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Tour Diary: Hellpets – September 2005: Operation McMinnville Freedom


September 1, 2005
Venue: Third Street Pizza
City: McMinnville, OR

Over at Hellpet HQ, we like to expand our horizons. Sometimes that means eating Ethiopian food. Sometimes it means riding mechanical bulls. And, just sometimes, it means playing a show in McMinnville, Oregon.

A menacing Chris Hellpet in the Third St. loading corridor.

Skipping my usual bowling night, the Countess and I drove down highway 99W, past the suburban wonders of Tigard, Beaverton and Newberg, until finally rendezvousing with Chris Hellpet at the enigmatic Third St. Pizza. Clearly, this is the happenin’ spot for McMinnville high-schoolers out on a Thursday night. Well, at least the sidewalk is. The place is basically a pizza parlor with a one-screen movie theatre auditorium inside. Bright-eyed and cheery, I asked the fellow behind the counter which entrance bands typically use to load their equipment.

“Sandra should be here soon. Save your anger for her!” came the gruff reply.

And thus was the mood of the evening set. Is there really such a steady history of discontentment among bands who play at this place that it’s now taken for granted? Impressive! The unbridled surliness of the pizza counter workers helps a lot, I’m sure. My challenge to you: try getting a free cup of tap water from those guys!

This guy charged us 50 cents for two empty paper cups.

Sandra is the promoter who sets up these shows. Her operation, Throwaway Kid Productions, has been putting on events for only a couple of months and does have a few kinks to work out. The first person we met upon arrival was the (I’m estimating) 16-year-old bassist for a Salem band called The Hornswagglers who were playing that night. He seemed nice enough…and looked smashing in his calf-high boots and Ramones t-shirt. Of course, when Sandra gave me the band list for the night, they weren’t on it. Rock is an unpredictable genre that way! Of the other three bands originally scheduled, two cancelled and one was a no-show, which was kind of a relief. I know it defies the basic principles of mathematics, but sometimes having two bands is better than having five.

We took the opportunity to explore the neighboring McMenamin’s Hotel Oregon and its famous Rooftop Bar. This also afforded C. Baker an opportunity to get a Hammerhead Ale since we were playing at an all-ages venue. Interestingly, during the day, 3rd Street patrons can drink beer in the theater, but not in the restaurant. After 9pm, the situation seems to flip-flop. The OLCC strikes again?

Something’s very, very wrong at the Rooftop Bar above Hotel Oregon.

In the Hotel Oregon lobby we saw a flyer for the great Portland band Sneakin’ Out with whom we played at last year’s National Coming Out Day. If you ever feel like being astounded by musicianship, go check them out!

The Hornswagglers played pretty decent punk rock for being a high school band. They covered all the requisite teen angst thematic territory. They were also very loud. Unfortunately, it was a school night, so they and their friends and parents had to get back to Salem right after their set, which mostly emptied the room. Fortunately, we convinced five curious and brave local youths to hang out for a while and we launched into what became, essentially, a living room-style show.

Those ants at the far end of this picture are The Hornswagglers.

There was moshing. There were chair races. At one point, I though there was going to be simulated bullfighting. Between songs, we discussed lizards, the finer points of crowd surfing, alternate first aid methods, model home factory tours, fighting with rolls of industrial insulation, and the situation in New Orleans, among other things. I was a bit surprised that they weren’t familiar with the term “internal combustion engine,” luckily we have an educational song for just that situation!

I wound up having a lot of fun!

Our new fans rock!

And that’s the story of how five McMinnville high school kids saved Christmas.

 Posted by Ross at 3:13 am  Add comments

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