Tony MacAlpine European Tour Part 18: Hosed Again

March 18-21, 2012 Vigo, Spain Spanish countryside Paris, France We rolled into Vigo (a beautiful city, like San Francisco) and had to do this song-and-dance at a parking facility 5-10 minutes from the gig. They brought a couple vehicles and we did the infernal cross-load – 4 trips altogether. We later discovered this was not necessary. Naturally. Pretty much the same Spanish routine: ham sandwiches, intense boredom. Once we went on, we played well, but the crowd was stony-faced at best. Very odd, as nowhere else on the tour did we get this reaction. Oh well, you can’t win them all. Tony and band played well, but it took Tony three or four to find the groove. Then it locked in. Load-out was not too bad, we had a lot of help. I’d gotten some bad news that day, so we stayed up and squeezed our livers heavily. We went to bed around 4. I woke up at 11:30 and the bus was parked. I soon learned that one of the trailer wheels had fused it’s bearings. We weren’t going anywhere. We were about halfway from Vigo to San Sebastian, about 6 hours away. Tony’s girl Begonia helped translate with the locals and after WAY too much deliberation, opted to rent a van. The nearest rental location was 100 km away back towards Vigo. We unhooked the bus, and Doug, Mike and I stayed with the gear (for 4 hours) at this gas station on a windswept hill in the Spanish countryside. It was cold, but pretty. We were mostly pissed. In the end, we missed the show (which...

Tony MacAlpine European Tour Part 17: Becalmed In Spain

March 15-17, 2012 Madrid, Murcia, and Seville, Spain After Barcelona we made our way to Madrid. The promoter for Spanish run, while doing an OK job of promoting, is not so great on the details of our day-to-day existence. The club owner didn’t block out the parking, so we had to back down the street, drop the trailer, and then park a half-mile away. We spent the rest of the day on the bus, as there was nothing nearby. Once in the club, things went pretty much as usual: we set up quick, and then sit around and wait on the tour manager/FOH guy to get around to soundcheck. To be fair, the PAs in these Spanish clubs are a little janky, and the language barrier slows things considerably. If we didn’t have a couple of Spanish speakers on the bus, we’d have a big problem. I got a shower, and settled down to wait. Seems like these last three clubs have all had upstairs dressing rooms. The shows went well: AC kicked ass, and is getting steadily tighter and more consistent. Tony’s band is playing well, but some numbers they seemed to struggle through, while others just rage. Their set is 100 min while ours is only 35, so I imagine that, and the level of difficulty has to play a part. After the show it was the usual quick breakdown and on the bus. The after show hang was long, with me and Sean finally giving up near dawn. The next stop was Murcia. We were parked in the front yard of the club, and across the...

Tony MacAlpine European Tour Part 16: The Back Nine

March 13-14, 2012 Barcelona, Spain After the show in Switzerland, the plan was for the drivers to take a break there, but they opted to shove off for Barcelona and take their break there. We arrived in Barcelona in the early afternoon on the next day. The weather was fantastic and parts of the city are jaw-droppingly beautiful. We ended up parking in a tourist parking lot very close to the palace with a nice view of its own and a great breeze. We opened up the doors on the bus and just chilled. Tony and band took off to see the city, and Doug went with them. The rest of us sat around yukking it up, determined not to rush into anything, but rather just see how the day unfolded. We must have sat there telling jokes to each other and laughing ourselves hoarse for three hours or more, when Doug strolls back up. He said they wandered for a bit, taking in the sights, but they wanted to get on the subway and he’d rather come back and get a jacket. So we all decided it was time to forage a little. By the time we got seated at this little tapas place it was about 8 pm. After spending some time figuring out the menu, we all ordered and got to feasting, and boy, did we ever luck out with this little place. This was some of the best food I’d ever had, and when the first course came, silence descended upon the table. We spent a couple hours at least, and then made our way...

Tony MacAlpine European Tour Part 15: The Neutral Zone

March 12, 2012 Pratteln, Switzerland After a fairly short drive, we woke up in Switzerland parked next to a big venue called Z7. This is the big sister venue to the one we played, Galery Z7. Here we stayed till 1 pm, so we went in to use the bathroom and then Tony, Mike and I went exploring. We wandered into a Swiss Costco and were promptly redirected to the local IKEA, which suited us fine. We had a delicious lunch and got back into the bus, which then rolled to the venue. Galery is on the top level of a shopping complex, with a Home Depot situation on the bottom, discount clothing and some other stuff. We put the gear on a lift and went up to the venue, which shared a foyer with a Swiss PetCo and a Swiss BestBuy. We started rolling in gear and were immediately berated by the club manager, that the food was getting cold and we must eat NOW. We tried to reason with her, but it wasn’t happening so we gave up and ate. The food and hospitality here were good, but they didn’t wash the plates all that well. No restaurant in the US would serve food on those plates. As we were setting up, we learned that we couldn’t soundcheck until after the aforementioned BestBuy and PetCo closed, which was 7 pm. Doors for the show were supposed to be 7 pm. We all just shrugged. After we set up, everybody just chilled for like 4 hours. I took a nap. Dinner was at 6 pm, and then I...

Tony MacAlpine European Tour Part 14: The Italian Job

March 11, 2012 Mezzago, Italy We rolled into the little hamlet of Mezzago, about 45 km outside Milan, with a couple hours to spare. Rested from our long boat ride, we were greeted with a sunny day, pretty and friendly people, and an easy, flat load-in with plenty of help. While we were setting up, we had access to unlimited proper Italian espresso, sandwiches, and the works. They had a great Belgian beer on tap that I loved. So far, so good. Mezzago is a pretty little town of about 35,000. Bloom is a venue that seems to be part of a community centre. There’s an old movie theater and dance studio on top (where our dressing rooms were) and a little bookstore with cool Italian hipster-liberal selections and vegan snacks in the front downstairs corner of the venue. The vibe was great. Next door was some kind of gathering of senior citizens, lots of older folks standing around jawing it up and going in and out. After we got set, Aquiles and I spent some time repairing the hi-hat again, and then we had plenty of time to kill, as we had a late start to the show. I took a nap, then hung around in the sun chatting with Mike and Eric over espresso. Not bad. We all did a quick soundcheck and made way for the local band that was also on the bill. While they soundchecked, we tasted some of the brews they had on tap, and Tony’s and band played foosball loudly. I declined, as competing with Tony in any contest that involves hand-eye...

Tony MacAlpine European Tour Part 13: Keep It Greece-y

March 9-11, 2012 Athens, Greece Adriatic Sea Venice, Italy We arrived in Athens with plenty of time to spare. After getting the last few blog entries together over coffee, we loaded into Kytarro Live with the help of the promoter and their stage crew, who were great guys. Not the worst load-in, but not the best either: flat streets, but about 200-300 m and around the corner to where the bus was parked. Kytarro Live is a nice venue: a big room, nice PA, competent engineers, decent backstage facilities. We got set up and fed and watered with a couple hours to spare, so Doug, Sean, Nili and I decided to try and see some of Athens. After a brief discussion on the street, we decided to walk to the Acropolis, about 2 km south. This proved to be educational, but clearly not advisable. We ended up walking straight through what appeared to be the worst parts of Athens for nearly an hour. We did see several showbills posted on the way, clear evidence that the promoter had done his job. After we’d reached the foot of the Acropolis park, we wandered around a bit, checking out Hadrian’s Library (from 152 AD) and the local shops and sights. I successfully haggled for the first time, and we saw many cats. We took a cab back to the venue and got set for soundcheck. I napped whilst Tony and band checked, and then AC got to it. We were nearly done when the hi-hat stand popped ANOTHER rivet, this time at the top of the chain. We stopped soundcheck, as...