We got on the train towards Germany in the evening and had some luck with getting a sleeper cabin for just the four of us. Jeff worked on beats with his computer, John, Nate and I listened to James Brown (“Night Train,” of course), and Fred McDowall, who John hadn’t heard before. Later, Jeff played an album by the Brazilian musician, Arthur Verocai, who I hadn’t heard. Lots of idea and sound exchanges going on. Felt like I was learning a ton traveling with Jeff and John, who are familiar and part of music scenes I really don’t know anything about- lots and lots to gain from these experiences.
The next day we played at the Bunker in Bielefeld. The layout of the room is always difficult to contend with, concrete columns blocking site lines for the audience, hard surfaces everywhere- a loud and booming space. To try and compensate, the group set up as we do in rehearsal, in a circle facing each other. This actually worked well, particularly in the second set when we got a handle on controlling the volume. After that we travelled to Hasselt, Belgium to perform at the Kunstencentrum Belgie. Here we were faced with the unfortunate prospect of doing a soundcheck that was followed by another band with a different sound tech, anything we accomplished was therefore cancelled out. When we went on stage the entire PA didn’t work. This took some time to correct, then the bass drum was turned up so loudly it was pretty much all I could hear onstage. By the second half of our set things got more or less under control, but it was a difficult gig. Thankfully, we heard from reliable sources that the sound in the room was good, and people really seemed to like the concert. Brokeback also played during the evening, and I got a chance to hang out a bit with Tim Mulvenna, I saw him more in the last month (also in Paris during the work with the Exploding Star Orchestra in April) than in the previous few years. The 5th was Nate’s birthday and we celebrated with the assistance of Koen and Cristel- fifty (!!) oysters and a huge cake. Who says we don’t travel in style?
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