We’ve been going to the college town of Moscow three times a year or so, for over fifteen years! How is that possible? We’ve played club shows, university events, street fairs, ren fests, weddings…the full gamut. So suffice it to say, we know the town fairly well and look forward to seeing old friends and familiar places.
We left very early Friday morning and made it to the club, John’s Alley, by late afternoon. We set up and had time to grab a bite to eat and hop in the shower to freshen up. The drivers, who didn’t get much naptime during the day were pretty tired by show time, but the energy in the room was off the charts so that was soon mostly forgotten. Drummer Tyler has a group in Portland called the Bellboys so they drove down and played a good set of music with wonderful harmonies to warm up the crowd. We’ll be doing select shows together in the coming months when the timing is right. We started out with a ninety-minute power set, took a break to cool off and rocked out loud and proud until the wee hours of the morning. Expectations exceeded! Got to sleep around three so it was a long, but eventful day.
The great thing about playing two nights in a row is there is no driving to do the next day. So everybody slept in and explored the town a bit in the afternoon. The opener Saturday night was a great outfit, also out of Portland called Hillstomp. A two-piece band that created a wall of sound with slide guitar, manic vocals, and a drummer on an eclectic drum kit pounding out an unrelenting beat.
There was a sizeable crowd gathered by the time we were set to play but there was still plenty of elbowroom. It wasn’t thick and humid like the night before. Generally a Saturday is a bit busier, but this weekend it was the opposite. We went to work rocking as usual but for my money it didn’t take off the way I was hoping it might. Ah expectations…When a humdinger of a Friday night is followed by a slightly smaller crowd, for some reason it can feel disappointing. Quite ridiculous actually when you really think about it. It’s amazing to think even one person in a town might like your music, let alone several hundred, but nevertheless it can by taxing psychologically. Of course we generate a lot of energy from the music itself, and we do still love to play but an insane mob of people can push it over the edge. In a good way. So I felt a little distracted and overtired from the day before and therefore wasn’t fully able to lose myself in the music. My mind was periodically wandering and the brain felt mushy. Songs I’ve sung perfectly, O.K. almost perfectly, a thousand times seemed new and unfamiliar. Lets chalk it up to the stars not aligning the way they usually do.
Part of the problem with playing less, is that because we are trying to randomly play every song we’ve ever played as a band, months can go by without playing a particular song. With long, frequent tours it’s easier to get into a rhythm. By day ten, the wheels are turning the way they are supposed to be turning. Music and lyrics begin to enter the unconscious part of the brain and flow out effortlessly most nights. As we’ve mainly just being playing weekends lately for the sake of the newborns, the contrast between home life and road life is quite apparent. From a cozy room with a smiling baby, to a cold mountain highway can be a little jarring to the nervous system. But, we still love doing what we’ve been doing all these years. If it means dad needs to be away now and again, then so be it. Music is our career and travel is a big part of it. Finding the right balance is the tough part.
So is it better to lives one’s life with little expectation and be pleasantly surprised when things go well, or should one always aim high and let the magic of positive thinking and mystical forces combine to ensure every night, or every event in life will naturally be the best it can possibly be? See, this is what happens when I sleep with an unread Deepak Chopra book under my pillow at night…