The southern California leg concluded nicely. Thanks to a great promoter and the draw of some awesome local rippers, we played to 130 kids at The Smell in Los Angeles, a well-known downtown all-ages space with a relatively big stage. We don't normally get the opportunity to play with big PAs and drum mics, so the boomy loudness felt a little foreign. People said it sounded good, though. Afterward Stephen, Andrew and I ate the biggest reubens we've ever had at Canter's in Fairfax. I can always get behind unreasonably tall stacks of pastrami at 3 a.m.
Our Santa Barbara show was in the exact opposite setting, one to which we're far more accustomed. Taking place in a compact, carpeted office space with intimate acoustics, the show was put together by our friend Josh Redman who operates Santa Barbara DIY. Josh also maintains a database of recordings he has made of nearly every DIY show in the area for the last five years. You can hear the most recent set we played on Sept. 26 by clicking right here.
This show was opened not by a band but with a slide-projected tour of the Grand Canyon with accompanying cassette tape narration that Josh scored at a thrift store. Did you know this astounding wonder of the world was actually called "useless" by the first Western adventurers to survey its vast expanses? What a bunch of ass clowns.
We had a few days off after Santa Barbara, so we borrowed a tent from Stephen's uncle and went camping in Sierra National Park, about 45 minutes north of Fresno. Things got remarkably mellow. We settled next to a small stream that babbled like a New Age meditation machine all night. In the morning we did some extreme frolicking and came upon these modest water falls pouring over immaculate rock formations.
Vibes were reaching optimal levels, but some sinister shit was pervading the Central California atmosphere. The sweet pine we breathed was soothing, but I started suffering some harsh allergy symptoms. I assumed it was merely seasonal, but I had moved into full-blown sneezing fits by the time we got a cheap motel in nearby Los Banos that night. Hoping some whiskey would help my itchy throat, we found a quiet bar in the nearly-empty downtown called Tony's Rendezvous, owned and operated by a woman not named Tony. She hipped me to the fact that some surrounding Fresno suburbs were being fined millions of dollars for federal air quality violations. The TV behind the bar advertised an exclusive regional promotion at all Fresno/Bakersfield area Taco Bells where one could get a taco shelled inside a giant folded Dorito. My Jameson on the rocks had the sting of iced tea. Bummer.
Our collective outlook is faring much better now that we've hightailed it to Santa Cruz. Preston got these weird bites on his arm that made one of his blood vessels swell up, but Google assures they were not caused by spiders. I forgot my favorite sweater in Long Beach, which had an awesome, non-Ed Hardy-style dragon on it, but I replaced it with a brown, dragon-less zip hoodie. Cut yr losses, live it up, listen to LPC.
Keep Phoenix New Times Free... Since we started Phoenix New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Phoenix, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Phoenix with no paywalls.