Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Euro tour update #1 Essen/Bremen, Germany

My internal clock is set to 11:47 AM east coast time right now, despite that I- both internally and externally- currently exist in Malmo, Sweden where it is precisely 5:47 PM. Jetlag. That has been the overriding theme of the first days of this tour.

Our plane left Philadelphia on Friday at 4:15 pm. Dave and I live together in a cockroach, mouse, moth, flea, and slug infested row home in south Philly- or lived, rather, because our lease ended the day our flight left. The days prior were spent in endless hours of packing (followed by late nights of practice), and up until our taxi came to bring us to the airport we were taking the last of our shit out of that shithole house. (2237 S. 6th st- don't rent it!) Due to police blockades on the street and other nonsense, we made it to the airport exactly an hour before we left. We walked in excitedly ("Holy shit we're going to Europe!"), with our 2 carry ons each and our 8 bags to put under, then started the the slow and grueling process of check in. Bags were weighed (no bag could weigh over 50 lbs), merch moved around and crammed into backpacks, then, as I chatted with the woman checking us in about how terrible my passport photo is (the guy at the passport office even made fun of me), things unexpectedly went to total shit. She raised a penciled eyebrow, and said, flatly, "You're too late. You've missed this flight."


I checked my phone. 3:20 pm, our flight didn't leave for almost an hour.

"Yesssssss," she hissed like a viper, "but you are checking in late. You have to check in an hour early. You're too late."

I argued that we had started an hour before our flight, that our bags were all checked in, that...

"You are too late. You cannot make this flight."

My head spun. I asked what exactly "you cannot make this flight" meant.

"You're not getting on that plane."

Then, I lost it. Total uncontrollable panic. I started crying, and shaking, and telling the woman the very true story about how every penny I have was in this trip, how if we left we had no where to go because we moved out of our house and put our things in storage, how my cats are in Massachusetts and I had no way to get them and no where to bring them, and the whole time I gave her my sad story, she told me, coldly, that there was nothing she could do.

I cried on. Poor Jaki, our booking agent. And Dead Vows, our tourmates for the first month. All the kids that set up shows. And my cats! And where would we go? How would the dudes get back to Ohio and New York? I babbled at her about the police blockades and my shitty neighborhood and how she just had to let us on, that I had no place to go but on that plane. I noticed then that she was trembling. Was I getting through to her? She explained, again, and exhaustedly, that there was nothing she could do, we were late, policy was policy. Then we stood there staring at eachother, silently shaking together, me sniffling as tears dripped off my face and onto our tickets.

She picked up a phone and stepped away from me, with no explanation. 5 very tense minutes passed, phone call after phone call made in a low voice, acrylic nails trembling as she dialed. Then finally she hung up, grabbed our passports, and said, "You have no idea how lucky you are."

I started to thank her but she cut me off with a short, "Don't talk to me."

She scanned our passports and called some luggage dudes to rush our bags to the plane, the she told us to run to our gate without a single stop, and run we did. At the gate they screamed at us, "GO! GO! GET ON!", and we tripped and stumbled our way down the ramp with our toes barely slipped in our shoes (no time to put them back on after going through security.) On the plane we dripped sweat and caught our breath as others in the tail section watched us bumble around trying to fit guitars and mis-shapen bags into the overhead compartments. We all slept a maximum of an hour on the 7 hour flight, and were greeted almost instantly at the Frankfurt airport by our Hungarian driver, Gabi, and soon thereafter Dead Vows. The van they pulled up in barely accomodated their things- so getting our 8 bags of merch (it's a 2 1/2 month tour...), guitars, drum shit, and personal items in resulted in a ride where everyone's knees were in their noses. This van we'll be in for the next month, but day by day we're finding better ways to pack and the knees are descending, slowly.

We drove straight from the airport to our first show- Pressure Fest in Essen, Germany. This was the biggest show we've ever played- there were probably 500 people inside during our set. Our set took place at about 3 pm German time, but to us, it was 9 am after a sleepless night. We were hungry, and dirty, and so, so tired. I was not afraid of the size of the crowd, as I had expected, but instead, was terrified that I was pass out mid-song. And it almost happened. And I don't even remember what I said between songs or if it made sense, all I know is that I slurred, and we cut the last 2 songs off because I didn't think I could do them. At a few points I looked up at the mass of kids and saw only blurs of color. I was so tired, I forgot to thank all of our friends for coming- so I'll thank them now. Neish, May, Charlotte, Shatterproof/Danish friends (and thank you for the mint and lemons, again!), Marco and the Belgians (thanks for the Speculoos!!) thank youuuuu!

I caught Dave asleep behind the merch table, Pierce caught some zzz's in the back room, I slept under a table. Coalesce played right after us and I couldn't even stay for their last song. My mind was swirling and I could not even watch my favorite bands, or talk to friends from far away, or do fucking anything. Had I been awake enough to feel, I would have been frustrated.

During the fest, Ryan (our fill in drummer for the last tour/half of this tour) hung in the back with Represent's fill in guitarist (fill in party?), Pierce hung with our London friends, and Dave and I had some extremely hilarious conversation with Shattered Realm about touring Europe, then giggled as they told the meat-loving xRepresentx to eat vegan food, raving about how delicious it is in Europe, and the guitarist told me about how much he loves the vegan restaurant Red Bamboo (in NYC.) I managed to wake up enough to watch Shattered Realm (with the original singer!) and it was, of course, awesome. Someone in xRepresentx got his nose broken during the first song and went to the hospital on day 1 of their Euro tour.

After the show we stayed with a friend of Dead Vow's that, when I asked if he had fun at the show, said, "Ehhh. I only liked 2 bands- Dead Vows and Coalesce." We played not only that show, but directly between those two bands. I kept a straight face, but inside I looked like this:


Gotta love that Euro too-much-info brand of honesty.

The next day we played a venue called G18 in Bremen. We were lead to a brightly lit kitchen where a large table was set for us. Guns Up! played on the stereo. So tired I could barely speak, I quietly ate the huge meal they prepared for us: potatoes with mushroom gravy, curry fried tofu, and green beans. For those of you not in Europe- something you should know. Here, soda is not made with high fructose corn syrup, but with actual sugar. For this reason it tastes completely different than American soda and infinitely better, so we eagerly gulped down many colas and carbonated mango lemonades.

G18, until 5 years ago, was a squat. After being a punk house for so long, the 7 inhabitants decided to buy it. Political graffiti and ancient show flyers line the walls, the rooms are large and light pours in from every angle. Outside flowers bloom, lining the cobble stone street, and off one of the band sleeping rooms (gotta love Europe!) there is a 2 level porch with furniture and flowers and everything needed to make a chill summer hang spot. I found my way there, clutching a cup of coffee, trying to coax my eyes open with each sip.

There, I was joined by Doreen and Tall Guy Whose Name It Was Impossible For Me To Say. I tried, over and over, but my mouth was not able to make the proper sounds. I had the same problem with the two resident dogs. The kids at the house said all American bands do the same thing. ("What's the dogs name?.... Oh. Hi... um... small , black dog...") There I told them about Christian hardcore (something non-existent in Germany, apparently) and they told me about Nazi hardcore and even vegan straight edge nazi hardcore kids. They were surprised that I was surprised by that. I was surprised as they mocked the idea of kids saying they were waiting until marriage to have sex, as if they had never heard it before. I told them stories I was told upon moving to Philly- nazis getting stabbed in the face with forks, thrown through windows, attacked and beaten at every turn. Later, when Pierce and Ryan were around, they expressed the same surprise and the same, "Don't they get beat up everywhere they go?" I guess that's the American way huh? And since I've seen 2 nazis in my life, maybe there's just a liiiiiittle something to be said for it....

Anyway, the show was so rad. Playing is always sweet, but this night was extra sweet because we played with the best band I've seen in the last forever. They are called Insomnio, and they're from Spain. If you like Government Warning, you will def dig them. In fact, they put out a record on a dude from Government Warning's label.

After our set, and after our merch table cleared, a kid came over to us saying he had no money but wanted a shirt, and was willing to trade his hat or mobile phone for one. Dave and I did not take him seriously, but he kept motioning at his hat and saying how much he liked us, and after we realized he was for real, we just gave him a shirt. He tried to give us his phone, but through our flattered laughter, we refused.

After the show us and Tall Guy went out for fries, went back to G18, and crashed out in the most comfortable bed I've ever slept in. In this part of the world it doesn't get dark until about 11 pm, and the sun starts to rise at 4 am, and I fell asleep, sunk deep into big, soft pillows, watching the sky turn slowly pink.

ps- I will be updating this frequently! No more falling behind like last tour. Check back in the next day or two for more!