Friday, April 13, 2012

Middle of The Map, Limestone, fIREHOSE

My plan to keep a steady report going from KC gave way to having so much fun in KC that reporting about it took a back seat.  And I have so many photos on my phone, it's gonna be a proj to organize those.  Tons of fun music, good restaurants, long walks in the sun, and loving the feel of the city. 

I think my favorite moment might have been when I stepped in a mud puddle and I realized it was just some spring rain mixed with dirt in a low spot on the sidewalk.  It wasn't a leaking, creeping sub-puddle of an uber-puddle that defines our entire valley for months at a time.  It didn't evoke a puddle-saturated state of mind requiring the prescription of anti-depressants or vitamin D horse-pills.  It wasn't the water table creeping above ground near the edge of the deck, fed by the overflow from a plugged downspout full of leaf mush and cedar feathers.  True, every kid knows a mud puddle can mess up your new sneakers, was...JUST A PUDDLE.  

We don't have puddles in the Willamette Valley.  We do have occasional dry spots,  some only centimeters across, which we have no inverted opposite-of-puddle terminology for. Slugs crawl through puddles for hours only to find...another puddle.  I'm guessing they don't mind.  I guess they're listening to Philip Glass and doing their sluggo qualude-type thing.

I also loved all the KC limestone--walls, porches, homes, buildings--all embedded in the place, quarried out of the ground. (The old quarries are sometimes used to create vast underground office and industrial complexes.  I worked as a summer temp doing inventory at my sister Suzie's old company once; that was weird, working underground.)  The geology of the place is something I never thought about while growing up there.  That's because I was playing alot of whiffle ball, or eating Cheezits on the sofa while watching The Beverly Hillbillies, or making up names for my sister Beth, such as "Death Breath Beth."

Westport--the epicenter of the festival--was really a blast, but our new favorite hood is the 39th and Stateline area--some of which is the West Plaza 'hood and some the Volkker and Roanoke Park neighborhood, up by Prospero's Books.  The thing we noticed again and again is how friendly people were, and how there's a front-porch and front-yard culture.  People talk, people wave, people greeted us; it's pretty laid back.  We watched a comical argument in front of the Fric and Frak Tavern; a man had dropped his beer glass and blamed it on a gigantic mastiff, who could have torn the dude's nuts off without batting an eye.  He yelled at the dog, who was unimpressed, until the owner got riled.  It was a George Booth cartoon crossed with a Richard Scary tableau and a benign, silly Bukowski vibe.  Everything was basically cool.  What a lovely day that was.  Sunny--a Spring day.

Boulevard Brewery Tank Seven ale--a lighter Belgian-style.  I hope they have it at The Bier Stein here in town.  They had it at Fric and Frak's.

Highlights of the music include seeing Mission of Burma for the first time.  Multiple friends back in Eugene reminded me of the irony of posting Facebook photos of a band who rocks a signature tune called "this is not a photograph."  I still don't have a fix on what that song's all about but have taken it  to be a statement about being independently creative and present rather than capturing creativity according to prescribed models laid out in doctrinaire ways.  (This is a band that turned down the chance to tour with Rush, and just kind of walked away from all of it.)  As Suzuki says, the moments we're aware of--and the moments we're not aware of--are droplets of water in the plunge of a waterfall.  No escaping the plunge, even if you're bored and reading Pitchfork on the porcelain throne.

Burma's a band--some guys playing songs. NOW.  They played some new ones.  They did what they wanted to do.

To see Peter Prescott play groovy, crushing, jazz-punk knucklehead drums was really a thrill.  His band The Volcano Suns are their own genre, and I relish the three or four songs he contributes to every new Burma album.  (I knew Volcano Suns before Burma, because I was still in Billy Joel/Jackson Browne mode when Burma was first active.)  They played Prescott's number "Let Yourself Go" (my favorite of all the new Burma songs) and he hollered during one tape-loop meltdown "I've fucked up so many things but I'm still alive!  We're all still alive!" 

Sadly, I missed Thee Water MoccaSins set after we got caught up in an amazing Mates of State show at The Beaumont. The meat and taters midwestern guy in me had written Mates of State off as mopey, sparse indie duo music, and that was pretty dumb.  They rocked--it was a blast.  But we missed Steve's new band, and missed Mark Hoffman playing horn with them, and that was a BUMMER.  I hope my pals will forgive me for not representing.  It was overwhelming, how much good music was happening.

Season To Risk @ The Record Bar

Saturday night, after loving their records for a number of years now, I got to see Fucked Up for the first time.  This was few hours after I played a solo set at The Gusto Lounge and that was fun, hometown turf, acoustic style.  Very grateful to have that chance to sing to my friends and family and come full circle in some ways.  Met a number of new folks too.  Good times!  My heart was full.  And I didn't suck too bad.  Later that night, a wonderful meal at The Westport Cafe, and a mind-blowing ten minutes of Mansions, a Lawrence metalloid band.  God they were awesome, I had to text Snider.

Anyway, the energy F'd Up had coming off the stage was so intense, like pretty much nothing I've ever seen.  If there's a continuum from '72 Who through '77 Clash through '83 Huskers--those years when a certain kind of guitar band just blows it off the stage like a nuclear hurricane--I'm guessing Fucked Up is on that continuum.  That, or I'm just name-checking my favorite bands and adding another one to the list.  It's one thing to play fast, and to have intensity.  But for that to be relaxed and comfortable and joyful enough to be so fun that it becomes even more intense, like an animal thing...well, I sound like I smoked a doob, which I did not.  A shout-out to the Orange Doe-Nuts from Damian kind of made it all complete. 

The night after we came back, The Golden Motors played a gig with fIREHOSE at the Wow Hall, on their reunion tour, which is progressing on down to Coachella.  It was a sweet night for Eugene's music scene, hearing this great band back in the groove.  Thought so much about Ed Crawford and how he inspired me, before I even could commit to finishing a song, how he's a role model for taking chances, for asking, knocking, and seeking, and just diving in.  They played a solid hour and half and it was great.  I'd have to say the Jivan-era Golden Motors had its best show at The Whiteaker Block Party last summer, and the Mikey-era Golden Motors had its best show Tuesday night.  

Scott K took a picture of George Hurley and me.  I'm shy about stuff like that but Scott K doesn't know about shy. 

I'll reflect more on KC and our trip and put up some more photos.  My goal now is to get a bunch of NW folks to wagon train back next year for The Middle of  The Map. 

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