Photo by Jeff Boyle

Friday, April 18, 2008
Autobahn, Germany

We're up early today, on this German road of trucks and fast Audis. Isis has to be at the festival they're playing bright and early, so Thad and I were up at 7:30 to meet the vans. And now we're just rolling along. The sun occasionally makes an appearance from behind the clouds as the giant, cartoonish windmills dutifully keep churning.

Thad? Oh, yeah, he's here. Isis and I got to the club yesterday at about 4:30. I was starting to get a little nervous - Thad's flight was due in at 1:30 and he'd informed me more than once that he was going to call Joris (the tour manager) as soon as he got off the plane. But we hadn't heard a peep and there were some jokes from Isis about my pending solo set. So we hopped out of the vans, opened up the front door to Der Forum and out strolls Thad Calapootie, in the flesh. All had gone as planned with his travels, including the added bonus of catching a 45 minute ride from a pastor on his way from the airport to the club. How about that? Christian charity, friends. For those Satanists reading this, what would Anton LaVey have to say about that? Yeah, that's right: nothin'.

We got settled at the Forum - a more club-like joint than the previous night's affair. The bands do a sound check in reverse order of playing, so since Isis was first Thad and I had some sangwiches up in the backstage area while catching up. When we did eventually do our check, I plugged in my rented amp for the first time and started to monkey with it. Everything sounded different than it does at home, but what are you going to do? Complain?

You're damn right I am. Here I was stuck in Europe, being forced to play music and completely unable to find a reliable source of prepared horseradish for all the free food I was getting. On top of all these terrors, I was renting equipment that didn't sound precisely like the odd stuff I've got at my house. This seriously affected my mojo. I'll write it again so that all may know: my mojo was officially affected.

After eating another meal (delicious hot curried stuff with pasta), Thad and I decided to see a bit of Leipzig. Sadly, our walk was less about ancient German architecture and a lot more about pedestrian malls. We gave up and got back to the club just as the crowd began to trickle in. Jakob played (still without their own guitars, the poor bastards) and then it was our turn.

The stage was hot as hell because the graying lighting guy took his job way too seriously. As I was plugging my guitar in, one of the nice boys helping to get the stage set up brought a 3 foot tall goat head and put it next to Thad. We'd requested a flaming goat head as part of our tech rider; the sound man's actually providing something one-upped our little joke and gave me a good laugh.

Oh, and speaking of one-upping a joke: just prior to playing, I'd asked Joris to help me translate a brief hello to the crowd. While I was fully aware of the comedy of my struggling to pronounce a language I did not understand, I was unaware of Joris's own prank. So, under these 80,000 watts of amber lighting with a paper maiche goat head stage left, I did not wrap up our spoken intro by explaining to the crowd "sorry I do not speak German." As per Joris, I instead instructed to the crowd of hundred to "lik mich mein arsch" - lick my ass. And I was wondering why they all thought it was so funny that I didn't understand their language. Know this: I will exact my revenge on his Belgian hide and you will read all about it.

And so we did what we came thousands of miles to do. This, being the first show, felt rusty. For me, the difference between an okay show and a good one is a sense of momentum. I'm with the song as it's moving forward, changes coming easily, comfortably able to feel my way through the things I'm doing like singing and hitting the right notes. Tough nights, like last night, feel more like a struggle that's punctuated by acute moments: a missed transition or losing the tempo of the song. Sure, this is compounded by the unfamiliar equipment. But I am bothered when it doesn't happen the way that I like - almost all of the people in that room will never see us again and I'd rather have left them with a better understanding of what we're trying to do.

An incident back at the merchandise table gives a good sense of how the crowd received us: I was engaged in a conversation with a very excited fella who'd bought a CD from us. As he excitedly plowed through his broken English (obviously better than my German) to tell us how much he liked us, his friend came up to see what was up. This friend then picked up the just bought CD and the look of lazy interest on his face instantly changed to surprised disgust when he read our name. He gave my fella a look of horror and then asked him something pointed. I don't know much German but I'm pretty sure the word arsch was in there somewhere. Well, they either love us or hate us.

Later, it was back to the bandapartment with Jakob where we drank less than the night before and bullshitted for a while before hitting the sack. Today Thad and I break with the team, skipping Isis's festival and going to Amsterdam for a laugh or two. The plan is that we'll stay the night and through most of the next day before meeting back up with everyone else for a show on Sunday. At that show, we should have the 7" records being shipped to us, Jakob should have their guitars and we'll be in better shape to play well. That's a lotta shoulds; we'll see how much of all that comes true.

Listening to
Electric Wizard - Witchcult Today

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