After ditching the Extended Stay for the Westin, The National's Bryan Devendorf began his San Francisco stay with some new jeans and a well-researched, Wikipediafied "Report From The Road." The SF trip continues with two shows with REM and Modest Mouse at UC-Berkeley's William Randolph Hearst Greek Theatre. More pictures are on the way; for now, enjoy the words.
DAYS NINE & TEN (5/31 & 6/1): The Greek Theatre
A musician can expect to lose thirty percent of his possessions while on tour. Chalk it up to Buddhism. I think Philip Glass said this. Worry not, friends, I did not lose the Helly Hansen jacket in the fracas at that place in Hollywood. It was a different jacket. A call to prayer.
Anyway. Around noon on the first day, Terry's friend, Simone, picks up my brother and his wife and me to take us over to Berkeley. Terry is also in the car, which is a brand new Accord. Suzanne Vega's Solitude Standing is on the CD player. As we cross the Bay Bridge, I surrender to the crisp studio production and gaze out the window, everything sweet and serene.
From the center of Berkeley, the elevation rises dramatically as you approach the Greek Theater by car. The parking lot next to the venue is like a ski slope. I see our bus. "The Hurricane" in all its taupe-colored glory is parked at an impossibly steep angle under a pair of towering eucalyptus trees.
Performing here is amazing. Jeff is tan and muscled. Like a Moroccan god. Everyone backstage is enjoying tapas and free booze. There is no Secret Service like in LA.
Friends and relatives, mishpukah, from New Jersey haunt the Ottaman-themed VIP area. It's wild. We talk about the Steinbeck library in Salinas and the current crime wave there. Also driving etiquette and the Monterey Peninsula. One day it's overcast. The next day is bright and sunny and there's fresh guacamole and totopos. After the second show we access the sporting goods we picked up in Sacramento and hit the U Cal practice fields.
Soon after our sports activities the bus dies (again!), leaving us high and dry on the quiet campus of a liberal university. So what follows is another trip across the Bay Bridge to another hotel. In the morning we will fly to Denver.
With the Helly Hansen safely stowed in a suitcase and the sporting goods still serviceable, our road warriors carry forth to the next town for another show. Such is the life of a touring band. The bus continues to fuck up, but whatever - these things happen. At the very least, the transportation troubles provide a central motif for Bryan's series. That's how we'll look at it, anyway. Take care.