Tag Archives: europe

Euro Tour: Day 1, Zagreb

15 Jun

After a shower at the hostel, we walked down the street to find coffee. We found a bakery on the corner with a pretty Croatian girl behind the counter who seemed very amused at our pointing and six-word vocabulary. We walked back to the hostel with our small coffees and large pastries and hung out on the patio until Josip collected us around noon. We went to a music store (a brand-new Peavey/Paul-Reed-Smith-type store staffed with metal heads, the kind you can find in any mall in America) to exchange so Josip could exchange some cables. We had lunch at a sort of swanky hipsterish restaurant that served really good Croatian food. The boys ate various kinds of fried meat.

After lunch, Josip dropped us at their practice place so we could get a feel for their gear and run through a few songs. By the time we got things sounded pretty good, Damir (Joe 4 drummer) showed up. After a couple of more songs, Josip returned with bassist Sasha. We hung out and watched them run through a few songs and then we loaded up and went to the club. Tvorinica Kulture was a brand-new club with a brand new sound system and some kind of stand-offish bar and sound staff. The promoter Nenad was super cool though. We sound checked and then hung out on the sidewalk patio out in front of the club.

The night’s technical difficulties began with the first band’s first song. Nikki Louder’s bassist broke a string right out of the gate and Bill came to his rescue. The rest of their set was great though — a frantic Sonic Youth inspired ball of noise that we all quite liked. They were from Slovenia and we’ll see them again in a few days when we play there. Joe 4 was up next and despite a fried bass amp and several broken strings, they were great. We are lucky to be playing the entire tour with them and having the privilege of  seeing them every night. We had to use the club’s bass amp  since ours died, so Bill had to figure out his sound in approximately 60 seconds. I broke a string during the second song and the sound that had seemed so great at sound check now seemed sort of thin and oddly disjointed. We played fairly well but it was a bit weird. We sold one LP and three CDs, which, according to merch guy, Bruno, was “quite an accomplishment in Croatia.” After the show we stayed at an apartment owned by the club for housing tour bands. A bit spartan, but more than adequate. We are definitely not used to people taking care of us here.

 

Euro Tour: Travel Day

14 Jun

The flight from O’Hare to Toronto was uneventful except for the fact that, this being his first time flying, Jason was beside himself with glee and acting like a kid about to ride a roller coaster. Our flight from Toronto was delayed three hours until 11:30 — half an hour before Air Canada employees were set to go on strike. We snuck in under the wire and spent a restless night over the Atlantic. Before trying to get some sleep we each occupied ourselves with the seat-back in-flight entertainment gadget. Jason watched “How To Train Your Dragon,” Bill watched “I Am Number Four,” and, seeing how it was an Air CANADA flight after all, I watched a Rush rockumentary.

We arrived in Paris to find the case containing all our LPs smashed and barely holding together. Fortunately the vinyl was OK so we borrowed half a roll of packing tape and soldiered on. We had heard that there was an Air France strike as well and were concerned about our flight to Zagreb, but it turns out the strike was only “how do you say in english…? the people on the ground by the airplanes.” Apparently the staff involved in the actual safety of the airplanes did not affect our flight so we checked in, flew through security and waited for the final leg of the trip.

After napping on the terminal floor for a couple of hours (Charles deGaulle is not nearly as dirty and disgusting as we were led to believe) we boarded our flight. Actually, we walked down a long hallway, then a stairway, and then outside where we were herded into waiting bus. After a really long, circuitous route that involved tunnels and construction sites, we were deposited in front of a waiting Air France plane. It was so old that it had ashtrays in the arm rests. It was smooth flight nonetheless and we touched down at 9:15.

We had a bit of a scare getting through customs. They asked if we had anything to declare and we said no. Then then agent pointed at our guitar cases and asked what they were. When we answered guitars, he asked where we were playing a concert. We said, “no, no, just vacation.” When asked what we were doing here, we just said that we were visiting friends in Zagreb and they were picking us up. He slapped my brand new flight case and asked, “new guitar or old guitar?” “Old guitar,” I answered. “Do you have papers for this guitar?” He stared unblinkingly when I said no. Finally his scowl turned to a look of exasperated annoyance and he jerked is head in the direction of the exit and said “OK.” And we were through.

Lu from Joe 4 was there to meet us. After driving around the city looking for our hostel we pulled up in the alley and were promptly yelled at out the window by two different neighbors. We did recognize several of the curse words Lu had taught us in the car ride. After 30+ hours of traveling we crashed.