The Art of Rumba: A week with The Co Founder and The City Hall

by Hayden Eller

During the last week of January, I had the distinguished honor of leaving the nest, joining The City Hall in Seattle, and embarking on what Pitchfork has called “the best low level indie tour between the dates of January 24th-30th.”  Consisting of six stops, The Corp of Discovery Tour (originally titled The Nü Metal Revival Tour) was a unique opportunity for us to take our barn-burning live performances throughout the Pacific Northwest, to throngs of dedicated fans and various community members.

Tour kicked off Sunday, Jan. 24 at the Alternative Library’s new space on State Street, where we played with Mega Bog (NY) and Iji (Seattle). I’d never seen Iji live before and was blown away by their material – especially with the aid of Cody Harder’s semi-psychedelic background visuals. Although I’ve only been playing in Bellingham for a few months, this was the best local show I’ve been a part of, and the crowd was both larger than expected and tremendously receptive.

After a comfortable, spacious, two-hour drive we arrived at Le Voyeur (Olympia), to play with ex-Bellingham locals Fuzzy Math. Although the draw was relatively small, we were given a valuable talking-to about the rising Anarchist movement in our state’s capitol. Unfortunately our professor left before we could get her name (*shakes fist). After sharing a few life-changing slices of pizza with Fuzzy Math and Erik and Mauricio (shout outs Condoleezza Rice), we were back on the road with Jesus at the wheel.

Our next stop was in Portland, where we played with Sarcastic Dharma Society (PDX) and Said Goner (PDX) at Valentines. Since we had driven from Olympia the night before, we had a full day to explore the city. Instead we settled on napping, watching cartoons, singing Bloc Party, and record shopping. That being said, we did have a surprise visit from Usain Bolt (Luke Hogfoss) who flew past the competition in a makeshift 100-yard dash. Casey might have gotten second, but we’ll have to review the footage once it goes public. Jake and Noah gave us a sneak peak at the new Parkour series they’ve been filming (in the vein of the well known “Tony Walks” video game series) – I’ve been sworn to secrecy, but keep your eyes peeled. The show that night was great and although The Sarcastic Dharma Society’s songwriting brought out the suppressed emotions in all five of us (pause – go listen to the song “3am” off his Live at Laughing Horse album), we learned a fair amount about East Asian music from the bartender at the end of the night!

Day three took us (with the wind in our hair and sodas in our hands) up through the Gorge and into Yakima Valley. After watching Noah eat his weight in steak, and cementing my legacy as an arcade golf version of Jack Nicklaus (or Jack Nicholson), we spent the night exposing throngs of Eastern Washington locals to our unique brands of “Health Goth/Hippy Rock.” Brews and Cues (located in downtown Yakima) was a fun little venue, and watching local ska/punk outfit Bad Habit tear through a rowdy hour and a half long set was a definite tour highlight. We spent the night at a family friend’s house in Zilla, woke up to a breakfast of “skinny pancakes” and were promptly back on the road.

Friday night at Jones Radiator (Spokane) was by far the largest audience of tour. In conjunction with Casey being a Spokane local, we were named one of the Top 5 shows of the week by The Inlander (Spokane’s version of The Seattle Weekly), helping pull in a few stragglers off the neighboring streets. The headlining local band, Friends of Mine, put on a great performance to end the night. (If you’re unfamiliar, check out their music at soundcloud.com/friendsofminemusic.) They’re incredibly talented, and Miles is a highly underrated rapper.

We spent the night on a Rumba binge, short-stepping our way through downtown Spokane. Then we ate burritos (two with a soft shell, and two as burrito bowls). Then Noah lost his bun.

We left Spokane early Saturday morning (praise be to breakfast burritos) in order to give ourselves a healthy-cushion against the poor weather conditions. What responsible young gentlemen! This allowed us to replace the back left tire of the van (quitter) and still have enough time to relax/enjoy a burger at Dusty’s. After enjoying the scenic view of downtown Wenatchee, we hit the venue (Wally’s House of Booze), where we shared a bill with Leavenworth locals TUSK. The bar was near full, and we took advantage of the opportunity by putting on our best performances of tour. That being said, TUSK’s set was the best show of the night; they were an odd mix of Explosions in the Sky, Band of Horses, and Balance & Composure with a bit of math-rock influence.

As the night wound down we packed our gear and manhandled the pass, making it back to Seattle in record time (twice as long!) while following every state/federal traffic law! We even sang lovely little ska-jingles and read each other poetry.

Going on tour was an indescribable experience; playing six shows in seven days pushed me forward immensely as a guitarist/performer, and doing it all with The City Hall was an absolute privilege. Those guys have been involved in a few of my favorite bands (local or not), and are incredibly talented artists.

So yeah.

Go buy Home Cuts again.

Published in the February 2016 issue of What’s Up! Magazine