Thursday, October 21, Brescia, Italy. Venue: FreeMuzik.
Our first show on our own for this tour. Giant Sand heads north, we go south. Our hotel and the venue are both on the very edge of town... nothing around except car dealerships and a giant grocery store that is clearly modelled after Wal-Mart. I got stopped by a cowboy-boot-wearing security guard who looked like the romance novel cover-model Fabio. He asks to look through my shoulder bag, and tells me in Italian that I'm supposed to leave my bag in the lockers in the front of the store. I know this because of a long pantomime process like the game "charades". He was very macho, but polite.
We are met at the hotel before the show by Nicola, from DNA Concerti, our Italian booking agency. He has with him our vehicle (a big car) and backline (amplifiers and drums).
Nicola tells me that people think he looks like "Sideshow Bob" from the Simpsons. I was just about to tell him that, myself.
The opening band is local to Brescia, and very inspired by Nick Cave and Neil Young. They were really good and very friendly... the singer, Marco, is a good guy. The drummer looks like the Croatian Doctor Kovac from the TV show "ER". The guitar player's name means "Little Shadow" (Ombretta).
We play for almost an hour and a half, including an encore. Previously, as an opening band for Giant Sand, we were doing 45 minute sets.
Friday, October 22, Turin (Torino). Venue: Hiroshima.
First of all, I must ask: why should a place called 'Torino' have its name changed to 'Turin' for foreigners? It's confusing for navigation if a traveller is unaware that Firenze is the local name for Florence (in English)
Deutschland (local name)
Germany (English name)
Allemagne (French name)
Germania (Italian name)
We drive with Nicola to Milan to change Daniel's drums to a smaller vintage kit, more to his style. The car would have been too small, and we almost had to exchange it for a van, but Lorenzo at Mokke's Backline rental service was kind enough to let us leave a car seat and extra drum parts at his place.
Nicola stays in Milan and I drive the band to Torino (Turin). Our directions are not very clear, and Italy's road signs are not very clear, and the sky is not very clear, and our heads aren't very clear from not enough sleep. Our navigation style is best described as a "trial-and-error panic committee". I wonder if using a "Magic 8-Ball" toy would be a better way to go. Ask the 8-ball a question, shake it, and read the answer in a little window at the bottom of the ball.
Question: "Should we take this exit off the Tangenziale?"
Answer: "Reply hazy, ask again later", or "My sources say No"
We get a little lost and ask directions at a gas station, which is another game of pantomime charades, and we end up drawing a map on my hand.
Tonight (and for 3 shows total) we are the opening band for a large group called "Sophia" - very grand rock, with a fancy string section.