Thursday, June 25, 2009

Lonato, I believe in you. Also: MJ RIP


So we just played in this really really cool bar called Locanda di Campagna just outside of Lonato, a little town in Northern Italy.

Because I got overexcited and dropped the camera lens first outside the venue there are no pictures right now... but hopefully we'll be able to upload some tomorrow. On a similar note, not a lot of blogging has happened about Italy, due to a combination of no internet, being really busy and extreme laziness. So I aim to fix that too in the very near future.

For now though, while it's still fresh (and so clean (no? too much? (too many brackets??))) tonight's show was really good. Once again, hospitality was amazing, possibly the best so far. The food we had tonight was definitely the best food I've had so far in Europe, and the bar brews it's own "crude" beer, which is very delicious. Our host Ruben kept offering us lots and lots of food and drink, and as well as that being awesome from a NOM NOM NOM perspective it also made us feel the most welcome we have so far at a venue. I had some reservations about tonight, just because the place is also a food place, and we've had some variable experiences at places where people are just hanging out eating at tables. But tonight people seemed to be properly into it, and there was a nice vibe.

Also we finally got to meet our Italian booker Alessandro, who has done a really amazing job for us. What a nice guy!

Now we're upstairs above the bar, where Ruben and his wife live. It kind of overlooks the bar's courtyard, so it's kind of like we're still down there being sociable and the like. This is pretty much my ideal venue situation - one where I can have a few drinks and talk to a few people and then move just 20 metres and sit alone on the net instead. My life is awesome.

Oh also, MJ died, how weird is that! Also Farrah Fawcett, but you know, not as shocking as MJ. Because I have no photos of tonight right now, here is a photo of MJ instead:




RIP MJ, RIP.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Reutlingen

Yesterday we played in Reutlingen which is a small town in the south of Germany. It was another strange show, this time in a clothes shop. When we heard we were going to be playing in a clothes shop on a Monday night we were a bit worried..

But it actually turned out to be a really good show. The shop is really interesting. It's a store that sells hipster style clothing with a fair trade ethic. They've also set it up as a place for people to hang out in, selling drinks and stuff like that. And people do hang out in it. It's really cool, surprisingly cool for such a tiny little town.

The show itself was an early one, but a good one. The shop is tiny, and was full with the 40 odd people that came along. The promoter wanted us to play two sets, so we gave it ago. It was something we'd never done before. But it actually worked quite well, and we got to talk to people in between the sets. People bought our album, people seemed into it. It was a really good show, and I think the first time we'd ever played on a Monday.

After the show the shop owner, promoter, and host Henrick took us to a local bar. It was this weird Irish pub that was packed full of people, and it was Kareoke night. This was the first time we really experienced any real sort of culture shock. People were singing these English language songs, and putting on their best American or British accents in an attempt to mimic the original performers. So strange.

Afterwards we went back to Henrick's place, and what an amazing host! He had this room set up for us with beds, internet, and a fridge full of beer, fizzy drink and food for us. We were totally blown away. I'm sitting in said room at the moment typing this out. It's 3 in the afternoon, we should really go and do our washing. Next stop is Italy.. Milano I think. See ya there





Showers in kitchens

Further evidence at one of our booker's apartments:

Erlangen

We had a few days off in our touring schedule, so our excellent German bookers found us a few shows to fill the gaps. This is one of those shows.

So we drove back to Germany to a town called Erlangen, to a venue called E-Werk. E-Werk is a giant cultural center with multiple stories, lots of different performance spaces plus community art spaces and stuff like that. A really great space actually.

The space we played in was this weird cafe/venue. It felt like it was lifted straight out of a tv show, like when people go to see a band in The O.C. or Gossip Girl or something like that. It was a seated venue, something we'd never played in before.

We opened for an 'alt rock' band, haha, we've never played with a band like that before. It's so so weird to hear German bands sing in English. Most of the time the people singing can't speak English all that well, and then they sing in a really strong American or British accent. I guess that's kind of like some bands in New Zealand. But it seems stranger here.

We met one of our booker's friends, who was hosting us for the evening. He's a VJ and has VJ'd some really huge parties. I found it all really interesting, VJing is such a new, emerging thing. He was saying he sees it as adding ambiance to a show or party. A sort of creative lighting director, or something. Anyway, check out some of his VJing installations at big parties, really impressive: http://www.myspace.com/schallbild



Anyway, he did some VJing during our set. He used little wirless cameras and some graphics, and it looked really cool :D

All in all, even though we were just tacked on at the last minute, and we were opening for a totally different kind of band, it was still heeaps of fun :)





Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Vienna and Austria - OH YEAH

We just played this amazing show in Austria. In Vienna. It's a Tuesday night, the place was full of people. It was a community art space, under the train tracks in this old old building. An amazing space! People were so overwhelmingly friendly too.

And I didn't even know we were playing in Austria until the other day.

Our booker had given us a list of the shows, and this show was billed as 'Wien'. I figured it was another show in Germany. But no, that's my embarrassing lack of worldly knowledge in play there. It is in fact the German word for Vienna. Duh.

So we spent today driving from Germany to Austria. We got to see a lot of the Austrian country side and it's so so beautiful. Rolling hills, little ancient looking villages. All that good stuff.

Also, our host Manuel was amazing. People have been so welcoming to us, giving us their beds and food. So much more than we expected. Manuel gave us his living room, and even set the table for us for breakfast the next day. How nice is that?!

Something weird about some German and Austrian flats though. They're very tight for space, so they sometimes have the shower in the kitchen. Even in a really nice flat like Manuel's. It actually works pretty well, but seems strange to us foreigners.









Hanging out in Heidelberg

We drove yesterday from Kassel where we did that rained out festival, to Heidelberg. We're not playing a show here for a few weeks, but it's on the way to our next show in Vienna, and one of our promoters, Santiago, lives here so we're hanging out for a day.

The drive was sweeet, nice and short, we saw a car that looks like a sneaker:



It was cool meeting Santiago finally, after sending him so many emails. And what a nice guy!



Anyway, we met him at his friends place, where a bunch of friends were having a BBQ. Everyone was nice to us, and people even spoke English to each other while we were around to make us feel comfortable. It's been so strange hanging out with people while they speak a foreign language, at first I find it really interesting but after a while it gets really hard to concentrate on what they're saying. Also, I feel like I'm the only person in the world who only speaks one language. What a douchebag. Haha. But the BBQ was great fun. They gave us totums, or power animals. Mine is Seal (fly like an eagle, let my spirit carry me) and Johanna's is the disappointingly predictable 'owl'. Booo.





The ex-Dunedin girl we're staying with has been so nice to us. She gave us her bed and even bought us breakfast this morning! Considering we don't know her at all and only met her yesterday, how nice is that?!? Also, she mentioned Fur Patrol's song Lydia, another European Fur Patrol connection. Will this become a reoccurring thing? Is this a stupid thing to be thinking about? Yes and yes.

Our music equipment keeps on breaking. We knew this would happen, because we were only able to get these cheap electronic drum pads. I have to open them up after each show to solder them up. But they've finally started completely dying. But we'll figure something out.

Me fixing the pads after our first show:


And other parts of our gear have started dying. We're going to spend most of today trying to sort it all out. Fingers crossed it'll be ok! My Clarinet has started to squeak a lot too... probably more to do with my terrible technique than anything else.

Our bookers keep on adding new shows to the tour, so exciting! Couple more German ones confirmed, the less days off the better!

When Johanna posted about Wurzburg she didn't have time to upload images, so here are a few from hanging out with Frank and playing in Wurzburg:





Monday, June 8, 2009

Kassel

After nearly dying on the roads of Paris we drove back to Germany again to play in a town called Kassel. Turns out that driving six hours a day and then playing shows and having 4 hours sleep for 3 days is actually pretty exhausting, and was possibly not our brightest move. Go figure. We were both feeling pretty wrecked on the drive through Belgium back to Germany, but not as bad as the night before. Also playing in Paris really perked us both up - although we were so tired, the playing part went really well, so that was encouraging. All the same, driving is hard work for Mark, and watching Mark drive/shouting at the GPS system/trying to use the stupid iPod FM transmitter thing is hard work for me, so by the time we arrived in Kassel we were feeling a bit droopy. We checked in at this hotel which the promoter paid for (that still really excites me, I love free stuff), and then found out that we were in seperate rooms. So then we became inflated with the spirit of rock and/or roll and decided to rearrange things and that's when shit got OUT OF CONTROL...

...Shit didn't actually get out of control at all, we just took the mattress from one room into the other room and shoved all the furniture around until we could put two mattresses onto the floor to make a double-bed floor party. How badass is that. Not very, if any (that's how that song goes, right?) We need to steal a car, kill a hooker and then snort coke of her/his naked corpse or something, then I'll feel better about being so boring.

Anyway, after that we went to the Fr├╝hlingsfest, where we played. It was this really cool community fair type thing, with music and performers and lots of different food and stuff. Super cool. Sadly for the organisers it was raining, which apparently has never happened before or something, so they didn't have the turn-out they were hoping for. But it was still really cool, and we're probably going to come back and play again next year apparently, so I'm looking forward to that.





Our actual set was a bit of a mess - we had some software issues and so we had to cut our set short and we felt a bit embarrassed about the whole thing. Also Volker who is one of the guys booking us shows in Germany was there (nicest guy EVER), and so we felt pretty bad about that being his first impression of us. But he said nice things anyway, and people seemed to like it, so we decided to cheer up a bit and go gorge ourselves on delicious Kurdish food and also all the candy in our personal (!) green room. Once again, blown away by how well we've been treated so far... I can't work out if we've just been really really lucky or if it's because we're foreign, but the hospitality at these European shows has been so amazing.

Also amazing was this band who played before us, who looked like they were school kids, playing some kind of radio rock thing. We were standing there watching them, and then the amazing thing happened - they sang a song in English, and then half way through they started saying over and over "the keyword is not the green, the key word is not the green, the key word is to share!!"* How great is that?? Pretty Great.

*I wasn't actually there when this happened, but Mark was so I pretty much basically totally was.

After that I decided to use up all our free food tokens at the baked good stall... and this happened:






All in all, a good weekend was had.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Paris

Don't ever try driving in Paris. I managed to almost kill a few people...

We played Paris last night. It was a long drive from Wurzburg, Germany, along this highway that has toll booths all over it. We paid SO many tolls. The show itself was so so cool though, great crowd and it all sounded great. We played at this venue called 'Regines', which is 50 years old and was originally owned by this lady who 'invented clubbing in Paris'. It was a club night sort of a thing, but it was quite different to the NZ and Australian club nights we've played. For one thing, the people there weren't all really young. We've played in Melbourne and Auckland at these indie club nights where everyone is 18. It makes for a weird vibe. But this was different, a whole bunch of grown hipsters... really friendly crowd.

We played with a British band who were really friendly too. It was a shame we didn't get to see any local Parisian bands play, but we'll be back at the end of July after Midi Festival, so we might find a few.

There was a guy there taking pictures, and it turned out he used to live in Wellington, and play in Fur Patrol. Small world! Gonna go have a coffee with him later

The guys that ran the show put us up in a hotel in the middle of Paris, but we didn't have any time to check the city out. We'd only had 4 hours sleep the night before, and drove 6 hours... I've never felt as tired as I did last night. Between soundcheck and playing the show we went back to the hotel to have a rest and watch a bit of Dexter on the laptop. We fell asleep and when we woke up we were so incredibly tired and cranky that we kept trying to think up reasons not to go play the show. It all seems a bit stupid now. Hopefully I won't fall asleep at the wheel today! Got to drive to Kassel in Germany for another show. I think we've kind of over extended ourselves in these first few days... but it's so much fun!

Even just two shows in and I'm totally blown away with the hospitality we've received. Everyone we've talked to has been helpful and friendly, and the promoters have gone so far beyond what they need to do. And the crowds at both shows have been really great.

One thing I've noticed is that at both shows people clap for a very long time. Like, we finish playing and they clap and they keep going. I wonder if this is what happens all over Europe? A different culture of clapping. It puts my golf clap to shame!

P.S. I really want to move here.

Thanks for the first four pictures, steve wells:















Thursday, June 4, 2009

It was a long long plane ride, but here we are in Europe, yay! We arrived in Germany last night, at Munich Airport and then drove W├╝rzburg. It turns out that driving on the other side of the road is actually kind of tricky, and we almost died several times... but after getting lost for about 2 hours we finally made it to this guy Frank's house, a booker who has very kindly hosted us for 2 nights.

Anyway, we're both feeling kind of ruined by flying, but it's still very exciting to be here. We played our first show of the tour a couple of hours ago, and it was a lot of fun. It's like 2am almost so this is just a mini update now, but before I fall asleep dribbling on the laptop here are a selection of key reasons this evening was good:

1) People came to the show
2) Aforementioned people seemed to enjoy the show/our performance/visceral groove of jazz that the sax injects into our set
3) We sold a bunch of merch - now we a) feel awesome like famous successful rock stars minus the fame or success or rock or stars and b) can afford to eat

and arguably the highlight of the entire trip so far: 4) we got lots of free food at the venue



This has never happened to us in New Zealand. Promoters seem kind of annoyed at us mostly, they never give us giant pretzels and candy. That wasn't even dinner, that was just the pre dinner snack. On reflection it's not actually as exciting as our (my) excited/retarded demeanour suggests, but hey, we're easy to please.

Driving to Paris tomorrow. Now we have a GPS so this time there will be no getting lost. I love you technology.