update and photos by James Bailey
As we arrive in Portland, “Bohemian Rhapsody” is playing through the van’s nearly blown out speakers and we’re doing what any self respecting Queen fan does during that song: headbang. The road is drenched with the constant rain that has been with us since we left Seattle a few short hours ago. The Lonely Forest have a 3pm load in at Portland’s famous Dug Fir Lounge.
After a small detour, slightly missing the freeway exit, we arrived at the venue. The van pulled into the narrow driveway where we parked just outside a stairwell that led down to the stage. The boys carried all their beautiful vintage instruments and amplifiers down to set up for the night. Tony Ruland showed me his new pride and joy: a black on black ’78 Telecaster Deluxe, which he was slightly hesitant to bring on tour.
It was an all-ages matinee show, only two bands were playing that night, the other being Someone Still Loves you Boris Yeltsin. A second, completely sold out show that I’d unfortunately miss would be going on there later that night. Headlining was the new supergroup, built of some of my favorite women in music today, Wild Flag.
I’d never been to the Doug Fir before. I had heard many stories about some of the shows here, and that it had a certain feeling reminiscent of the twin peaks lodge. When I walked through the double door entry way, it was an exaggerated version of the picture in my head. Large sideways logs made up the walls, the bar looked like it was set on a vast stockpile of firewood, the background of the the stage was a simple woodgrain mural. The stage itself was a perfect height in relation to where the crowd would be standing in just over an hour.
I entered the greenroom backstage to find somewhere around 600 band stickers that covered the wood paneling of the left side of the room like wallpaper. It was a long suite, with dressing room mirrors on one side, that ended in a 1950’s diner-styled, red pleather, rounded booth. Tony pointed out to me the Lonely Forest’s contribution to the room, which they left there last march. A simple sky blue decal that had once read “THE LONELY FOREST,” has since been customized by someone who thought their name should be different, it now read “The One For.”
It was 5pm and despite being such an early show there was already a room full of people waiting to hear them play. The band was called to stage to start the night off right.
Immediately after the set, all the equipment was carried out to the van through a parking garage connected by a back door to the club. There was a pushcart waiting for the band to use to load up the heaviest items. After the doors were shut and locked on the trailer being towed by the tour van, Tony decide to try to ride the cart down the ramp at the garage’s entryway. He brought the cart to the top, sat down and pushed off. He quickly flew past me into the direction of Braydn Krueger .
After everything was ready for the following band, a few of us were talking backstage. Before going on, Will, the lead guitarist for SSLYBY, mentioned he really needed a haircut. Tony offered to do it for him, he had a razor with him and always cuts his own hair on the road. Will was completely up for it, under the one condition that it would be done on stage, mid-set. A few songs into the set it was Tony’s cue, he walked out casually with hair trimming tool in hand. He just took a few inches from Will’s straight blond locks.
After the encore, the band went out to the merch table and into the audience to talk with the fans. Will and one of the band’s singers/multi-instrumentalists Phil, spent some time talking with some younger fans that couldn’t have been much older than 9 or 10. Phil showed them that the paper tag attached to the shirt they bought has a secret code, revealed scratch ticket style, to go online and download a song. This seemed incredibly fantastic and magical to the kids.
The venue and greenroom were cleared just as the new bands started to come in. We all stepped upstairs to the clubs restaurant on the ground floor. Each seat in the place was full, so we had to split up the two bands to four separate tables. This actually worked pretty well. Everyone seemed to have a friend that came to the show that they wanted to spend some time with before leaving to finish the tour. I ate at a table with Tony, his super sweet fiance Kelly, and a few of the guys from SSLYBY. After dinner we all retired to the hotel to get some much needed rest before the long drive to California in the morning.
View more photos from Day 3 here.