Have you all been waiting with bated breath for the outcome of our Reno cliffhanger?! With our hotel plans in shambles, we hastily arranged an early morning arrival with our host Annie in San Francisco and hauled ass down I-80 through Tahoe National Forest, blasting Robyn, Janelle Monae and Lady Sovereign and running our mouths incessantly to keep awake.
As we approached our destination, the following exchange could be heard:
“OK we’re at exit 9. Sam what number exit do I take?”
“You want to be on I-80.”
“Yeah I’m on I-80 now. What exit number do I take?”
“Exit for Treasure Island.”
“OK but what EXIT NUMBER is it? I want to know how far away I am.”
We pulled up bleary-eyed and addle-pated just after 6 AM and were greeted by some local wildlife.
“Whoa those raccoons are fighting!”
“No. . . I don’t think they’re fighting.”
We collapsed on the floor in the apartment that Annie shares with her fiancee David. After a few blessed hours of sleep, we roused ourselves and stepped out their front door to enjoy the cool breeze, sparkling sunshine and WHAT THE HEY
What could make this spectacular view even better? HOW ABOUT AN AIRSHOW BY THE MOTHERFUCKING BLUE ANGELS
Look we’re not like big fans of the cold war or the military industrial complex but if watching fighter jets perform acrobatics over a container ship in San Francisco Bay doesn’t do anything for you then you should probably just stay home and watch Netflix.
By the way in case you missed it, the name of the place where we were staying is TREASURE ISLAND. Really!
The mechanics of how David came to live here are complicated and involve rent control and another somehow even more idyllic living situation on a different and even smaller island, but suffice it to say the man knows when he has a good thing going.
Also: I don’t know how to fit this in smoothly but I somehow lost the pack towel I bought in Oklahoma City between Reno and SF despite not having used it for anything other than a window shade
Wait a sec are we here to play a show or something?
October 8, 2017: The Hemlock Tavern (SF) with Mouth and Dealer
We rolled into San Francisco proper with plenty of time to spare- a good thing, since my sleep-deprived and sun-dazzled brain found the city’s narrow one-way streets mystifying and I led us past the club at least three or four times. Finally, though, we managed to wrestle our gear into a closet behind the stage in time for a quick slice of pizza and some confusing paperwork before showtime.
Mouth‘s shouty, declamatory hardcore opened.
I liked these guys a lot, particularly their no-nonsense approach to vocals, and their drummer Scott’s full sound and groove-based approach. We had talked earlier on the tour, apropos of Dave Turncrantz of Russian Circles, about “style” drummers as opposed to “chops” drummers, and with that conversation in mind I tried to guess Scott’s three favorite drummers:
“Dave from Russian Circles”
“Nick Yacyshyn [from SUMAC and Baptists]”
“Sure, love that guy”
I insisted to Scott that he listen to Maserati’s Inventions For The New Season and Turing Machine’s Zwei at the first available opportunity. I don’t imagine I’ll hear what he thinks because he’ll probably never speak to my annoying ass again but I don’t regret it!
After the show I saw that Mouth had their first LP on sale for only $5! I asked if it was really that cheap? “Yeah, but the other one’s better.” Fuzzy as my brain was I was an easy mark, but Deathroll really is good. Preview and buy it here.
We played second. Setlist:
A Ruined Oak
I could tell I was having some difficulty making decisions, but at the same time our set had flow for days and sounded crisp and brutal onstage. One of the best sets of the tour. Apparently we were too loud though? Yeah, like fuck we were.
Dealer, who we played with in Houston on their marathon spring tour, were kind enough to return the favor. There was a little uncertainty as they set up though- apparently their drummer was just getting off work and hadn’t arrived yet, and his bandmates didn’t know if he would need to use my drums. When Darien finally arrived, he asked to borrow some sticks!
I was all set to bust on the kid for it, but damn if he didn’t tear it up back there. Incredibly solid and interesting parts too. Either he’s had a lot of lessons or he’s a damn natural.
I liked Dealer a lot- from what I’d heard from the other guys last spring, I was expecting a post-hardcore band, something along the lines of mid-90s Helmet- and the cover of their record makes them look like The Yuppie Pricks– but I thought they were more like straight-up Seattle grunge, muscly and smart. Not something you hear a lot of these days and when it’s executed well it’s easy to remember why the style took the world by storm. For some reason I didn’t pick up a copy of Billionaire Boys Club at the show but I’m going to go order one RIGHT NOW and so should you.
This was a fun show- two of the best bands we played with on the tour, and as it turns out, Trevor, who recently joined Dealer on bass, is old buds with Dan Elliott, who booked us at Mootsy’s in Spokane! Small world. Thanks to both of these awesome bands for playing with us, and to Jeremy and everyone at the Hemlock.
Back on the island for a well-deserved sleep, we marveled at the view once again. Huge thanks to Annie and David for this experience.
Standing in his kitchen, David remarked- “it smelled like the whole Tenderloin was on fire.” By the next morning the air was hazy; at this point the horrific wildfires in Sonoma County have already killed 31 people.