SuperCity: Painted Highways reunites for farewell

Apr. 30, 2014 | 0 Comments

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BY CHRISTA WITTMIER / Special to the Star-Advertiser

I’ve been traveling quite a bit to the neighbor islands for work and have been joking about not coming back from Kauai. That place is a dream world. Everyone keeps telling me it is way too slow for me but I don’t know … I kind of love that.

Painted Highways

With PAGE, Botoroke and Oil in the Alley

» Where: Downbeat Lounge, 42 N Hotel St.
» When: 9 p.m. to 2 a.m., Saturday, May 10
» Cost: Free

Some people can’t hang with small towns but to me it’s a glorious escape from the hustle and bustle. I jokingly refer to Oahu as “The Metropolis” whenever I’m out there and love that with each trip I return with more friends. When there’s not as much to do people spend more time on their own families, their own health and fitness, and their own peace of mind.

Who wouldn’t want to have a life on a beautiful lush island as a farmer, getting up at dawn to surf, doing yoga and making smoothies?

There are some, apparently. Most of my friends on Oahu say they could never live somewhere so small. “Everyone knows everyone. You have no privacy.” Blah. Living under the radar was never really a thing for me. The more people I can get to know the more interesting life gets. I saw a quote somewhere (probably on Instagram) that said, “The less people I chill with the less drama in my life.” It’s totally true but missing out on being close with others strips away a bit of our own humanity. People need people.

Mike and Rachel Pooley will be leaving for Kauai at the end of May. (Courtesy Graham Black)

Mike and Rachel Pooley will be leaving for Kauai at the end of May. (Courtesy Graham Black)

Longtime Honolulu musician Mike Pooley and his wife, yoga instructor Rachel Piano-Pooley, will be moving back to Kauai at the end of May with their two young children after 10 years of living in The Metropolis. Could it be that the big city was just too much for the talented young couple?!

Not quite.

“I went to elementary school in Hanalei and always wanted to move back, but since my wife’s family is over there we decided to have our kids grow up around their family,” he told me.

Pooley has been a significant fixture in the local music scene, currently fronting indie rock band Pink Mist but also powering Timbre Tantrums, POWER! and Painted Highways.

Painted Highways was, as many Honolulu bands tend to be, a miscellany of some of the city’s greatest: Jack Tawil (At Sea, Malcognitas), Mark Howard (CTRL ALT DEL one of my favorite bands of all time in Honolulu) and Pink Mist bassist Kai Kalus. They are, essentially, a product of exactly what is right about Honolulu’s tight-knit, incestuous music scene.

Painted Highways performing at Nextdoor circa 2010. Not pictured: me in a dream state. Courtesy Christa Wittmier)

Painted Highways performing at Nextdoor circa 2010. Not pictured: me in a dream state.(Courtesy Christa Wittmier)

I was standing dreamily in the back for many of their shows at Nextdoor and Mercury Bar. Their music is heavily influenced by a lot of the ’90s rock that I was actuallyl listening to while driving long roads in Washington state in the ’90s: Modest Mouse, Dinasour Jr., Radiohead. These are merely influences, as their sound is all their own. Dreamy guitars could be my favorite thing to see live on the planet.

Painted Highways had a “whirlwind romance,” as Pooley puts it, for two and a half years that included a five-song EP and opening slots for Blitzen Trapper, Vivian Girls and Toro y Moi.

Saturday, May 10, will be a reunion-slash-goodbye show featuring all the original members.

“I’m sure going to miss it here. The musical and creative opportunities I’ve had here have been amazing. It’s going to be hard adjusting, but I’m excited about this new adventure,” Pooley told me. “I’m sad too. It’s weird leaving a place I’m still in love with. So bittersweet.”

Meanwhile, online local street performers Streetlight Cadence are about to have their big break. They won the Hard Rock Cafe’s Hard Rock Rising for Hawaii and are now in the more difficult portion of the restaurant chain’s contest: the online voting.

Streetlight Cadence are in the running for an all-expenses-paid trip to perform at the Hard Rock Live Rome Music Festival in Italy this summer. (Courtesy Streetlight Cadence)

Streetlight Cadence are in the running for an all-expenses-paid trip to perform at the Hard Rock Live Rome Music Festival in Italy this summer. (Courtesy Streetlight Cadence)

It’s a shame, really. These guys could easily be the next Mumford & Sons but won’t be going anywhere if they can’t get enough online support. If they do make it, just watch out. The crowds around them under the Hawaii Theater each First Friday, standing there with their mouths hanging open, are totally going to be able to say they knew them when. I really hope they can get past this voting purgatory and in the running to perform in Italy. The Hard Rock Live Rome Music Festival is this summer, and voting is only open for 25 days. The link is here. Good luck guys. You definitely deserve it.
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Christa Wittmier has chronicled Honolulu nightlife since 2004. She is senior marketing director at Young’s Market Co. of Hawaii and executive director of music for POW! WOW! Hawaii, and also helps promote the popular “Bacardi Pool Party” on Oahu. Contact her via e-mail or follow her on Twitter.

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