This Room is Not For You and First Tour Success

(Originally posted on June 18th, 2017)

Hello, everyone!

Apologies for the radio silence for the last few weeks. June 1st kicked off what may be our busiest month as a band yet, with three weekend-full tours, as well as shows sprinkled throughout the week days. Like any hard working band, we’re a little tired, but we’re loving every minute of these musical escapades.

The first weekend of June kicked off our first every full band tour.  It was a lot of fun, and we learned so much about each other. We learned that John-Paul is too unfamiliar with the show Hey Arnold! and that Pete likes to text his friends a lot. Shane likes to make up baby names inspired by bathroom hair products, and the guys learned that I don’t like talking to people first thing in the morning.  Despite our vast differences, we were able to find common ground and we had a blast playing in new cities.

Our first stop was Corvallis. Before our show, I had booked us to go on the local college radio to talk up our night and play a few tunes. We were met on the OSU campus by the radio director, Anhtony, and we proceeded to the campus station.  While walking through the campus, I remembered why I’m glad I don’t have to live on one anymore.  I don’t like frat houses, and generally, the people in them. There’s nothing else in this world that more epitomizes the failings of American society than large groups of shepherded, white, homophobic, cis-gendered men who see aggression as a natural state of being, and who have most likely never experienced anything that resembles oppression in the larger context of the human experience, but still demand to be the loudest presence on a relatively diverse campus.  I digress, but I’m sure I’m not alone in that. The radio gig was fantastic, and I’m grateful we were able to go on air!

After the radio show, we walked a few blocks to the venue – Bombs Away Cafe. This was probably my favorite show that we played, not just because the sound was great, the bands were killer musicians, the venue was nice, and the crowd seemed to dig it, but because it marked a critical shift in my tolerance for asshole audience members.

Half-way through our set, I said something about Tr*mp and the need for political engagement in the US, and I noticed a tall guy in the back of the crowd getting disgruntled. He then began picking on the other band sitting back there, toying with their drum kit, hollering at them and in general being a prick. I watched him cross the room and start talking to a woman. She made it clear she didn’t want to talk to him. He got upset, started yelling at her, and called her a nasty word.  (Let me be clear and say this: in my 5+ years of performing, I’ve witnessed accounts like this almost on a nightly basis, where a big white drunk guy can’t handle not being the center of attention in a room. (I’m emphasizing that he’s white because it matters. It’s the kind of colonial entitlement that’s been passed down for generations that makes people behave this way – the need to control and subject others to your actions.) He either hassles performers, thereby calling wanted attention to himself, or he loses at pool and embodies The Incredible Hulk (minus the “incredible”) and screams and assumes that it looks sexy. It really, really doesn’t.)

Back to Corvallis. Man gets upset because he’s not the center of attention. Olivia gets upset because man is a complete fucking idiot and she can’t tolerate people like this anymore. Right before we go into our next song (Fight or Fight) I point at him and say “You need to leave.” He puts up a tiny fight, something resembling a 4-year old’s response to ‘she started it,’ and I say “we have no room for behavior like that here.  You’re being rude and making people feel uncomfortable.” He actually took it and left. People cheered, and yeah, I was kind of proud of myself. It needed to happen, and I’m honestly glad I got to be the one to give him the boot – not because I wanted to be congratulated, but because it felt good taking the room back from someone who was actively trying to ruin our night. When I play, and when my band plays, the room is not for people like him. It’s for people who give a shit about human decency and want to try to make life a little better for each other – for everyone.

The next day we woke up in Corvallis and drove to Ashland.  Ashland is the Oregon capital for road-wandering souls and young Thespians looking for a strong arts and gay community. In short, it’s a wonderful place. The band hung out there for the day and drank gross lithium water (video to come) and read by the stream and soaked in the sun.  By evening we drove to Medford for our gig at Howiee’s. After Seth Hansson played (amazing solo guitarist, definitely look him up!) we took the stage and played a two and a half hour set. We had just enough material to squeak by, with Pete opening up long, epic guitar solos that lasted 10 minutes. We finished our gig, had some shots, and made our way to Monica’s friend’s house – a beautiful spot in the hills of Ashland. It was a peaceful place to wake up to.

Sunday we made our way back north for two gigs in Eugene. Running on little sleep by that point, we were all feeling a little out-of-it.  We arrived in Eugene and played at the Whiteaker Community Market – a perfect, crusty-punk market full of wonderful people and cool knick-knacks.  The power went out during out set for a minute, and we played it off like I was playing an intimate acoustic song. Then the power popped back on and the band sidled seamlessly into the song – I think that’s when you know you’re a real band.

We had a second gig in Eugene at Sam Bond’s Garage. My memories of Sammy B’s are strong and nostalgic from my college years, which override my memories of SB’s chronic sound issues on stage. But no matter. It’s still my favorite place to play, maybe ever. Betty & the Babes, and Childspeak, are two of my favorite Eugene groups now, and I hope to see them in the future! Friends came out, I got to catch up with my old philosophy/history professor (who helped me realize that I was a budding leftist and a protest singer). The bar gave us too many drink tickets, and I got drunk because it was the last night of our mini-tour, and I was proud of what we had accomplished. I remember spouting non-sense to Shane while he safely transported us back to Portland after our show.

In short, the tour was a success. We had lots of new faces at our shows, sold CDs, bonded, and came back in the black (surprisingly!).

The band and I have a few more shows this month, and then we have some exciting news for July and August, including more touring and some stellar in-town show dates. I could write more on all these shows because there’s so much to remember and so much I’m learning, but for now, I’ll just say – til next time! I’ll try to put some pictures and a tour video up in the next week.

Stay safe, friends. Love you.

Olivia Awbrey