Minor Plains: Everything, and more

by Raleigh Davis

Ever since I was a child first learning guitar and playing The White Stripes and Nirvana covers, it’s always been my dream to go on tour. Nothing sounded better to me than packing up my stuff and hitting the road to play music in a new place every night for whoever would listen. It always seemed like such a far off dream… even thinking about starting to plan one while juggling three different people’s schedules, work, school, and other life responsibilities was immediately overwhelming so I left it to the back of my mind for a while, hoping that someday it would all come together.

This August, opportunity came knocking for Minor Plains, and a life long dream became reality in the form of our very first West Coast tour. It was just by chance that all of us were hanging out when we got the call… We weren’t having band practice or anything, just being ragamuffins as usual when my phone rang. It was Patrick McLean, vocalist for Seattle band Fearless Leader. Our drummer, Nate Goldizen, grew up and played music with all of the Fearless Leader boys so we’ve become great friends with them over the Minor Plains’ years. We answered expecting them to want us to come down and play a Seattle show with them, which happens from time to time, but it turned out to be so much sweeter. Fearless Leader was in the midst of planning a tour and decided that they wanted another band to come along with them… that band just happened to be us!

It was funny that the daunting task of working around everyone’s schedules is what had stopped our planning in the past because when the offer was on the table we each looked to each other with shit-eating grins on our faces and immediately said “YES!” In that moment any other responsibilities we had quickly became null and void. Our dream was in front of us waiting to be grasped and we weren’t going to let anything stop us.

Patrick was a little taken aback by our readiness and gung-ho attitude, obviously expecting us to take a couple days to decide and get our things in order, but we were already jumping for joy. I can honestly say that we were prepared to quit our jobs just to experience a tour that would be a week and some change. Extreme measures weren’t necessary, but the white-hot excitement of being prepared to do anything to make this happen carried over into our attitude on tour.

So we packed all of our gear and a bearded merch-boy into our bass-player Lucas Phillips’ giant truck (graciously loaned to us by his dad as we didn’t have set transport when we accepted the tour) and took off on the road. Being the handy man he is, he fashioned us a plywood bunk bed in the back so for better or worse we would have some place to rest our heads and we felt prepared to take on anything.

So off we went to our first show in Seattle. We had randomly discovered that the drummer of one of the bands we were playing with that night was telling everyone on facebook that we sucked live. Instead of being dicks right back and setting his drum set on fire during their set, we decided to instill ourselves with a sense of glorious purpose. We decided to kill them with kindness. And not only were we gonna play flawlessly but we were gonna pack that place to the brim with Minor Plains fans! It worked out to be the best send-off we could have asked for. The Victory Lounge was indeed packed with friends, family and fans, which made for an amazing night and set the tone for the entire tour.

The next morning we were off to Portland. A local band She Preaches Mayhem were kind enough to throw us a house show at their place and were gracious enough to provide us with shelter for the night. The house was a dream for any band; eclectic and wild decorations all around, including a full unicorn themed bathroom, which made it obvious this home had some stories to tell. We packed into their sweltering hot basement (I was honestly the sweatiest I have ever been, but that turned out to kind of be the theme of the tour) and played our hearts out. We had been holding back on the rocking out for the Seattle show to maximize performance perfection but this night (fueled by 40 ounces of malt liquor) we let loose and played our instruments like mad cave men discovering fire. There was even an old friend who had moved to Portland who showed up wearing his Minor Plains t-shirt making us feel like a real touring band. With our lodgings secured we celebrated just as hard as we played.

I awoke the next morning under some blankets in their backyard warmed by one of the cutest girls in Portland and feeling like a proper rock star. We said our thank yous and goodbyes and left to conquer our four dates in California.

Our first California show was in Redding, and our “venue” turned out to be nothing but a slab of concrete and a rented PA in a public park next to a family-fun swimming center. It was an amazingly fun time playing to a crowd of dirty punk kids banging their heads while families with strollers walked by with looks of disgust and awe on their faces. We finished the show without the cops being called; a miracle in itself because I was almost positive what we were doing had to be breaking at least a couple laws.

We drove to a campground with In and Out Burger in our bellies to sleep on the ground and take our closest thing we got to a shower by jumping in a lake, then we were off to Sacramento!

We played at an awesome venue called Old Ironsides right next the Capitol Building (which we looked hilariously out of place touring around before the show). The consecutive nights of playing were starting to work their magic and we played probably one of our tightest sets of all time. Keeping with the theme of unexpected encounters, an old friend of mine who lives in Bellingham was randomly vacationing Sacramento and brought all of his Cali friends to watch us play (You rock, Mason!). We considered the fact that the owner of the bar bought every piece of merch we had to offer a sign of a show well played and after a couple of days off filled with camping and debauchery in Santa Cruz (which we unfortunately don’t have time to chronicle here),  we ventured to LA.

In Los Angeles we played at a DIY all-ages venue akin to the Make.Shift here. Despite being in a run-down shopping corner surrounded with literally nothing but a Zumba studio, foreclosed businesses, and a passed out drunk man, we met some of the nicest people of the tour and performed to a very welcoming crowd. We played our hearts out once again before saying goodbye and traveling to our final destination: San Diego.

We played at The Bancroft, which turned out to be owned by one of the coolest guys we had the pleasure of meeting. We swapped tour stories, he paid for us to eat dinner at the best burrito place in town, we were showered with free PBR all evening, and the local band we were playing with had to drop the show so we ended up being able to play for as long as we pleased. Aided by their professional light system and dual smoke machines, it ending up being a perfect end to the tour.

We said our heartfelt goodbyes to our best friends in Fearless Leader (brought even closer now through the fun/struggles of tour) and the next morning through the pure determination of four very exhausted and dirty boys we drove 23 hours straight back to Bellingham. I wish I could go more into all the things we learned about ourselves, about each other, about our music and just life in general but I’ll just leave it at this: it was everything I had hoped for and more. The life-long dream absolutely came true and stoked the fires of our musical passion to new heights. Minor Plains has one tour in the bag, now here’s to many, many more!

For more about Minor Plains, check out their Facebook page and listen in at http://minorplains.bandcamp.com.

Published in the October 2015 issue of What’s Up! Magazine