Our Travels with the In-Crowd

It feels like a lifetime ago we were last on the 5 freeway heading North.

The day starts gloomy and cold.
A gray blank slate of the sky melts seamlessly onto the concrete walls and buildings of the downtown skyline–let’s get the fuck outta here!

It is a thankfully easy drive beyond the gravitational pull of Friday Los Angeles traffic, and we are soon sailing along the green hills.
We count the cow pastures until we find just the right one to pull over and eat one of those delicious Bovines–you got it brother!: Harris Ranch steakhouse!





We use fried smelt to scoop counrty gravy off of the chicken fried steak, take bold stabs at each others’ plates with flashing forks, only to find new drummer Woody staring at us with disgust.

There’s a new man aboard, and he hasn’t spent a lifetime eating and drinking with us.
We dab at our chins, finally, strangers on a first date.

Ant and The Wood man
Ant and The Wood man

It is a fine and rare occasion to have local chums and legends The Crowd with us for a weekend jaunt.

We’d been trying to coordinate this weekend with Jim Kaa for seriously five years.
Oh, you just try finding a weekend open to travel for 2 bands, 9 guys, each with family and jobs and schedules of their own.
It’s like…well, it’s like some simile involving juggling or doing something difficulty or something—write your own goddamn floral prose ya lazy bums!

So we are all thrilled the weekend is finally here:
I mean really, people–the fucking Crowd!
These are the guys the Go-Go’s used to open for, the band that invented punk dancing beyond the retarded art-school notion of pogoing!

..and Decker makes the extra point!
..and Decker makes the extra point!

We load into Johnny V’s as the sky turns dark, and are soon met with some familiar faces from home.
We sit and try to add up the combined age of all the men assembled here backstage, but those Iphone calculators only go up so far……
all right, we get it–we’re old!




And to make a very cool night even cooler, we are joined not only by The Defenders and Sad Boy Sinister but also SF mainstays , The Vktms!

Jeesus–what do you people want?
A ten dollar cover charge for 5 bands that have busted their asses for years?!

Maybe we should tack on a goddamn six buck service fee and 2.50 printing charge huh?
I didn’t hear any bitching about that the last time you bought Monster Truck tickets through Ticketmaster–now did I?!


Vktms !
Vktms !

We foolishly let The Crowd go first on this night and they get up there and lay down the law!
The bar becomes a turbulent ocean, bodies bobbing up and down in undulating waves as the salty spray of cheap domestic pilsner rains down.

You can forget just how many great songs these guys have, and you catch yourself shouting along to verse and chorus that you never knew you knew…



And then we have to follow these guys!
Woody does well on his first official show, though he is somewhat shocked when one bold chap sits down on the stage and actually starts eating Fritos…… during the breakdown to I Got a Gun!

As with all things for a 30 year old band, it’s happened before!


Just a quick snack midsong, gotta keep the blood sugar up!
Just a quick snack midsong, gotta keep the blood sugar up!

Saturday breaks clear and bright, and somehow we are missing miserable weather back home on this No Ca jaunt.
There are soon breathless accounts of thunder and lightning, actual hail coating the sands of Huntington Beach!

Great.  Another racist white dude from the 909....
Another racist white dude from the 909 in town….

We somehow have a hard time sympathizing as it is a gem of a day in San Francisco!
The sky is clear, and it is as warm a day as I’ve ever felt in the shadows of those beastly skyscrapers.

Something tells us a toast is in order, so we follow our inner compass to our old go-to, Vesuvio’s!


Of all things, I turn to the door and who walks in but Mr. Decker himself!
It is either pure destiny or we have become awfully predictable drunks, but we all settle into an upstairs booth and watch the glorious day roll by…


Capn’ Jimmy looks down upon the neighborhood, eyebrow elevated, as he hasn’t been up here since the Mabuhay days!
We point up Broadway to the sleazy locale and reminisce over days of smooth skin and fresh internal organs.

There are a few drinks and then it is decided on some snacks at The Boardroom in North Beach.


And now it's nap time!
And now it’s nap time!

Thee Parkside has become thee club to play in this town, mainly so we don’t have to hear the locals bitch about the parking!

Modern Kicks are kicking off the night, and not only do these kids sound great, but they have the best hair since Angel!


And then Sharp Objects get up there and roar through their set of poppy punky goodness:

Thankfully we get to play first tonight, so it’s up there and play a quick set for a roomful of pals.
We resist the urge to just play covers of the whole Beach Blvd album and claim we were on there too!


The Crowd gets up on stage to bring their songs back North once again, and the joy in this club is palpable.

It’s been far too long!



As usual, the night dissolves into the usual greetings and farewells:
Familiar faces glimpsed in passing, a few nods to those across the room.

Hugs, sincere.








We load out on a rare warm night, for this place, at this time of year.
It’s as if we’ve brought the sun baked atmosphere of Southern California along for the weekend.

Back home there is a flash flood watch along Mulholland, there are icicles forming on the gaudy facade on Grauman’s Chinese.
Have we made some devilish pact, as Home freezes over while we bask in the warmth of friends and music?

We’ll take it!

Many thanks Mark Hanford for additional SJ photos and Mike Schmitt for the blurry SF ones!

Posted in CH3

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