Chapter 3: West Coast
1/23 – San Diego, California (Joe)
Was it the psychosomatic manifestation of compounded anxieties brought about from the recent trials and tribulations of the beloved Beelzebus, or potent amalgam of cheap beer and even cheaper tequila that was voraciously corroding my stomach lining? The answer lies in shadows, but the fiery acid-bath burning in my abdomen seemed to be a fair fit as we navigated the arid Arizona hellscape. Eyes wide, ears acute, buttholes fully clenched, every vibration and low rumble was brought to question and all for naught, for the dauntless Belezebus carried us safely to the temperate oasis of San Diego.
Hearts and minds at rest after our nerve racking sojourn, we shifted gears and engaged in a debate that has plagued mankind since time itself began: Where exactly does one find the best burrito? San Diego's star scumbag, Ryan Donovan, met us for our inaugural California burrito at Pokez. The delicate balance of avocado, refried black beans, and the San Diego secret weapon, french fries, were encased in a lightly fried tortilla and smothered in Ranchero sauce and artery-clogging handfuls of cheese. Engorged and shameless, we rejoiced in the exceptional display of burrito mastery.
The arduous digestion process left us with little ambition and barred any undertaking that connoted even the illusion of productivity. `We checked in at Til-Two, collected homies Ryan and Annie, and retired to the bus to ingest substances that make heartache forgettable and life more tolerable. San Diego super pal, Matt Williams, opened the show with his new band, Caskitt, and tore it up despite an unappreciative crowd. Clever song structure and catchy anthems has made their album a regular play in the bus. Fuck yes, tight power! Direct Hit followed with a “Jock Jams Vol 3” like set and Elway drank and did stuff. RCR full-force approach got some bodies moving and made for a memorable show.
The party moved to a small apartment where three unsuspecting girls had made obvious efforts to create a warm and inviting home complete with plush furnishings, clean bathrooms, and scented candles. We ruined everything. In a palpable cloud of febreeze, the party gained momentum as 30 racks and party favors were consumed with unrepentant alacrity. The sun was peeking over palm trees and our defeat was imminent. The remaining beers were placed in the cooler for breakfast and we laid our soon to be throbbing heads to rest.
Vindictive consciousness, we woke and cursed the day. Sustenance was sought in the only acceptable caloric-currency, burrito. While the bus was left at the auto-shop for a routine oil change, we stumbled across the street to a family owned and operated taqueria. Schizophrenics circled the patio like delirious buzzards, ranting and raving without ever making a cognizant word. I devoured the burrito in a one-hot-sauce-cup-for-every-two-bites fashion while the encroaching bum-scent lingered in the sweltering sun. The juxtaposition of simple indulgence and the vulgar display mankind's frailty and lack of empathy left me with a vacuous despair. I'm certain Los Angeles will offer some sort of solace, right?
We're all fucked.
1/24 – Los Angeles, CA (Garrett)
The I-5 into LA tells a lot about the city. Slabs of concrete puzzle pieced and tarred together leaving small evenly spaced chasms to pound a slow rhythmic thump in the tires. A noise that seemed to serve as a knotted gauge reminding a crew of merchants that they are following the shittiest of trade winds while grid locked with rosary beaded Camaro and chromed out lifted SUV ships. An orchestra of rattling license plates and billowing exhaust with the fine silk-like veneer of Hollywood, Beverly Hills, and the dream that you're “going to make it” cresting the horizon.
We arrived at our buddies Jen and Neil's house for some pre-show beers and home-style kitchen hair cuts. Joe, our resident hair sculptor, equipped himself with buzzer and beer and proceeded to give the usuals – the Jared Street Fighter Zangief buzz cut, the Tim Hitler-esque swoop along, and the utterly uninspiring same-haircut-as-your-uncle-David for me. New dews, a thirty-rack, and some of southern California's finest inspiration later we were ready to head due west for the show.
An appropriately themed colonial sailor bar called The Redwood seated right in the heart of the city was to host the rocking tonight. After load in I ventured forth on a walk to be reminded of what I missed about LA. A catered movie scene in an alley scooting me quickly across the sidewalk for another take. A retail store smelling a fresh Indonesian freight container with two armed men guarding six dollar hats. A guy with striped leggings making airplane noises while pulling a wheelie suitcase not pedaling his bike but propelling himself with just his lace-less shoes and the ground. LA seems to be a circus to perceive in either in a fascinating anthropological “so this is the epitome of human kind, a place presenting the uncensored triumphs and tribulations of a species” sort of way or just a “oh what the fuck” sort of way.
Waiting for the show to start we indulged further in some drinks, burgers, inspiration, and cigarettes. At some point in the first twenty minutes of being in the venue we noticed a large illegible tag spray painted the entire height and width as the back of the bus. Shrugging our shoulders in a “well I wish he could have at least spend some more time and done something nice” kind of way we calmly returned back to our vices and awaited the show to begin.
The show was good. People sang. People danced. It ended with us being able to leave all of our still erected gear because of a matinee show at the same bar the next day – in so relaxing more responsibility and further giving us an excuse to drink near violently. Driven back to Jen and Neil's apartment somehow we capped the night with streaming religious overdubs of nineties rock songs such as “Enter Samson” and “Every Crown has its Thorns” and passed out.
1/25 – Los Angeles and Pomona (Tim)
In this new LA morning, the tour so far had seemed hectic to the point of madness. As the list of touring priorities congeals into a work-like routine and obstacles present themselves and are dealt with between spats of worry and anxiety which are later manifested in temporal outings with the malignant barnacle of existential woe, it becomes easy to see the in-between moments of this lifestyle as a continual theater of trauma and triumph in which you are not involved. It was amid a 10am staredown with these darkened passageways of waking thought that I stepped outside into the sunshine. Everything slowed down. For a moment, the city static was rendered innocuous and the small gift of the universe was it's own reward as it beat down on my face and gorgeous new haircut. It was a beautiful 77 degree day, and that was just fucking fine with us.
Burritos were sought out at a local Highland Park taco truck and were consumed with a trollish zeal. Delicious stuff. We drove the now almost familiar freeway back to The Redwood, where we were slated to play a 3pm matinee show. Wasting no time, and without need for load in (we did that last night) we leaped liver-first into a frenzy of alcohol consumption. The way we abused alcohol before 3pm is beyond analogue in the mortal sphere; we are so fucking stupid. The show is pretty rad and well attended by a crowd of half familiar faces and half woefully hungover strangers. Hours later, we load our things into our freshly-tagged whip and set sail for the inland empire and an awaiting Pomona, where we would play the second show of the day.
Arriving in downtown Pomona after navigating the entanglement of highways and sub-highways and sub-sub-highways wrapped around the black heart of greater Los Angeles, we are greeted by the always-jovial Party Marty. It is always a pleasure to be a part of any show he puts together and tonight's outing was no different. Though we were competing with “1996: the show (A lineup featuring Narcoleptic Youth, JFA, Angry Samoans, etc... A virtual who's who of 'who gives a fuck?')” at the nearby Glass House, the show was pretty full and very fun. I can scarcely remember chiding some sexist shit pile in the audience through the scratched mirror of alcoholic hindsight, but I do know that I had a blast. We finished up and set out to drive overnight to San Francisco, but not before conscripting our buddy Ariel to come with to hang for a day (without so much as a toothbrush or phone charger). She doesn't know any better and is made of party particles, so she hopped in the bus. Leaving LA, we stopped for gas and were given an envelope full of the devil's lettuce by a lone skateboarder stalking the parking lots of the San Franando Valley by night, looking for cheap thrills. We got high and drunk on a newly acquired bottle of cheap whiskey and Beelzebus rumbled gaily into the California night.
1/26 – San Francisco (Tim)
I've never seen a miracle, a revelation, or anything that seriously lends credibility to the existence of the supernatural, but I have seen downtown San Francisco appear after passing through the Treasure Island tunnel on I-80 over the bay. It is one of, if not the most picturesque and gorgeous thing I've ever seen. Combine the unique architectural and geographic beauty of the city with the fact that we have some of the best friends ever here, and we were primed to have a great fucking day. The bus came to a halt at pint-sized darling, Jordyn's house in Lower Haight and we set out to make the most of our short time in the city. We started the day the way any passer-through worth their salt would: with a Mission style burrito from El Castillito in the Castro district. (Now might not be the time to bring this up, but San Francisco's burritos are the very best and most consistent IN THE WORLD. There's a lot of talk around the touring punk band sewing circle about this, and you'll just have to trust us on this one. Look at OUR ENTIRE BLOG for evidence. Burrito judging is what Elway does. Okay...) After finally recovering from a night of difficult sleep at awkward angles, we cruised down to the BART stop in the Mission district to pick up east bay bestie Sarah. Another quick stop in the inner Richmond neighborhood to pick up Nothington mastermind Chris Matulich, and we were on our way to Baker Beach; a longstanding Elway tradition. The dense fog rolled in from the mighty pacific and hung thick sheets across the hills of Marin across the quickly-fading Golden Gate Bridge. We stuck around for an hour or two and caught up with bay buddies atop the dew-drenched rocks, watching the bridge and mountains fade in and out of view. With load in time approaching, we left for the Mission district to eat our second burrito of the day at Tacqueria Cancun – the undisputed champion of the Mission-style burrito and a real credit to the scope of humanity's ability to brighten the Earth we spend so much time destroying. The Cancun burrito has philosophical connotations tucked into it's floury folds that make taste seem like only a small component of the concept at large. It is no ordinary meal.
Our third outing at the mighty Bottom of the Hill. YES! This is easily in my top 3 places to play in the world. The sound, the hospitality, the people who show up, the bartenders, the owner are all top notch. The show was characteristically wonderful, and all of the bands were warmly received by the sizable audience. It was great to see a bunch of familiar faces, including Elway blog alumni Danielle Bailey, who is as delightful as the fucking day is long. During the course of the show, we decimate our beer allowance, along with the provided bottle of whiskey. We top it all of with the magnum-sized bottle of Evan Williams that was literally the only thing that Ariel brought up from Pomona. Just about everyone was acting all Hasslehof by the time we had to start our drive northward for Portland. We said goodbye to Sarah and Chris, dropped Ariel and Jordyn off at Jordyn's place (it took her 5 full minutes to open the front door) and lamented not being able to spend an eternity hanging out in that incredible city. Onward we went across the lightless central-Californian landscape.
1/27 – Portland, OR (Garrett)
It's hard to distinguish at what point a day start and begins when intermittent half hours of sleep are dictated by gas station stops, the consistency of the road, and how long you can keep your head upright before your neck goes limp and tries to roll off your shoulders. I suppose we can begin at sunrise. Neon reds, oranges, and yellows pushing the sphere of darkness away from the rolling ridge of thick snowy evergreens. A low hum of the tires pulling the wet pavement behind us whose yellow dotted lines now visible beyond the headlights. Sleepless bodies pulling heavy sleeping bags further over their heads as if to say “Fuck you day, I'm not ready for your bullshit again.”
A long day of groggy fast food stops, video games, and fart jokes later we arrive into the vanguard of the revolution – a progressive utopia complete with coffee shops, other coffee shops, and really cool hats – Portland, Oregon. Our GPS takes us to a fantastic arcade dubbed Ground Kontrol where we spend the better part of an hour dunking hoops, flying jets, and killing zombies. After some delicious vegan pizza we arrive at the Slabtown with a green room almost the same size as the bar/venue itself offering air-hockey, ski-ball, basketball, and one of those punching machines where you get to prove to your friends just how much you would absolutely lose a fight if it ever came down to it.
Our good friends Josh and Britney arrived with more pizza, hugs, and positive attitudes. We set to find booze but after some smooth talking we managed to use our $50 bar credit to at-cost behind the bar credit and managed 48 tall boys and a bottle of William's finest. A greater number of people than previously imagined shuffled into the show and commenced in dancing. Red City Radio's van lay wounded 7 hours south, and they didn't make the show. That bummer aside, Direct Hit and Elway were warmly welcomed with intense foot shuffling, fist pumping, and shouting of lyrics/whatever they decided to make up for lyrics. Danny blew his finger up on the snare drum rim and it was gross.
Sweat, rock, and a huge dent in our behind the bar credit later we mingled with the crowd to ask them how great they thought we were. A new friendship was formed after some brilliant strategic plays assisted by my good friends Matt and Dennis. A previously “more of a coffee shop rock” assumed town proved us assholes again with stoked high fives and rounds of bought beers. It goes to show that the shit you love to hate is probably because there are parts you secretly think are pretty fucking choice. A sloppy load out and best wishes lead us to Josh and Britney house where we met the most adorable French Bulldog in the world - Boris. We all passed out.
1/28 – Seattle (Tim)
Garrett Dale has always been something of a hero of mine. Elway and Red City Radio have a long and involved history as good buddies. I can remember the first time we played together at Surfside 7 in Fort Collins (It was in 2008), and the magnanimous way that Garrett presented himself could have sold me on just about anything. His personality seeps into every facet of the band's performance. He is a beacon of optimism in a scene where ennui and disenchantment are standard modes of operation. I love the dude. This only bears mentioning right now because, as was mentioned in the Portland entry, Red City Radio broke down in Northern California and was forced to cancel their appearance at the Portland show. In order to make today's Seattle show, the had to finish the repairs to the van and drive a grueling 10 hours to arrive just in time to jump on stage and play. We arrived in Seattle still unsure if they would make it.
We showed up at El Corazon and loaded in. Wristbands, drink tickets, buyouts, backlining, etc... Good friends and Elway blog alumni Erin and Shawn showed up along with Portland power couple Josh and Brittany to whisk us away to a very reasonable vegan restaurant called Veggie Grill. We returned to the venue in time to witness an impressive influx of people. Locals Poke Da Squid and Success! both killed. The crowd was excited and vibrant for Direct Hit. Moments ahead of our set, I learned that Red City Radio was mere miles away. We got on and had an excellent show, due in large part to barkeep Benny's heavy-handed insistence that we never leave El Corazon sober. The man is a legendary bartender who has without fail delivered on this mission. He is 3/3 with Elway. During the set, Joe wastedly fell through a window concealed by the stage curtain and landed his ass on the ground in the entryway mid-song. This Houdini-styled disappearing act went nearly unnoticed by me. Garrett said he noticed Joe disappeared and just followed the instrument cable out the window and pieced it together from there. After taking a long time to shame Joe on stage, we continued through our set. Red City Radio showed up as we had 3 songs left, and I met eyes with Mr. Dale. He walked in and seemed to read the whole vibe of the night and I could see him mentally preparing to dominate the show. Little did he know that on stage I instructed the audience to act with complete disinterest as Red City started their set, but to afterward go fucking nuts. I threatened their cooperation with a Seahawks superbowl loss, but the crowd obliged explosively. Red City Radio played with a zeal that can only come from bouncing back after being fucked by the road such as they were. Best show of tour thus far. We retired to our buddy Chris' place and drank ourselves to sleep well satisfied by the day's events.