a far drive, we think we’re driving badasses, so we’ve scheduled this tour with some sizable day to day distances. St. Paul to Chicago seems manageable, about 7 hours, but then again, we never get to bed before two AM, and I have a bladder the size of a hamster’s. We’re learning the hard way to add about 30% to the drive time. Every day, we think we’ll get in early enough for a shower and to unload our luggage before load-in, but it never happens. For this same reason, we also rarely have time to eat.

If we were laughing most of the time in the car before Mike arrived, we’re now laughing all of the time.

The Chicago drive grinds to a halt just outside the city, after seven or eight hours in the car already. After two hours in hideous traffic, in which our shower, our meal, our unpacking, our nap, our record shopping, all evaporate with each passing minute, we finally reach the club.

Schuba’s is an extremely nice club, and has a photo booth, which is a terrific idea. They also give meal tickets, which would be great if we had time to eat. The sound is the best we’ve experienced all tour, and we feel a bit naked because of it, like hearing your voice on an answering machine. Do we really sound like that?

We open for Bottomless Pit, which my friends from Seattle–Andy and Tim, who now live in Chicago–are in. I also get to see Tim’s wife Vick, whom I adore. I am stunned when Andy tells me it’s been almost five years since I’ve seen them; they are all so vivid in my memory. But then memory is a blunt instrument; this fact is driven home the second they start playing, when I am shocked—just as I was every time I saw Silkworm play—at how good they are. Their set is devastating and beautiful. I don’t know how to do the experience justice, so I’m going to stop.

Number of meals each: one.

Road head

Tuesday, June 13–St. Paul

It takes us forever to get out of town, predictably. I realize I’ve lost my sweatshirt and my jeans, two essential items. My brother Mike is leaving to move to San Francisco this morning, in order to do a film internship, so farewells abound. My dad helps us strap the luggage carrier to the roof of the car, loans us some sleeping bags.

Outside of Avoca, Iowa, a car with Nevada plates keeps weaving over the lines. As I pass him, Nick tells me the driver looks really out of it, with his mouth hanging open and head lolling back. I want to urge him to pull over for a nap. Until, in the rearview mirror, we see a woman’s head pop up. Road head! After the shock wears off, Nick asks me if I saw the child in the back seat. Hours later, he admits he was joking about that part.

When we pull in St. Paul, home of Nick’s college alma mater and Husker Du, the booker/sound person meets us in the parking lot and says, “Uh, yeah. Tonight’s fucked.” He explains that the bill has been switched last minute, but that he got a local band to open up first, and they’ll bring, like 10 people with them. Turns out the local band has been called an hour earlier, and have valiantly shown up to Save the Night. They rip into a set of high-speed punk, including a rollicking cover of “Girls Just Want to Have Fun.” The lead singer introduces one song thusly: “This one is for the babies with the big breasts and the beavers. It’s called ‘Cleavage to Beaver.’” They give 100% and are one of the more entertaining bands I’ve seen in a while. Their ten friends, as promised, sing along and fist pump. Someone out of sight keeps screaming at them, “You’re fat!” On my way to the bar, and older gentleman motions to me. His forearms are full of blurred Navy tattoos. He introduces himself as Rocky and gestures for me to sit on his lap. I keep walking.

Afterwards the singer introduces himself as Leo. He then accuses Mike of calling him “Leah.” “No. Like Leo the Lion” he says.

The farther east we go, the more people ask if we know the Dandy Warhols, which is an interesting gauge of a) their popularity or b) the regional perceptions of the “Portland Scene”

We have a very fun show. The punks yell when I introduce a Zombies cover as a Rob Zombie cover. A man in a cowboy hat, dreadlocks, and a POW MIA tshirt tells us he “really appreciates” our music. He seems like he means it, and Nick and he are locked in a handshake staredown for almost a minute. Nick says, “Thanks. We appreciate that.” Stare. The man says, “Well, you should.”

The third band never shows. We unwind with a local beer, a treasure called Premium, or as Brian the other band’s drummer informs us, “Primo.” Mike realizes he has been gauchely ordering it as “Grain Belt” all night, when that’s actually the subtitle–like requesting King of Beers instead of Bud. A man who says he is from Somalia randomly joins our group of friends. At one point he holds a finger aloft and says, “I know one thing. One thing. We are together now, but we will never see each other again.” Everyone pauses to process that in his or her own way, and then we toast in silence. The first band kindly donates their door money to us. They truly are the heroes of the night.

We can’t find a hotel and our friends Jake and Meghan volunteer their place. When we pull up, it’s an enormous castle of a house. Jake says the elderly packrat landlords bought it from the City for $40,000 in the 70’s, with the promise to fix it up. It seems they’ve reneged on the promise. We stay in the top floor, across the street from the St. Paul Cathedral. I go to sleep grateful that we don’t have enough money or success for a pre-arranged hotel, as hanging out with people, strangers and friends alike, is surprisingly the best part of all of this. Money is insulation, and for now, we’re better off without it. The last thing Jake says before he retires, is “Don’t worry—there are no ghosts.”

We wake up as a handsome, shirtless guy comes in, introduces himself as Justin and says he’s the roommate. He is incredibly friendly, not at all put off by the mounds of luggage and gear in his living room. He tells us St. Paul was a notorious gangster enclave, and this very house was a “safe house”, now haunted by the ghost of Mary the prostitute, a woman who saw too much. On the way out we see the landlord’s son, who is drinking beer in a beater pickup parked in the sizeable driveway. He asks if we’re “rocking out” and I spot another man fully passed out behind the steering wheel. It’s just before ten AM. A street cleaner swerves around our Subaru as we pile in for Chicago, leaving us a dry island on a wet street. We’re off.

She’s My Cherry Pie

Monday, June 12–Omaha

Yesterday, a day off, we lay around our mom’s house. I took an hour long bath, shaved my legs, exfoliated. Did laundry, which gave me a great deal of pleasure, since I am a self-professed laundry pervert; it thrills me, really.

The boys are apoplectic about the US Soccer Team’s performance—they’re nearly hoarse from howling at the television.

Mom cooks us a beautifully simple dinner on the grill: barbequed chicken, asparagus, zucchini, and fruit salad. The fruits and vegetables are heavenly after all the crappy road food. I take a nap to catch up on sleep. My pre-show nerves seem to be getting better daily, helped by the natural relaxation Omaha exudes.

We have a new member of the crew, our friend Mike, who will be selling merch and breaking kneecaps. He is like a member of the family, blends right in, and I am happy that I’ll be able to get a lot of reading done while he talks to Nick in the car. I’m not much for talking on drives, but recognize my shotgun seat duty enough to keep up my end of the bargain.

The show at the Goofy Foot is a total blast. A member of the first band, a woman named Dana, had emailed me a week ago—we went to high school together—to let me know it would be a reunion of sorts. From the distance of Portland, her being in the opening band seemed uncanny, but in Omaha, it’s no surprise. There’s so much interconnection. At the show, I am introduced to Mike Loftus, a neighborhood kid who I have heard about for years but only met once. “Mike,” I say. “I met you at a birthday party when we were eight. I was in awe of your dancing skills.” His eyes get big. “We were eight? So, uh, what have you been up to since then?” I laugh. “Oh, not much.” Mike and Dana’s band, The Third Men, are great and right as I run to the bathroom, I hear them break into “Jet,” a song I love but never thought I would live to see performed live. They kill it (in a good way).

The next band, The Family Radio, epitomizes why I love Omaha. It’s this indescribable trio with folky/jazzy/poppy songs, and a congenial warmth. You feel as if you could watch them play all night long. I feel guilty that they have to stop on account of us.

Our show goes really well, with the most enthusiastic audience we’ve had, people laughing at our dumb jokes for once. I find my mom in the sea of faces, and she’s beaming as if we’ve won the Nobel Prize. Afterwards, I don’t want to leave; I wish the bar would stay open all night, but then I remember there’s cherry pie waiting at Mom’s. The energy is totally manic back at the house, Mike Arnold pumped about his first tour, Mike Larimer anxious about his road trip to San Francisco in the morning, Nick drunk and throwing our merch money around, screaming, “I’m rich, BEAATCH!! Mom laughing at her house full of crazy people.

I’d stay here another week, easy, just doing laundry and eating cherry pie.