Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Surplus 1980 West Coast Tour 2015 Part 2

Surplus 1980-Starlite Lounge, Sacramento, CA; 9/9/15
After a day off and a quick drive from the SF Bay Area up to Sacramento, we found ourselves in the tremendous heat of California's capital city. I mean, it was hot! Hot show, too. We managed to have a nice sized audience, and the set seemed to have really gelled; perhaps a day off from playing was a good thing. I can only recollect only a few small biffs on my part, and the energy levels were satisfactory. Nightingales were ripping. Oh, and did I mention Gentleman Surfer? DO go and see them if they play in your town. John Bafus is an incredible drummer. Holy smokes, that man can play. The end of evening drive back to the hotel seemed really giddy. Fun, fun, fun!

Below: Starlite Lounge's very cool signage and Moe! contemplating Sacramento
Above: Mel in blue

Surplus 1980-Old Nick's Pub, Eugene, OR; 9/10/15
It's definitely a bit of a schlep from Sacramento to Eugene. Some weird energy kind of overtook me on that drive: by the time the show was to start, I was nervous as hell, walking around the gritty college town, practically crapping my pants. Odd. More high energy playing from Surplus, although we were for the most part ignored. There were people at the bar, but they tended to stay outside and smoke cigarettes. Those that did watch us play danced a lot, which was kind of cool. Also cool was the management's treatment of us, which included a really fine bottle of Cabernet Sauvignon backstage. I had a fun time imbibing most of that sucker, post set. It was also fun to contemplate the set lists from recent MDC and Raw Power shows at this fine venue. Nice people, more heat, more Rock.

Below: Moe! and Bill Wolter tune up

Surplus 1980-Lo Fi Lounge, Seattle, WA; 9/11/15
This show may have been the weirdest one of the tour, vibes-wise. After a long drive up to Seattle, during which we got lost between Tacoma and our motel, we arrived at Lo Fi and set up our gear. I guess that Moe! had asked the club owner if Surplus and Nightingales could play first on a four band bill. We were duly informed that we'd play third and fourth, respectively, so we figured Nightingales could take the coveted third spot. This had Surplus playing at about 1 AM, and after a pile driver of a set from Nightingales. I suspect that everyone in the band realized that after that ass kicking set, we'd have to overcome our fatigue and really push extra hard, or look a bit sad, and that's what we all did. During an extended version of Failure of Commitment, I swear that I felt the bandstand rising!  I just recall everyone adding a bit of extra exertion in their playing, and feeling that we were trying to blow the walls off of Lo Fi's old, Western saloon-feeling room. After our set, members of Nightingales and Surplus 1980 shouted out MC5, Kiss, Blue Oyster Cult, and other tunes at the tops of our shredded lungs. Dorky? Yes. Fun?  You betcha.

Below: Lo Fi Lounge window, a battered snare drum and set list

Surplus 1980-Panic Room, Portland, OR; 9/12/15
To end Surplus 1980's West Coast tour, our somewhat fatigued troupe, having gotten about four hours' sleep after the long night in Seattle, headed down the road to Portland, with considerably less trouble. Naturally, we stopped at some key spots, I guess a bit tourist-ey: Bagdad Theater, Powell's, etc. What a beautiful, sunny afternoon in Rose City. As for the set, it started off rather shaky, with Bill's guitar basically shutting off during traditional set opener Pigeon Obstacle Course. Thankfully, he was able to fix the problems while Moe! and I double drum dueled, and after a bit, we found some nice spaces. I recall looking at Moe! during MES Shoe Contact, during which we were both drumming again, and both of us smiling really wide! That was cool. After this energetic set, Nightingales did their thing, and brilliantly again. I had a kind of personal tour-ending party at the end of the night: rum and Coke, a good cigar, probably a bit too much gregariousness with anyone that was around to put up with it!

Below: Surplus 1980 live shots, courtesy of Matthew Scott Waldron (thanks, Matthew!)

Above: end of tour group shot!

As I find myself back in El Cerrito, weathering the inevitable post-tour depression, I also feel really happy. Happy to have learned Surplus 1980's complex set, happy to have played some cool shows, happy to have gotten to know the members of Surplus and Nightingales. Those emotions will outlast the brief downer of having to get back to "real life".
Here's to a great time.
Final impressions: Moe! Staiano is a really talented, creative, and sweet person. I wish that I could shout that from many a rooftop. Nightingales are a rockin' great band. Always warm up your wrists before a gig, drummers.
Many thanks and praises to Moe!, Mel, Bill, Steve, Tom, and Amanda of Surplus 1980 for allowing me the privilege of playing with them; Andi, Fliss, Jim, and Robert of Nightingales for being really cool people; Scarp Home for the loaner practice pads (total life saver!); and Melissa for putting up with me running around being a middle-aged Rock guy for a spell.

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