Back to the U$$A, day 5

From March 10th to March 25th, Frank is visiting the good old US of A. First a 6 day trip to Portland, to visit ZXZW artist Khris Soden. After that, Frank is visiting the SXSW festival in Austin, Texas. He will try and write a blogpost a day on his whereabouts.

After a good nights rest, we went away around 11 a.m. to pick up a car at the rental company on Burnside. We are driving to the coast and the surrounding area of Portland tomorrow, that should be fun. We arrived at the rental company Khris rented a car at two weeks ago too. We were helped by this questionably gay, annoyingly nice guy. He was going through some routines with Khris and I was standing next to him, listening to the questions. Boring, you’d say? I don’t think so.

After a question or 3, the clerk wanted to know a few, rather private things about Khris, and he wasn’t hitting on him or so. Company policy for renting a car, I guess. First of all, he wanted to know where, and how long Khris was living, where he lived now.Heather needed to confirm that. Then, what sort of a job he had, and how long he has been working there. Then, he needed 3 independent people to confirm if Khris was trustworthy enough to rent a car to, and also confirm the address he is living on. So, Khris had to give them 3 phone#’s which were all registered. Somebody of work, a friend, and Khris’ mom (!) were called by the clerk, him asking to confirm Khris’s address, and asking the question “Imagine you’d be a car rental company, would you rent a car to Khris Soden?” For me, this was really offensive, patronizing and way out there, I was fucking flabbergasted that you had to go through this procedure to fucking rent a car. Especially when you bare in mind that Khris rented a car there 2 weeks ago, and a couple of times more the last year or so. One would think that he’d be registered as a good client…..

Anyways, Heather told me that it probably has to do with the fact that Khris was paying with a Debit card, instead of a Credit card. A Debit card is sort of similar to a Pinpas, or a bankcard. With it, you spent money you actually own, without the ability to go overbudget, insted of spending money you don’t have at all, with your credit card. I wonder how the USA ended up in this financial crisis and dragged the whole world down with it…

Anyways, enough about that, off to brunch. We drove up to the North Eastern part of town, where Heather works. We had lunch in a really cool place. They had your typical american breakfasts with hashbrowns, potatoes, eggs, sausage, etc. Cool thing was, that everything was sustainably grown or bred. They served everything with vegan or vegetarion options, but they also served meat. They were really consious on how they put their menu together. It had a statement on the back, which explaned their vision on how to run a decent diner. They only served locally grown or bred food, and furniture, napkins, cups, etc. were biologically degradable or re-used. Also, they weren’t dogmatic about their veganism or vegetarism. They acknowledged the fact that people want to eat meat every now and then, so they also had meat on the menu. Needless to say, brunch was perfect!

We dropped Heather off at work, and went to a big organic grocery store, to get organic cat food (!). We went in and I was immediately distracted by the deliciously looking food, salads, meat and fish which was displayed. Everything, once again, was sustainable and organic. That’s the way to do it. Why can’t we do that in Holland too? Would be great if people would be more aware of what they are eating and what the concequences of eating are.

After we got the catfood, we drove downtown through a touristic route. I had an appointment with Ivy, a girl doing an internet radio show, where she focusses on the music scenes in different towns all over the globe. She knew Khris from the TBA festival, and even walked the Portland tour of Tilburg last week. We met at this really remote place called Sydney’s, directly located along the railroad track. A bit of a hipster bar with people drinking enormous cups of coffee, and staring at MacBooks all the time. I had a really nice talk with Ivy about the Tilburg music scene, the bands, the labels, the venues and the festivals. It took about an hour or so, and than Khris came by to pick me up again.

We drove downtown, to see some more of the city. Saw a lot of cool, older buildings, even a park, and the biggest bronze statue of the US, next to the statue of liberty. It was raining cats and dogs, so we decided to ride back home, and do a little powernap there. I needed that badly!

This evening, we scheduled to go see …and you will know us by the trail of dead. We had a quick bite of really good sushi somewhere on the other side of town, and walked towards the venue afterwards. Rain was pouring heavily, this was the normal weather in Portland for this time of year, Khris told me. I’ve been very lucky the last 3 days.

Trail of Dead played at Berbati’s Pan, a cool venue just over the bridge, near Dante’s. When we got in, The Funeral Party from LA was already playing. They were quite ok, a bit like At the drive-in, also with their stage-anthics. But, all in all, a pretty good band. I’d book them for ZXZW without a doubt. Funny thing about the venue, it was divided in 2 sides with a sort of 3 feet wide corridor that stretched from the middle of the stage to the back of the venue. We came in on the left side, which was the 21+ area, the other side was Kindergarden, and all the minors head to stay there…. A bit weird, but well, it worked.

Next up: Trail of Dead. I’d never seen them live, so a really stoked to see the show. They started out, the sound was monstrous, and they really hit the right nerve. Energetic, intelligent music by a band with 3 guitarist, a drummer, a bassplayer, a pianist and an overenthousiastic roadie, on a really small stage. This was very good and impressive. The roadies were extremely busy changing guitars between the songs. Normally, I’d find changing guitars every song rather pretentious, but this time, it sort of added to the show. They played about 1 hour and 15 minutes and I didn’t get bored for a second. Long time since I’ve seen such a good show. We took off directly after the show and went to sleep early. We were driving up to the Pacific Coast tomorrow morning, so every minute of sleep was welcome.

No wisdom from the Bible of Rock today, since I’m posting this from PDX airport, and the bible is in my checked baggage.


Back to the U$$A, day 4 in Stump City.

From March 10th to March 25th, Frank is visiting the good old US of A. First a 6 day trip to Portland, to visit ZXZW artist Khris Soden. After that, Frank is visiting the SXSW festival in Austin, Texas. He will try and write a blogpost a day on his whereabouts.

Today I woke up pretty early, couldn’t sleep anymore from 8 a.m. on. Got behind my laptop and checked some email and stuff. Just arranged sleepingplaces for the drummer of my band, Peter. He, his wife and kid are coming over to Austin too, in a few days. Good news, Peter is always cool to hang around with. Read some Dutch news and Tilburg news, and decided to go for a walk, again…

This time, I had breakfast at the Hungry Tiger, neer Khris’ place. It was pretty much ok, but nothing special. I walked over to Burnside to check out some gift stores, I wanted to buy a present for my girlfriend, but unfortunately, I couldn’t find anything. Better luck next time. I also stumbled upon a little store called “Zeno Oddities”. A quick look through the window reveiled records, skulls, little Dia de los Muertos statues, etc., so I went in. The records weren’t that special and I looked around a bit. I noticed a rack full of Wipers shirts, and some Wipers records, CD’s and DVD’s. Got myself a nice Wipers logo shirt, and went to the cash register. Then all of a sudden it struck me. Zeno is the name of the label where a lot of Wipers albums came out on. So I asked the guy behind the counter if he had anything to do with the label. He smiled and said that he owned the label, and used to play drums for the Wipers. COOLNESS!!!!

So we had a little chat about the Wipers (there’s NO reunion coming up), about touring in Holland, the Vera and Effenaar venues, etc. He was a really nice guy, who spends his time making noise and bass-fishing nowadays. I told him about the Pierced Arrows show, so I might meet him tonight for a beer or 2.

I walked up Burnside to Sandy blvd. , because another Everyday Music record store is located there. I noticed that my feet were still killing me, but I went on. This store was even bigger! But, something weird happened. I, spending my last 2 days recordshopping, got a bit saturated by all the vinyl. So after 5 minutes of browsing, I decided to leave, and walk in the direction of Burnside again. The weather was fucking great, no coat needed! I ended up in a place on Stark and 28th, where I had a coke, and finished reading ” Godverdomse dagen op een godverdomse bol”. I sat in the sun for about 1,5 hours, had some hummus with pita, and walked back to Khris’ place again. This weather was fucking unbelievably good! It really lifted my mood, and I even had a sense of being on a holiday! Sweet!

So, I changed shoes at Khris’ place (those damn feet, I need to bring better shoes next time), and went to a vegan store near by to have an organic root beer (shit tastes like cough sirup) and started reading “The Road” by McCarthy. The contrast of the dark, barren atmosphere described in the book, and the conditions where I was reading it in, couldn’t be bigger. The book however, is extremely well written, I got hooked in a second!

After Khris came home, we had to decide where to go for food. It was a hard decision, because we weren’t in a really decisive mood. Cool thing about big US cities is the eating-out culture. If you look at the density of restaurants and diners in most areas, Americans must eat out a lot, otherwise all those restaurants would never last. Another cool thing is that, since America historically lacks an eating tradition (except for hamburgers ofcourse), eateries all have a really distinct identity. It’s eiter Thai or Mexican or Vietnames or Libanese or whatsoever. It’s not just a ” restaurant”, like in the Netherlands. Well, except for the diners, that is.

We decided to eat out of town a bit, to a place called Delta, where they served Cajun food. It was pretty ok, I had catfish for the first time in my life (I caught the bastards, but never ate them), and Khris ordered hushpuppies as a starter. Big, deepfried balls of some sort of cornbread dough. Dry and dense stuff, not unlike our very own Dutch oliebol, but then in a more savory way. Not really my sort of food. The catfish was great though. I had a jambalaya with shrimps, which was pretty good, and above all, really large. So we were completely stuffed after dinner, and took a bus back to Khris’ place, for an hour of digestion on the couch.

Khris and me walked up to the venue where Pierced Arrows played tonight around 9.45. The place is called Dante’s, and I think you can best compare it to the Altstad venue in Eindhoven, only a bit bigger. Nice venue, decent sound. First up were the Rapids, the band of Khris’ band Jake. They were pretty good, not that tight, but their singer was an extremely charismatic character, so it was really fun to see. After them, the Lucky Thirteens came on. No, they weren’t a hipster Rawk & Roll band of 5 handsome greasers endorsed by the clothing brand Lucky Thirteen, as you might expect. They were a band of oldtimer rockers, which apperantly only plays on Friday the 13th (so twice in 4 weeks this year), and depending on the availability has different band members, except for the singer. They were pretty ok, but lacked power. Props to the drummer, who looked like a ’50 Grand Ole Opry type of dude.

At Dante’s, we met Ernie, the drummer of Canadian band Removal (and also of Hanson Brothers, what is it with all these famous musicians in Portland), who is friends with Kevin, a booker from the Netherlands I know pretty well. Ernie send me a message through Myspace a while ago, to hang out if I was in Portland. He was entertaining company, and we had a couple of beers and a nice talk on restaurants and invented the bandname PBRDDT while doing so. Too bad he had to leave early for work.

Next up were Pierced Arrows. There were about 150 people there, waiting for them. Now that’s how I want my Rock and Roll. 3-piece outfit, a young drummer, and the cute old couple from Dead Moon, Fred and Toody Cole. They were really hitting it off from the first note on. No nonsense, kick ass rock and roll. Good songs, good, sometimes sloppy playing, which really added to the performance. And damn, that Toody can sing. How cool is it to see a band of 2 50year olds rocking out twice as hard as most bands that are half their age. That’s rocking out FOUR times harder, you hear me kids? FOUR TIMES!

We had a good amount of beer during the show, those $2,5 cans of PBR are a really good investment, and walked home around 1.30. We just made it to the B-side bar for 2 more beers before last round. Sat down, had a chat some more, and walked home around 2.30. Stump City kicks ass, as far as I’m concerned!

Wisdom from the Rock Bible, part 2:

On Bassplayers:

– A bass should never have more or fewer than four strings. In case you forget, a “six-string bass” is another name for ” guitar”. Someone who plays a six string bass may be shortened to ” overwearing windbag”
– If a bass lacks frets, you lack taste. If a bass lacks a headstock, you’re a douchebag.
-Bass solos have never been a valid form of expression.

Back in the U$$A, day 3: I love living in the city!

From March 10th to March 25th, Frank is visiting the good old US of A. First a 6 day trip to Portland, to visit ZXZW artist Khris Soden. After that, Frank is visiting the SXSW festival in Austin, Texas. He will try and write a blogpost a day on his whereabouts.

Woke up with a little thirsty feeling around 10 o clock this morning, probably caused by all that PBR I drank last night. Slept like a baby though. Khris told me of a place on 7th and Morrison to get breakfast, so I walked over there. You could hardly see the place on the outside, and there were a lot of hobo’s hanging around it also, but the sandwiches apperantly are delicious. I got a roastbeef sandwich with a great mustard-horsh raddish sort of dressing. A total mess to eat, but once again, a great sandwich. I love eating in the city!

Today I scheduled to walk to the downtown area to visit the worlds largest bookstore, Powells. It was quite a walk, crossed the river on Hawthorne bridge and noticed the beatiful view on Mt. Saint Helens on one side, and the snowy Mt. Hood on the other side (that was the mountain top I was referring to earlier). Both of them are volcanoes by the way. Not active, but it comes to mind what would happen if they would become active, in such a densly populated area.

After crossing the river, I stumbled into the downtown area. Passed a barbershop for men, that advertised with free beer during your cut. Only in America… The downtown area has a lot of nice, late 19th century buildings and a lot of ugly taco-streetcarts. Nice contrast. I walked up to Burnside to 12th av. where Powells is located. On my way there I crossed Jackpot Records, and found a cheap ($6,-) Castanets LP and the best record ever made, ” Is this Real” by The Wipers, who came from Portland, so that’s a nice connection.

I think I already walked for about 3 miles or so, and got really sore feet, since my Vision’s are not boots that were made for walking, but skateboarding. Got to Powells and sat down for a while with a nice Icetea. So, Powells is the worlds biggest bookstore, I’ve been told. And so it seems. It is big, bigger, biggest, gigantic. Totally stuffed with books everywhere you look. They divided the 3 story store in departments, to easily find your way around. I looked around for a while and bought Cormac Mc Carthy’s ” The Road” . I’ve heard from quite a few people that it’s really worth reading. A dark post apocalyptic novel. Should be fun…

Another hilarious book I bought was “The Rock Bible”, a book about the do’s and dont’s on being in a band. Now I’ve been dicussing this matter quite a lot with my bandmates Bjorn and Roel. I mean, some things are absolutely unacceptable when playing in a band. For example, wearing a shirt of your own band during a show (except when you are Iron Maiden), playing along with the background music during the soundcheck or inbetween songs, or a drummer that wears gloves and has a splash-cymbal. That’s just not exceptable. Anyways, this book was filled with hundreds of these sort of rules, and they were all right. Finally I found what I was looking for. The book is hilariously written, and I decided that from this day on, I will end my blogpost with a rule from the book, to give you an indication of what’s in it.

I left Powells and checked a 2nd hand clothing store, where I bought a really nice Vans shirt for 13 bucks. Lucky me. I walked further up Burnside, because the district of 21st and 23rd shoud be cool. On my way there (uphill, a mile or so, my feet were beginning to kill me), I walked across Everyday Music. The biggest recordstore I’ve seen so far. I went in and browsed through the vinyl. The cool thing was, they had a compartment for every single artist they had records of, also if they just had one. And also for the really most obscure French black metal (Glorior Belli), to Belgian guitar drones (Fear Falls Burning), to Italian weird pop (My cat is an alian) to US noise (John Wiese). This increased browsing speed a lot! At the end of the 30 meter aisles, I had my hand on about 8 records, because they where so cheap. Then I realised I was spending money like water, and discarded 6 of them, only to take “Either/Or” from Portland’s Ellioth Smith ($10,-) and a vintage version of ” A love supreme” by John Coltrane ($10,- here, $25,- at Crossroads, yesterday) with me.

I walked up to 23rd, a cool neighbourhood with lots of coffeeshops, small stores etc. Walked up and down a bit. The funny thing is that some of the coffeeshops or bars advertise with a ” European like atmosphere”, but they totally lack it. Guess the same thing goes for Dutch bars that advertise with “American atmosphere” or something. Anyways, the weather was extremely well, so I sat down outside an English pub (!), got a coke, a bowl of soup and read for an hour and a half or so, and watched the people passing by. This is the life! I was reading Dimitri Verhulst’s ” Godverdomse dagen op een godverdomse bol” by the way. A really cool and “optimistic” (NOTE TO READER: the word “optimistic” is drenched in sarcasm here) book on the history of mankind. Love it!

I decided to walk up to 23rd a bit furher, and met with Khris 30 minutes later at the Santa Fe Taqueria, a Mexican place with great nachos. Had a Hefeweizen, a local whitebeer, which could easily compete with good German or Belgian white beer. Tasted really well. After a bite and a drink, we walked down to 21st, where some small art galleries are located. Nice area once again. We passed the drugstore where a pretty famous scene from the movie ” Drugstore Cowboy” was shot, and walked down Burnside again. Passed a soccer stadium (unique for the US, soccer isn’t that big over here), and took a free train (are you paying attention Netherlands? FREE PUBLIC TRANSPORT!!!! MIGHT BE AN IDEA!!!!) down to the river again.

The cool thing about walking in a town with Khris is that he has cool stories and anecdotes at every single building or block. Stories about hobo’s, skinhead riots, bands, city history, etc. That makes your walk really interesting. We passed a bridge on Burnside under which the famous Burnside skatepark is located. I think the skatebrand ” Burnside” is also derrived from this place (at least, that was the first association I had with the name Burnside). Nice to see that a city made it possible to have a skatepark over there, instead of prohibiting it, like they normally do in the US. Skateboarding is NOT a crime!

We walked further to Khris’ place, my feet were really sore. I guess I walked or about 7 miles or so, today. I was planning on visiting a gym one of these days, but there’s no need to, with this excerside everyday. I took a good shower when we got home, and after an hour or so, we decided to go to Khris’ favorite dive, the Side B bar on Burnside. A cool, punkrock version of my own favorite bar, the Buitenbeentje in Tilburg. We sat down on the bar, and started drinking beer (PBR ofcoure) and Makers Mark, a really nice, soft whiskey. The bar had a jukebox with all sorts of cool records in it, from Buzzcocks to High on Fire, from Otis Reading to Judas Priest. Nice!

The bartender was wearing a “Pierced Arrows” shirt. I noticed that bandname around a few times earlier the last 2 days, and saw a picture of the band in a recordstore today. I thought I recognised somebody of Dead Moon, which, after asking, was the case. Dead Moon is also from Portland by the way. The bartender told us Pierced Arrows was playing tomorrow with his own band. Cool! Friday night was settled here and now. Khris and I had a lot more drinks at the bar, and stumbled back home around midnight, ending another good day in Rose City!

On Drummers:

– If you are on of those drummers who sets up at the front of the stage, back the hell up! You are the goalies of rock” play your position!

– All drummers wearing head set microphones should be required to take a food order.

Another Tilburg Tour of Portland review

With our backs to Powell’s Books, Soden pointed out a museum of the written word where a Mitchell Gold furniture store stands. Walking past the new clothing boutiques and old Portland institutions like Josephine’s Dry Goods, Soden discussed the history of Fabriekstraat, the old heart of the textile industry. The Red Light district came up near Mary’s Club and the Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall stood feet away from Tilburg’s auditorium. Tilburg even boasts a “park” of a single, fenced tree, which isn’t too far off from the World’s Smallest Park in the middle of the Naito Parkway. read more here.

Khris Soden will also do the Portland Tour of Tilburg at ZXZW.

Tilburg is so cool you can even get a degree in Rock n’Roll at one of the local art universities.

At the moment Khris Soden is doing his Tilburg Tour in Portland.Here’s what people have been writing so far:
From our city’s major paper, the Oregonia: “
I took the long way home that night, half-hoping I would see a lime tree. I haven’t stopped looking.” From one of the city’s artist/curators.From one of the local “social practice” grad students. A review of someone who took the tour: “I found traveling to Europe exactly what I needed on this lovely fall day.” A brief review from someone that took the tour. From the Oregonian, talking about the festival before it starts.

Khris will also do the tour in Tilburg. Wanna join? Send a mail to nick At zxzw dot nl