Tour Blog #4: Portland, OR, & San Francisco, CA

After driving for 8+ hours for multiple days in a row, the three hours from Seattle to Portland felt like nothing—we even got to the venue early. As soon as we got there, however, I realized I’d left my camera battery and charger at Shanan’s friend’s house in Seattle. I got into contact with our host, and it’s on it’s way to Cory’s parent’s house in California, but I had to inconvenience Spencer (huge shout out to him for being so nice about it) and it was money I didn’t want to spend. It’s a bummer, but I have one charger and two batteries, so I’m not hosed by any means.

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I try to keep these blogs as honest as possible, so I’m going to be real and tell you that the show at The White Eagle was pretty rough. The bar was sparsely populated, and although the people who were there were engaged, TNS and Jessica were essentially just interested in getting in, playing their sets, and getting out. It’s hard to be optimistic when you spend more on gas than you get paid.

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To top off a less-than-perfect night, we realized we were quickly losing tire pressure as we drove to the place we were crashing. When we stopped at a gas station, we found a screw in our tire that we had apparently run over. Cory had hitched a ride with our host, so they turned around, and picked Jess, Jeff, and me up to go home, while Michael and Shanan dealt with the van.

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We also stopped for some Jack-In-the-Box tacos, which has become a pretty self-destructive running joke.

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Michael and Shanan ended up filling the tire up twice and driving it back to our host’s house, and we had to call a tow truck to get a new tire the next morning. While the guys do account for these kind of things, they make it really hard to stay on budget, especially when our merch sales have been abysmal (don’t worry, it only gets worse from here).

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Once we got the van back, we left Salem and headed back to Portland. We wanted to try a recommended brunch place, but we knew there would be a line, so we stopped at a fantastic donut place to hold us over. Both the donuts and the brunch were so good that I cried.

After we ate, the guys just wanted to chill out or nap in the van, but Jessica and I wanted to explore Portland a little more. We took a bus to a different part of town, where we visited a famous, massive bookstore and a coffee shop, along with running a few errands.

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Having JLamb along is really a blessing. She adds a rad new dynamic to the group, and she totally gets the struggle of being a young, female creative on the road, and all the baggage that comes with it. 

We met the boys at the venue, which was the first real SoFar show of the tour. The space was unlike anything I’ve ever shot for them—the “stage” was a garden, with the yard as the seating area. The boys seemed to like it, and were able to bring it into their stage banter pretty effectively. While it wasn’t the first time I’ve shot through plants, it’s the first time I shot through a tomato cage and was concerned about stepping on basil leaves.

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Nevertheless, I was really happy with the photos from Portland. I’ve felt like my photos have been mediocre for the past two or three shows, so it’s putting a spring in my step to get some solid ones. This one is probably my favorite from the tour so far:

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Which was easier said than done, considering we weren’t out the door until around 8. Oops.

The drive to San Francisco was a long one, and I slept for a healthy portion of it. By the time we got into the city, we had to immediately load in for the SoFar show and scarcely had time for dinner. We managed to scam some Chinese food from our hosts, Couchsurfing (which is a super cool company you should totally check out).

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There was a miscommunication about Jessica being on the bill, so we managed to figure out a way to divide our set and share with her—it was different and harder for me to shoot, but people seemed to really like it.

As soon as the set was over, however, we received news that no musician ever wants. This is the blog post I never wanted to write.

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Shanan ran into the venue as we were working merch and told us the van had been broken into. Thieves had smashed the passenger side window and taken all the backpacks they could reach. We later learned a lawyer working late in his office heard the glass break, took a few photos, and scared them off, and thank God he did. 

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Shanan ran into the venue as we were working merch and told us the van had been broken into. Thieves had smashed the passenger side window and taken all the backpacks they could reach. We later learned a lawyer working late in his office heard the glass break, took a few photos, and scared them off, and thank God he did. 

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With that act of kindness saving our butts, I was shocked to go back into the venue and hear our SoFar MC announcing to the audience what had happened, and passing around a bucket to collect donations. You could hear the wind being sucked out of the room as soon as she said it—the joyously good time of hearing music intimately ruined by a few shitty people. Seeing everyone pitch in so generously to help us was mind-blowing, and brought tears to my eyes. We ended up collecting enough money to fix the window, plus some extra. 

With a bottle of tequila donated from the venue to ease our pain, and a police report filed, we had no choice but to pack it up and head to where we were crashing. Our hosts for the night helped us put cardboard over our window and we hit the hay. 

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I’d love for these tour blogs to just be a fun chronicle of my adventures, zipping across the west coast without a care in the world, but tour just isn’t like that. There are highs, and there are lows, and this one knocked the breath out of me. We’re all heartbroken. The incident could have been a million times worse—we had music gear in the back, and more stuff even in the cab that they could have grabbed. We’re trying to stay optimistic on that front, but it’s hard to do when you feel so violated. 

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Something that’s helped to ease the pain is the outpouring of support from strangers and fans alike. We are so grateful for all the kind words and offers to help.

To those of you who are asking what you can do to help: To the best of my knowledge, no kind of GoFundMe has been started, and we don’t plan on starting one. The best thing you can do is just to support the band. Look at our tour dates (thenewschematics.com/tour) and encourage your friends, family, acquaintances, blood enemies, and friends of friends of friends to head out to the shows, buy merch, and spread the word. This is certainly a nightmare for all of us, but we will recover, and your support in this decidedly more difficult journey means the world to us.

I hope we have happier trails ahead of us, and that karma will come back to those who did this. On that depressing note, stay tuned!