Due to the realisation of a counting error, THIS is week fifty. I’ll get to fixing the rest in due time.
WARNING: This is the grimmest, sickest thing i’ve written this year. You may not want to read it.
This one was fun.
Well, here we are, back at it again:
Jönköping is officially the most boring town in Europe. The world’s biggest LAN party happens there every year. That tells you everything you need to know…
…but here’s a few other tid-bits: There is a match museum and a radio museum; the only ones of their kind in the world, unsurprisingly. They both close at three, half an hour after sunset in this God-forsaken shithole. The most exciting thing to happen was Silas and I opening a couple of Kinder Suprises in front of Melby. I don’t look back as the bus pulls away.
We wake in Stockholm, a beautiful multi leveled city spread across a 14 islands. The venue is lovely too, an old jazz hall founded in the nineteenth century. I note on Facebook that the security door coding makes me feel like i’m in Moonraker. I also take a walk down to the building where Strockholm Syndrome was coined, bcause i’m like that.
For the first time, we start getting props for our videos from fans. The ask what we’re doing on the tour and when we say we’re doing the updates, they get all excited and tell us how great they are.
Unfortunately, my high energy barely takes me into Oslo, where the venue is situated in some crappy condo village on the outskirts of town. The schedule is such that if we’re going to see a city, it’s only if the venue is in the center of town, and we can walk to things. Luckily for us, that has been the case most times, but not today. Even locals ask me where the venue is. I also find it hard to concentrate on the performance that night because there’s a wanker shouting at the artists and purposefully getting in front of the camera. Wankers are the same everywhere, i suppose.
On the last day, we roll into Copenhagen. I don’t have time to walk far due to issues with our video, but i have to say, by this point, i’m so tired i don’t care. The show picks me up, as it’s the last night, and the energy is contagious, but i’m ready to go home.
Too bad, so sad. With fog surrounding Amsterdam, the well-oiled machine known as a tour has come to a halt. As last minute additions, The One Light Collective and Siddiq, one of the owners of Rhymesayers, are stuck in Copenhagen. It took a flight to Chicago, a hotel stay and baggage rearranging to get home within two days.
Overall, it hasn’t hit me yet, but it will.
We head north into Sweden. It’s noon and the sun will set in an hour or so. It might be the most north i’ve ever been in my life. Including Costa Rica, i’ve expanded my latitudinal margins quite a bit this year.
Berlin was one of the most interesting places i’ve ever been. We have two days there, the first day coming in and the guys doing an in-store at the Carhartt in East Berlin. You can tell where you are by the buildings; wide, grey, utilitarian type things. I still call it East Berlin, because Berliners call it East Berlin. Everyone has a story about how old they were when the wall fell.
“I am from the east and was 15 when we could cross over.”
“My mother carried me across Checkpoint Charlie in her arms.”
Not that it actually matters to them, but they remember. Not unlike the Irish border, the wall did it’s work. I get a moment at Carhartt to just sit and talk to someone; time i have not had. The girl tells me she’s proud to be German, but people feel they cannot say that because of their history, they want to move on. This seems to pervade the culture. People really seem to be having fun. Indeed, the show that night is the most high energy yet, and the artists are pumped afterward.
Thankfully, i get to go with the artists and see the wall, Checkpoint Charlie and Potsdammer Platz. To have read all about it, to even write a script about it, imagining places and people i’ve never seen, and then actually see them? Amazing.
I wake up in Hamburg with a carnival on one side and a former WW2 above ground bunker on the other. I’m surrounded by first-person shooter levels. The bunker is fascinating: Two meter thick walls, old anti-aircraft emplacements on the roof, and inside, schools, shops and the nightclub we’re playing in. The name in English? “Mean and Dangerous”.
Again, the crowd is electric and the artists have a great night. I definitely have my favorite songs now, but i could probably listen to Blueprint’s stuff all day.
Tomorrow we go to Jönköping, Sweden, for a day off. It is the birthplace of Agnetha Fältskog, lead singer of Abba. I hope it has something more interesting to offer.
I’m in a high rise hotel in the center of Germany’s capital, uploading our latest video, as Melby and Silas film the artists doing an in-store performance at the local Carhart, our sponsors.
Brussels was a beautiful city and both Grand Plas and Mannekin Pis were within walking distance. In contrast to the grimy venues with fast food and box showers, Ancienne Belgique was a bright white affair, with colored lines showing where dressing rooms were, buffet meals and hotel like facilities. As buy the book as this was, so were the crowd. Nice…. and nice.
We edit without difficulty and go to sleep. I wake up beside Lake Zurich, in Switzerland. I feel a little bad that nothing appears to be near, but soon forget about it, as the lake is so damn beautiful, and the little area where Rote Fabrik is situated, is a cool, artsy, graffitied corner of Zurich. When i mention it to the guys in Fribourg, they are so happy we got to experience it.
Here, they speak Swiss-German, and i notice my language skills are running out. Not that i really have any, but you’d be amazed what information and help you can get from being able to say Sir/Madam, sorry, do you speak, thank you, please, i do not speak, where is, what is, or some other basic in the right accent with a humble expression. I know more French than German, and i certainly don’t know Swiss-German. My personal adventures aside, the show is pounding, and the Swiss love Rhymesayers.
As we embark for Fribourg, i note that us video guys are getting to know the artists better. We talk to each other by name, and into long hours of the night, about all sorts. The guitarist and keyboardist of Atmosphere claim they are going to get us “fucked up” soon.,
Firbourg is very beautiful also, and they speak Swiss-French here, much closer to actual French than Swiss-German is to German. Still, it’s Sunday, additionally some sort of holiday, and Melby and i find very little going on in town as we get B-roll. Here is the first show that has not sold-out, and you can tell, the energy is low, and it might be a good thing we have a day off in Berlin.
I’m sitting on a tour bus.
I’m sitting on a tour bus, at the back.
I’m sitting on a tour bus, at the back, worried about our video.
Our hard drive is refusing to mount. Read as: it’s fucked up.
There are two days of footage on it. Read as: we are royally fucked up.
Tomorrow, I have to go into gay Paree, where I don’t speak the language, and find Le Geek Squad, and somehow get our drive fixed.
Amsterdam was a blur. I went from the tour bus, fifty feet to the venue, Melkweg, and back again, over the course of ten hours. I saw some canals form the bus, but that’s about it. The nice part is that, unlike London, i’m ahead of the game in editing and downloading cards, which maybe means some sleep tonight. Unfortunately, the shitty power connectors on the bus continue to turn our hard drive off, and it eventually throws the head up.
Melby and Silas are knackered, so they go to bed and i re-download everything we might have on the cards, and set them up with an update edit, before getting two hours of sleep. We load our gear into the Moulin Rouge and i get directions to a “micro” street where, apparently, Chinese people sell hard drives. We’ve decided to buy a new one and get our old one fixed upon our return.
I take the metro to Nation and follow a shitty map to the street where, indeed, there are numerous stores staffed by Chinese people selling hard drives. Some shortage in Asia has made finding anything other than shitty, small USB drives an impossibility, so i finally settle on something with a bloke that speaks little english and pull out the One Light card.
“Ah, non. It is impossy-beel, Monsieur!”
European credit cards have a chip in them. American ones do not.
“Bureau de change, mon ami?”
I ask around and find out there is one at the nearby station, Gare de Lyon. Twenty minutes later i’m asking around for the bureau. Like the rest of my trip, I am mostly met with a shrug, or a “Un petit peu”, but this one dude shakes his head in disgust. I’m starting to wonder does “Parlez-vous anglais?” mean “May i sleep with your mother?”, but those that want to help do so with much graciousness.
I happen to have my per diem on me in dollars, so i change every single bit, even the sterling i have, and have just enough euro to buy the hard drives. A walk, a wrong train, then the right train later, i’m back in the Red Windmill and ready to go. That night, i’m starting to get a feel for the gig. I find i’m mouthing and moving to “Sunshine” in front of my computer, without realising it. The venue is this amazing multi level affair, and the energy is contagious.I throw together most of the edit before the show is over, and manage to get almost eight hours sleep.