How the signed albums became to be (Portugal. The Man & RX Bandits)

So, it’s a couple days late, but shit happens. ;P

Friday night was one of those moments that really made me and Bonnie feel as if we were actually contributing to ‘the scene’ (or however you want to label it). From getting to the club hours before doors opened, to asking around for tour managers, to being led into an empty club by Zach, bassist for Portugal. The Man while the RX Bandits were in the middle of sound check, every event was so surreal. Maybe some of you reading this may not find the above events awe-inspiring, but I have never been in this position before unless it was at a show I was playing. Star struck doesn’t begin to explain it.

We showed up around 5:30PM outside of one of Seattle’s most used all-ages club, El Corazon. As we walked around the club to the front door, we could hear the RX Bandits in the middle of sound check and it was obvious from the sonic vibrations they made alone that the show was going to be killer. The front door was unmanned, so as we peaked in, trying to find someone we could talk to about meeting up with RX, the process of having people think you are full of shit about your plans was put into motion. Thank goodness that Zach had given me his cell number and told me to call him when we got there, so after getting the brush-off by two of the guys working at the club, I called him and he came right out and took us inside the now unguarded front door.

Before tonight, I had only talked to Zach through MySpace and one phone call a couple nights before, so my knowledge of him was limited, at best. He did come off very friendly and accommodating to our request for autographs, but I figured like most of my other run-ins with bands, it was more a formality than genuine interest. Well, it didn’t take longer than a couple seconds to find out that how he originally came off was exactly the kind of person he is. It has been a very long time since I have interacted with someone in a well-known band who has been so damn awesome, probably since 1999 when Kris Roe from the Ataris spent nearly an hour letting me interview him for a high school English paper I was writing. Portugal’s pianist, Ryan, joined us in the chit-chat, but it’s pretty hard to have a good conversation with RX so loudly rocking the sound check, so after we left our records with them and got a quick photo with Zach, we went back outside to wait for sound check to end and then meet up with RX.

When we set up our signing with RX, we were told to be sure to catch them right after sound check, before all the members went on their separate ways before the show; of course, we were more than willing to oblige. Unfortunately, our little arrangement didn’t make its way to everyone’s ears, so we talked to no less than 4 people who gave us disbelieving looks before I had to call up Chase over at Sargent House and figure out who here knew what was going on. I didn’t really think about it right away, but I bet people try to make up shit all the time just to meet bands or get into their shows for free, so I can’t really fault anyone for their healthy skepticism.

Chase was able to get a hold of RX’s tour manager who we then ran into, almost literally, outside of the club. I didn’t realize this beforehand, but their tour manager and bassist is the same person, Mr. Joe Troy. I believe only one time the entire night of bumping into and interacting with him did he not have his cell phone out, and I may have just missed it. I’m not sure there was anyone in the club, if not in close proximity of it, that was as busy as Joe was. So, to have him adding us to his list of things to do was very, very cool. Not wanting to take up any more of his time than necessary, we quickly exchanged greetings and we handed off our backpack full of RX records and went our ways. As Bonnie is very, very preggers at this point, we walked a couple blocks over to a Subway to have a snack, soda and a nice chair to relax in for a couple hours until the show started.

Relaxing maybe too much, we arrived back at the club just in time to check the end of Kay Kay and His Weathered Underground’s set. Now, I have never heard them before tonight, but I can see by their boisterous performance and the crowd’s reaction, that they were well-loved in their homeland. But to be honest, I wasn’t here to see them, so I wasn’t feeling disappointment at missing most of their set.

Next up was Portugal, a band I had only recently begun listening to and had never seen live before. They blow my fucking brain out my ears with the rock. This band’s ability to juggle the spectrum of music as we know it, sometimes all in one song, is simply a sight to be seen. I’m not the best with band comparisons, but for me, I felt like they were like a very organic Muse. One of their last songs of the night was my favorite of theirs, Chicago (off of their debut album), and it was nothing short of a rollercoaster of ruckus. A lot of bands have written songs about burning mother fuckers to the ground, but very few actually capture that energy like Portugal does in this song.

Finally, it was time for RX to take their rightful place as headliner for the show and send the crowd out on a very high note; and in this task they did not disappoint. It had been many years since I last saw RX live, but I do not remember their set being so cohesive and flowing as it was tonight. The set list was perfect, not necessarily in song choice, but in how they connected with each other, from the slower, head-bobbing jams to the hectic energy of their faster songs, they never let up on the throttle. For me, the highlights of the set were getting to hear lead singer Matt Embree sing live again, as he has easily one of the greatest voices in rock history and his masterful control over it is simply astounding, and their playing of Decrescendo, which may be one of their greatest songs ever. When the final breakdown comes, and trombonist Chris Sheets moves to percussion for the remainder of the song, the resulting sound is one of unified brilliance and I could probably hear that ending go on for 10 minutes straight and still be happy as hell to dance to it (if I indeed still got in the mix, but old age, glasses and a bad back have taken my slam-dancing days away from me).

After the show, we collected our records from Portugal’s merch booth, along with the copy of their first album that the merch girl gave to us for free, and headed outside to wait for Joe to get guitarist/keyboardist Steve’s Herbie Hancock on the records (it was his birthday, so he was understandably all over the place). As we waited outside the club by their van, we ran into Zach again, thanked him endlessly for helping us out, wished him best of luck on the remainder of their long tour and told him that the next time he was in Shoreline, we’d take him out to dinner as a thank you. As we were saying our goodbyes to him, we were bombarded with requests for jumper cables for two guys from BC that needed a jump. Bonnie and I offered our jumper cables and car, though thank God John of Portugal came by with their van’s jumper cables, as our cables were actually at home, heh. We chatted with John for a little bit, who is just as nice a person as Zach, watched the RX van for Joe, thought we had finally nailed down Steve to sign our records and headed back to our car to help the guys get theirs running so they could make the three or so hour trip back home. Unfortunately, during all of the car-jumping action, we actually missed our chance of having Steve sign the records and didn’t find out until we were home. A bit of a bummer, but honestly, with everything else having gone so well and it being his birthday and all, it was quickly forgotten.

We still have a few of the signed RX Bandits and Portugal. The Man records in-stock, though they are nearly gone. If you miss out on getting a signed record, or even if you didn’t, and you are lucky enough to live in one of the cities either of these bands are headed to, do yourself a big fucking favor and go get tickets and see one of the most satisfying live lineups to make their way around the country this summer!

Nerd Alert Records sends its utmost thanks, love and appreciation to Zach and the guys from Portugal. The Man, Cathy and Chase from Sargent House and Joe and the guys from RX Bandits for making all of this happen.

Remaining dates on the tour:

Aug 22 2008 7:00P The Glasshouse Pomona, California

Aug 23 2008 6:00P Jillian’s Las Vegas, Nevada

Aug 27 2008 7:00P The Troubadour West Hollywood, California

Aug 28 2008 7:00P The Troubadour West Hollywood, California

Aug 30 2008 7:00P Soma San Diego, California

Aug 31 2008 6:00P The Clubhouse Tempe, Arizona

Sep 1 2008 6:00P The Clubhouse Tempe, Arizona


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August 2008
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