DOWNLOAD: Pretty & Nice, "Grab Your Nets" [mp3]
In February, 2008, Will Spitz profiled Boston's Pretty & Nice as the band was recording its debut for Sub Pop's new Hardly Art imprint. This week, music editor Michael Brodeur breaks down how rising gas prices, a shrinking music industry, and the ubiquity of digital distribution have dramatically altered the landscape of touring. To get an up-close-and-anecdotal perspective, ThePhoenix.com asked P&N's Jeremy Mendicino (with help from the rest of the band) to keep a running tour diary as they gigged cross-country from Portland, Oregon back to Boston in time to play a record-release party on September 7. This is their story, in reverse chronological order. Check back for updates and track their progress as they make their way home.
Activities for passing time in the van: read (books, signs, maps, other, books, text messages), iPod (too many notes), sleep (stiff neckening), watch movies, flux capacitor (currently broken), pick fights, drive.
Drive tends to be the best option. I do this a lot. It can be a game. Points are awarded for optimizing gas mileage, in-center-of-lane consistency, smoothness of lane changes, "jumping" the windshield wipers between the telephone poles (don't ask), comfortable braking, minimizing collisions, timely arrivals etc.
Note to Self: Consider pitching these ideas to video game manufacturers for inclusion in future Grand Theft Auto installments.
So there was this hurricane in Louisiana. And Baton Rouge is in Louisiana. Shows + hurricanes aren't a happy marriage, yada yada yada. We had to cancel Baton Rouge. BUMMER. I hate canceling shows. BUT. Our wonderful friend Tania in Dallas helped us out with not one, but TWO last minute shows in town, so we skipped up to Dallas, played a quick set and hustled down the street to play an "acoustic" set at an art opening. It was . . . an experience. Not bad. Strange. A horse is a horse of course of course.
P.S.: We're still poor.
Travel Anxiety #327: Maintaining healthy battery life in all onboard electronic devices. Macintosh computers (two), ipods (three), cellular phones (was four, now three), GPS (one). Have blown one inverter in this pursuit. Inverter two is still holding strong. Austin has always treated us well and tonight is no exception. Biggest crowd, best reception. Best show yet? Austin + Pretty & Nice = Best Friends Forever.
I guess today is a "day off" but there's nothing especially relaxing about a 20-hour drive across the desert. Oh well. We listened to a lot of Tom Waits, the HEALTH remix album (van dance party!), and "Twin Falls" by Built to Spill way too many times in a row. That song is incredible. Seriously incredible. (It really is incredible -- Ed.) Too many oldest memories and several thousand tumbleweeds later, we shacked up at a motel (first and only of the tour) in Van Horn, TX. Checked into a one bedroom and snuck everybody else in. Caught Obama's DNC speech (new classicism, if that's possible) and slept. Slept. Slept. Sleep is good.
Phoenix is hot. Why would anybody ever choose to live here? They (that is, the natives) say it cools down at night. Well . . . 85 degrees is not "cool." 85 degrees is hot. Impossibly hot.
Beach Party!!! (Insert Beach Boys lyric here). Swells like we seldom see on the East Coast! Three feet? Four feet? I forgot my yard stick, but they're gigantic! And the temperature! Paradiso! Our body boarding skills are East Coast in quality, but we watched a surfer or two surf and all that and we're alright. Just fine. A perfect summer day in a watery Shangri-La. . . And I guess we played a show somewhere in there too.
Cap'n Geech and the Shrimp Shack Shooters
La la Los Angeles! It was a good day. We made some calls on the way down from San Fran (that's San Francisco, East Coasters) and snuck on a free show in Echo Park. Played a great set for friends and family (why do the best shows go unattended?), ate great tacos, had a dance or three at Pehr Space after the show, ate tacos from Taco Zone (apparently the best taco truck in LA), I told a kid I was Ed O'Brien from Radiohead, kid flipped, I signed his t-shirt ("Keep on rockin' Julio! Love, Ed"), stayed with the amazingly hospitable John from HEALTH, did not die in an earthquake, "Didn't even have to use my AK."
After a solid six hours of sleep at the apartment of the wonderful old friend and brilliant design artist, Andy Baron, we roused and hit the bus to go to a street fair and all day show in the Mission. A few hours of awesome shows and milling about in perfect weather ensued, then tacos, then Cafe du Nord where, after loading in, we were presented with catering like I've rarely seen before. Wow. Burgers, shrimp (Bobby says they were actually Prawns . . . we no know seafood), fried fish, brownies . . . with no end, and of such high quality, I was forced to stand agog for at least 20 seconds at first sight. After changing strings and hangin' loose for a while, the show began. When we hopped up, we were greeted by probably the best crowd we've seen yet on this tour. Friends, friends of friends, fans, and total strangers all shaken a hip and smilin' big! A beautiful sight to see! Go San Fran, Go! What a friggin' great city.