Our First Three Shows.

Playing our first three shows back-to-back-to-back (daywise) initially seemed like a dicey prospect, but it ended up being the best idea ever. Anything that didn't work (and there wasn't much, thankfully) was able to be remedied quickly, both because it had to be and because the last show was fresh in our minds.

"This must be how a real-life touring band operates," I thought to myself. And I was right, except for the going home and sleeping in our own beds every night thing, and not having to worry about where our next meal was coming from. So, really, it was nothing like that at all, and as usual, I was romanticizing my blip-on-the-radar life and trying to feel like a big shot. But is there anything more thirst-quenching than an ice-cold glass of your very own Kool-Aid? Nah, and that's why I continue to brew it up and drink it down.

Here's how the shows went.

April 7, 2009: Olympia, WA - The 4th Ave.

So this would be the site of Sticks' maiden voyage into the vast seas of live-and-in-person mic rockery.

We showed up around 8, immediately scanning the premises for Coolzey, with whom we would be playing all three shows. We found him, hugged it out (it had been a while!), met the gents who comprised The Rhombus (with whom we would also be playing all three shows), and went about checking out the room. There was a stage with monitors on it. Good enough. Having done that, we walked up the block, got some pizza, and came back.

One of the guys from The Rhombus asked me if I had designed the posters that were hung up in the venue, and when I replied that I had not, he explained that they advertised Cool As Cucumbers as the headlining act. Now, some of you may know that I was formerly in a group called CAC, and our debut CD was called Cool As Cucumbers. A lot of people thought this was our name (I don't blame them; the CD art was unclear), and it became a point of contention/a bit of a sore spot for us.

So, that was an odd start to things. Luckily, the posters were really nice looking, and it didn't matter anyway: nobody showed up to see CAC, because nobody really showed up at all. We didn't care, and in fact, we may have been a bit relieved to luck into what seasoned veterans refer to as "a practice show" (a fine euphemism if I've ever heard one). And it wasn't like the place was empty -we did have some friends there.

The lineup for all three nights was the same, and in this order: So Sadly Fucked, The Rhombus, Coolzey, and Sticks Downey. It was really great to see all the bands play for the first time, and while our first show was fairly uneventful, we had a lot of fun. All three of the groups that went on before us played action-packed sets, and the room itself was quite nice. The highlight for me was seeing Coolzey and Dr. Don do "My Cell Phone," a track from back in the Sucka MC's days. Brilliant.

We got back to Portland and 3am and immediately began mentally preparing for the next night.

April 8, 2009: Salem, OR - The Space.

My friend Doug runs The Space in Salem, and he's really turned it from a nice little hole-in-the-wall into a great club. He had made some changes since the last time I was there, and the place looked great. This was Night Two of the three-night extravaganza, and I think we all felt confident that it was going to go off without a hitch. The fact that there were actually people hanging out there when the music started helped ease our worries that it was going to be another night of tumbleweeds and coyotes howling.

Things got off to a confusing start when local Salem MC L-Train was seen roaming around the venue, both asking permission to open the show, and claiming that he was slated to open the show. This was the first any of us had heard about this, but he said he'd keep it brief. Thankfully, he did. I'll leave it at that. coolzey1

So Sadly Fucked played beautifully, with Brian (lead guitar/vocals) breaking out a song about his cat that he had not played the previous night. It was my favorite song of the night. The Rhombus played next, keeping it loud and a bit ramshackle, but in a good way. Coolzey had joked (or so I thought) before the show about putting the music on hold for the evening and performing stand-up comedy, but I didn't believe him. When I saw him put the wig and the sportcoat on, I realized he wasn't fucking with us.

Yep, he even dropped his trousers. It was a sight. Following that was tough, but Footsy and I gave it our all. When Coolzey came up for "Do You Know?," we were all feeling the flow. I think this turned out pretty well. Coolzey, dropping the knowledge.

We had a blast in Salem. I can't wait to play there again. The bartender was really good to us all night, helping out with sound and whatnot, and it made for a really fun evening. Not a ton of people there, but some folks stuck around. A big thanks to those stragglers.

Two down, the hometown show to go.

April 10, 2009: Portland, OR - The Report Lounge

We had worries that The Report wasn't set up to handle live bands (it's a long story), and in the end, they were and they weren't. They had a nice little makeshift stage that accommodated a few people snugly, and while that wasn't a problem, the lack of a proper PA system was. Dudes were sent scrambling, and thanks to some footwork and ingenuity (none of which was any of my doing), things got worked out. Kind of.

The live bands (SSF and The Rhombus) had less trouble achieving and maintaining a solid mix than Coolzey and we did, but it was still a struggle. The PA was old, and it sounded pretty brutal. I actually thought it made The Rhombus sound sort of cool, but the SSF dudes were having trouble being heard. They still played great, but the finer plinks and plucks of their acoustic guitars were rendered dead before they could reach an ear. No matter; fun was had by all.

We were happy to be playing our first show in Portland, and though it was on a Thursday night at a place nobody had heard of, we still got a solid little turnout. Coolzey put on a high-energy show that was slightly hindered by sound issues, and I'd like to think we did the same. Talik was with us on live bass (he hadn't been there for the previous shows), so we bumped a little bit more, but I fear our vocals were muffled to shit. On top of that, my iPod decided to freeze up twice and it brought our show to a halt a few times. Luckily, it happened between tracks.

Overall, I think we closed strong, both in the set and the little mini-tour as a whole.

A few action shots:

Yeah, yes, and uh-huh. Sorry this was so long. Sadly, I feel like I'm leaving stuff out. Next time, it'll just be about ONE show. And I hope you come to that show. I got a new VCR with a remote control that has a cord on it. It'll be front and center onstage with us and it'll blow your mind.