Thursday, February 19, 2009

EUROTRIP 1

Greetings from our first ever European tour. France now. Over a plastic cup of vin rouge at the dinner, Ian G reminded us of a time in North Carolina when a man, who was on his way out of the show, said that he can shotgun a bottle of wine by sticking a straw up his nose. And the French say we’re the philistines. Tonight’s show is part of the GENERIQ FESTIVAL here, along with Deerhunter, The Walkmen, and Au Revoir Simone, though they’re all playing somewhere else, and on a different day. Regardless, the festival goes on in this club not a week before the FUCK GOD FESTIVAL swings through. I can’t help but feel we’ve come to Montbeliard at the wrong time.

We just finished a meal of scalloped potatoes, baguette and wine. None of us had the pleasure of trying the sausage that is peculiar to this part of France (as far as I could tell from what some French folx said), but it looks and apparently tastes just like kielbasa. So says Eric. The meal was set out on a long table in the middle of the club, and we ate with the sound crew and the folks from the other bands that will play tonight. We all want to practice our French, they want to practice their English, but it’s hard to get more than a sentence deep before we must resort to English to explain. Sometimes they appreciate our efforts, which is nice, and then sometimes they don’t. We are often so cursory as to be insulting. Are hand motions too much? In that vein, Patrick has been wearing a huge winter coat that he got from Mike Simonetti, who put out our second seven-inch and first full-length on Troubleman in NJ. The young homme who plays in a band called the The Electrix, who will play tonight, mentioned in conversation that his band is a three-piece, to which Patrick replied, “Like Nirvana!” as he produced a cassette single of “Smells Like Teen Spirit” from one of his many deep pockets.

Getting into France was easy, in stark contrast to our last international tour. Upon flying the UK way back in late 2008, we had been denied entry because we hadn’t figured out working papers. Our friend and kind-of boss Chris, who works at Merok records in the UK, picked us up at the airport yesterday afternoon. He has foolishly agreed to come with us for most of the tour and as such has become a de facto chauffer. Chris will be with us until our show at the Paradiso in Amsterdam two weeks from now. Then we’re left to fend for ourselves (we’ve only ever driven automatic) in countries whose signs we cannot read. Adventure, indeed. Tonight he drove us into Paris, parking hell incarnate, and we played at a club called La Fleche D’Or. One band was very remarkable, called I Arkle. Slow grooves! Brushes and mallets!

French trends, as far as I can tell after two shows, are as follows:
1.All sound checking takes place in the early afternoon.
2. At sound check, the French sound guy begs us to turn down our guitar amps. We do this for sound check, but turn them back up when we do get on stage. (Tonight the sound guy stepped out from behind the board and pleaded, “It is impossible to sound good in this way.” Maybe he is right.)
3. People who are in bands dress like they are in bands.
4. Every other song that every band plays has a dance punk beat, which is fine. Interesting, though.
5. Folks carry baguettes.

The Electrix just started playing and I must watch. Their drummer has a broken arm and has rigged up a bass drum pedal with a proper drumstick so that he can play a vertical snare. He is quite good. They are covering “Come Together” in a way that I can imagine Crucial Taunt from Wayne’s World covering that song. Blast off!