michael's communiqué #19

West Coast Tour Diary

Alright so I'm too weary to write another proper tour diary... and anyway Andrea took so many great pictures... can't I sort of just write some captions? OK here we go...

This is what Los Angeles looks like... for those who haven't been... sort of. Or at least what it looks like from the window of the condo where our friends from Better Looking Records let us crash when we arrived in town. The palm trees serve a metaphoric purpose for those who come to Tinsel Town. All that is green, fruitful and nourishing... is significantly out of reach.

This is what your average accordion player looks like when arriving in Los Angeles.
He did eventually wake up and crawl towards a pack of cigarettes.

I had a Bret Easton Ellis moment gazing down at an empty swimming pool at the break of day. For a moment I thought "I should live here, beside this pool, forever."
I hadn't had breakfast yet...

I like to start every tour off with a balcony haircut,
and a delightfully homoerotic moment. Two birds, one stone.

This is where we ate dinner in Silverlake before the L.A. show. Earlier in the day I had the immense pleasure of visiting with a favorite band of mine who were in town recording their new record.

Kurt and Tod looks pensive, while managing to eat healthy vegetarian meals.

Gilbert... ummm... did not.

This was the dive bar... erm... club that we performed at alongside Voxtrot and Old Haunts.

This is what the sign above the stage promised both band and audience. If you have not learned this by now... listen up... be VERY skeptical of Los Angeles based propositions in flashing lights which promise to save your life. See F. Scott Fitzgerald.

Although Andrea took many photos of Voxtrot performing... they did not match her photojournalistic fervor regarding us. Thus... this blurry LA pic will have to suffice.

Perhaps distracted by the indifference of Capitol records... I smashed myself in the face with my microphone while attempting a Roger Daltry-esque maneuver. Then, probably making our major label aspirations all the bleaker, I proceeded to smear said blood on my face and tell the joke from 'The Aristocrats'.

On the road from LA to SF... the question on everyone's mind is finally answered.
YES... Michael Grace does do windows.

None of our pictures from SF do justice to just how amazing and inspiring an event it was. The crowd was in the hundreds, and included a favorite writer of ours singing along! It was as close to Swedish levels of love that we have felt in our home country since a very emotional show in New York a year and a half back.

The crowd awaits Voxtrot.

The preceeding pictures were taken by our friend John Van

The day after the pop fest we walked around Berkeley, and got Indian food and bubble tea... not at the same time. The sun felt good. I wanted to buy records at Mod Lang, but worried about how to get them back to NYC in one piece. The boys in the band had a lengthy and vulgar conversation about glory holes while reclining on the grass.

After Berkeley, we began a lengthy drive into the darkness...eventually we found a motel in Northern CA. The next morning we had breakfast at a bear themed diner. Darren's breakfast never came.

Andrea Vaughn... friend to all creatures great and small.

Memorable sights from the next day's drive to Portland.

Sights I'd rather not remember from the next day's drive to Portland.

Once at the venue in Portland, the sophisticated mechanism of an indie tour springs into action. Tour manager James, members of Voxtrot, and our own Kurt Brondo coordinate the global ramifications of jangly pop.

Onstage at the beautiful Doug Fir Lounge in Portland. The show was our best ever in The Pacific Northwest and featured a couple spontaneous acapella covers by yours truly. We were warned that in Portland, no one claps for an encore... but that... if they want one... they won't leave until they get it. So imagine our surprise when we found the audience still waiting where we left them 5 minutes and a tangerine later. We played 3 more songs and a young man shouted "We need you!"... which is what I had been waiting my entire life to hear someone say. Preferably the person would be in love with me and vice versa. This would have to do.

More pix from Portland. The venue was a lovely postmodern version of One Eyed Jack's from Twin Peaks. It was attached to an old no-tell motel, which they had also spruced up into a post Ikea hipster honeymoon destination. We stayed up late drinking and drinking and eating 2am Croque Madames. I then went for a walk and saw a sign that said 'Alternative Friendly Cabaret'... FREE admission... my judgment may have been slightly impaired by seven Stellas, but 10 minutes later I was staring at a tattooed stripper's umm... artistry. Now I ask that all fans of mine expecting both... more Christian & more feminist behavior on my part remember a few things:
1. Alcohol, Alcohol, Alcohol
2. Every stripper in Portland is a feminist, and there is no touching allowed.
3. I'm only human. Flesh & blood... a man.

The next morning at The Doug Fir restaurant... we had delicious brunch including veggie sausage patties.

Andrea took this mind bending photo of herself and Tod reflected in a modish lamp.

I put on Kurt's glasses. For a moment I saw the universe as he does...
then quickly yanked them off.

On the road to Vancouver... Gilbert models Voxtrot's merchandise. His 'Kill Uncle'-esque posing led to us being roughed up by State Troopers.

Was this in Vancouver? Frankly I don't know...

Despite the presence of some awesome fans... Vancouver was a little bit of a let down. Rainy... with a sparse few fans... in a venue more suited for a one woman 'Songs of Bacharach' review... which coincidentally... I am considering doing...

Say what you will about Andrea... she took the merchandise area very seriously, including installing a flaming barrier between fans and t-shirts.

Another day, another breakfast. Same shirt.

The last show of the tour... in Seattle. The venue is called the 'Sunset Tavern'... one could see this as having 'Hotel California" like symbolism... but I was just disappointed that they didn't have a pinball machine.

After sound check... I go off on my own... all moody like. Well actually, everyone left me behind while I was taking a leak. So I went and had noodles and painted my nails gold.

This was the Sunset Tavern's only requirement for admittance. Based on the turnout at the show... this ruled out 99.999998% of the population of Seattle.

There is something beautiful about a still life of merch.
Even when everything else is in shambles... some order remains.

The tour was over, and we posed with our tour mates Voxtrot.
There was a kind of noisy silence and a conspicuous darkness.

It took forever to say goodbye.

Michael Grace Jr.