Part 1 of a two-part series.
Last week, my band Failure Machine was lucky enough to hit the road with Oakland rock trio The Loose, doing a quick Northern California run to promote its new EP “Thick Fictions,” a 16-minute blast of swaggering ’90s-type rock and roll (imagine a hipper, more lo-fi Everclear).
Over the last few years I’ve found that tours, no matter how short or low-profile, always afford me less free time than I think I’ll have. I did manage to sneak a few notes on how things went amid the whirlwind of loud amps, booze, Taco Bell and sweaty van naps.
Wednesday, May 31
Winters Tavern in Pacifica, California
Bill: Van Goat, Failure Machine, The Loose, Joan & The Rivers
This was about the best kickoff we could have imagined. Van Goat was added last minute to complete the lineup of exclusively SNAFU homies, Dylan and Brett from Shotgun Sawyer drove all the way from Sac to hang out, and the crowd — comprised mostly of our friends’ bands — sang along to everyone else’s most well-known songs.
When Failure Machine first played with The Loose a few years ago in San Francisco, the first thing that I noticed was how animated and engaging they were onstage. As an audience member it’s endlessly entertaining but as a band that has to play that night it’s intimidating. They’re all so locked in and fun to watch that it forces you to get in your own head and focus on putting on a show. Over the last couple years they’ve gotten even better and at Winters I was reminded of what drew me to their music in the first place.
One of the best parts of Winters is the little apartment/green room upstairs where the bands are allowed to crash. As expected, the night ended up there in a series of singalongs and drunken hootin’ and hollerin.’ Night 1 was an absolute success.
Thursday, June 1
Downtown Ale House in Red Bluff, California
Bill: The Loose, Failure Machine, plus open jam
First off, Thomas Bobadilla in Red Bluff is the fuckin’ man. He’s doing everything he can to build Red Bluff into a must-stop town for touring groups. He owns and operates Firehouse Pizza as well as Downtown Ale House and puts on well promoted, well attended shows at both with the help of his brother Cisco and local promoter Andrea Jewel.
We showed up in the afternoon, Thomas gave us some pizza and beer and we watched the Warriors beat up on the Cavs before loading into the Ale House. The turnout was great even though there wasn’t a local band on the bill and everyone sold a good amount of merch.
It was during this Loose set that I saw just how good these guys have become as songwriters. “Mr. Antichrist” and “All My Tattoos” are both great examples their ability to write introspective songs that have a poppy arrangement without losing any of their grit or edge. Lead singer/guitarist Matt Canter said that for this last EP the songwriting process was “a little less democratic but had (each member) focusing on their respective roles.” For this reason, Canter believes the band was able to release an EP that was “much more polished” than previous efforts.
After the show we went to another local bar, Tips, and had a few more beers before heading to Thomas’ house where we hung out for a few more hours before turning in. After two days, spirits were high and The Loose didn’t seem to be running low on any energy. That kept us going as well.
Two small towns down, two more to go.