Tragedy (For Us): California Dreamin

Das Bunker, Los Angeles. Some kind of crazy rivethead mecca, the likes of which I thought were all but extinct.

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We rolled into LA in the early afternoon, and spent a few hours decompressing at Rev John’s, where we were joined both by his lovable italian greyhounds, and by the darling Audra Williams, who flew out to join us on the road for a week.

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John’s hospitality was above and beyond. We all walked away happy, fed, and with a lot of Das Bunker merch. Plus, the show was killer. The place was packed, people were cheering, and it took a full five minutes to make it from the stage to the merch booth after my set was over. Yann, of course, fucked shit up old-school.

A quick jaunt to San Francisco later, we were at the Retox Lounge.

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We were worried about this show, as SF crowds are fickle and cruel creatures; but it was a smash success. Nearly everyone there told us “I don’t normally come out to this venue, but…”, and the dancefloor was moving all night.

We spent a few days off in SF (graciously hosted by Coolio and Sharon) where Scott and Yann got to relax, and Audra and I got to explore the city.

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SF is one of those places that reminds me just how small Ottawa really is. Places like 826 Valencia could never survive at home, and institutions like City Lights would never have been able to do what they did. There aren’t enough people, there isn’t any support from the city itself, and it’s nearly impossible to build sustained support for any kind of artistic enterprise.

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But I digress.

We left California for Portland, which – if i may sound like an asshole – I had no idea was so cool. Austin is the only other city in the states where I’ve seen so many amazing, indie businesses and arts/crafts.

We played at The Fez Ballroom, which is a beautiful concert hall. After a dozen converted gallery spaces and cramped clubs, it was a breath of fresh air. Scott’s opening set had people cheering from the middle of the first song on, and while it was a great show for all three of us, he kicked the shit out of Yann and I both in crowd reaction and merch sales, which is pretty awesome.

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(We also got to check out Derek’s store before we left. Verdict: Fantastic, not enough Ad·ver·sary.)

Seattle was next, where we were hosted by the lovely Jeri, who was gracious and generous, and made sure everything we needed was taken care of.

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The show itself was quiet, but a good time. We had the next day off, and Audra and I took a ferry over to Vachon where we spent a night at her friend Heather’s idyllic country home. Hot tubs make for great stress relievers after two weeks in a car, incidentally.

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One surprisingly painless border crossing later, and we were in Vancouver for the Zombie A-Go-Go. There was a line outside the door when doors opened, and by the time I was on stage the club was packed full of (remarkably well-costumed) zombies. Zombie cops, zombie flapper girls, zombie gangsters, zombie groupies, zombie fairies (what?), zombie movie stars. Zombies zombies zombies.

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Everyone was a bit worried that the crowd wasn’t going to dig the music, since so many of the people were at the club as part of the zombie walk, but it was easily one of the most enthusiastic dancefloors of the entire tour to date.

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We grabbed a quick bite to eat after the doors closed, and then it was right back in the car to make it to Edmonton for the next show. The crowd there was small, but seemed to be comprised entirely of electronic musicians who were all listening, if you know what I mean.

Audra left back to Ottawa the next morning, and after a long and emotionally numbing day at the West Edmonton Mall, we got in the car at 5am to head off to Winnipeg for yesterday’s show.

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Stay tuned!

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