Sunday, October 31, 2010


Olympia. !!!! This town is AWE-SOME! I first arrived in Olympia with Hermit Thrushes in the summer of 2009. It was the first any of us had played there. We somehow wound up performing in Kimya Dawson’s backyard. It seemed random at the time. But in retrospect, it may not have been that weird, as she is very inviting and open, like a lot of the Oly/K Records crew. Oddly enough, the police shut down the show very early on in the afternoon when our friends from NY, Turbosleaze, started. Kimya’s House is located in the middle of the woods and it was a weekend afternoon. Crazy.
(Turbosleaze @ Kimya's Stretch Pants Party)
We then played Le Voyeur and were blacklisted when the whiney bartenders decided the show was going on too late. Turbosleeze announced over the mic that even with the 3 hour time difference, bartenders were still working in NYC and proceeded to play three long songs woven together. That- along with trying to sneak our underage friends into the show- may have ultimately done us in. Oh well.

Lucky for us and Olympia, Oly has no shortage of DIY spaces/houses throwing incredible shows.

Orincredible record labels. Or Zines. Or cheap, awesome pizza. Or mind-blowing burritos. Or beautiful temperate rainforest. Or crazy volcanoes. Or friendly people that want to hang out and make things. Or awesome coffee!

Notice a trend?

I guess the point is, after my first run through that town, I knew that this town was a great one to visit. But I always thought that visiting was where it stopped. Coming from Philly, I had always believed that if one likeda large city it would be a tough thing to get used to a small town. The idea is that one could get bored fairly easily in such a repetitive landscape.

NOT THE CASE! Especially, when the town is constantly reinventing itself through cooperative excitement.

Whether throwing shows at a new bar, a house, the Northern All Ages Project, the parking lot behind the Northern, or in the Evergreen State college forest, kids are rocking out in new and innovative ways all the time. So with that, I guess I will discuss how I wound up in Olympia.

(Jared and Robbie of Oly Coffee/EP respectively throwing down on Arts Walk)

At the end of July, Sara and I decided we needed a change of scenery. Besides my job, I found myself becoming kind of bored in Portland. And homesick for everything I missed so much in Philly. I guess the plan had always been we will eventually wind up in Philadelphia. I opted for going there right away since I knew places we could live, whether with friends or family. Above all of that, Philly’s coffee scene had grown a lot. Knowing this, I was certain that a barista of Sara’s caliber could find a position, there. And at the very least, I could prepare for the upcoming HT tour.

After a lot of discussing, we decided Olympia made the most sense. Sara, after all is from Oly. We both have tons of friends up there. And it didn’t hurt that both of her parents had businesses that were looking for extra help. For me, leaving a month later meant marginally cheaper airfare. So off we were to Olympia.

(Prince Rama @ the Northern)

I knew Oly was going to be kind of awesome. But yowzahs!, Oly was a great time. I got back to Philly, a place I couldn’t wait to get back to and automatically felt kind of whatever compared to Oly. As soon as we got into town, I managed to go to a few shows that were easily some of the best shows I had witnessed all summer. While in town, I got a chance to check out Christopher Francis’ latest band, Legs the Crab, Oly all stars Outdoor Voices, Prince Rama (awesomeness from Boston, not Brooklyn), and the math/drum-fill styles of Fall of Electricity. Oh, and I saw the Melvins at the Capital Theatre thanks to Sara’s pop, Terry. (There’s allegedly a scene on a Melvins concert that can be found on Netflix Instant Watch where Terry, as younger fellow, sitting with his brother on the stage facing the audience, involuntarily vomits and clears the area… keep an eye out… and Kudos to You, Terry.).

As I hinted above, food in Oly is off the hizzy. For such a small town, they sure know how to pack it in where it matters: Great Thai food, great Vietnamese food, great burritos, great slices of pizza, increds Japanese food, good co-ops, and probably more. I didn’t have enough time or money to do it all. I mean, I sort of had enough money. But when you know you’re going on a self-funded tour in the near future… you don’t have enough money. Top picks: Old School Pizza (duh! $1.85 for a slammin’ slice of "cheese." They must not know about the premium the rest of this dumb country charges on the costs of importing pizza from the East Coast.), the Burrito truck (both of ‘em! You know the one I’m talking about. Carne Asada or Bistec burritos with avocado!), and Little Danang for yer’ Vietnamese!

Coffee in Oly: …It’s good! At a certain point, I began to ponder how Portland could financially support a burgeoning and ever-growing third wave coffee movement. In places like New York City,it makes sense: the sheer population density in that town could always support new shops. (Fock New York? Eat it here). But in a service industry town like Portland- where everyone’s working the same types of jobs and rely on tips- it just doesn’t and didn’t seem sustainable. And as Sean Z says, live sustainably. All I’m getting at, it seems to make even less sense that Oly has four major coffee companies (maybe five?) seated in the downtown and they all seem to be doing alright! More power to them, right!?

There’s an obvious advantage to being the state capital and having an important college in town. But you consider a company like Espresso Parts (EP), who are servicing coffee shops all over the world and innovating the field of coffee brewing and cleaning; or K records (and perhaps formerly KRS and 5RC), who put out albums to which all of world’s “indie” communities takes note, maybe Oly’s “success” is not that crazy. It’s not that either of these example are lucrative companies like Pepsi or Apple, but they are doing something besides hashing out the same stuff- and only locally at that. They’re not the only ones. B&B, for better or for worse, has a roastery in Atlanta. CafĂ© Vita, ya know. Whatever. The point is, companies like EP and K are creating awesome products, keeping them local, harboring and nourishing a local community, and letting the world vie for the fruits of their labor.

Top props, and I’m slightly biased, go to EP for mixing it up and helping the community out (both local and coffee) and Oly Coffee who thanks to Kelly Zand Oliver Stormshak are roasting TRULY BADASS COFFEE. And I mean it. I’ve had some great coffee and it is always a pleasure to get a shot of Big Truck. Like any blend, it changes seasonally, but it is consistently delicious. It always tastes like some kind of awesome chocolaty/strawberry creamsicle to me. Past coffee’s I’ve enjoyed have included the Amaro Gayo from Ethiopia (holy blueberries!), Finca La Florida from Colombia, and La Mirella Perla Negra from Costa Rica. DUDES!, KEEP UP THE GREAT WORK, OKAY?

One day, I will be back in Olympia. It will be awesome.

(also, hug your evergreens, ferns, and appreciate a madrone tree every once-in-a-while!)

13 KaRmA bReWeRs (spooky)

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