Northbound

[9-9-11]

Seattle, finally!  Rollin through seas of pine and Douglas Fir, through modest villages named “Weed” and “Riddle,” meeting full-service gas station attendants with the scoops on road conditions and local dives.  Relieved of 13 van hours, some of our bagged-eyes iron out smoothly from beautiful forested views.  Stay on frequency, I’ve planned a recon mission around 12:00 to local uncharted skate traders in our area around the historic Moore Hotel colony.  Will report back before load-out.[SUPPLEMENTAL:  mmmm coffee!]

(((much much MUCH later)))

It’s hotter than SF out here, blue skies and a unique air.

“Yeah, I dunno, some kind of a heatwave…”  “Better than rain for sure!” …

“Hotter than usual” …  “Need Sounders tickets?” …

We check into the downtown Moore hotel two blocks from the water.  The whole place has an eerily vintage feel, with boldly dark hues and leopard carpet.  FRESH!

We catch some of the noodles/Pillows as they return from the Mariners vs Royals  game, which Ichiro homered and they won!  After a long stroll, we refuel at Ivar’s Acres of Clams for fish n chips.

The next afternoon, I am glazed by sweat after just 3 blocks, constantly shaking off guilt that I should be practicing and not risking injury skateboarding.  But as in life’s endeavors, all thought vanishes for those few moments of flow that joyously lock into your being.  Whatever that means, let’s go skate!  I waited at this intersection (Pine and 5th maybe?) where all traffic lights, for some weird curse/blessing of the universe, froze red.  With a running start, I hoped I wouldn’t fall too hard, or that I might’ve fixed the light, or that I may have distracted some of the drivers from texting behind the wheel.  Reality?  Just another poser bombing a shallow hill-to-flat only to pick up and walk up the other side.

Picked up a skate key though!  The boutiquish Goods and the up the street 35th North are sick shops!  There’s also a badass music store right next to 35th, Zion’s Gate Records! 

Cruising Seattle!

Later on, Derrik, Tom, and I grab food from Dog Japon, an Andrew Zimmerman stop.  To your left is the Matsuri: chicken apple sausage with scallion, wasabe mayo, carrots, nori, and grilled onions.  Totally hit the spot, as we walk all over downtown counting Starbucks cafes and strolling through a Saturday flea market.

El Corazon is part of a building that’s seen almost too many years.  At all ends of a maze of stairs and corridors are rooms big and small, creaky steps and boards, and a stage and floor that have endured many metal shows.  I felt at home instantly, with the latest Blind video blasting on one of the staff’s laptops during load-in.  Other than the heat and some mistakes on my part, everything was awesome: the very energetic Seattle kids poured into the place after everyone’s smooth soundcheck finished.  I guess we’re doing something right when kids are shouting “HEY!” on every snare hit without being prompted.

In being the smallest venue on the tour, it is also the most intimate and personal, having a close view of the band playing from anywhere on the floor.  After a sidestage view of Noodles, I hit the merch table to hang out and talk with some of the kids, before watching and flip-filming the Pillows, who actually awarded fans’ patience outside the venue later with some autographs!  I had a rare opportunity of being backstage to observe them right before they entered the stage.  At the point the crowd was chanting “PILLOWS! PILLOWS!” Sawao stood with eyes closed, head down, and one hand on the wall, the rest of them at the ready.  In one fluid motion he opens his eyes and leads the band onto the stage.  Shin pumped up the crowd midset by jumping up stage and slapping on his Mariners hat, swinging his sticks like Ichiro!  The most fiery crowd on the whole tour they were, jumping and crowd-surfing about the steaming venue!  Felt good to finally get outside…

At the awesome 24-hr restaurant 13 Coins, we drink and snack after the show, as some of the Delicious crew will return to Japan.  I meet and chat with a new Seattle resident, tech guru/gamer Gene Pencil, as Ayumi offers an extra Manny’s lager to me!  I am absorbed in Gene’s story of his move to this city; I very much consider doing the same!

We had the entire next day to explore Seattle once again, chilling at the bottom of the space needle and getting lost in the EMP rock museum, zoning out on Nirvana videos and watching the Jimi Hendrix Experience in the theatre.  We stroll about and my awesome cousin Joevana joins us for pizza at Serious Pie, before she lifts us to the airport for our 10pm flight to New York.

As much as my excitement for the next city beckons, I’ve definitely enjoyed Seattle the most, and will make it back here on the way to Canada next road trip!

Giants

The cool Bay chills us out upon our return from LA; we all enjoy a full night’s rest.  The bus and BART ride to Slim’s is unique.  If asked, I would say I’m going to work, but I feel more like a tourist in my own backyard as I’m filming the trip with a Flip, and experiencing the Bay in a new light.  I hop off at Powell to skate by the new Bindlestiff theatre, a mother of my gifts and opportunities here in San Francisco.  Before feelings of gratitude turn too emo, I’m already posted in front waiting for the van to arrive.  The Slim’s sound makes it easy for all bands to soundcheck; the crew is awesome, and their kitchen provides catering for all.


A few tech difficulties and dropped sticks during our set challenged us; I found myself rocking out even harder as Tom’s bass went out during “Let’s Stay United.”  The show goes on!  It just happened to turn back on for the chorus, to everyone’s excitement.  Even though we considered this set our poorest, the crowd connection was the strongest!

Pops and all my sisters even came together to watch!  In the presence of so much family I shouldn’t’ve been so nervous…but any performer knows that is an impossibility.  Still, it’s great to be home!

Big ups to skater homies Tony and Miguel, t’was their very first concert!

 

The crowd loved noodles tonight!  They have played here often on smaller west coast tours, and always enjoy the city.  With composure and seamless transitions, they thrash through their set, pausing occasionally for introductions and flowery one-liners to embrace the crowd with.

The Pillows KILLED IT!!! (pics soon!)  Their fans rush the front of the stage, hands and arms go up, a vibrating mass of pogo.  I join in during one of my favs “Funny Bunny”  Love that bassline!

At the 509 Sushi where we ate after an explosive Slim’s show, I had a great conversation with Shio (Jun), the Pillows support bass player, who proclaimed his dream to perform with them.  He smiles easily, is the youngest in the group, loves hiking, snowboarding, and soccer!  I smiled at our similarities while drinking our beer, especially at the immense gratitude we feel for the opportunity to travel and play music!  Noodles and the Pillows have been around since ’91 and ’89; fans still show up early just to catch them enter and to hear the soundcheck (and even record it with their phones from OUTSIDE the venue)!!!  As the show’s afterglow dissolves with the beer and sushi in our stomachs, some of us prepare for a night of almost no sleep and gear inventory before the long road to Seattle…

For the moment, goodbye San Francisco!  😉