Ice Balloons is on tour and phoning in their tour diaries! Check back for further installments, and stop by one of their last shows, see tour dates below.
We listened to KALX while driving across the Bay bridge and it was lovely. Our van arced down into SF as first Gun Club’s and then Robert Johnson’s “Preach the Blues” played on the radio. That song is so amazing and fried, and Gun Club’s version really brings out weirdness of Johnson’s lyrics. You really feel that Johnson is talking about actual deep depression, slow accumulating sickness that is unmanageable, “killing you by degrees,” that in its original expression was not just a cliche reference point. And why is he “preaching” it? He’s implicating himself in his own exploitation of his darkest feelings by turning them into an artistic product, advocating for a crazy self-loathing despair.
Hemlock was a really fun place to celebrate this new era. Wendy Farina’s new band EDR played stark uber-minimal but still pretty music. I love Wendy’s drumming – it’s like she writes melodies on the drums. I had a great time playing and people seemed to like it then we went back to Eric’s house and he THREW HIS ACOUSTIC GUITAR DOWN THE STAIRS after a playing a moving version of Elton John’s “Daniel.” The guitar burst open along the way, and whether or not it’s repairable remains in doubt.
OAKLAND, A PLACE
You thought the homelessness was out of control in SF, come to Oakland and pull off 580 at MacArthur and San Pablo to see and smell and taste with your hands the tent city that has spread for blocks beneath the freeway – how does this stuff happen? It really feels like a gross societal failure, especially considering how beautiful and florid this state is.
ANYHOW, we rolled over to Land and Sea gallery, which had a real casual rec-room vibe going on, and my mood ring turned this deep shade of purple – what could it mean? There was a giant dog wandering around eating trash outside who had a face like an old bearded sailor. He looked pretty tough and didn’t seem to care that we were watching him. Too healthy to be a stray, he had no sense of urgency about him, as though this were not his first taste of unleashed wandering around Oakland. I kinda forgot about him after a while, loading in and setting things up, but later when I walked by the bar next door called WOLF HOUND, he was at the bar drinking beer off the floor! Fuckin crazy.
Then we played our set and this friend of Dani’s was screaming her head off the whole time and I rolled around on the floor and it was really fun. That’s what the purple mood means: fun. I met a bunch of rad people who were down with our trip and we laughed and cried and now it’s the next day eating pancakes and drinking coffee in the warm sunshine and for the second time since Tuscon my ring is turning purple again!
I’VE NEVER BEEN TO GRASS VALLEY
But I imagine it has gentle rolling hills of perfect lush soft vegetation, Joanna Newsome comes along and sets her basket down and inside it is frozen balloons, she takes one razor claw and cuts the skin from the balloons leaving them naked and vulnerable to melt in soft breeze. There are cows cutting paths along in the background. Suddenly we are not alone, it’s some sort of biker convention and everyone is smiling and handing each other drugs.
Driving with Chris to the health-food store, he asks me if I would ever live here, if I met a woman who lived here if I might move here to be with her. I said I think those kind of things don’t usually work out – you idealize the fuck out of the other person when you only see small bits of them, on their best behavior being super sweet and accommodating to you as you are to them, but then you actually come to live and suddenly you’re simultaneously completely dependent on them socially and also simultaneously all your thorny flaws suddenly surface and it seems like the magic dried up and crusted on to the floor and you’re caught in a bear trap and the only way out is to chew your arm off.
GORILLA GLUE DREAMS
BLACK PLATE covered and old Tina, Age 13 song A GENTLE REMINDER TO MYSELF NOT TO BE A JADED FUCK and it brought tears to my eyes. How long has it been since the meth days seemed like a normal thing that could work out? Black Plate has a pathway back but without all the self-annihilation trips. Sean’s son Valis hits the drums hard and in the right way so that it’s surprising when the punches come and yet they’re musical as they beat you to the ground you almost don’t even mind.
Arcata has a vibrant natural food scene. It feels like an extension of Santa Cruz – such a cozy little town crammed full of hippy burnouts wandering the streets.
HOUSE OF VINTAGE
in Portland is designed like a casino – you enter feeling normal like you are just looking around for a bit, you turn a corner and then another to find a seemingly endless high-quality selection of low-priced clothing and suddenly you realize you have no idea what direction you came from or when it will end, but you just hit the jackpot and won three shirts a hat and a pair of pants and you don’t care if you never leave. Though Sean and Dani as usual scored great things, this time dark horse Dan Scinta squeaked out the win with an 80’s EL CAMINO shirt that he will probably be buried in one day.
MISSISSIPPI STUDIOS in Portland is a great club the sound is crystal clear like coming up from a deep pool. The show there was really fun Sam Coomes from Quasi and Shannon Funchess from Light Asylum were there it was good to see them and all the friends and family who came out too and to eat hamburgers drink wine and smoke cigarettes by the open fire pit. We saw Mt St Helen’s from my brother Tim’s house and it did not explode.
in Seattle is like a ghost house – they have posters from all these shows that were there in the 90’s from Nirvana to Butthole Surfers to Sea Hags – you feel the presence of all these people who were there who aren’t alive any more, and if your smoke machine is working you can blast it and see Kurt Cobain himself with a lit cigarette dangling out of his mouth, wearing woman’s sunglasses so you can’t tell how pinned he is. And then you wake up freezing in a rest stop at five am and you gotta crawl over BA and Dan to get to the door and you have no idea where you are but you enter that darkened bathroom with all those burly truckers and take a piss and it feels like such a relief to be alive.
Never been to BOISE
before so it was kinda strange – it’s really small but it feels like it’s based on a larger town. I guess it stretches out for a long ways but you can circle the ‘downtown’ area in ten minutes in a car. There are a surprising number of taxidermied goats around town in captivating poses that might make you want to move there. NEUROLUX is a great club with a name that sounds like a drug and it kinda feels like a drug in there. Our show was super fun though attendance was only moderate. We didn’t have time to check out the local thrift stores but I know now that I want to be buried in a DENIM CASKET.
DAY 17: SLC with GIZZ
Thank god for KING GIZZARD AND THE WIZZARD LIZARD – they are so awesome! The first time we played with them was years ago at a sit-down family hotdog restaurant in Cleveland called Lucky Dog and no one knew who either of us were and it seemed like we were invading everyone’s peaceful dining experience with our ugly noise. The Metro in Salt Lake City three years later was the opposite – packed with screaming fans and totally fun. The Gizzard cut sick on their shit and had everyone jumping around like bouncy baby bats. I wonder how many of the fans were mormons? It didn’t seem like any of them were mormons – they all looked like snowboarders or some kind of outdoor-sports types – could they have been mormon? My mormon-dar is almost non-existent.
Also, Tropical Shit Storm killed their set! Their drummer rules, even though she didn’t remember meeting me drunkenly a long time ago.