If Not a Home, a Residence
Two out-of-town bands play a month’s worth of regular shows in Eugene
by Sara Brickner
It’s not an unusual concept for a band to book weekly or monthly shows at the same venue, on the same day of the week. But it is somewhat unusual for touring bands to book residencies, especially in several cities, which is why L.A.-based, Eugene-bred band the Parson Red Heads’ Pacific Northwest residency tour seems ambitious. The unsigned band booked a month of weekly shows in Eugene (Sundays at Sam Bond’s Garage), Portland (Mondays) and Seattle (Thursdays), not to mention some one-off shows in Salem, Ashland and Corvallis. There’s something to the idea of scheduling several shows in the same city if the shows are spaced reasonably apart. Instead of hitting more cities, you’re giving more people in the same handful of towns more chances to hear your music. And the Parson Red Heads’ sunny, revivalist ’60s pop is just the sort of sound the Pacific Northwest can’t get enough of these days. “[Residences are] a big thing in LA,” songwriter Evan Way says. “They’re, like, the thing to do. There are probably four or five venues around town, mainly in Echo Park and Silverlake, where every Monday night there’s a free residency.” Tour residencies like this involve spending a lot of time staring at the non-scenery that borders I-5, but the amount of driving, Way says, is no more than a national tour would require.
It speaks to the growing popularity of the residency concept that there’s another touring band, Baltimore’s The Bridge, embarking on a similarly ambitious residency tour at the same time. After completing the February residencies they’ve got scheduled in Oregon and California, the roots rock band will have traversed almost the whole of the West Coast three separate times in a month (their Eugene performances will take place every Friday night in February at Luckey’s). That’s a lot of gas money, but fortunately, the endeavor already seems to be paying off. “Last week in Eugene went off the hook,” mandolinist Kenny Liner says. “We got close to 300 people and it was a straight up tear down. I have a feeling even more people are going to come this week because of the success that last week was, and by word of mouth.” Residencies, he explains, rely largely on word of mouth, but considering the myriad of ways in which people now share information with their friends, it’s a pretty foolproof promotional policy.
Like the Parson Red Heads, The Bridge isn’t touring behind a new album, but the band does have an ace in the hole: During The Bridge’s show, two live artists, Vort and Cank, produce a painting from start to finish as the band plays. The project, which they call Vorcan, is part performance, part collaborative art experience (you can check out their work at 50dollarlunch.com or vorcan.com). “It’s like the period at the end of the night,” Liner says. “I hold it up and the painting gets a round of applause just like the band did.”
The Parson Red Heads, 8:30 pm Sundays in February at Sam Bond’s, with Leo London 2/14, DoublePlusGood 2/21 and Yeltsin 2/28. 21+. Free.
The Bridge with Vorcan, 10 pm Fridays in February at Luckey’s. 21+. $7.