Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Rademacher with Airborne Tour Diary : Eden's recollections of PDX

Well, well, what can I say about Portland, Oregon?

Not really sure where to start. The whole operation from the get go went pretty smoothly. Slept in. Showered. Snacked. Had coffee. We were in no rush to be anywhere and we were up and running by 9AM.

Robert and his bandmate Mike were really cool and hospitable. We kicked it around their couch and our suitcases, joking about Mike (not ours) replacing me for the rest of the tour and me going to work at Guitar Center and staying in Seattle. Pretty good times, but I am very glad that didn't happen, because Portland was some of the most fun I've had in awhile.

Mike and I probably began drinking around 3PM (Greer joined in after the show at a really chill bar, Water Trough, i think, that had a bathroom door full of peeping tom holes and a slew of arcade games) and i know all of us combined racked up a pretty impressive tally of drinks, though for most of the night i hardly felt drunk (which, of course, just encouraged me to keep drinking ).

The show sounded phenomenal, in my opinion and the crowd was really responsive and in general just great. Mike started off the session early with a really beautiful sounding solo song ("Playing for Fun"), a request for Mikel and Darren, while Greer shouting the lyrics from behind the stage.

With the help of some badasses at the Wonder Ballroom ("Wonderland", some call it in Portland guess) every band sounded "frackin'" awesome. Thanks Shira, for reminding me frack even existed. hahah.

Henry clay People followed us, and blew up the stage with bright rock n' roll personalities and badass music like usual, and i danced down the halls listening to them on my way to dressing rooms... but don't ask about the dressing room... except that they were nice and full of beer. That's all you get on that one. Besides Mike forgot about it, anyway.

Joey (of Henry Clay People) handled the audience really well, if your wondering, and stalled a little for The Airborne Toxic Event who was running a tad bit behind schedule by playing a request from the audience.

Despite the intensity and energy that the crowd and bands gave off in the front room, backstage was a little different. Mikel was met with a some vocal trouble and he received a shot of cortisone to help his vocal cords.

But T.A.T.E. bought the ticket and took the ride (lol) and sounded awesome despite the earlier trouble. :-) I danced around while the Airborne Toxic Event played their set and at the end of the set, a couple of us from the the tour and some awesome Portland peeps jumped onstage for "Missy". We shook tambourines and grooved with the band.

The night didn't let up until well after we had played several games of pool, drank beer, wine, ate nachos, hotdogs, and made human pyramids. We got a nice warm place to sleep in and I passed out to the sound of tickle fights and melted tension and felt pretty good, despite everything to the contrary.

As i write this we happen to be on the road to Vancouver, everyone in good spirits, ready to commence with the music and the playing and the bonding and the drinking and the fighting and the cussing and whatever else long car rides and cramped vans do to people like us who just like to go places and play music.


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Rademacher with Aiborne Tour Diary : Seattle to PDX

It is 11:40 am. We are on the I5 heading south to Portland, and tonight we are playing the Wonder Ballroom with TATE and THCP. Should be a fun show, we were originally booked to play Doug Fir, which I always think of as the PDX equivalent of Spaceland, but the show got moved to the larger room because TATE tix sold out so quick.

I find that amazing. We have never had a really good PDX show before. We have played the town several times and have some good friends in that neck of the woods, but we are way more used to playing smaller rooms with smaller crowds and not having anyone show up. A sold out show is a rare treat.

The band scene in PDX is very competitive. There are so many good groups. Some of the folks that I really dig from there are, well, Modest Mouse of course. Malkmus lives there as well. The Joggers are a favorite. But there are tons of lesser known groups that we have shared the stage with that are great musicians. I could see why this might lead to low show numbers. Everyone is in a band in that town and there aren't many "civilians" to support the events.

At least that has been my experience.

Last night I was reflecting on how surreal it is to be rolling in such a tight little crew with so many good friends and playing such HUGE sold out shows. I feel very lucky to be having this kind of musical moment with good pals that I have been on the trenches with for years, and TATE, if you're reading, thanks for sharing this experience with us.

Last night we played an in-store at a record store in Ballard called Bop Street Records while TATE and THCP headed to Portland. Bop Street is right next door to the Tractor Tavern in Ballard. It is a great store, but I limited my window shopping, so I don't have much to report about their stock other than that they obviously have a TON of cool stuff. I didn't really have cash to spend, so instead of perusing, I sat down and did a crossword while we waited to play. Damn it if those crosswords in The Stranger aren't tough.

Our friends, the Passive Disaster shared the bill with us. They play a a weird mix of dance-y numbers with good lyrics. For the last song of their set, a song about dancing in your underwear, the kids in the band all took off their pants. It was pretty cool. I learned a lot about the band that I probably didn't need to know, but it was fun. It for sure convinced me that I should invest in a good pair of boxer-briefs.

After that, most of the kids from the show all headed down to a local watering hole in Ballard. The name of the place escapes me at the moment. Second City? Maybe. It was a fun looking dive. I wasn't really in the mood to drink, and as I mentioned before, I had no cash. So I bailed and our drummer Eden and I headed back to the van to wait while Greer drank. we sat in the front seats of the van and we listened to records.

I didn't bring much music on this tour : an Os Mutante compilation and a copy of Funkadelic's "Maggot Brain". I love both of those records. I thought I had brought my copy of this record by a French band called Medusa. Unfortunately, I just brought the case and left the actual disc in my player at home.

On the other hand, that is all the bad news I have to report. We listened to music and texted pals for a couple of hours, picked up Greer, and then headed back to the crash pad that By Sunlight generously offered to us for a second night straight.

2 hours left until we get to Portland. Looking forward to running into some old friends, drinking, and wreaking havoc.

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Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Rademacher with Airborne Tour Diary : Day Five, Day Six, something like that... by Greer

Last night we played at Neumo's in Seattle. It was a rough trip getting up here. Our Orange Dodge Carvan left Arcata at 7:30am. It was a beautiful day to drive through Northwest rainforests. No Rain, but no NPR in this area; we made due. (I am a very big fans of NPR, "wait wait don't tell me", "This American Life", etc.) We haven't convinced our new drummer Eden of the awesomeness of NPR, but I'm confident by the end of this tour she'll be a fan.

Around 2:30 we stopped in Eugene, OR and picked up the last half of an episode of "Wait wait don't tell me" featuring Amy Sedaris and Drew Carey.

It was looking like we were going to be on time for the show in Seattle, when we hit rain and traffic in Tacoma. So the expected 9 hour drive turned into an 11 hour drive and for a minute there it looked like we might not make the show at all, So the ease of cruising 65 and playing MASH (which determined that I would live in a house in a swamp in Louisiana) turned into "if that god-damn trailer doesn't get outta the left lane, I swear, I will slap him across the face". If you've ever been in a car for 11+ hours you know the strain it places on one's sanity.

We got to Neumo's and rushed our equipment in with 30 minutes to spare. The house sound person was a dude named Evan, who is friends with our friends The Cave Singers. He was an awesome dude and between him and Ian, the monitor sound person, we had the best sound on tour, with only a quick line check. Seattle's crowd was the warmest we've played for. Everywhere we play, people love the Airborne Toxic Event, but in Seattle people L-O-V-E them. It was really great to watch.

After that we crashed with our friends from Seattle, the band By Sunlight. They are super rad and treat us nice. They make great music as well.


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Sunday, February 15, 2009

Rademacher Tour Diary : No Airborne.

Last night – Valentine’s Day Night – we were in Arcata, CA and we played a house show at a place called the Green House. We were all sick. We shared the bill with our friends, Geographer, from San Francisco. We had the night off from our tour with Airborne and the Henry Clays. We meet up with those kids in Seattle later tonight.

Over the years we’ve developed friendships with a number of San Francisco bands. Birds and Batteries. Tartuffi. We know that scene pretty well and we had heard much ABOUT Geographer, but despite our connections, we had never gotten a chance to hear them play live. I am ashamed to say that I don’t think I had even heard a myspace recording of them.

They are nothing short of amazing.

We were playing in a small room towards the front of this old Victorian House. It reminded me and Greer of Cafe Pergolessi in Santa Cruz. When we arrived, we sat with the kids from Geographer, Mike, Bryan and Nate, and drank a cup of matte and shot the shit while the folks who lived in the house prepared a delicious dinner. To avoid thinking about how awesome everything smelled while we waited for the food, we set up the living room for the show. We came up with a clever backline, EQed the vocals, and turned the space into what we thought was a pretty cool looking stage.
But now I am skipping around. I just wanted to let you know that these guys are amazingly cool as well as amazing musicians.

Let’s address the amazement factor in detail. The lead singer guy, Mike, has this weird croon that might remind some people of the guy from Clap Your Hands Say Yeah. High. It kind of warbles. But it is way warmer sounding and he doesn’t do yelping sort of bits. I am trying to think of another comparison to make, but can’t. It is pretty unique and sounded great with a healthy dose of reverb on it and all the lows dropped out. So cool.

The band plays with backing tracks, so their drummer Bryan is always plugged into a pair of in-ear monitors, so the “feel” of the band isn’t as loose as I usually like things, but he has excellent, lockstep timing and his kit sounds crisp and deep. It was a maple CC kit with DW hardware and one of the most unique snares I have ever seen. Huge and ringing and with a great warm sound. I am not a huge gear person, but I was so impressed with how it sounded that I couldn’t help but make a mental note.

The third guy in the band is Nate. Who was really cool. Really rad. And he totally looks like the type of guy who could be in Guns’n’Roses. That’s not meant as a dis. Just a statement of fact. The other thing about Nate is that he can play the hell out of an electric cello. During the set he also cued up the laptop and tinkled on some keys, but his melodic cello lines were a driving force behind the music.

The crowd was great. I would wager that there were 30 – 40 kids there in a VERY small room. It was freaking hot and everyone was dancing. Even to Geographer’s slower jams. And they do some very slow jams.

After the show there was a dance party that lasted a very, very long time. And I like dance parties. I danced for maybe like 30 minutes and was pretty tired. The rest of the people there went ALL NIGHT. The bad thing about the all night dance party was that I was supposed to crash on the sofa in the room where the dance party was taking place. That wasn’t going to happen until the dance party ended. So I stayed up way past my bedtime drinking and waiting and talking.

The good news about the dance party was that I haven’t seen that many people dancing on all fours together since Light FM and I went to a strip club in Sacramento.
Greer slept through the whole thing. We had gotten up at 7AM that morning and she had driven 7 hours. And immediately after we played : zzzz. She just crashed out. She is pushing herself pretty hard on this tour and doing much of the driving. I am worried about her.

We got up at 7AM this morning and she started driving again. Se la vie.
We’d like to thank Geographer for being awesome, especially Bryan for feeding me lots of beer when things looked darkest. The Green House for being great hosts and throwing great parties. Heather for the delicious, delicious truffles. Thank you.

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Saturday, February 14, 2009

Rademacher with Airborne Tour Diary : Valentine's Day

It is 11:33 am and we’re driving on the 101 towards Arcata, California. We are doing a radio show this afternoon and later this evening we are doing a house show with our friends Geographer. It is Valentine’s Day. They are from San Francisco.
Last night we played Bottom of the Hill and there was a mad rush to get Airborne Toxic Event on stage, because we were all running late.

Even though we had a shitload of errands the previous day, we managed to be the only ones on time that night. Unfortunately, the venue would not let us soundcheck or set up our gear until TATE got there. So we just sat around and ate pasta with rubber bands in it.

Pasta with rubber bands in it? Yes, pasta with rubber bands. They made a bunch of pasta and Greer found a rubber band in her pasta. Like a real rubber band. She thought it was linguini. But it was a rubber band. That sucked. She started chewing it, she thought it was just a piece of past cooked “al dente”, then she chewed it more and sure enough, it was a rubber band.

Some dude in a hat with too many pins in it, came up to us and said he was from Spin Magazine and started asking questions about Rademacher. How many folks in the band? What are the musician’s name? Stuff like that. Really hard hitting questions.

He seemed a little weird.

By the third question it was pretty obvious that he had nothing to do with SPIN magazine. The door guy asked him to leave, and later explained that the weird-hat-reporter-guy had written his name in the guestlist and that this was not the first time that he had tried to pull that trick. He also informed us that Spin magazine has received a number of complaints about this particular SPIN reporter impersonator and are considering pressing charges.

Our friend Reid May helped us out with merch last night and it really made a difference. We try and watch the merch stuff as good as we can on our own, but it helps having someone there to keep an eye on the stuff as well as encourage folks to buy. It was our best merch night so far. Thank you Reid.

It was also nice to be out of LA. While I obviously love Los Angeles, and I love the hell out of the bands and friends I’ve made in that neck of the woods, it was nice to see TATE and THCP out of their own backyard and in the field, so to speak.
Bottom of the Hill is a venue that both Greer and I are comfortable in and I am sure that helped us collect our thoughts and deliver a really good show. We all had fun on stage and the crowd was responsive and we played well. So things are starting to click for us. Which makes me happy.

The Henry Clay People played well. It was weird to see the audience react to J. Siara’s antics early on with skepticism and then watch them grudgingly transform into admirers. One particular thirty-something couple I was standing next to started off by indignantly asking, “Did he just call us kids?” And then 15 minutes later I spotted that same couple chanting the words “Save Rock and Roll” along with the Joey.

Airborne played a great show despite their rushed soundcheck. Sound wasn’t ideal, but the band’s onstage energy was high as they blew through their set with aplomb. I am becoming a bigger and bigger fan of their “Goodbye Horses” cover. By the time midnight swung around, the band was in encore mode and invited the whole club to come up and dance onstage with them. The venue turned into a massive, writhing, hormone-fueled dance machine. It was pretty awesome.

Greer and I have voted Henry Clay People’s Jonathan Price the “Coolest Guy on Tour” for the last three dates running. In case you are wondering. He is a badass. And his bass is very heavy. Pretty much everyone else on the tour is tied for first runner up.

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Rademacher with Airborne Tour Diary : Losing track of days already

So we are driving north on the I-5, driving from LA to SF, and my laptop is out of batteries. So this whole blog entry is going to end up being transcribed from scribbled notes on a yellow legal pad. That’s right, this tour diary is going analog.

Greer is driving our rented Dodge Caravan and it is 9:34 AM.

We are going to have to make a brief pit stop in Fresno to tie up some loose ends that we left hanging. They are the following :

  • Get Tape Machine and Tape and take to Tiny Telephone.

  • Get Phone charger. I forgot mine at home.

  • Get passports. Greer and I forgot our passports. We are going to Canada on this tour. Woops.

  • Get drum throne.

  • A blanket.

  • Get Greer’s practice amp.

  • Transcribe blog.

(p.s. I am proud to report that we accomplished all of the above tasks during our brief stop. Oh. and the above photo is by Jeff Koga, FYI.)

Yesterday, which we spent in Los Angeles, was a blast. Our photographer pal, Ben Hoste, came over to our HQ in Studio City and did a little photo shoot with us. We were working with him on some ideas for stop animation shorts, so, when our video of an animated killer goose goes viral on youtube, remember that you read about it here first.

Then we headed over for load-in at the Henry Fonda Theater, which is an absolutely stunning venue. IT is gorgeous, the staff is great, we had our own dressing room, the beer was cold, etc.

Once we got over the shock and awe of thinking “I am going to play here tonight!” we settled in and started warming up. Our soundcheck went allright. It is something we need to work on. The Fonda was for sure the largest room we have ever played and I was a little unsure of how much of our sound should be coming from the stage volume and how much should be heard over the monitors.

The end result was that I just frantically asked for more and more of everything in my monitors. That seemed to work ok, but if anyone else has a better idea, I would love to hear it.

One of the greatest thrills I have ever experienced, and I think Greer would be with me on this, is when a venue opens the curtains at a sold out show and you’re on stage and all these faces stretch back as far as you can see. It is pretty awesome. You look out, and there are just people everywhere.

It has happened to us once before, when we shared the stage with the Silversun Pickups, but it still gives me the chills. I wonder if that feeling will ever go away?

Our performance, in my opinion, was lackluster. For sure not our best. We avoided most of the big mistakes, but I slipped up on some lyrics, my guitar was cutting in and out on one song, and enough minor things went wrong that it was really hard to just get up and get into the music.

And that is the sort of vibe we want to project from stage every night. The “get into the music” vibe, not the “lackluster” vibe. It is something we are always trying to achieve. When we are playing well, that is what it feels like to me, it is a strange “mystical” point where I can just relax and let the music play itself and I can stop “thinking” about it so much.

Hopefully we can pull it together and get to that point tonight at the Bottom of the Hill in SF.

The Airborne Toxic Event kids bought us a bottle of champagne to welcome us on board their tour, which was super sweet. If you’re reading this guys, thank you.
They played wonderfully, as did the Henry Clay People. Both of those bands seemed like they were totally in their element. I think it will be easier for us to sit down and enjoy our tourmates’ performances once we nail down our set, but until then I think I will just feel anxious and tense while watching those two bands – because they are so damn good.

Somehow one of my friend’s names was scrubbed from the guestlist last night, and she couldn’t get in. I felt really awful about that when I got a message from her on facebook.

So … I am so sorry Meredith!

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Thursday, February 12, 2009

Rademacher with Airborne Tour Diary : Day 1

Our first day of tour was a blast.

For those not in the loop, we are embarking on a six-week west coast tour that includes twelve dates with LA locals made good The Airborne Toxic Event and The Henry Clay People.

Our first night was at the House of Blues in San Diego.

I couldn't sleep well the night before, woke up at 6 AM, and then we drove 7 hours from Fresno to the venue. On the way down, we stopped at our friend (and Greer's mom) Jo-Anne's house to pick up the new RIP GARDENSIDE CD. We had all the copies delivered there. We picked up the box and continued down to SD.

On the way, we popped in a CD to take a listen. To our dismay and horror, we discovered that every single copy has clips, noise, distortion and skips. This is a major bummer. I have to call the manufacturer today and ask him to replace them as soon as possible. But, essentially, the CD we wanted to sell on tour won't be available. Que lastima.

After that, we got to the venue and things settled down. The staff at the House of Blues was really, really cool. That is kind of rare for us. We know a few good sound guys and stuff, but it is great to see a really nice group of people working hard to make the night go well.

We played first, to a small crowd. My amp fell over like two or three times during the set, but that wasn't such a big deal. Annoying, but not the end of the world. We had one little bump when we were playing the song "Arkansas" -- I jacked up the intro and came in early, but most folks probs didn't notice.

I think I would give our performance a B. But we have ample time to step it up a notch while we're out on the road. By the time we get to noisepop, we should be pretty solid.

The Henry Clay People played second and put on an enjoyable show, unfortunately, it wasn't nearly as enjoyable as the shrimp po'boy that I had ordered, so I spent a large portion of the set in the greenroom wolfing down crustaceans. I shall try and listen more tonight. They have two new members.

The Airborne Toxic Event, on the other hand, got my undivided attention. I haven't seen them live in over a year and all the touring and practice has payed off. They played wonderfully. To be honest, I wasn't expecting to get as into the set as I did. Some of the new material is great. The stage antics are cool. And the level of musicianship is high. These kids can play. I was impressed.

There are some cool photos that capture the vibe of their set over here :

Tonight we're playing the Henry Fonda. Which is way bigger than the room we had last night. Should be an eye opener. I think this will be the largest crowd we've ever performed for.

Also, our friend Josiah from Light FM, sent us an MP3 of a new tune that we recorded with him. It sounds really good! Hurrah.

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