Spokane is a new place to us. A place full of alcohol and wonderment on this particular weekend. Local traditions are in full effect right now: graduation, prom, booze crawls. The streets are overrun with drunk delegates of every age group just letting go for a while. So it’s only prudent that our friend Mr. Mark Shirtz gave us a call to partake in the festivities and share some drum breaks, bass and bars.
The minute we stepped in the Baby Bar, the stale beer stench reminded me of the basements from college. Soaked, sticky, decidedly non-sterile. But the pours were surprisingly strong for the time of day and the close quarters cloaked in the glow of red light bulbs. A skateboard proudly sported the trademark Wu-Tang quote: “Ca$h rules everything around me, CREAM. Get the money, dollar dollar bill y’all.” Foreboding in the best of ways.
What I’m saying is the experience was money and it didn’t even know it (thanks Jon and Vince!). The Red Room was plush. The sound man was great. After five hours in the car the private bathrooms were worth their weight in platinum. The crowd fluctuated without a hint of discernible logic. But the crew made some fans… some true believers. And that’s all that really matters.
Vegas, baby. Vegas. We left LA a day early, most of us full of that giddy feeling a Vegas virgin gets when they see the lights on the horizon. The giddy feeling that gets robbed from you as soon as you spend a couple days in the city where Satan goes to let loose. Vegas chewed us up and spit us out with our collective mouths tasting like cigarettes, watered down whiskey, buffet grease and regret. Legalized sin. Straight chilling. But what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas, am I right?
Our show was next door to the Heart Attack Grill on Fremont street, where if you weigh over 350 pounds you eat for free. And I’m pretty sure they sell cigarettes and everything is cooked with lard. True excess, Vegas style. Sounded like a good deal to me but the groans emanating from the crew disagreed. Didn’t seem like much of a departure from the buffet we went to just hours before, where IG88 was happier than I’d ever seen him before.
We trekked on and got lost upstairs for a minute, encompassed in the diffused reverb of an awfully generic acoustic country crooner. We thought for a minute we were going to be sharing the same stage (complete bummer). Turns out that wasn’t the case and we eventually found our way to a main room with a stacked sound system and oversize dancefloor. S5 from Hip Hop Roots was hyping over DJ Tray’s mix while people milled about, anxiously sipped drinks and smoked cigarettes. Merch was set up, sound was checked.
We weren’t what the crowd was expecting, but in the good way that creeps up and surprises you sometimes. Despite the prior night’s activities and our overall haggard demeanor, some of the best performances of the tour popped off. Easily. Dudes were laughing at GoodMatters’ snoopy shuffle and riding the Tenants’ energy, the bass in IG’s beats were raising the hair on necks and I suppose I got ’nuff props. Another successful stop on the KLU tour beyond all odds. Onto the next.
The drive to LA from SF was almost too long. The crew as a collective didn’t want to leave San Francisco, as weird as it was to be there. We checked out and trudged downstairs with our gear around 10 in the morning. Casey G pulled the van around front while I collected keys and got the deposit straightened out. I walked out the door just as I heard Casey shout “WHAT THE FUCK?!” and spin around. One of the Four Lokos I’d liberated in Reno had exploded and he got caught in the crossfire. Foreshadowing.
In-n-Out is a Californian institution. As such, we needed it. On southbound I-5, talk of double doubles and animal style fries was punctuated by excitement. It was Triceracorn’s first time, and both IG and Beige offered up questions like aggressive telemarketers. Food was acquired and we went outside to eat under a sun the same color as the cheese fries. On my way out the doors, I passed IG looking forlorn. He looked at me and said, “I dropped my milkshake.” I laughed. He got another milkshake for free.
Cafe Fais Dodo was an old-style venue. Good sound, ridiculously expensive drinks and an old-timey master of ceremonies named LA Larry. Larry was a peacoat-sporting, freckled old black man with a unsettlingly wide smile and salt-and-pepper beard. His gruff voice echoed in the venue as he carried on about the celebrities that had come to play at Fais Dodo. Then he’d ask us who the hell promoted the show. But when it came to announcing the next set he was amazing. My favorite part was when he caled Beige and IG “Try Sarah’s Corn”. Belly laugh.
We had a good showing considering the part of LA we were in on a Sunday. Sold a bit of merch, handed out some CDs. VerBS’ set was short but sweet. LA Larry was impressed. Our very good friend Open Mike Eagle came out to kick it and show us the fucked up haircuts fans got on his tour with Aesop Rock. All was well in La La Land. That is, until we all got drunk on Four Loko, or “Floko’d” as we so tenderly call it. That stuff is a soul-stealing concoction. Let’s just leave it at that.
Fried chicken and urine. On the corner of Mason and Eddy in downtown San Francisco, it smelled like fried chicken and urine. One of my favorite smells mingling with one of my least favorite (I’ll leave it up to you to decided which is which) was little cause for concern though. We were in San Francisco; a city that forces you to fall in love with it as soon as you get there. Even the bums have more charm than usual, smiling with gap-toothed grins and weaving through traffic on baby-blue beach cruisers. The city just felt right, regardless of the warnings we got that we were staying in a “bad” part of town. Hey, we might be a van full of white boys but we know a thing or two about a thing or two.
Our hostel was far from bad. I’d registered the room under Chance Random, and when I let the frumpy, Minnesotan (assumed because of her accent and later confirmed when she asked us if we knew who Atmosphere was) front desk agent know I was he and he was I, she smiled, turned and ribbed her coworker. “Hey, this is Chance Random,” she said excitedly. The skinny blonde kid looked at me, pushed his black-rimmed glasses up his nose and cocked his head to the side. “Is that really your name?” They love to ask me that.
The hostel, a six-story beast of a renovated old-style hotel, was filled with beautiful European women in black leggings and more Russian/Eastern Block dudes smoking cigarettes than you could possibly deal with. There was free beer and free pancakes. Everybody was bright-eyed except for the few drones scraping for whatever wi-fi they could get in the halls in order to Skype with the people they know and love. While on an international vacation. Make sure to try and live your lives, people.
Some of us napped, some of us showered and headed out in the halls of the hostel to promote the show. DJ Idlhnds and I struck out into the common area with CDs and flyers. Something I’ve noticed while promoting is that the younger generation is now starting to look at CDs how I imagine most of my generation looks at cassette tapes–with a gaze of wonderment masked by inconvenience. Maybe it’s fear of the unknown, maybe it’s the fact that these people don’t even HAVE a CD player, I’m not sure. But what I *am* sure of is that I think people should still be excited to get free music. Suppose that’s not the case anymore. Melancholy.
The venue, 50 Mason Social House, was being guarded by a denim-draped crackhead fighting a parking meter. For a short guy, he had a pretty solid roundhouse. We slipped past him and made our way through the smudged glass of the front door to load our gear in. During load-in, an acoustic guitar player sang songs about the food options at 7-11 and going down on women on their period. He asked for some lotion from the crowd and IG88 sprang into action, handing him a small tube of whatever it is IG uses to keep his skin so silky soft. I could tell they had a moment.
The diversity of the crowd impressed the hell out of me. A group of six Asians dancing and flailing about in the front row. A pack of ballcapped 40-something WASPs in the back. A drunk British girl in zebra-stripe pants begging her staunchly opposed boyfriend to dance. A roving band of traditionally-garbed punk rockers. The energy was infectious during the Bad Tenant’s set and I saw more than a few folks reluctant to have fun get turned by the end of the night. Myself and Triceracorn are the weirder of the three acts on the tour so of course we scared people off, but again, what remained was the sets of eyes dedicated to watching and the pairs of ears dedicated to listening.
I’m writing this through half-open eyes in the van, watching the snow-soaked mountains pass by and wishing my laptop wasn’t so cold. We’re headed back to San Francisco now, on our way to play a little jazz joint in the heart of the city and hopeful that the oncoming Saturday night will bring out the best of the crazies. But first, naps in a hostel are required.
Reno was unreal. Jub Jub’s was the definition of hole in the wall: a dive in an alley you’d never find if you weren’t looking for. Their slogan was “Fuck Your Day.” There was a mural of what looked like demons and unicorns battling to the death. The locals smoked cigarettes at the bar and sold coke in the bathroom, the jukebox played AC/DC and Tone Loc, and there was a wheel you could spin to purchase a mystery item. I strayed away from mystery for some reason. I also strayed away from the warm Four Loko conveniently located on the stage, though we did end up stealing some of them for the van in a drunken stupor a little later.
Being a crew of Washingtonians, we’re not accustomed to life in Nevada. You can drink in public, smoke indoors and never have to leave a bar because they don’t close. As opposed to the (apparently stingy) venues back home, this place gave a bunch of rappers an open bar tab. Just a horrible idea, really. After a bit of fairly substandard but serviceable Mexican food–I’m tired of gas station snacks–we got to work on our usual whiskey and gin. The soundman was a quiet kid by the name of Kyle. He referenced the mix during every song, and We thank him for that. Thanks, Kyle.
The show was great. The crowd was small but surprisingly receptive and I could tell we made an impression on more than a couple of folks. Butts were shook. Applause was given. Raps were rapped and beats were tapped. Solid performances all around despite the hilariously unharrowing but nevertheless insanely slow drive through Donner’s Pass. Idlhnds and I were researching weather in Reno and stumbled on a report of a winter storm by the name of “Brutus” looming in the immediate future. Turned out to be not so brutish after all, but it did dust Reno with its first snow of the year. We woke up at a friend of a friend’s house and squinted at the sun glinting off the ice crystals, like kids on Christmas. This tour is way fucking better than Christmas though.
Our haggard rap crew woke up in Arcata at the Fairview Motel with co-op sandwiches on the brain and last night’s brandy on the breath. After quick stop in Eureka and a close encounter with a young woman confused with the difference between racism and fascism, we headed out through the Redwoods.
After a small directional mishap, we ended up in San Francisco. A little out of our way, but it was still looking pretty. Santa Cruz was the chosen destination though, and onward we trekked into the mountains near the city. We wanted to stop by a show our fam Eliquate was playing in SC, but the early-morning journey loomed ahead. Sorry guys, next time.
Tomorrow we play Reno. The littlest big city in Nevada. Or the biggest little city in Nevada. I forget which. We’re playing a venue called Jub Jub’s Thirst Parlor, which is by far the best venue name on this tour–second only to Cafe Fais Do-Do in LA. Getting to Reno will be interesting though. Our tour van (the MakeShift Magic Van) has never been taken further than California. We’re crossing the pass–did we mention it’s named Donner Pass?–and the weather looks a bit hairy. But with the help of two chains (and maybe some 2Chainz) we should be all right. For science, right?
WHO STOLE IT?!
The KINDA LIKE US tour is under way–today marks the fourth date of the tour (and the re-election of our boy Barry). We’re at Kelly’s Olympian in Portland rocking the election night party with The Chicharones, Abadawn & the Kill Party and Whiskey Avengers. Last night was a blast to say the least; a great turnout helped us party up until we were forced to order pizza to the van.
Bellingham and Seattle were insane as well. Thanks to all that came out and shared their time and funds with us. We love you more than you could ever know.
In the meantime, head over to instagram.com/kindalikeus to peep some flicks from the bizarre ride so far.
Triceracorn rocking the Lo-Fi in Seattle
WHAT'LL IT BE?