Portland Cello Project: Texas Love (Lubbock, Austin, & Houston)
I've learned writing this tour blog that I'm unfairly prejudiced against Juggalos.
(And I'll admit it when I'm wrong. Juggalos are awesome people and they mean us no harm, right?)
Writing this blog has been like a journey of humbling, personal awakening.
Because now I've learned that I was also unfairly predisposed to think that our four shows in Texas would be a little…rough. One was, after all, in a saloon and another one in a sports pub.
But I cannot express how pleasantly, happily, wonderfully surprised we all were!
Don't get me wrong—these shows were, mostly, completely weird. But in the best, most fun, inspiring way. We've met the coolest people in Texas. And it totally inspired us to play pretty much the craziest sets of the tour.
Texas is home to so much rich musical history to draw upon, after all…
The Best Ever Death Metal Band out of Denton…
Anyway, picture, in Lubbock, a packed room with the audience exactly on cue, no hesitation, just like in Pee Wee's Big Adventure.
“The Stars at night are big and bright—”
In spontaneous chorus:
CLAP – CLAP – CLAP
“Deep in the heart of Texas!”
That was at the last of four straight shows in Texas, which culminated in this Supersized Sports Bar in a strip mall in Lubbock called Jake's. On its website, this bar boasts 60 television sets. There were three in the men's bathroom alone.
In spite of all outward appearances and the context through my admittedly, and now ashamedly, prejudiced eyes, this was easily one of the coolest shows of the tour. It was definitely the most energetic.
Don't get me wrong: the four weeks so far of this marathon national tour have been superb (excepting Detroit, which was—in any event—fascinating sociologically.) I know I'm skipping over the NE in this blog—all the NE shows were great. Sold out Bowery Ballroom, sold out Black Cat, packed Middle East, all wonderful audiences…Philadelphia, Atlanta, etc. It was all a marathon in the NE: 12 straight shows with no break.
And yes, the back room of this Lubbock sports bar compared with all of those shows… as did the show outdoors at the Mohawk in Austin…as did the show at Warehouse Live in Houston…
Two weeks ago NYC easily took first place in our "Hey Ya!" competition. It was New York on the last night of the World Series and the venue was nonetheless completely packed, and we played what will probably end up being my favorite performance of the tour (the sound was pristine, the audience was dead silent while we played and beyond exuberant between songs and when they were singing along).
We didn't think anyone would outdo NYC in terms of exuberance in the "Hey Ya!" competition (partly because the judge of the competition, Adam Thompson, is from Brooklyn).
But even Adam couldn't really deny that the crowd on this balmy Texas night at a packed (I think sold out) Mohawk in Austin—a cool outdoor venue with outdoor balconies overlooking the stage from two sides. This crowd beat NYC hands down with their singing abilities…
Or at least with their singing volume…
Adam hesitated before delivering his judgment—you could feel his hesitation and internal questioning of “will I give Austin a better score than NYC?”
And then two days later, Lubbock beat Austin hands down, with probably the loudest and most energetic crowd I've ever played in front of with any band.
So Texas was great.
In fact, I think you couldn't pick a better place to spend week four of a national tour than in Texas. You're tired, and all the shows are running together, and then, boom. Texas. Totally different.
The people are wonderful and hospitable in Texas, especially those who support live indie rock music. (And I want to say that it's not just Austin, though Austin is as wonderful as it's cracked up to be, and we couldn't have asked for a better premier in that city).
Texas is just different. I want to say Texas is weird, but I don't want to be diminutive. The people communicate in an open and honest way and call you funny names like “sugar” and “honey bunch.” People in Texas seem to say things like “Git yer guns up” when they're talking about their muscles, and “I'm fixin' to [verb]” instead of “I'm about to go…”
(For example: “I'm fixin' to drink my 10982039218123th weird mixture of tequila and beer”.)
Everything is bigger in Texas.
It's not unusual for people to raise an eyebrow at whatever I say, Texas or not. (I guess I need a better filter.) And in Texas, they definitely raise their eyebrows. But in Texas it never feels like they're judging; it just feels like they think you're as adorable in your weirdness as you think they are in their weirdness.
(Whereas in Detroit it felt more like they were as scared of me as I was of them.)
In Texas we're bonded by weirdness, even though it's totally different weirdness. We can't really relate in any way shape or form, but we can relate in the fact that we can't relate in any way shape or form.
Like polar opposite weirdness.
I don't really know what I'm talking about.
But Texas kicked ass. And was 70 degrees.
And Santa Fe is like 20 degrees and there's snow on the ground. So the stage is set for Santa Fe.
We'll bring it. We're charged up from Texas. So let's see if Santa Fe and the SW can bring it. Texas raised the bar.