Wednesday, December 9, 2009


Whoa - I guess I know when the last time we played Brighton was, since I've only posted once since then. What a slacker!!! It's obviously a bit drearier here now than it was in August, but it's still one of my fave British towns, where I actually remember where to find a good veggie full english breakfast and where the record stores are where you can still find Shadows LPs on vinyl for less than ten pounds (I was gonna make the squiggly L pound sign, but I don't think it's on this keyboard!).

This seems to still be a big Hen's night town. Last night backstage we were entertained by the sight of a group of carousing bachelorettes in the street outside singing this never-ending song about ridding on your big fat pony which involved a lot of pantomime galloping and shrieks of girlish delight. The looping melody is still stuck in my brain.

The other main backstage entertainment came courtesy of the New York Times crossword puzzle. Not to get too Rex Parker, but even though the all-proper-names across clues made for some clunky solving, on their own they were a pretty fun "who can guess it first" game. We were all stumped by Ilene Kristen too, Rex.

Stephen cut his finger backstage trying to cut open a pita (I mean pitta) bread 20 minutes before we went on, but still managed to shred. The cut opened up a bit during the show, though, so he had to take a couple of breaks to stop the bleeding. Not quite GWAR, but I think Andrew WK would be proud.

Off to the aforementioned full english!

Friday, July 24, 2009

Big Sur

I got some stuff from the peppermint store blog to listen to on the drive down to try and find something that would stump Steve, but it looks like I'm going to have to go deeper than Blossom Toes and Daughters of Albion. And the grub at the Ashland co-op is ALMOST worth the glacial pace of the checkout lines. But enough about the van ride. Ever since we player the 80/35 festival, I've had Public Enemy's "Bring the Noise" stuck in my head. This was when we played in between P.E. and Matisyahu. I was talking to John Moen a while ago, and he said that the Decemberists spent a whole summer in a seemingly never-ending festival rap sandwich, usually between Asher Roth and Ludachris, so I guess this was our turn. But anyway, the reason I bring this up is because none of the sound people we've worked with before could do this tour, so our friend Mark recommended this woman Dianne, who's on a brief break from doing front of house for the aforementioned Hassidic rapper. She also has some great stories about touring with Game Theory back in the day, and if you know me, you know that's right up my alley. Now if only I could get some dirt on Waxing Poetics or the Grapes of Wrath. And in keeping in that vein, we've dusted off "Dynamic Calories" for this mini-tour, even though Janet had never heard it before. Last night was Harlow's in Sacramento, and c.f. Dean Wareham's Black Postcards for more on that venue. Big Sur is providing me with the greatest al fresco blogging I could imagine. Maybe more later.

Monday, August 25, 2008


I started this leg of the tour like I start every other, asking myself "What should I load onto my Kindle?". Just kidding. I actually brought along the same borrowed copy of Jonathan Lethem's "Gun, With Occasional Music" that I've had with me on the last three legs, but this time I'm really going to finish it and not be distracted by radio dial name that tune and the Guardian's cryptic crossword. I had a good chance to make some headway on it during the flight over, since Delta's in-flight entertainment system kept crashing, which surprised me because everytime they re-booted I saw the penguin logo letting me know it was based on Linux, which is supposed to be pretty stable, right? I would've expected that kind of thing from Vista, but come on Red Hat, does Steve Jobs have to do everything? We've landed in the U.K. during another Bank Holiday, when the banker's of this great nation finally take a break from making our American Dollars even more worthless against the mighty Pound and flock to the seaside in Brighton for pitcher's of Pimm's and rounds of Dolphin Derby at the pier. I joined them there as I was trying to get over jet lag and had my first taste of the South African delicacy Biltong. One of these days when I really get this blog laid out with graphics and photos and stuff I'll add some hyper-text links for things like "Biltong", but for now you'll just have to Google it on your own. I'm sure it has a very detailed Wikipedia page, but suffice it to say it's pretty Jerky-y. While down on the pier, I also saw a poster for Brighton's leading Oasis tribute band, Oasish, which is an adjective that I'm definitely maybe going to start working into my vocabulary. And it made me think, what's a better name for a Blur tribute band, Blurry or Bluresque? After strolling around for awhile, it was back to the hotel, which was completely overrun by brides-to-be on their "Hen's nights", another British tradition like afternoon tea and knife crime waves that I'll never quite understand.

Anyway, about the gig. We had some pretty typical first night technical/sound problems, but the crowd was wildly forgiving and actually one of the best audiences we've played to in a while. They even laughed at some of our most pathetic attempts at humor, puns so bad I think I've erased them from my memory forever. And they didn't object to the fact that we broke at least two of Vampire Weekend's four cardinal rules as laid out in the new issue of Uncut. We might have even broken all four, depending on your definition of disco drumbeats and rock'n'roll cliches.

After the show, I was informed by my British friends that in the final ranking of Olympics success, every other country in the world put China first, as they won the most Gold medals. It was only the American media that didn't differentiate between a little thing like finishing first and finishing third and figured our over all medal total should put us on top. We've been known to discount trivial things like the popular vote count too, so I guess there's a precident.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008


4/21/08 - Saw Jake from the Joggers Bl(j)ogging backstage after their show and it inspired me to make a post. Who'd a thunk it but Dallas was maybe the best crowd we'd had in a while - all head bobbin' and song requestin' and singin' alongin'. We were supposed to have a head-to-head with Cat Power last night in Austin, but she blinked. I'll get some photos up here soon I promise. Fer now I gotta rest up for the drive to Albeqeurque (SP???).

Sunday, March 23, 2008


I'm living on borrowed laptops, so I wasn't able to blog more about the Chicago show or Indianapolis. Bob Nastanaovich was at Chicago - always a pleasure and a priveledge. And what were he and Stephen talking about furtively and passionately in the corner? Possible fuel for the Pavement reunion rumours? Or just Fantasy Basketball? O.K., it was just Fantasy Basketball. The Vogue in Indianapolis was kind of a typical run down old movie theater turned into even more run down rock club, complete with utility closet "dressing rooms" with no bathroom, and the entire back wall covered in framed autographed promo shots of touring bands that are since a little passed their prime (Ezra might actually be better by this point). But we met some super nice fans after coundcheck, and there was a totally acceptable Japanese restaurant on the corner, and a perfect-for-time-killing record store a few blocks away, and the sound was pretty good and the crowd was fun and somehow the charms of the place won us over. You can thank Dave from the John Vanderslice band for lending me the hardware to mount my cowbell for "the Hook", or you can curse him, depending on your feelings about that song.

Friday, March 21, 2008


I know it's boring to blog about the weather, but that's really the main theme today. 4-5 inches of snow on the ground when we woke up in Milwaukee. If this happened in Portland, the city would shut down and everyone would stay hunkered in watching Matt Zefino. The 90 mile drive to Chicago took 4 hours, which was annoying, but we were entertained for the last bit of it by the most perfectly hilarious college radio DJ on some left-of-the-dial station. Long stretches of dead air? Check! Songs played at the wrong speed? Check! Mumbled apologies for forgetting to play PSAs? Check! I was glad to see things haven't changed since the "When you play it, say it!" 80's.
Might play Vanessa and it Kills tonight. Both sounded pretty good at soundcheck, as did the Social D cover, but that one's probably a few drunken encores away.

Thursday, March 20, 2008


Dang this theatre is nice. Free Arkanoid backstage too! We pretty much stuck to the set list last night, although I think dim stage lighting and bad eyesight led to one little switch. Gonna mix in some different ones tonight - Dark Wave, Oyster, Post-Paint. We tried to get some better lunch options by waiting 'til Madison, but I still ended up at Noodle Co. Decent Pad Thai for a chain, though.