After regrouping in Los Angeles in the morning, the band and our good friend Mike Shapiro of Lemon Sun got in the van and headed south to Irvine, California, where we were scheduled to play in the middle of the UC Irvine campus.
As is typical of the roads in Southern California, it took us an hour and a half to travel the 35 miles to Irvine. But once we arrived, we hauled our gear into the university center and set up on an outdoor stage across from a student center and food court. UC schools are still in session--this is their finals week--and the campus was busy with activity. We began to play to a crowd that had accumulated to see what was going on. It didn’t take long for others to be drawn in as they passed by.
The UC students were great to us, many of them dancing and clapping along. It felt like they were probably seizing the opportunity to have some fun and take a break from finals. And how convenient that we were right there to provide some relief in between classes.
We ended up selling a lot of merch at the show, many of the students insisting on buying both a CD and t-shirt. After packing up, we headed north to Long Beach where we were set to play a house show that night with the Starburst Crystal Ensemble. The show was put on by Outsider Folk, a music collective in Long Beach.
By the time we got into town, we were all in pretty desperate need of some fuel, so we went on a walk and most of us ate at a Greek restaurant, the first really substantial meal in a few days for many of us. Then we headed over to the house where we’d be playing.
For the next several hours, we acquainted ourselves with the music-makers of Long Beach, hanging out in the house drinking PBR and enjoying the incredible weather. There was a huge assortment of instruments in the living room, and an impromptu jam session began to take form. There was a lot of percussion and it evolved into a full-on drum circle with a whole room full of participants beating on whatever was close at hand, screaming through trumpets and wailing tunelessly. This lasted for over an hour before we had exhausted and worked ourselves into a frenzy.
It was at this point that we were sure we’d come to the right place and that our show was going to be out of control.
But first, Starburst Crystal Ensemble went on, and it turned out to be a sort of extension of the drum circle we’d had. They set up in the small living room and introduced themselves, “We are, you are, this is Starburst Crystal Ensemble. Feel free to pick up anything around you and participate.” They played free-form compositions, the audience beating on percussion and blowing through horns as they played.
After their set culminated into a howling, primitive mob of drum and voice, the lights were on again and we set up to play. The living room was barely large enough to accommodate the band, much less a crowd of 30 people, so we made ourselves as compact as possible, evicted a couch and shut the doors, sealing the whole operation into the tiny space.
We were incredibly loud in the room, and were all very excited after seeing how submissive to musical power the Long Beach kids were. Immediately, the crowd started dancing and swaying with their arms around each other, trying to sing the words they didn’t really know.
For every show we play, we try to incite as much chaos as we can, and I think the Long Beach show was probably the most chaotic we’ve ever played. There was spewing beer, crowd surfing, dripping sweat, pogo-ing that buckled the wood floors and wordless screaming. It could not have been any crazier.
After the show, we hung out for a while, but reluctantly had to leave. We exchanged hugs with all our new Long Beach friends, feeling like we’d really made something happen together. --Just Spike and the rest of Mount Righteous