All good things must come to an end. This is a majorly f*cking irritating truth.
And so, my four-date West Coast “tour” with the fine, fine folks – my friends – of Sebadoh wrapped up on a cold and rainy night in Seattle. But it couldn’t have been more amazing. Here’s a recap of the trip, along with what I learned after a week or so on the road with Lou Barlow, Jason Loewenstein and Bob D’Amico.
First, a bit of context. Sebadoh and I have good friends in Seattle. Liz and Carlos are a brilliant indie rock couple who, along with their amazing two kids “Mucho” and Mateo, often open up their home to touring bands, including Monotonix and Lou when he was in on tour with the Missingmen. We all crash there, and they always make us feel like we’re home. In order to spread the word a bit more about the Neumo’s show, Carlos created his own poster, and enlisted Mucho as his street team. So this was taken a couple of weeks before the gig.
On the road from Vancouver to Seattle, Lou and I were wedged in the backseat, separated by guitars. Jake drove, and introduced me at the border as their publicist and the rogue Canadian. Punchdrunk tired from the rest of the week, we were giddy in the car. Lou and I started classifying nights of sleep based on REM song titles. (Geddit? REM?) A poor night of sleep? “Oh, man, I had such a Shiny Happy People, when what I really needed was a Driver 8″. The band and I debated for far too long about how many miles it would be to drive from Vancouver to the Alaska border, and laughed our asses off. Mmmkay, guess you had to be there.
Around Bellingham and in hurricane-force sideways wind and rain, Jason made the fatal error of turning right instead of left to the Starbucks and we ended up at this Cruisin’ Coffee hut. Lou and I cased the gas station shop, and Jake and Bob got lost in a vortex whilst trying to order cappuccinos. It appeared that not only was the serving chick ill-equipped to prepare something as complex as coffee, but they didn’t have the right change and confused everyone over their “do you want a dry or wet cap?” questions. Time stood still. The earth spun on its axis, and still Jake and Bob were standing at the hut. Back in the van, exasperated, and slightly rattled by the experience, Jake took one look at the logo of a cup on wheels and remarked: “Maybe if you drive up to the window in a huge motorized cup of coffee, you get better service, especially in a hurricane.” This kept us laughing for at least another 2 miles.
Lou is the only one who kinda warms up before a show. He always brings his acoustic into the venue and plays in dark hallways or – in Seattle – in the backstage shower room. When I was along, he’d sing solo stuff, or Dinosaur Jr’s “Imagination Blind”. Jake likes to nap, and Bob surfs the net. Sometimes they eat hummus. Or tortilla chips. For that, along with beers – Heineken sometimes – and juices, is what’s on Sebadoh’s backsage rider. MORE FASCINATING FACTS, TRIVIA FANS!
As this is the tour “for their t-shirt” (The Bakesale reissue will be out in April in the UK and June in North America), the band sell shirts beforehand and afterhand. One thing I really dug was watching fans chat with the boys. Here’s Jake and Carlos, manning the stand. With rockhands.
Seattle was my second-fave of the four shows I attended (Portland, you were weird, San Fran you were okay) – and the crowd were into it. Lou bantered non-stop (I love the way Jake always sort of cocks an eyebrow and watches Lou suspiciously once he gets on a roll), and the songs weren’t quite as manic as in Vancouver (though I loved this). Here’s the setlist.
What can I say? I loves me some rockhands. And this girl was soooo into it. Nice.
So there’s a story about the extra addition of this song to the Seattle show. Jake had to re-string his bass, and so to pass the time, Lou played “Soul and Fire”. It’s a serious Sebadoh fan fave from Bubble & Scrape, so nobody was complaining - least of all the drunken woman musician who before the show had been begging (and I mean BEGGING) Lou to play it. When he told her it wasn’t on the set list, she got a mite, shall we say, aggressive. She’s the one yelling “NO NO NO” at the end of the video. Sometimes fans can get a bit crazy. It’s not like I pleaded (and I mean PLEADED) with Lou and Jake over email for them to add “Forced Love” to the setlist before the tour, or anything. Oh. Yeah, that’s right. I did.
At the risk of sounding like a giant cheesemonger, Jake has the greatest smile. And he’s hilarious. He is also a total magnet for crazy people. According to Bob and Lou, unstable kooks will almost actively seek Jake out and attach themselves to him. To wit: back at Liz and Carlos’, Jake goes out for a smoke at 3am. It’s a quiet residential area. “Guess what happened?” he asks us when he returns. “What, you met a crazy person?” asks Bob. Everyone laughs. A woman appeared, apparently, and while bobbing and weaving in front of him, asked Jake if he was on her level. We’re kinda thinking that she might have been several levels ahead.
Seattle’s supposed to be friendly, right? After the show, while the band load out, I head back to Carlos’ car. He’s gotten not one but TWO letters from people on his dashboard. One accuses him of parking too close to their car and this was the other one. LOVE THE SMILEY FACE after the homophobic slur! (Oh and if you’re wondering, the stickers were of Sebadoh, Missing Link Records, Andre the Giant and The Mountain Goats. Jake said the latter was what clinched it.)
This is a pic of the morning after the night before, when, at around 3am, Carlos – a chef – started boiling beans and frying tortillas for our Mexi-breakfast the next day. Chilaquiles, with all the fixin’s. Ummmm, hello YUM! At the table, the boys and I inhale everything put in front of us, then we pack up. I’m heading back to Van, and the boys are heading, errr, to the van. Lou is the resident TomTom expert and plots a course for the Alderaan System. (Actually Boise, Idaho, halfway to Salt Lake City, the band’s next stop.) But TomTom – a seemingly sentient dickwad – had other plans – and takes the lads three hours of their way, through snow and stress. They arrive in Boise at 3am. Thanks for nothing, TomTom!
It really had to be done. We tried taking a pic the night before, but the boys looked a bit knackered. 3:45 am is not an ideal time to take aa group photo. Even if it was in front of Carlos’ CD and record racks. So, we tried again. Figuring that we’d need a new press photo to pimp around (I’ve been sending media old pics including Eric), I line them up by the Sebavan. Look at those handsome indie rockers! Mama’s so proud of her boys. All growed up.
And of course, this also really had to be done. What would a BSR behind-the-scenes feature be without one of the obligatory “selfies”? Here’s me and my good friend Lou. Legendary.
So, SeBADoh, it was an epic trip. Thanks for letting me tag along and letting me listen to you play your songs 121 times. Maybe see you out east in April? \m/
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