Tour of Cruise: DIY Journey Drives Home

The following is a travelogue from a two-week West Coast tour that my band, Nobody Wave, and my neighborhood friends’ band, Pretend, embarked on this summer. Last week, I left you as the gang drove 10 hours to Portland, passing through Weed, Calif.

It was time for a pit stop. We were all getting cranky after enduring hours and hours of I-5’s endless flat; luckily, there was a Subway and T. Bell in Weed. We pulled off and parked at the gas super-station, glanced at the day’s news stories in the Weed Press and then went exploring. This trucker hangout was filled with gems like the “I Got High in Weed, California” hat and the “Shut the Duck Up!” T-shirt, an image of a mallard duck whose bill is duct-taped shut. It was a welcome break from the monotonous desert landscape.

After what seemed like forever, we arrived in PDX and got some much needed chill time. Our show was in the Portland ‘burbs, a mutual friend’s house with an empty basement just begging for us to play in. We jammed and made friends with locals Oliver and Carly, who wanted to us to eat some real Oregon cuisine post-rock. They took us to Burgerville, baby, and it was delicious. We sat cross-legged on the parking lot gravel in a circle of communion, eating our Tillamook Cheddar Baskets with smiles of ecstasy. There was no way anyone could put a blemish on our night. Except for the Hugs.

We cruised back to the house where we’d played and hung out with our new Portland homies, our gear safely stowed in the Econovan. Just as we were about to take off, the Hugs showed up; it was nearing 12:30 a.m., and they still hadn’t made an appearance. A lanky, strung-out dude exited their van and sulked over to us.

“Hey … are you guys in the other bands?” he asked, like he was on downers. “Hey man, do you think we could borrow your P.A. and a kick-drum pedal? Thanks. Oh, and a microphone too?”

We were pissed. Not only was this dude not genuinely expressing his gratitude, he wasn’t even in the band. Just a roadie, or something. The Hugs sent one of their messengers because they were too lame to ask us themselves. Grudgingly, we accepted their request; there were still lots of kids who wanted to see them, despite their douche-baggy nature. Without another word, we pulled our gear out, leaving a disheveled backseat, and hauled all the shit back into the basement. While the Hugs played like a disaffected flower-power Strokes, we all lined up and peed on their van. It was the right thing to do.

And then we were heading south, so long City of Roses. On the way back, we played a totally empty coffee shop show in Sacramento, then made the hellish drive on the I-5 back to L.A. and onward to San Diego. We had our last band sleepover in our friend Arturo’s cozy campervan after a show in La Mesa; the dream was coming to a close. A sketchy downtown L.A. show and a good night’s sleep later, we were back to reality.

All that was left was our homecoming, Thousand Oaks, a final concert in the company of friends. It had to be in Andy’s backyard, for after a handful of magical pool party BBQs, it had almost become tradition. We set up our gear, savoring each part of the experience as we played again to the kids who were all there to see us off at the beginning. But the only way to really finish the tour was with a meal, so we caravanned to In-n-Out. I thought Burgerville was in the same fast food league as the California institution, but I had a hard time convincing the rest of the gang. When we finished our Double-Doubles, we took a group picture in front of the Econovan, making ugly faces but really just feeling bummed that it was over. We’d bonded so much over the trip that it was weird saying goodbye, after spending every waking moment together for two weeks straight. I went home and passed out thinking of the adventures to come.

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