Thursday, April 24, 2008
Munich/Autobahn, Germany

The geography has gotten much more interesting. We've hit the Alps and are set to cross them today on our way into Italia. It's a drastic and arresting sight: snow topped mountains shooting up outside the van, fading into a pale blue/gray cloud cover. We certainly don't need anything to remind us how fortunate we are in being able to take this trip, but if we did this quietly awesome scenery would put us in check.

Yesterday's club was another compound of three or four different theatres, a radio station, a few bars and a skateboard ramp. Munich's version has a bit less graffiti and a more state-sanctioned patina than the Beyond Thunderdome appearance of the last few places. Unfortunately for the readers of this, we're all getting along just fine and joked around waiting to load the amplifiers in. Peter Goode, a limey Isis pal, had taken the week off from his life in London and showed up to spend the last few shows on the road with us. He drinks, laughs easily and pitches in so it took about three and a half minutes before he was fully integrated into our caravan.

The name of this quasi-socialist art compound was the Feierwerk, a name I stare at and stare at but can't figure out for the life of me could possibly mean. Even though we were playing in the largest of their theatres, it was still about 1/2 the size of the Vienna Arena. This meant the crowd would be right in front of us and there was considerably less real estate on stage. All good from our perspective. We had a loud sound check and instructed the easy going light guy to lay off the Aurora Borealis nonsense when we were playing. He happily complied and things were looking fine.

After managing a week of chaos, Jakob's hit their stride and their show has a fluid feel that's easy to watch night after night. Even so, Thad and I each felt a bit mentally disjointed as we watched them wrap up. I was worried that this would translate to a difficult performance. As I chewed on this anxiety, I could see the drum machine from where we'd left it onstage. It stared back at me, totally assured that it would do its job for the night and that any errors would be laid at the doorstep of the humans in our band. I looked away and tried to tell myself that things would be fine.

Show time. I climbed onstage and ran through my shitty German hello to the crowd and then we got to it. Quickly (but not instantly) my tension was gone and it was just Thad and I playing our music to a full room. And then, about 1/2 way through our 40 minute set, my favorite thing began to happen. I can only describe it as transcendence - I get to a point where it's no longer effort to play the music and I can use my energy to breathe within the songs. I begin to move outside of myself and any sensation beyond hearing recedes. There's a quickening moment of building tension in the last song we play and I just let myself go as it unfolded. I was completely overwhelmed - sobbing through the final sad lyric of the song before we dove headlong into the payoff. Two minutes later we finished and I was on the ground screaming through the cathartic ending. Silence for a moment, then I picked myself up and began to move our equipment off stage. This, this was the moment we had been seeking.

We've got a lucky afterglow - drink beer, meet people who want to come over to say hello and watch Isis. Thad got into an unusual conversation with a concertgoer who was quite interested in hearing about Thad's dog. I thought about joining, but figured I'd let him work his way through it. Isis loaded out and headed to their lodging; Jakob, Peter and the AP went upstairs to the bandapartment. It was much more palatable than the Arena's offering so we had no trouble settling in and unwinding. At one point, Jason (drummer: Jakob) stood up with a purposeful look and began collecting dishes. Peter and I looked at one another, shrugged and joined him. The place looked tip top shape in 20 minutes. How about that, you metal fanatics? We rip sonic terror on the outcasts of Munich and then march right upstairs and do our dishes (including the main serving dishes). I bet Slayer never did that.

Cliff informs me that Italia is fluid chaos and that I shouldn't get my hopes up about the technical situation. So we may be stuck with ancient monitors and confusion - I'm feeling okay enough after last night that hubris keeps me cool. Everyone in the van (except me, who is ignorant of such matters) is a little silly that we're less than an hour away from AutoGrill, an Italian chain food place that apparently has panini and espresso to knock your socks off.

Oh, and I should mention this before the Isis spies call me out for selective omission. Yesterday, on our way into Munich, we stopped at a rest stop to gas up and get some water. The bathroom had one of those odd condom vending machines that also dispensed a masturbation aide called "The Travel Pussy". I was intrigued and so spent the 4 euros. Out rolled a plastic Easter egg that contained something like a cheap inflatable pillow, a single serving packet of "Travel Pussy Liquid Gel" and instructions printed in four languages. In the interest of journalistic integrity I have announced a standing offer to donate the Travel Pussy to any member of our party willing to write a review of the experience. Two people have expressed interest. I'll keep you posted.

Listening to: Cliff's drugged out hippie commune record. One of them, anyway.

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