Built Like Alaska Saturday September 17, 2005 Garfield Artworks Pittsburgh, PA

w/ Replicas, Comrad, Live From The Lions

Goodnight, Not Goodnight/Does Your Mother Feel Sick?/Dirtymouth/Heavy Foot/Random Car/Train Wrecks (Don't Sing Of Them)/Mean Mr. Mustard

Encore: It'll Keep You Warm>Almost The Earth

So earlier this year I am browsing the Grandaddy site and there is a small mention of BLA. What the fuck is BLA? A little investigation directs me to Built Like Alaska's site. There are a couple mp3's but nothing to knock my socks off (mainly demos and live stuff). Seems to have potential though and I ordered the band's new disc Autumnland. Upon arrival I was immediately taken by the incredible music. It took all of a few spins to become my favorite disc of the year, and it was only March! They toured and of course bypassed Pittsburgh. In August, another short tour was announced and lo and behold Pittsburgh wasn't included again. I thought to myself, how can I let this California band who released my favorite disc of the year pass through the East Coast without seeing them? That just blew. 

Interestingly, the band put out the following notice to visitors of their site:

August 28th, 2005

Hi there! We, the folks who are built like Alaska, have a pretty big little favor to ask of you, our fans and friends. We're about to take an extended tour of this perfect, infallible, and splendid country of ours- vanning it from sea to shining sea and back again within the span of just over two and a half weeks. This means a plethora of late nights and longing drives for the five of us, not that this is anything new for rock grangers such as ourselves. What we're hoping for is some kindly faces with comfortable spaces to make restings on. So i ask, could any of you gentle souls entertain our dreams and allow us to sleep in your homes while were far away from our own? We're mostly clean, and we don't snore...much. Here's the tour itinerary as we know it:

Five Hot Dogs Tour

9/8 Salt Lake City UT @ Kilby Court
9/9 Denver CO @ Hi-Dive
9/10 Warrensburg, MO @ The Set List
9/11 Des Moines IA @ Vaudeville Mews
9/12 Chicago IL @ Schuba's
9/13 Detroit MI @ Lager House
9/16 CMJ Future Farmer Showcase at Ace of Clubs
9/18 Cincinnati OH @ The Comet
9/19 Memphis, TN @ Young Avenue Deli
9/20 Springfield, MO @ Outland Ballroom
9/21 Lawrence KS @ Jackpot Saloon
9/22 Denton, TX @ Rubber Gloves
9/23 Albuquerque NM @ Atomic Cantina
9/24 Tucson AZ @ BAM Fest
9/25 maybe L.A., CA

If you live in one of these towns, along the way, or know someone who does -and feel like having company over- please let us know. We'd be ever so thankful for your extraordinary hospitality- you have no idea. Thanks so much! Love, bla  

I thought, there is a day between New York and Cincy, how about a show here? Through e-mails back and forth with the band it is decided that they will be glad to hang a little in Pittsburgh and inquire if there are any campsites around. Wait a minute, I have a house, albeit a small one (with a wife and two kids), why not have them stay here? Asking the little lady, I immediately get, "Are you crazy? What are you in college?" Yeah, didn't think so. I ask a few friends who reject the offer also but mention Tim and Suze. Tim and Suze are artists friends, who it turns out, host bands all the time. O.K. I call and give the date. Damn, they will be out of town. Oh, well. But sure they can crash! What? COOL!

I am explaining the situation to Manny from Garfield Artworks and he offers a slot that same Saturday for them to play! The band accepts. I am going to see and hang with Built Like Alaska! Sa-weet.

Before they hit town I start having seconds thoughts. What if they are assholes? What if they trash the house? What if they suck live? Well, I am so happy to say they couldn't have been more pleasant, live and otherwise. Each one of the band members were intelligent, funny, and laid back. We hit it off instantly. They arrive in Pittsburgh a little scruffy from a late night recording ('She's A Rainbow'? Oh, yeah!) and long drive and we head to the house. Within minutes we are off to the venue and their slot has been bumped up. The band was like, no worries, it's cool. I proceed to get drunk since I bum a ride in their van and have a hoot of a night.

It turns out the crowd is somewhat sparse but nobody seems to mind. The opener is Live From The Lions. These kids thrash it out with a haphazard abandon. Some practice and a few years maturing will only help. Maybe not.

BLA take the stage and rip through a short, sweet set. They open with a new song, play several songs off Autumnland and close the set with a Beatles cover. I am bopping around, yelping, just having a blast. They start to load-out and I will have none of it. They agree to an encore and then it's over.

During Comrad's set we hang on Penn Avenue, drinking Iron, taking pics, and waiting for headliners Replicas to perform. Replicas you ask? Why, they are only Pittsburgh's premier Gary Numan tribute band. Could this night get any better?

The band was introduced by the "mad" doctor. Fuckin' A.


This shit was totally bad-ass. It was getting late however, and the band wanted to eat. Hello, Eat-n-Park.

There is a dynamic that forms between people who are on the road and although they didn't treat me as an outsider at all, you could tell that they have a bond of sorts that I just wasn't a part of. It was just a treat to be there with them and I am thankful I could give something back for the hours of enjoyment their music has provided me. As I say goodnight to head home from Tim and Suze's, Matt starts to freak a tad because of the gunshots he heard. C'mon you Mary, this is the big city. Those shots were at least a block away. Booosh!

The next morning I go to the house and Neil is the first one up. Maybe the highlight of the weekend was talking to Neil for a good hour while the others were sleeping. Just shooting the shit about California, Pittsburgh, his music, Ellie Parker, other bands, the tour, the record biz, teaching...it was really nice. He turns out to be a totally stand-up guy.

As the others wake from their slumber, I fondly bid them goodbye and take with me so much more than I could give. Like free merch, baby!

Built Like Alaska (pre-Sean, sorry dude) autographed Hopalong CD cover

Built Like Alaska autographed Autumnland CD cover

Built Like Alaska autographed Autumnland CD

Built Like Alaska, Comrad, and Live From The Lions autographed show flyer

How much do I dig this CD? I contacted the guy who did the cover art, Souther Salazar, and ordered a sweet 14"X11" print of the painting it's from.

The band obligingly signed it for me.

From Susane's tour blog:

Day 12

if it weren't for hugh we'd be po' boys and girl sitting on the streets of pittsburg with no where to go and nothing to do. this awesome fella hooked us up with everything: a show, a place to sleep and cookies. watch out troybob, hugh's catching up!

We had the chance to play with a gary newman tribute band...the best gary newman tribute band we've ever played with, i'd say. 

thank you pittsburg:

thank you for your iron city, your beautiful skyline, your safe streets and most of all thank you for your Hugh.

we've now eaten 31 2/3 hotdogs


Thank you Sean, Matt, Susane, Neil and David!




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