Porch Cat: Taking time for a pop-punk tour

by Chan Barraza

Porch Cat recently became a pop-punk band, which I could not be more excited about. I had always said I wrote my songs for my teenage self and teenagers like me – so why shouldn’t Porch Cat as a band be for my teenage self too? With Emily Ayden (The Fire Organ, The Fairweather Family) on drums and Molly Ada on guitar, we set out to make the music I wished I was making back in high school. After not having toured since 2013, we decided to take our new sound on the road in mid-August of 2017.

I had two goals in mind as I began to book the shows: 1) all shows should be all ages, and 2) all shows should have a diverse bill, prominently featuring other marginalized artists. Our first stop was Seattle! This was the trickiest show to get nailed down, but we managed to settle down with Left Bank Books Collective – a narrow, two story anarchist bookshop right by Pike Place Market. This was one of our most eclectic bills throughout the tour, with R&B/Pop singer Falon Sierra, hardcore punk band Health Scare, and queer punk duo Mud On My Bra. We squeezed into the lower corner of the book store by the front window, and filled the whole space with sound as shoppers at Pike Place walked by and watched from outside every so often.

Next, we stopped in Olympia for a house show. Taking a hint from local group, The Wednesdays, we got in touch with Validation House, who put together a beautiful show for us. Before the show, we snagged some delicious food truck food, and hung out with the occupants of the house and their cats. Irene Bowen took stage first, singing us gay cowboy songs and mesmerizing us with circular, spell like acoustic ballads. Rowan Katz, a powerfully voiced artist on an acoustic guitar, performed next and brought me to tears. Pigeon Pit, a folk punk artist, played before our set, making us all cry for a second time that night. We performed last, to a living room full of people, while Rowan and Irene danced in the front row.

From Oly, we headed east to my hometown for a second house show in Pasco, WA. There aren’t very many options as far as venues in the Tri-Cities, but Rigo’s Amigos jumped at the opportunity for a show. We started the show with our friend – now a local artist (catch them as The Mountain Goats at the V-Day cover show!) – contrary to popular belief. More and more people continued to show up at the house as folk punk group Get ‘Em Tiger performed. We played next, to a very enthusiastic crowd that included a dancing Panda (who happened to be my cousin). Badland Nomad, Michael Hopp’s new band – our first tour was with one of Michael’s earlier projects, Dear Doris – closed out the night with a performance as loud as it was energetic, members jumping, kneeling, laying on the floor, audience dancing. Right at the end of the set, the cops showed up, so we thanked our audience, friends, hosts, and other bands and headed out.

Next, we headed to smoke-filled Missoula to play at the ZACC. With Mossmouth – who you might have seen at Tummy Fest ‘17 – and B.C. queer pop-punk band, Shameover. This was our smallest show, but everyone was so nice and supportive. We headed west again to Real Art Tacoma, where we got to play with pop band GABI, twee-punk duo Anime Creek, and Adam France of Burn Burn Burn who played a humble, but magnetic acoustic set. Real Art is such a cool, all ages, DIY space that I’d recommend to any band, and one that I’d love to play again someday – maybe with a bigger turnout and on the main stage!

As a musician with chronic illness and pain, these couple of days in Missoula and Tacoma were the hardest – but our show in Spokane helped give some energy back to me. We played another house venue called The Bubble. Kendra and the other hosts were super hospitable and kind. We enjoyed the warm weather outside before heading to the basement for another eclectic show, consisting of WALKER, a synth duo, and Karate Chad, a chill guitar based electronica artist. We were surprised at the turnouts of our two Eastern Washington shows, but having grown up there, it makes so much sense – what else is there to do in the desert?

Our last show of tour, besides our homecoming show, was at Anarres Infoshop & Community Space, lovingly named after the late Ursula K. LeGuin’s anarchist planet. Having been living there for a couple of years before returning to Bellingham last spring, I knew it was going to be full of love, friends, and dogs. What I didn’t expect was that we filled the entire performance space, with audience members spilling out the doors and lingering outside or in the front section of the building where the books and zines are kept. Dogtooth and Nail, a political, feminist, bluesy folk punk duo kicked off the show, getting the crowd to dance and sing along. Kids’ Table performed as an acoustic version of the pop punk trio, singing tender, honest songs about queerness. We performed next, dripping in sweat, pushed up against the back wall of the performance space because of how full it was. It was a truly magical show, with our friends singing along and dancing beside us.

When we got back to Bellingham, we took a couple of days to settle in before playing the last show we had scheduled. In the Alternative Library, we played alongside Voice Hoist, Algae Guck, and Sigourney Reaper. With even more friends to perform with and for, it was the perfect way to close our tour. Bellingham really took my by surprise with this one, and I hope we can keep making shows like that happen as a community.

Follow Porch Cat’s Facebook page for updates and information, and listen to songs at https://porchcat.bandcamp.com.