[license to krill] Week 4: Adventures on stage, and at dinner, in the scenic Northwest

Me standing at one of the Kurt Cobain memorial benches in Viretta Park.

Before setting out on this tour, I knew there would be high highs and low lows. And in fact, that’s been part of the fun of this experience so far —- when you left me and my band KRILL last week, I was wallowing in self-pity at an Arby’s in Montana. That was a low. It only went uphill from there.

The improvement of our Montana experience is due 100 percent to the hospitality of our friend Kinsey, who showed us a great day and a half in freezing Bozeman and sent us on our way only after making us delicious pumpkin pancakes. Our next show was in the great unknown of Idaho, in a weird little college town called Moscow, the only place we played that I hadn’t heard of before this tour. I must first mention that on the way we stopped in Missoula for lunch at Burns St. Bistro, attached to a co-op, and had some of the best sandwiches of the tour so far. We all liked our individual sandwiches so much that the three of us split a grilled cheese with huckleberry jam and jalapenos as our last act. Melty, salty, sweet, spicy, crispy... I could go on but really it had everything one could hope for in a grilled cheese.

Our humble Corolla stopped by the side of the road in the Palouse Hills, Idaho to admire the sunset.

The approach to Moscow, Idaho was unexpectedly stunning -— we arrived at sunset through the Palouse Hills, a golden, shimmering landscape that was painted purple by the impending dusk (seelead photo up top). Our show that night, at a DIY spot called The Bayou, was our worst of the tour so far, but it needed to happen. Aaron broke a string during our second song, and the only other guitar available was an impossible to tune heavy metal guitar. We played half the set hilariously out of tune and the rest with a five-string guitar. Some people were nonetheless into it, and we found all the Idahoans in general to be quite friendly, if a little eccentric.

The next day we drove towards Seattle through the entirety of Washington state, which none of us realized is largely desert. It was about 70 and sunny when we got there, the sky a deep blue without a cloud to be seen. Not the dreary, rainy, mental image of Seattle that I had, and it set a positive tone for our collective first time in that city. We started by going to Mario Batali’s father’s tiny famed restaurant Salumi, where Aaron and Jonah had a vegetable soup that they loved and I indulged in a platter of cured meats, the best of which was flavored with chipotle and chocolate and channeled the spirit of mole negro in a mind-expanding way. We were then joined by our friend Quin who took us to his favorite pan-Asian supermarket in Chinatown where Jonah picked up a live geoduck -— the sea creature that looks like a giant penis stuffed into a clam shell — with tongs. That was a highlight.

Jonah holding up a geoduck clam in Seattle's Chinatown. The geoduck is native to the Pacific Northwest and looks like a penis.

Before our show we visited Viretta Park, the site of a makeshift memorial to Kurt Cobain in the form of two benches covered in handwritten messages to the deceased grunge legend. I wrote a small message and felt fulfilled. Our show was at a chilled out DIY venue called Mystery Machine (formerly New Crompton, and many still recognize it/refer to it as that). The sound -— especially for being in a living room -— was awesome, and the people there were really into it. One guy approached us after and started talking about the (sadly disbanded) Olympia band Kickball, which is a comparison we’d been hoping someone would make on this tour. All the other acts that night were solo artists, and we liked all of them -— Chloe Carson, Erin Birgy, and Alexander Gardner.

The flyer for our show at Reed. Best flyer of the tour so far.

Our next stop was perhaps one of the most anticipated of the tour — Portland, Oregon. Our show was at Reed College, so we went there first to meet my friend Jeannie, who goes there and with whom we stayed. She showed us around the gorgeous campus (again 70 degrees and sunny with no clouds), and we split up for dinner. Aaron and Jonah went to a food truck and got what Aaron referred to as “quiche stuffed in an empanada” and Jeannie and I went to Pok Pok to sample their much-lauded Thai street food. Before I get into that, a word about money; this is our system: we use the Kickstarter money we raised for gas, and the money we make at shows for food. So far this has worked perfectly, and usually we take $15 a day for food. If one of us wants to spend more than that (i.e. me at Salumi or me at Pok Pok), it has to come out of our own individual pockets. So, Pok Pok was over the $15 budget, but it was a worthwhile indulgence.

A light dinner at Pok Pok before our Portland show.

We started with the justifiably famous Vietnamese fish sauce wings, which were alternatively sweet, pungent, umami, garlicky, and many other sensations that there might not be words for. The flavors of the handful of dishes that followed came in waves, the kind of vicious waves that might toss around an amateur swimmer before eventually depositing him/her on the shore gasping for breath, realizing an important newfound appreciation for the power of our Earth mother, Gaia. That’s sort of what dinner was like for me.

The show at Reed was one of our best of the tour, made even better by the upbeat, jangly rock and roll of Seattle band Neighbors who, in addition to being a fun as hell live band, are great guys. Spirits were high as we got back to Jeannie’s apartment, where I remembered halfway through getting ready to shower that there were Pok Pok leftovers in her fridge.

Consequently I ate them in my underwear, with my pants around my ankles.

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