September 29, 2018
“Are you giving the locals a show, Ken the Zen?”
“If they’re buying, I’m selling.”
- John and Ken as Ken was stretching on the sidewalk
After a so-so night in Oederan, we bounced back hard in Gotha last night at The Londoner. With a name like that, maybe the venue felt a bit like home to us. Little things make a big difference sometimes. Like, you know, having an audience. We had one last night. Not huge, but reasonable enough, and they brought the energy we needed to the show. We brought our energy too. In the end it turned out to be a really fun night.
Doing our own sound makes a difference too. Last night we used all of our own gear and Sarah got it dialed in the way we like it. It’s the subtle stuff that can make or break it. Being able to hear on stage. Feeling like the volume is right for the audience. Sometimes as a drummer you get into situations where the drums can be just too loud if you’re not careful. You learn to play quietly or to use lighter sticks in those circumstances, but it can be a real challenge to play with passion while hardly hitting the drums. When we do our own sound we can control those things better. Sarah can set up her vocals they way she wants them. It’s generally better all around.
When it sounds good, it tends to feel good. When it feels good, you tend to have a good show.
Last night marks the return of Conny to the blog. She’s one of our German superfans, and she’s burned forever into Sarah Euro lore because it’s her standing beside Party Boy Deni as he plays in the crowd in the infamous Schorschl photo from last November. It was great to see her again, as well as Lexi and Kerstin and Isabel and Dani. We met some other new fans last night too. Our man Willi was once again the promoter. That’s two really good shows he’s set up for us. Thanks Willi!
Trying to remember yesterday.
We got up in the morning. We ate breakfast in the hotel dining room with wary east Germans eyeballing us the whole time. We drove. We stopped for coffee as we always do. We arrived in Gotha – another of those ancient little German cities with the old buildings and cobblestone streets – after a few hours on the road. This is the reality, you know. The shows are a couple of hours here and there. The true road experience is all of that time eating … somewhere. Driving ... somewhere. Arriving ... somewhere. You get hired to play those two hours, but you get paid for all of that other time you spend driving, waiting, driving, waiting, eating, waiting, driving, waiting.
It’s really fun for those of us who love it.
After we got to our hotel, Deni, Ken, and I went off in search of a café. There was a market set up in the cobblestone part of town, so we looked at things and tried to blend in (we never blend in, by the way). At last we found a café and Germanglished our way to some coffee. It was really interesting to see a café nearly full of people chatting and sipping coffee at 4:00 on a Friday afternoon. It felt so classy and so European. They do some things differently over here that I think we should adopt in Canada. Afternoon coffee around the town square is one of them.
The architecture is just so interesting in these towns. I keep coming back to describing them as movie sets. And yet they’re hundreds – maybe thousands – of years old. I can’t help walking those streets and imagining them in other eras. Other centuries. All the way back to the beginning. That 800-year-old building on the corner. That church. They didn’t always exist. At a certain point someone was building those things, maybe on the same kind of sunny day we were experiencing. I try to picture it. I try to see the people. Time breaks my brain.
Later we got dressed and headed to the club. It was a really neat room. High ceilings. Pretty big stage. They made us chicken and the most fabulous fries for dinner. It was so good. We did a soundcheck and then greeted people as they began to arrive. Deni opened the show with a terrific five-song set that the audience really liked. Most of you will know Deni’s stuff by now, but if you don’t, it’s time to get on the train. If you’re into hooks and melodies and emotions and depth – think Paul Simon, Iron & Wine – Deni’s your guy.
When Deni was done, we got up and did our thing. We played well. Willi came up to jam some Beatles and Elvis with us too. During the first set break, a young boy sheepishly approached Sarah with a guitar and asked her to sign it. His name is Tom Nero and it’s pretty apparent that he loves music. Sarah was so good with him. He left the gig with signatures from all of us, plus a drum stick, a guitar pick, and, I hope, some encouragement to follow whatever passions he has. I feel sometimes like we have a responsibility to do that for people. I’m certainly nobody’s hero and no celebrity, but if you ever talk to me at a show, I want the conversation to leave you feeling good.
There were no after-parties last night. It was a late one by our standards, so we pretty much just packed up, stopped to find some food, and returned to the hotel. I went to bed at around 3:00 a.m. That’s the way of it on the road. The nights can be late. The mornings can come early. You deal with it.
Right now I’m sitting in my room in a B&B in Schmölln, Germany. I’m watching a German women’s league football match (Turbine Potsdam leads FFC Frankfurt 2-0 at half) and typing up this post. There’s no wi-fi here, so I don’t know when I’ll be able to post it. Again, that’s the way of it on the road. Maybe at the venue tonight.
And what can I tell you today, Sister Amy? I’m looking out my window. There is a busy street below me. A sidewalk of worn grey bricks. Across the street there is a parking lot and a long white building with a triangular orange tile roof. There are rows of similar roofs behind it, and they pull your eye to such pretty sights in the distance. Full, green trees. A tall church steeple. Houses brown and white and yellow sitting peacefully on a hill. There are more trees against the horizon. A blue sky. Puffy white clouds like you see in the intro to The Simpsons. To the left a green field stretches far, far away. It's idyllic, really.
Or at least it was until a car rolled past blaring European techno music loud enough shake the walls around me.
And I sigh.
We were perfect for just one moment.
*Photos by Alexandra Liebert