Warning! Long post!

After a short painful run yesterday (I think I’ve got a cold, since I can’t breathe well and have picked up a cough) on the Waterfront, my first outside run in weeks, Caleb and I got some lunch at La Terrazza (pasta is goooooood) and abused my FlexCar membership to drive 176 miles north. The goal was, of course, to see Harvey Danger play a small club in Seattle to celebrate Christmas and their new EP. Was that confusing? I mean, both the band was celebrating, and Caleb and I were celebrating. We all were, but, y’know, for different reasons.

We left town and immediately ran into bad traffic, having not even gotten out of Portland city limits. An early frustrating start. I have, in the past, made the trip from Portland to Seattle in just over 2 1/2 hours, and was hoping for a similar trip tonight. Because we got a late start in getting out of town, I was banking on it, actually, which is always a bad idea.

Once we got moving, though, I felt better. I blasted north, and Caleb played DJ with my iPod. It’s funny when I let other people play with it, what they come up with. I’m constantly asking, “That’s on there? I have that in my collection? Really?” And Caleb points out that I can’t complain, since everything on there is on there by my choice. Even the ABBA songs, that I have no idea how they got on there.

More bad traffic outside of Tacoma slowed us to a crawl. The show, the show… There were three bands playing, Harvey Danger was the headliner, we were going to the early, all ages show (because Caleb’s still six months away from full-fledged citizenship) and we had never heard of the opening acts and therefore were OK with missing one or both of them. Which was a good thing, since we were going to be late. Also, the tickets were only $10, it’s not like we were going to be out a lot of money if we missed it completely.

Caleb wanted to flip off a Hummer H2 that we saw, all because of a website where people send in pictures of themselves “saluting” the disguised Chevy Tahoes that posers drive. It took several tries but he finally got an acceptable picture. He’s going to send it in. I was worried that the driver would see us and pull out a shotgun or something; Caleb berated me for assuming the driver was male. It was not, it was a smallish woman. Still might have owned a shotgun, though.

On the drive I realized that going for a run when I’m coming down with a cold, then failing to stretch properly and then sitting in a fixed position for three hours is a Bad Idea. My hamstrings will never forgive me. And with the traffic I was unable to use the cruise control so I could properly stretch out my legs. Pain, pain, pain. Between the pain, the frustration of potentially missing the show, and Caleb choosing some angry metal music, I could tell I was heading for a bad mood. I asked Caleb to find some more upbeat music and he came through by queuing up Cake. Cake always makes me smile, even their so-so new album. That was followed up by They Might Be Giants, another good choice for erasing anger.

When we finally got moving again, we were nearly to Seattle city limits. Passed the Boeing plant, and we could see the spectacular downtown, so immensely tall from our vantage point. The day had been clear, and now it was cold but with a small bit of fog. (Yeah, I took plenty of pictures.) The freeway split, and I took what didn’t look like the exit. Unfortunately, we ended up on the “Express” freeway. You know, the one with no exits. Dammit! We were supposed to get off at the Stewart exit. We took the very next exit (a couple of miles down the road), and then came back on surface streets, and, entirely by accident, while looking for a way to get back on the freeway, we ended up on Stewart Street. Such luck! The directions worked from there and we got to the club, the Crocodile Cafe — after the band had taken the stage. The bouncers said they’d just cut off the cover. We could have gotten away with not paying.

The club has a front restaurant area, and another large room with a stage where the bands play. We walked in and Sean was singing a slower version of “Jack the Lion” from their first album (also, apparently, on their EP). We stayed to see the rest of their set, another 4 or 5 songs, plus a 4-song encore. Mr. Nelson bantered with the crowd over a name for the horn section he claims to have stolen from The Long Winters. I hadn’t ever seen the Long Winters with a horn section, so it was news to me. Must be something they’ve added recently…

Someone has posted set lists for both shows on their official site. Here’s the set list of the show we saw:

  • Carlotta Valdez
  • Sad Sweetheart of the Rodeo
  • Old Hat (featuring Megan of Racetrack on backing vox)
  • Problems and Bigger Ones
  • Sometimes You Have to Work on Christmas (Sometimes)
  • Wine, Women, and Song
  • Jack the Lion
  • Why I’m Lonely
  • Authenticity
  • Plague of Locusts (featuring brass section)
  • Meetings With Remarkable Men (featuring brass section)
  • Flagpole Sitta (featuring brass section)
  • —encore—
  • Wrecking Ball (featuring cello player)
  • Pike Street/Park Slope (featuring cello player)
  • Radio Silence (featuring cello player)
  • Diminishing Returns *brand new*

So it looks like we missed a few good ones… still worth it, though. I even snuck a couple of pictures with my camera phone, although they totally suck, out of focus and tiny.
Tiny and fuzzy but you can still make out Sean Nelson's craaaazy hair
Tiny and fuzzy but you can still make out Sean Nelson’s craaaazy hair.

After the show we each bought copies of the EP (sorry, all you Christmas shoppers out there; I bought it because I wanted it, and because by buying it at the show the band gets more of the money; support your local artists!) and then we walked to Seattle Center to go up on the Space Needle. I got some awesome pictures of Seattle being enclosed in fog from the observation deck, although it’s difficult to take good pics at night without a tripod. Several of them are blurry when they’re blown up full-sized. I bought a shot glass for my collection.

Wandering around the Seattle Center we were harrassed by a security guard who turned out to be quite apologetic for being so harsh.

Dinner was at a restaurant called Mamma’s Mexican Restaurant. There were either two competing radios in there or someone had been making very strange remixes. My favorite was hearing Radiohead’s “Pakt Like Sardines In a Crushd Tin Box” intermixed with Ton Loc’s “Wild Thing” — they actually worked together pretty well. I fell in and out of love with the waitress, and managed to make her laugh on several occasions, even though she ultimately broke my heart. Her loss, since I was leaving town and likely wouldn’t be back there any time soon. I hope she’s doing OK. Probably drunk and trying to forget today.

Trying to find our way onto the freeway again was troublesome, especially with the fog, so we decided to stop for directions. I was going to ask at a Burger King, but Caleb suggested, instead, a bowling alley across the street. Turns out the guy behind the counter was a character, salt-and-pepper haired and wiry and tattooed in a way that indicated he’d done hard time. His directions were pretty easy to follow and led us through a residential neighborhood and up and down several steep hills, but ultimately got us back on I-5 south.

The drive back was remarkably uneventful. Traffic was light, once past Seattle the fog lifted and did not return, and we only made one stop for a bathroom break and to steal some of the free cookies. Round trip was just under 380 miles. And totally worth it.