Photo by Mike Gallagher

Sunday, April 27, 2008
Lyon, France

Springtime in Lyon, France. At the moment, I'm sitting on a curb outside of last night's hotel, waiting for the twin green elephantvans to roll up and claim me as theirs. It's a breezy, sunny morning and I've settled about 20 feel from a stone wall intertwined with lilac bushes. This is pleasant - some birds are twittering away as they build their nests and the gentle scent of the flowers makes this place seem pastoral. Although there are a bunch of jet trails in the sky and (conspiratorial pause) YOU KNOW WHAT THAT MEANS.

More pretty scenery along the way yesterday, although not quite as stunning as the ride into Switzerland. We cruised through the border with no problems/taxes and got to the club an hour or so late - pretty good for us. L'Epicerie Moderne is an arts center outside the main area of Lyon. Its stage seems more suited to elaborate productions of Macbeth than high decibel post-metal, but I couldn't complain. Here's why - they were a bit confused about our rider and so had provided TWO pristine Ampeg SVT amp heads along with a bunch of other stuff we didn't need. Thad's rented bass amp was officially kaput, but although our sturdy Toyota was in the shop the club was giving us a Ferrari as a loaner. Jesus does that thing ever sound nice. I do not want to want it as it is as heavy as a loaded Maytag washing machine but the genie is out of the bottle. Confident that at least the bass would sound good, we sound checked and putzed around the compound before eating a great dinner.

Before long, the most important 40 minutes of the day were upon us. Neither Thad nor I felt at ease during our set. The stage was wide enough to host a small sized auto show - though it sounded very good, I'll take some tech glitches for a little more physical intensity. Also evident was the 40% AP to Isis conversion: 2 out of ever 5 Isis fans really like us. The other 3 either patiently wait to see them or, in the case of last night's venue, go outside to smoke. (Aaron T's (Isis: guitar/vox) take on it: "Screw it. I'd rather have less people paying more attention than the other way around." Sage advice.) I was aware of what we were doing in a kind of detached way - not a sign of a good visceral performace. We're better through a kinda off night now than we were on a good night a year ago so I'm not too chewed up about it. Cliff (Isis: keyboard/vox/guitar) came up on stage for drone at the end of Song 22 again and I went to the dark place. Still, a few French nuts loved it and that was good.

I headed back to the merch table for part of the Isis set. Those of us not performing were enjoying wine and cheese (ah, France!) and appreciating Limey Pete's uncanny ability to sketch particular parts of the human anatomy with nothing more than paper, a thick black marker and half a bottle of Bordeaux. Immediately after the Isis set I pestered the sound guys for recordings they'd each made of the show and will only charge Isis and Jakob a slight premium before I give them copies. Somewhere in the mix of packing up the van and checking our gear, Thad and I missed communicating that he was supposed to ride with Jakob and I back to the (different) hotel. There was a moment when I was leaving the venue in the Jakob van with Thad MIA and I felt like the worst bandmate in the world. But our assumptions about his whereabouts were confirmed over the phone with Joris; Thad was riding with Isis and would find space on someone's couch of floor.

So we got to our hotel and I was quickly faced with a difficult dilemma. We were 6 of us (sans Thad) with 3 twin rooms reserved between us. That's 3 Jakobs, Lou, myself and Jessie, a female friend of Jakob who'd joined the party yesterday in Zurich. Folks were pairing off pretty quickly and I was down to either Jessie or Maury (Jakob: bass) as my roommate for the evenings. At the risk of seeming like I was coming on to her, I turned to Jessie and said "you're in my room". I had no designs on her, it's just that ... well it didn't make a difference as she quickly declined my offer when we got to the third floor and hopped into a spare slot in one of the Jakob rooms. Shit.

Two minutes later I was in room 36 when Maury came crashing in. "Awright mate, I should warn you that I'm a really loud snorer." I know, Maury. "Feck, I gotta light a fecking cigarette." I had given myself the worst of both worlds - probably skeeved out a member of our group while still ending up in a small room with man who's slumber mimics a poorly lubricated chainsaw.

(In all fairness, thing were fine. Maury encouraged me to listen to some music he'd been cooking up on the side before he hopped off to drink with the fellas. I really liked what he showed me, listening to it twice through as I watched the absolute smut that is available to all for free on French television. You can sit there and watch it closely for 5 or maybe 45 minutes straight and it's just non-stop pornography. Disgusting. And the reception is terrible.)

My dreams bode ill for the show ahead. I dreamt that Thad and I were scheduled to play at CBGB's but that the club had neglected to advertise it at all. I tried to complain to the manager about it but he shrugged it off, saying that his computer skills were weak (?). To top it off, we had been taking some kind of "how to be in a band" class at the Learning Annex or something and the only other guy in the class had shown up with his 6 Alembic basses and was smugly waiting in the backstage area for us to set the amps up so he could play too. It was obviously a terrifying nightmare.

Last round tonight, friends. Last round.

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