We got in the big white van on Wednesday afternoon to begin our Frostbite tour. It started as a clever name. It is now legitimate. I have lost most of the fingers of my right hand due to frostbite. Alex’s mustache has broken off. Ben lost his left foot, Ryan lost the tip of his nose and one of his ears. Phil seems unaffected. I am typing this laboriously with my left hand and the thumb of my right hand.
But, I am ahead of myself. Let me, laboriously and painfully, type away to bring you up to speed.
When we left Wednesday, it was from sunny, mild, never-snowing Northern California. When we stopped driving after just short of forever, it was freezing, we were in Wendover, Nevada, and most of our rations were gone. Tour manager Joe went out into the bleak white wastelands to hunt for supplies. We begged him not to go, but in our weakened, frigid state, we were easily overcome.
Thursday morning, we drove to Salt Lake City. On the way we found Joe. He had pulled a Hoth, and was sheltered in the belly of a cow carcass to avoid freezing. He now only eats his meat raw, and (if you catch him out of the corner of your eye) can be seen eyeing us hungrily when (seemingly) unobserved.
In Salt Lake City we picked up our sound engineer, Rich, and were able to replenish our supplies at the rustic outpost, Whole Foods. Thinking the worst was behind us, we had a debaucherous sold out show at The State Room. We became complacent, ate through our supplies once again, and collapsed in an exhausted, spent heap sometime in the wee hours of the morning, Friday.
Before the dawn we were roused by Joe, (now wearing the pelt of the cow he had slaughtered). He raved about storms, Thor, the ice gods, and an early festival load in. We shambled to the van. It wasn’t until we were well down the icy, snow-covered, endless mountain roads that we realized we left our warm blankets, jackets and hard rations behind. There was no time to go back, and the ferocious blizzard that came roaring ever-closer behind us did not allow us to turn around and reclaim the precious cargo.
Thusly we arrived in Steamboat Springs for Winter Wondergrass on Friday. Thusly we did throw ourselves on the bagel buffet backstage, causing the other guests and bands to recoil in horror as they watched our wild-eyed, ferocious orgy of near-starvation, half-frozen hunger. We played that afternoon on the main stage. With our warm garments carelessly left behind, we did our best to stay warm. We set the house drum kit ablaze on the outdoor stage, and huddled around the flames as we played, trying to keep the piercing, stinging chill out of our bones.
By the end of the set, the fire department was putting out the enormous blaze we had built and fanned, and the paramedics were taking us away to be treated for hypothermia and frostbite.
We were not scheduled to be released for several days, and so Joe and Rich, posing as doctors, had to spring us from the hospital that night so that we might still make our late-night after-party set at Shmiggity’s (I did not make up that name).
In a feverish daze of hospital drugs, beer, and lack of oxygen (due to our hospital respirators being disconnected, and the extreme elevation), we played a set that can only be described as ‘savage,’ ‘unforgettable,’ and ‘a clear prelude to madness.’
Late that night, once the revelers had all gone, we packed up into our van to rush – just ahead of the now on-the-alert hospital authorities – back to our cabin for the night.
The plush amenities there defied our senses which had, by this time, lapsed into pre-historic patterns of survival. We devoured frozen pizzas without warming them. We wrapped ourselves in towels. I slept in the bathtub.
Morning has brought with it a return to our pained and (for some) limb-less senses. The Frostbite tour stretches out before us, with forays beyond great mountain passes, long stretches of frozen tundra, and storms attacking us along every route.
We are planning a shamanic ritual tonight to appease the storm gods and, if we are crafty and cunning enough, we should be able to make off with some warm outer wear left carelessly in a backstage or well-heated beer tent as we make our way back to Winter Wondergrass for our two sets today.
Wish us luck.
Send us supplies, or – if you are planning to meet us at one of the shows, just bring them with you. We are in need of citrus (to ward off the scurvy) and raw meat (for Joe).
See you out there on the cold, cold road.
Hope you enjoy our new video. We’re really into facing our fears, and between us, we’re Acrophobic (fear of heights), Claustrophobic (fear of enclosed places), Ophidiophobic (fear of snakes), and Melophobic (fear of music). We decided to take the bull by the horns, and we stared down 3 of these 4 phobias by playing music in a crowded elevator (no snakes). We’re going to be doing more of these so stay tuned for more in our Elevator Sessions video series. Check it out on Live for Live Music!
Or right here:
Also, we updated the UC Theater artwork and look who’s there!! Horseshoes and Hand Grenades!
If there’s anything better than a band named after something your beloved grandfather used to grumble at you regularly, I don’t know what it is.
Tour leaves tomorrow!
See you out there.
We thought that a mere 17 dates for a NW tour was a bit weak.
We were mocked by our peers. Bands that live in actual weather stopped returning our calls, and sent us snuggies in plain brown packages to taunt us. Ashamed, we put our rain-addled heads together.
The Frostbite Tour continuation… (though, if we’re still frostbitten in April, I will be very bum-med):
April 5: Arcata @ Humbrews
April 6: Ashland @ Brickroom
April 7: Bend @ The Volcanic Theatre Pub
April 8: Eugene @ The Hi-Fi
All ticket links will be findable on the tour page!
We’re headed back to some of our favorite places, to play for some of our favorite crowds. Can’t wait to see all you crazy wild folks there. Recommend the coffee stops now, so I have something to look forward to.
We were driving home from Sacramento last night at some ungodly hour, and I was remarking to Ben all the things I should write down for our tour stops, so as to not make the same terrible mistakes time after time at the same places. Terrible mistakes. About carnitas. I was thinking – make a note in my phone; record a quick voice memo; scratch it out in a journal? …
And then Ben said: “use the blog.” He’s so wise! I think it’s the hat.
So – here’s a blog post that isn’t exactly a Coffee report, though coffee will be reported on. It’s a note to myself so that I can know better how to navigate Chico and Sacramento in those two most important aspects of touring: food & coffee.
Notes to self: Dear Gio,
Chico crowds are party crowds: take naps before Chico shows, and be prepared for anything. Anything.
Naked Lounge in Chico has awesome coffee and – on Saturday mornings – a record swap / live DJ. Perfect.
Don’t eat Chicken Tikka Masala before shows ever again.
At La Fiesta Taqueria in Sacramento, dear Gio, you always order pastor, chicken and carnitas tacos, because you can’t remember which of them you like. You like the pastor and the chicken. Stop ordering their carnitas.
…on a related note: the carnitas at Gordo’s taco truck in Chico is (are?) awesome. Order carnitas there.
Old Soul coffee in Sacramento is an Emperor’s New Clothes coffee shop. You don’t like their coffee or their roasting philosophy… or their idea that one barrista is enough barristas to both take orders and make orders. If you ever go back there, bring your sandwich board, pamphlets, and megaphone and do your Dark Roast Evangelizing in front of their misguided shop.**
The people at Fieldwork brewery are awesome. Give them lots of high fives.
**I get that some people like the light roast stuff. But some of us like earthy, roasty-toasty, salt-of-the-earth, make-me-feel-something-in-my-soul coffee. Some people like to read lots of historical fiction – or non-fiction best sellers. If I opened a bookstore, I would stock those books – even though I don’t read them. But I would also stock the books I like. Right? Can’t we have both? Oh, light roast coffee shops, why must we be such bitter (ha!) enemies??
We left on Thursday morning at 8am to get to San Luis Obispo. This was OK, because leaving from home means that I can drink my at-home, stove-top espresso percolator (AKA Mucca pot, AKA Bialetti 6 cup, AKA ‘Chester’) with the fresh-ground Hardcore Coffee (in Sebastopol right off 116 – best espresso in the county!) espresso beans. Add half and half.
The drive was eternal and consisted of a (… start sad, shameful music here) Starbucks stop somewhere outside of Gilroy. I’m a huge opponent of the chain – both it’s business practice of setting up shop right next to the local folk, and their bad espresso. But they have saved our entire band from bloodshed and mayhem countless times with their omnipresence and accessible caffeine even on the most remote roads of tour-dom. (…and… end music.)
SLO is a great place to play – especially when you are at the Fremont Theater. Yes, the theater is beautiful and the crowd was amazing and fantastic. But – very importantly – the theater is across the street from BlackHorse Espresso & Bakery. Tasty, and local. It was necessary to wash the taste of evil out of my mouth. It was good… but it was hedging a bit towards the light side of roasting… and you all know how I feel about that, dear reader. Let’s not belabor the point.
From SLO we headed down the coast for a show (the first of two) opening up for our buddies in ALO. Their LA show was at the Troubadour and I love that place. Also, those ALO guys are consummate gentlemen, and kick-ass musicians. It was a joy to be on tour with them. But, I digress. Conveniently, just around the corner from The Troubadour, is a wonderful little bar/cafe/bakery called La Conversation. The service was delightful and it was – by a wide margin – the most delicious, dark, roasty, perfect espresso of the trip. We’re headed back to The Troubadour in June (sources say), and I’m already looking forward to the coffee.
The show was also heaps of fun.
That night we drove to San Clemente to begin a 2 night stay at La Casa di Zolg. Our friends, Denise and Mike, are generous and amazing to the point of unbelievability. 8 people total in our band and crew, and we were in the lap of delicious luxury for two days. Leaving San Clemente is the worst decision that this band makes consistently, year after year. You’d think we’d learn.
2 espressos (or, to be italian and correct, espressi) were had in San Clemente. The first at my old stomping ground, Zebra House Coffee. It’s a damn fine espresso they serve there. The big to-do around town, however, was this North Coast espresso house that opened up right on the beach: Bear Coast Coffee. The new shop just won the annual “best-of” competition. I tried it. It was good, but depressing. The North Bay is now exporting this mistaken approach to coffee roasting… and people are buying into it! Noooooo! We need an international espresso intervention team to come in from Australia and get us back on track. I think that the ultra-hipster decor (bare wood, chrome, exposed beams and pipes, minimal everything) creates this Emperor’s New Clothes mentality in people. It’s not better espresso, but the decor hip-timidates people into thinking they must just not have ‘good taste’. I believe the same insidious mentality is at work in music as well… but that’s for a different report. To conclude – the new coffee shop was like seeing Acre Coffee (the hip new Petaluma chain, where I live) or Four Barrel (from the Mission in SF) in San Clemente. It was good – but not better.
We played The Belly Up in Solano Beach on Saturday night, again opening up for ALO. What a great venue… and another lovely local espresso shack across the street: Lofty Coffee. Had some great musical conversations with the excellent staff there… too much water in my “Gio,” but I blame myself for distracting the staff with my excited chit-chat about bands, shows, and Australia. (My actual mission in life is to have a coffee drink named after me: 2 shots of espresso with just about an inch of hot water – a very, very short – or, as I like to say, baby – americano, which will be called, throughout the world, a “Gio”. Pass it on. Help me achieve my dreams.*) Anyway, Michael (barista and keyboard player) – hope the new band works out, and you should send me a demo. Soul-Music meets Queens of the Stone Age was how he described it. No wonder I wasn’t paying attention. He was speaking to my hopes and dreams.
We drove home Sunday… all day. My first coffee of the day was ~gasp~ drip coffee. No morning espresso. Such is the magic of the Zolgs and their hospitality. Their drip coffee was exquisite and wonderful.
The whole band re-upped on caffeine somewhere in Valencia, at a Whole Foods. This is utilitarian – like a Starbucks stop. I may as well start telling you about pee stops.
We’re home now, I’m back with my Hardcore beans and Chester. I’m happy. The kids and Jenny are great, we’re getting ready to head to Chico and Sacramento. “Where to get espresso there?” and “will it be dark and roasty and delicious?” are the pre-tour questions I ask.
If you have any hot tips – let me know.
*The espresso drink, The Gio, is a drink that belongs to Molly – the owner of Hardcore Coffee in Sebastopol. It’s her drink, and at Hardcore, it is named after her. She introduced me to it, and I love her for it. I am actively trying to claim naming rights nationally, which is a bit dastardly. But it does protect you from ordering a Molly at an espresso shop, and having the EDM-experienced barista give you a hard, hard look and ask you in a low voice, “what did you say?”**
**This has happened.