Animal Eyes
On a sail boat in the middle of San Francisco Bay, watching the sun set over the Golden Gate Bridge. Not a bad way to end a tour.

On a sail boat in the middle of San Francisco Bay, watching the sun set over the Golden Gate Bridge. Not a bad way to end a tour.

Sunset over the Golden Gate Bridge.

Look at you, San Francisco. You are exquisite.

Look at you, San Francisco. You are exquisite.

Galen plays it cool as we get pulled over by the coast guard. I obviously don’t. I’ve got the ‘are you looking at that huge gun? damn!’ face on. Closest we’ve come to Federal prison since El Paso checkpoint stations. Woo!

Galen plays it cool as we get pulled over by the coast guard. I obviously don’t. I’ve got the ‘are you looking at that huge gun? damn!’ face on. Closest we’ve come to Federal prison since El Paso checkpoint stations. Woo!

Deckmonkey feet. 

Deckmonkey feet. 

Sam and Captain ‘G-Baby’ Galen batten down the hatches in Sausalito harbor. 

Sam and Captain ‘G-Baby’ Galen batten down the hatches in Sausalito harbor. 

12.18. San Francisco. The Hemlock Tavern.

Last show of the tour. Tour never really felt like tour. It felt like driving a really long way to get to our gigs. But like I said in the San Diego post, it’s the friends we make and all the random bars and couches and spared beds we bury pieces of our hearts in and all the things we get to experience; shitty, not so shitty, and downright glorious, that make this all worth it. It’s all part of the music. Let me wax a minute. Music is about a lot of things, but it’s also about harmony, melody and rhythm, about separate pieces coming together to create a complete whole. That harmony extends beyond the music itself. Music brings people together. It brings people to places. It ties people to memories. Hell, it goes beyond that. Kepler. The Harmony of the Spheres. I’m waxing. The point is, this was great, and I wouldn’t trade it for anything. On with the story.

Meet my dad’s friend Jim O’Connor at The Dolphin Club. Jim’s part of this crazy group of well established older gentlemen that do things like swim to Alcatraz and back without wet or dry suits, which people use to think was impossible. He takes us out to lunch, tells us stories about being a young man close to the Homer underground in the 1970’s. Now he’s the dean of a Jewish medical school. He’s gone from Taxi driver to teacher with a doctorate in computational neuroscience, a master’s or two, and a handful of bachelor’s degrees. I feel like I’m grossly underachieving. 

Haight street. Happening. SF feels like home. This is going to be our sister city, I can feel it. The street kids are playing their hearts out on the same streets The Grateful Dead and Santana used to busk on. We barely get time to drool over Amoeba Records before we have to beat traffic back to Pearl’s, grab our gear, and make it back to The Hemlock before 7:45. Of Note: I find a vinyl that Loch Lomond and The Builders and The Butchers released together. Sure, it hasn’t sold yet, but hell, if my vinyl was at Amoeba Records unsold or even in the trash, I would be stoked. 

Do you know how nice it feels to have a venue hand you money for food before you even play? It feels amazing. It feels like you’re really doing well. Anyways, we have to save the food money for gas, though later I will blow some of it buying shots for Coast Jumper

Duckyousucker. Empty Space Orchestra meets Rudder meets God and then gets sour to religion, spends a year soul searching in dive bar jazz clubs in the 1920s, falls asleep for one hundred years, wakes up and gets hip to post rock, then starts a band. Three piece with saxophone, synth or guitar, avante garde drumming. Occasional singing. The crowd has grown to 30 or 40 and we’re dancing. This is the funnest show we’ve played so far. The crowd is perfect. The bands are perfect. Venue is prime. It doesn’t get much better. We play. I feel so good. 

Coast Jumper. I don’t know where to start. I’ve listened to the album over and over, but I wasn’t prepared. I have to stop writing about them or I’ll embarrass myself. To cut it short, they may be the best amateur live band I’ve ever seen. No offense other bands, you are great. But these guys have it DIALED IN. Grizzly Bear, Beach Boys. Mature sound. Powerful as all hell. They take shovels, dig a hole in my chest and unearth all these memories of past loves and regrets and things I try not to think about, and they do it all just by playing their music. Then they hop off stage as if it was something they did every day. They probably do. At this point I’m barely drunk and almost crying somehow. 

I don’t know what we’ll do tomorrow. I don’t care. Sleep all day. Our buddy Galen mentions something about a sail boat ride. The angels are harping again by Pearl’s couches. 

12.17. El Cerrito. I Am We House.

I’m too tired to even really enjoy this, but I’m trying, goddamit. Bowie of Dum Spiro Spero (Latin. ‘While I breathe, I hope’. Beautiful), is a great host. He’s dressed the part, vest, bowler cap and all. Straight out of vaudeville. He has a beautiful home, the classiest house party I’ve ever played. Oderb appetizer spread for guests and bands (though Grant, Tyler and I sneak away before the show for Church’s chicken, the only fast food place I’ve ever seen that takes EBT). 

It’s always kind of strange that we get booked on folky rocky americana bills sometimes, but I’m not complaining, cause I dig this stuff. Little Lost Boys is two girls, all acoustic, beautiful harmonies, unique voices. Bringing me back to the dust bowl days I only know from John Steinbeck novels. American Nomad is some top notch musicians, and I apologize to them because I’m probably falling asleep standing up. It’s not your fault guys. It’s the ghosts of San Diego nights past still haunting me. Also, it’s got to be like midnight, and I was really hoping to be done playing by now. I’m turning into an old man. Dum Spiro Spero dives into their set with gypsy folk rock aplomb. Bowie is lit up like a jack o lantern and howling out his demons. 

It’s 2 am. We’re all tired and bitchy at this point, but the show must go on. Most of the crowd has gone home at this point. Haven’s girl Cassie and our buddy Spencer drove all the way down from Portland to catch our last two shows here in the SF Bay area. Our beautiful friend and host, Pearl, brought her friend to see us too. And really, some bands only have 5-10 people at every gig of their tour. We’re spoiled. And those 5-10 deserve a good show, damn it. I always hate it when a band has a bad attitude just cause they’re only playing for a few people. The music and the people deserve more. 

Anyways, we play the set. We even get into it. Robert is a particularly rowdy crowd member. Don’t ask me how, but I end up giving him a lap dance in the middle of Goat Chasing. A few more people come down from upstairs. And the miracle occurs again; against the odds and despite ourselves, we have a good show. Berklee trained drummer Jim from American Nomads gives us props. Robert tells me I need to quit the band because I’m as good as Mike Watts of The Minutemen and I am destined for greater things. I think it’s because of the lap dance. 

Tonight is an especially beautiful night because there will be no driving tomorrow morning. Pearl is our savior. Her couches are heaven. There might as well be angels harping me to sleep.