The fear we had stemmed from the fact that we were still in our infancy as a band. The nine months we had been playing together we had a very limited five shows under our belt and no output aside from a single lo-fi recording that the songwriter from Black Moth had heard, which—you'll have to ask him for the reason—he liked enough to take us out on their West Coat tour. Tour aside; we were put on a perpetual time crunch prior to leaving. Once we realized we were going to be out playing bigger stages than we were accustomed to, we wanted to write material that would fit them. There was also an impending pressure that we could be with out many of the things we wanted to make our live set realized. For the betterment of the project, we knew there was a significant amount of work to be done before we played the first show in Seattle.
The month prior to us leaving, we decided to find a fourth member to ensure the keyboard parts were going to realized the way we wanted them to be, which nearly didn’t happen. Fortunately, two weeks prior to us leaving, in came Damaris Peterson, who wins for being such a talent, who wonderfully learned the parts of the songs and rehearsed them up until she stepped on stage with us for the first time in Seattle. We also wrote, rewrote and threw out nearly two-dozen songs in preparation for the tour. We then hit another slide of luck a few weeks before the tour when Dylan Magierek from Type Foundry/Badman Recording Co. offered to take us into Type Foundry to record our EP just days before we left for tour. With all of this in mind, we wanted to make sure we put the work in we had to. All of these objectives created a very necessary and entirely positive push for our young band.
I want to take a moment and state here just how incredibly awesome Portland is. Everything about this tour was a one big last-minute decision after the other, which only provided us with more energy to play these shows. We would not have been able to do the tour as well as we did with out this city. Fortunately for us, there was an incredible amount of positive energy and teamwork on our side to meet every avenue we needed to before leaving, and we were only able to meet our band goals because we live in such an incredibly helpful city. Dylan Magierek wanted to ensure that we had music to take out with us on tour, so he essentially mixed our EP the day before we left. With the Type Foundry recordings in hand, we were burning CDR’s moments before we jumped into the vehicle. We also had a snag with our visuals, which were provided by our friends at Wooden Lens, who worked overnight just to bring them to us minutes before we were on the road. Everything fell into place at the very last minute, and it only amplified the anticipation for our little tour, along with a full certification that we live in one of the most helpful cities in the country world.
All right, everything came together. We have to leave and actually play a show. Our tour vehicle, a Chevy Tahoe, housed our band wonderfully (seriously, for something that is designed for groceries, I am convinced this vehicle was made to house a four piece rock band). We are on the road to play Neumos in Seattle just hours later.
Our first performance was pretty fun, but not with out some technical problems. Surprisingly, Black Moth’s fans received us pretty well. There was a size able crowd for us, albeit, the least enthused out of the entire tour (for all bands, it seemed), but it remained to be a fun show. Evidently it was the ‘bass show’, as it was the instrument that was the highest in the mix. It was to the point it drowned out the guitar out and keys. Despite that, we played well. Once we got off the stage, Jefferson Starship’s roadie was backstage chillin’ hard. Evidently he is a big BMSR fan, and he wanted to make sure I knew that he liked the song that I laugh in… only I don’t remember laughing. He also enlightened us with crazy stories of drum risers and told us to hold on to our youth. A lady in her late 40’s wearing head-to-toe leopard print loved our band, so she bought CD’s from us (Our first sale!). We then headed back to the hotel room located downtown where we found a sunglasses case crammed full of crack and watched the Golden Girls & Rosanne until 3:00 AM (no… we didn’t smoke crack, the Golden Girls is just that addictive).
ONWARDS TO PDX!
For our band, this was not only our hometown show, but it was the most fun show to play on the tour. There was such an excitement for Black Moth for this show particularly, that when we arrived at Holocene around 5 pm there were already people waiting to get in. For the sake of competitiveness, Portland exceeded Seattle in all ways. This was all thanks to Black Moth’s fans and the greatness of Holocene. How Portland manages to cram some of the most hospitable and fantastic sounding venues into one city is beyond me (seriously, Doug Fir, Mississippi Studios and Holocene are all fantastic venues to play, and they deserve awards for their incredible nature). The excitement that Holocene (thanks Gina!) and the crowd provided made the night so much more fun for the supporting acts then the night before it. Once we finally got to play, we were so excited for the show we blew through our set and forgot to announce whom we were and what we were doing there. In retrospect, I think this is the show that allowed us to dissolve most of the live anxieties we had before it. As the tour went on, we were getting significantly more cohesive, and I think this show was largely responsible for it.
All and all, the first leg of the tour was a really great time. Playing with and operating around musicians who have their shit together so well was a huge benefit for our little band. Being on a platform so big was hugely beneficial for us; it became apparent pretty quickly that we were going to have to push ourselves even further than we thought. Funnily, this tour almost felt like we were interning to be in a rock band, which was good because we needed the education. Black Moth was really great about providing that for us. They were gave us a mentorship that only made the next few shows more relaxed and cohesive on our part.
When I named this band PICTORIALS, I never accounted for the fact that there is a considerable amount of people who have no idea how to pronounce the word our band name comes from. PICTORALS was pretty consistent in California. To help curtail this we brought Jamen Lee with us. Every tour should have an outside set of ears and eyes; one that isn’t involved in the music or production side of the show, just to keep things level and to cut through tension if any exists. I think our best tour decision was having Jamen with us, who helped as a residual band member and documented the tour. We either couldn’t have done it with out him, or we just can’t imagine the trip with out him. Either way, he was an asset. Once we left Portland the energy continued to climb. Fortunately we had a day off between Portland and San Francisco, which was spent largely in the vehicle driving. It was Damaris’ birthday, which was unfortunately spent in the car. The obvious way to amend this was to celebrate her birthday the entire tour instead. Along the way down to San Francisco Damaris and I met a modest Elvis impersonator (“I’m not Elvis, just an impersonator”) at a McDonalds, who let us take his pose with him as if he was authentic. Jamen and Nate started a bird and plant tour diary. In typical I-5 fashion, there wasn’t much noteworthy about driving it.
I have been to San Francisco a dozen times now and it has always been music-related, so prior to this trip, I don’t think I ever exceeded 24 hours in this wonderful city. I believe this time our band made it to a whole 32 hours spent in the city. At any rate, San Francisco was the wild card of the tour. We played this massive nightclub called 1015 Folsom, with a hugely overbooked bill, that was largely made-up of DJ’s. I kept on hearing “WHERE’S PICTORALS?” [sic] from the sound engineer, named Pascal. Pascal looked like a mix between the dude from the Offspring and a G.I. Joe. His intensive personality was blamed on his stagehand confusing pizza for Thai food and a serious marathon of days without sleep. I couldn’t tell if he liked anybody, anything or us. There seemed to always be a serious life problem with this dude every moment of the night. Fortunately the promoter was super cool to us, and ensured he was excited to have us on board for his Rock Rave (his words).
Despite good vibes from the promoter Noah, the general feeling of the venue was hyper-stress. The night was noticeably overbooked; 10 acts in what amounted to be 4 hours of show time The time crunch was evident in the schedule, because the change over the bands were given was literally 3 minutes (Pictorials 11:03 – 11:31. Next band: 11:34 – 12:03…), and they stressed the importance to ensure that the music was constant, and under no circumstance, were we allowed to play beyond our time slot. This was fine for us because our set was 29 minutes anyway. It was only a pain in the ass when we had to perform and the act before us was breaking down as we began our set. They also forgot to set up the mics on stage, so Nate was asked to jam on his drums for 10 minutes in order for Pascal to set up the stands, which was important in keeping the rock rave’s party momentum going. Surprisingly, there was a strong attendance (evidently there were something like 800 presales), with a huge amount of energy.
Once we got some sort of signal indicating that we should begin playing, we did so. Problematically, our sound engineer was MIA. I had no idea where Pascal was, but he wasn’t mixing our band. Eventually, at a break in our set, I saw him appear in the booth, at which point I asked him if he would be kind enough to turn on our monitors. Even though he indicated that he did so, I still wasn’t sure if he did so or not, so we just played through it. Admittedly, when we began the set, I really thought we were going to have to stop and reorganize ourselves. We couldn’t hear a single thing we were doing, and some of the changes were really jagged. To our benefit the crowd simply wanted to hear anything resembling music, so they showed solid energy for us despite sounding like shit the first few songs of the set. About halfway through the set, we finally connected and we played really well. In retrospect, the nuances of playing a fucked-up show in which the band would not hear anything kind of made it more fun. We broke down in 27 seconds.
We were on our way to LA to play the Echoplex, which took us a very long time to get to because we hit a whole mess of traffic (I know, writing about LA traffic is silly). At any rate, we arrived in LA around 7 pm to a ton of energy from both the venue and the crowd. The Echoplex felt a lot like Portland in many respects. It was wayyyy sold-out. The audience was really excited for the show and the Echoplex was an amazingly helpful venue to play. We got a reasonable amount of time to sound check, which could have been the only show of the tour we were able to do so.
Being the last show of the tour, it felt like a good send away for everybody involved. Black Moth genuinely had a fantastic time and their spirits were super high from coming off of a serious run of really great shows. I can’t speak for them entirely, but I think this tour gave them a serious jolt of energy concerning the project, and this was the same for us in Pictorials. Our band hit a really cohesive stride on the last show of the tour. We were finally relinquishing a lot of what was holding us back to begin with, and even making improvements from the Holocene show. For us, the Echoplex show was the most comfortable we had been on stage anytime prior. We played in front of what was the most energetic crowd of the tour, which is evidently difficult to get in LA. Katy Perry’s bass player was in attendance, he of which invited our bass player to a celebrity party, but we weren’t able to make it. After the show it felt good coming off of the stage without any of the usual so-and-so’s we’d complain about in the past.
At the end of the night everybody involved in the tour was pretty ecstatic for how it turned out. For us, coming off of a tour with talent like Black Moth was a huge learning experience. In typical BMSR fashion, after the show we prank called Wayne Coyne and Yoni Wolf (sorry, dude), who stayed on the phone with me for 30 minutes discussing a serious hip-hop collaboration and the iPhone app ‘Find A Friend’. I’d go into a further explanation as to what we were discussing on the phone, but I doubt it would translate to the written word very well (although, if for whatever reason this does make it to your eyes, Yoni, contact me if you remember a dude named Mitch calling you at 1:30 in the morning in NYC concerning some fly-ass tracks you made the beats for, I am still interested). The calls were recorded, so they exist somewhere. I think Black Moth has them.
To close this thing quickly, this tour was a huge learning experience for our precocious band. For a 10-month-old rock band going on their first tour with talent like Black Moth, it was a huge leap for us. I cannot stress how much it felt like doing a super cool internship. We got to be around the huge talent of a band like Black Moth, who provided us with a near mentorship that paid off in the form of much needed growth as a band. Despite some pre-tour disorganization, the trip was an incredibly pivotal experience for our young band. The thoughtfulness and talent we were around only made us want to push ourselves that much harder.
BLACK MOTH SUPER RAINBOW
ECHOPLEX & TEAM
RYAN, TOM, MARIA, MAUX, & DONNA!
HOLOCENE & TEAM FOR PROVIDING KILLER HOSPITALITY
OREGON STATE PARKS SERVICE
NEUMOS AND STAFF
NOAH FROM 1015 FOLSOM
BLACK MOTHS FANS
WOODEN LENS CREW
OUR FRIENDS AND NEW FANS AND WHOEVER ELSE MADE THIS TOUR A BLAST!