June 6, 2008

Reports From The Road by Bryan Devendorf (Post #8)

Bryan Devendorf's blogathon continues today with his eighth post. The National continue to tour North America, opening for REM and Modest Mouse. Along the way, Bryan and company have been taking pictures, supplementing Bryan's artfully crafted prose with digital images. To understand the life of a touring musician, this is your one-stop shop.

DAY EIGHT (5/30): "All those DayGlo freaks who used to paint their face…"

I wake up on the bus in the parking lot of an Extended Stay America in one of those small East Bay cities that orbit San Francisco like the moons of Saturn. Traffic streams past on an elevated freeway; a high chain-link fence borders the grounds. The atmosphere is of a prison exercise yard. Or Gitmo. The lobby is equally dismal. Mauricio and I Priceline rooms at the Westin and decamp for the city.

On April 30, 1977, the Dead play the Palladium in New York (now the site of NYU student housing*). Today, going across the Bay Bridge in a cab, I listen to a version of "Peggy-O" recorded there that night. As the song dissolves to a conclusion we curve down an off-ramp and into the city. At that moment, being pressed gently, centrifugally, into the velour-padded interior of the cab, I experience a brief frisson centered in the back of my neck.

Mauricio and I check into our rooms (which are French provincial in style) and go jeans shopping. I buy another pair of the same jeans I'm wearing but with a slightly different wash. Redundancy, consistency. Both important characteristics. Later, our entire crew meets for dinner at a funny Catalonian restaurant. Everywhere there are tiny video screens looping footage of men in white kurtas forming human towers; flamenco remixes are piped into the restroom. After dinner, I join a splinter group at a nice bar in the Mission. I drink tequila and Mexican beer and generally bask in the camaraderie. The DJ is exceptional.

Back at the Westin, I watch HBO and nestle into the high-quality linens. Tomorrow we will be at the Greek Theater, in the footsteps of the Dead.

*I read this on Wikipedia.


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