All-ages in Olympia
I had a dream last night that I was staring at this spider and at first I was afraid, then I realized I was the spider, but then we were flushed down the toilet. At the bottom of the toilet was a sailor who was afraid of dying and I tried to talk to him before the spider and I got into a rocket and flew into space. Then I woke up. But your show was really great—I’ll see you in Austin with my mom.
I overheard a rail-thin teenager tell Ava Luna’s Carlos Hernandez this story after their set at Northern, Olympia’s all-ages, no booze/no-nonsense venue on the night of my arrival to this year’s Imposition Tour.
Northern looks like a mini-gallery—white-washed walls decked out with an assortment of photos featuring huge mouths doing weird shit and lots of bedazzled butts. The venue sits next to a dark parking lot tucked away from Olympia’s downtown, a strip of droopy-eyed two story buildings housing (delightful) burrito joints and thrift stores. Through the haze of jet lag and the stress of no-show luggage, I watch as shiny-cheeked youngsters and a few folks just a hair over 21 trickle through the door to catch our line-up that includes Olympia’s Skrill Meadow, Seattle’s La Luz and King Dude, and our touring East Coast cronies Krill and Ava Luna. Highlights included learning about The Bible with Skrill Meadow, who is the spitting image of Vincent Van Gogh in a cat sweater, King Dude setting up a dark, candlelit mood in the otherwise blindingly white space, and La Luz’s surfer-girl Soul Train.
“S” is not for Seattle
Back in Seattle the next day, we brave the cold rain to visit Pike Place Market and accept free samples from smiling vendors before traveling over to King Dude and tattoo artist Shannon Perry’s warehouse space where Derek gets a hand-drawn “S” tattooed on his arm (someday more ink will be spilled over The Boss’s infamous, ‘90s born tattoos). The loft is split—half living room-style tattoo parlor, half King Dude headquarters for Actual Pain. Shannon is as iconic as the American flag hanging across the way—done up in tight bleached-blonde curls with her white tights allowing her tats to peek through.
We hit happy hour in a gothic bar next door before dropping by Barboza for Together Pangea, Mozes and the Firstborn, and Guantanamo Baywatch. The woozy Sunday crowd engages in what can only be described as a light moshing. We wrap up the night shooting pool and throwing darts at the cavernous Eastlake Zoo, as the hirsute patrons of the ’60 and ‘70s nod approvingly and jiggle their beer guts from the dozens of black and white photos that cover the storied watering hole.
On our way to Portland from Seattle, we make one last stop in Olympia to hit K Records, co-founded by Beat Happening’s Calvin Johnson. K is located in an old, unmarked synagogue, and the office was in a state of transition during our visit as the crew moved the recording studio into the second floor from the bottom level, turning what used to be storage into a silent shrine. As rare sunbeams streamed through the warped, battered windows it felt almost godly.
We chatted with Calvin and Mariella and searched for as many hidden K Records shields as we could find—an activity as delightfully elusive as nailing down more than a one-word answer from the formidable yet affable Calvin.
Stay tuned later this month for a special Labeled interview with K Recs.
Getting Sassy in Portland
[Ed's Note: All photos from Portland have been withheld to due to the incriminating nature of our stay in Rip City.]
Rolling into Portland from Olympia around suppertime, we made a quick stop at our place for the night, care of Katie Heath a.k.a. the founder and sole creator of Flunklife t-shirts. After getting blasted from the evil doormen at Doug Fir and on a hot tip that Portland has the prettiest strippers, we made our way to local dinner joint/titty bar, Sassy’s. We macked on burgers, steak and eggs, and cheap beer while a smugly smiling redhead affixed flaming match heads to her nipple rings three feet away. The girls were pretty, with tattoos and interesting hairstyles that made them both captivating and familiar.
After we got our fill of beef and boobs, we followed our Flunklife hostess to The Alibi, a grandiose Tiki-themed karaoke bar. Between huge paper lanterns and bubbling aquariums, Derek sang Weezer’s “Sweater Song” following Katie’s banshee version of “Ballroom Blitz,” while the rest of us wasted away in Pina Coladaville. We got a shot of some man boobs, too, as the strange assortment of karaoke lovers got rowdy to songs that were almost always impeccably terrible.
Sung out and strung out, we finally had our first Taco Bell meal of the tour and hung in Katie’s colorful cave to watch mind-blowing episodes of CMT’s Party Down South and Jerry Springer’s latest, Baggage, before we all conked out like slow-mo dominoes.
Next up: a long drive from Portland to San Francisco finds us in a room with a view before our Oakland show.