On the Road: Auburn, Virginia City, minor hangovers

Tahoe Onstage

Failure Machine and The Loose unwind in Auburn.

Second of a two-part series

Spirits were high as we entered the second half of our little four-day road trip. There were a few minor hangovers among us but that wasn’t out of the ordinary for a Friday morning anyway. We left Red Bluff about 11 a.m. and headed for Auburn.

Night 3
Auburn Art Walk in Auburn, California
The Bill: Big Sticky Mess, Failure Machine, The Loose

A small-town art walk isn’t exactly where garagey, rock-type groups thrive but we showed up about 4 p.m. and did our job. The sun was pretty harsh so we set up in the shade next to the stage. While the turnout wasn’t great and we weren’t entirely comfortable with playing before dark, the show was fine. After packing up, we hit some of the Auburn bars before going to see our friends play at Pistol Pete’s down the street. Pete’s is a sports bar with a surprisingly good live-sound setup and a pretty regular stream of Nor Cal bros who want to get loaded and request Sublime songs. Not exactly our place but it was fun enough.

SNAFU family label-mates Shotgun Sawyer were playing to a nearly packed house when we showed up. They controlled the room and had 10 to 15 folks singing along to some of their original tunes. I hadn’t seen Shotgun Sawyer play to such a rapt local fan base and was excited to see them garnering some of the recognition they’ve worked so hard to attain. Encouraged by the success of our buddies, we had a few drinks. Then a few more. After Shotgun played, a Sacramento-based butt rock band took the stage and started playing some bullshit so we wobbled on out of there. We went to go crash at my parents’ place — because that’s what broke-ass musicians do — and woke up my dad (sorry Dad!). We didn’t wake up nearly as sprightly as we had the day before but got an early start on our way to Virginia City.

Tahoe Onstage

Pizza is a staple for traveling musicians.
Spencer Kilpatrick / Tahoe Onstage

Night 4
Ponderosa Saloon in Virginia City, Nevada
The Bill: Failure Machine and friends, The Loose

We stopped in Reno to hang out on Clint Philbin’s (drummer for Failure Machine) porch for a couple hours before scurrying up the hill to VC — Virginia City.  While it may look like an innocuous town-sized souvenir, Virginia City also is one of the harder partying towns around, after the tourists leave each day, the locals take over and hit the bars.

We really didn’t play any traditional sets that night, though. Failure Machine got up first and did about 45 minutes before taking a quick break and playing a few more tunes with our friends Ivan Gates (bass) and Drea Ballard (guitar) from Jake Houston and The Royal Flush. The Loose got up and played after that, then for the next three hours it was more of a jam.

The lot of us wound up playing from 8 p.m. to about 1 a.m. with a constantly changing, freewheeling cast of musicians onstage. The crowd that formed by the end of the night was small but lively and generously bought the bands a few drinks — it would have been rude to decline, right? We hung out at The Pondo until a little after 2 a.m., drinking and carrying on with the locals before heading back to Reno. The next morning was kicked off with a trip to The Cal-Neva for a celebratory breakfast before sending The Loose on their way back to Oakland.

Our run of small-town shows was finally over and although we didn’t play any storied venues or major markets, the bonds that we built with bar owners, music-loving patrons, and each other made the trip more than worth it. At least, from what I can remember.

-Spencer Kilpatrick

About Spencer Kilpatrick

Author Spencer Kilpatrick graduated from the University of Nevada, Reno with a degree in English. He hates the Lakers and his top three emcees are Blu, Earl Sweatshirt and Nas.

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