Monday, June 17, 2019
Hello from the gently curving highways of the rural Czech Republic. I'm coming at you live from the mid-center seat of our tour van, trundling through the highways of central Europe. It is green outside.
Played a show last night. This went better than I had any right to expect but it was not perfect. Note this: Thad and I are used to being ushered on and off stage very quickly. We resign ourselves to the expectation that we will just have to deal with whatever the half-drunk, half-indifferent house sound person decides to submit us to. On these shows, however, we are given an hour to set up our gear, make sure everything is working okay, and then check the sound levels from the performer's perspective. Great except that we actually aren't very good at doing this task. We're just used to telling Rocco-who-used-to-be-in-a-punk-band-too "yes, fine, whatever, we'll turn down" three minutes before we get started. Instead, we're presented with "do you want to get more treble in monitor-left for the bass guitar player?" I'm not sure, do we?
So everything sounds like ice cream and cookies while we're doing this sound check, but then when we're actually playing we're like - "oh wait, I was wrong, I actually can't hear any of the [insert musical element here, usually drums] and I'm getting way too much [insert other thing here]." But at that point the train has left the station. So you deal.
Wasn't really a problem last night for the guitarist/vocalist of our band. I made one super dumb tech error that I won't admit to here* that had me a little puzzled and semi-struggling to play through. But, for the most part, I could see and hear what I needed to and could melt over to the Other Side, inhabiting the songs and funneling our idea to the pretty receptive group of Czech-izans standing in front of us.
Thad was less-steady out the box, which wasn't really a problem for how we sounded but did have me a little sad that he wasn't having as good a time. Eh, whatever. After the set he gave me a sleepy smile and said he enjoyed it so I'm not going to worry on his behalf. Vive tu vida, no la del bassist.
A half-dozen or so folks in the audience approached me at different times afterwards with a similar reaction - "I had no idea who you were; that was quite good; when are you coming back?" One of the show's promoters insisted that I get his email for the next time we want to play Prague and headline. "And, yah, if you also want I can sometimes help book shows for east Europe shows like for tour, yah?" So you spend about 90 seconds telling yourself "shit yeah, this was awesome and now I've got this guy who's gonna hook us up in like St. Petersburg and stuff, I can get 3 weeks off next year no problem". It's a nice little story to tell yourself for a minute or two.
Favorite compliment from the night - "you guys present in an abstract brutality, very good." Abstract brutality; Prague gets it.
Still haven't mastered the sleeping thing yet over here but either I will get that sorted or it will sort me. 7:30 AM meet-up with the Sumac squad and we all piled into The Van.
Another quick reference guide -
We are riding together in a Sprinter van - those things that look like regular big vans that haven another 1/3 van stacked on top of them. The back of the van has a sleeping loft (no seatbelts); our personal stuff is stowed beneath that. Attached is our gear trailer that schleps all of our music gear and shirts and show stuff.
Tomas does all the driving and I suspect that Hein, sound-dude for Sumac, will be riding shotgun for the duration because that's obviously a pretty choice spot. I'm currently smashed in the middle of the mid-bench between Aaron (watching some USA network TV show on his laptop) and Thad (a-snoozin'). Nick is idly enraptured in his phone screen and Daniel is also asleep. Brian rounds out the team stashed up in the loft; he has done more touring in the past few years than the rest of us and so I will be paying close attention to him on How One Should Comport Oneself in a Not Stupid Manner while On Tour (HOSCO-NSMOT).
Just scootin' along to Budapest for now. Daniel hit a mini-fugue of weird one-man monologue about 30 minutes into the drive that was pretty good. At one point -
Daniel - "Yeah, I used to work in a zoo. Okay, I mean I actually volunteered there when I was 11. I got to shovel the elephant poop which did you know they just put right into a can and sell for fertilizer, no changing it at all. And elephants having sex looks really gnarly, it's just crazy, you know what I'm saying?"
Nick (a little astonished and trying to follow along) - "No."
* I had my guitar pickup turned down to nearly off. Error.
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