The best part of waiting in a very long line for a very long time to get into the Bernie Sanders rally last Friday were the sweet sounds of Tacocat streaming over the Safeco fence like a home run.
I know I wasn't the only one bummed that they had to start so early (there may be just as many people at their record release show on Thursday at Chop Suey as there were inside Safeco when they played), nor was I the only one excited to see a band I like so much being included in such a momentous event. Especially in light of the middling, Mumford and Grandsons ordeal that followed them. Portland got the Thermals, Seattle got Tacocat, and that seems accurate in many ways.
Plus, like any stadium opening slot (especially nowadays), the experience itself is largely secondary to the bragging rights, and the shareable snapshot moments—such as Senator Bernie Sanders thanking "the Taco Cat-Band" during the preamble to his rousing speech. I asked Tacocat's singer (and esteemed Stranger colleague emeritus), Emily Nokes, to weigh in on what the show was like.
How did you get the job? Were you approached by the campaign directly?
We were approached by a guy on Facebook, and then someone who sometimes works with Pearl Jam called my bandmate? Since it got put together in 48 hours or something, it didn't make a whole lot of sense—the invite was so casual that at first that we assumed it was one of those community-organized liberal park frolics or some kind of Bands 4 Berne BBQ. (Hit us up!)
What was the security screening process like? Were the secret service agents tough?
First we sent our social security numbers and birthdays via email to a complete stranger, who approved us. At Safeco we went through a wand gauntlet similar to the airport, evacuated abruptly for two hours during a security sweep of the building, and got bomb sniffed upon our return by a very good pup. The secret service ranged from Rip Torn to Angela Bassett on the government-babe scale and were pretty chill. We ditched our weed in the van though, just in case (you can take the criminalization out of the weed, but you can't... er).
Which bit was more intimidating: (a) playing at Safeco Field, (b) playing such an important political event, or (c) sharing a stage with John Popper?
Mostly (a) and (b) and... you know what? A little (c) in there too! But only because that same day my bandmate was 85% done with John Popper's torrid autobiography, Suck and Blow and Other Stories I'm Not Supposed to Tell (whoo!), and had been paraphrasing chapters of it before we even knew he would be at Safeco. At Safeco playing that harmonica so loud.
What was the political significance of playing with your backs to the stage? (I know how much you love the Doors, but still…)
Oh, just a good ol' fashioned "Who's going to tell these really busy and serious people that the stage setup is facing the wrong way?" moment that came and went.
Have you considered changing your name to what Bernie called you, “The Taco Cat-Band,” to capitalize on the publicity?
Obviously. That video plays in a loop in my brain now! If Bernie doesn't win, he is officially invited to be my surrogate grandfather. That smile!
I know a lot of bands don’t like to talk about their guarantees, but can we assume you were paid at least $15/hour for your work?
We were paid in beautiful smiles and eye contact from Caleb, the most attractive secret service agent (and possibly human) ever. I also grabbed an American-flag-themed half circle of fabric, which I was informed is called a "bunting."
Lastly, if Hillary Clinton becomes the Democratic nominee and asks you to play at a campaign rally the night before the general election, will Tacocat support her?
It's been pointed out to me that since Hillary Clinton is a woman and I am also a woman I should be supporting her, so yeah, I guess I'll be there if I'm not on my period or washing my hair with Bank of America receipts. (Jk Hill, you know I got you if S hits the F.)