I’m writing this letter home from underneath a cloud of poison ash. The kids here at camp seem friendly enough though, and the second leg of my European tour has come to an end. Please send cheeseburgers and milkshakes, as it seems I’ll be living here from now on.
Read on for some highlights from this second leg of the tour.
1. Middelburg, Netherlands
One of the highlights of this tour came early on, at the last show added to the schedule. Shout out to Tonnie in Middelburg for setting up a surprisingly rowdy performance @ The Underground. On a Tuesday night, in a small city I’d never played before, we managed to pack an intimate spot and have a truly great time.
Also, apparently there is some bizarre local custom of making what I can only describe as a pterodactyl noise when excited by an emcee. I’m talking, the place where another crowd might go “BO! BO! BO!” these folks were going “GAHHHH! GAHHHHH!” This went from being mildly disconcerting to a whole lot of fun. Cheers, Middelburg. One of the best shows of the tour, hands down.
After a 19 hour, overnight train journey from Amsterdam, I arrived in Prague. Surprisingly, Barack Obama was there too. I don’t think he was on the same train as me though. I would’ve noticed that.
I had heard a lot about the city, but didn’t expect to be as struck by it as I was. Maybe it was a heightened sense of awareness brought on by the journey, but I was really overwhelmed by the very visible history in Prague. Specifically, the Soviet history.
As it happens, I’ve been writing a pretty ambitious song on this tour about Laika, the first animal ever to be launched into–and die in–space. She was a stray dog, launched on the Sputnik 2 satellite, to test what would happen to a living organism on the trip.
Also fresh in my mind was the fact that I’d grown up in the 80s, and had spent a lot of my childhood thinking of people from this part of the world as intrinsically evil and bent on the destruction of all we held dear. The significance of being among the remnants of that empire, and meeting and befriending folks who’d grown up on the other side of that conflict, wasn’t lost on me.
The show that night was another high-energy, intimate affair with a group of excited kids who went nuts for the entirety of it, and called me back for multiple encores, to the point where I’d run out of instrumentals and was doing spoken word stuff. Even before that though, Prague had made it’s impact on me. I won’t soon forget that trip.
Also, the slightly dodgy hamburger I ate there won’t soon be forgotten either, as it led to tour highlight #3.
The show in Prague happened right next to The Great Strahov Stdium, which is the largest in the world. It was originally used for synchronized gymnastic displays, and Communist displays of power a la North Korea. These days it’s covered in graffiti and looks to be falling into disrepair everywhere. Staggering.
3. St. Gallen, Switzerland
Alright, so this one isn’t so much a highlight as it is one of the most fucked up things ever to happen to me on tour. I therefore feel it’s newsworthy. Remember that hamburger in Prague?
I arrived in St. Gallen the night before my show there, after a long day of travel from Prague. No worries, got some sleep at the hotel. Woke up with a whole day to kick around in the city and wait for the show. I met Damian, the promoter for that night, around noontime. He let me into the backstage area, where I proceeded to argue with people on the internet about nerd rap. So far so good.
Now it’s time for soundcheck. I notice that I feel a little dizzy and tired while doing the soundcheck. I ask the sound engineer:
“Are we in the swiss alps here?”
“Are we in the mountains?”
“A little bit…”
“Cause I feel kind of like… the elevation maybe.”
<laughing> “no no… we’re not that high.”
Ok. We’re not in the mountains. Go upstairs, drink some water. Maybe I just didn’t sleep enough. Lay down take a nap.
I awake an hour later with sharp pains in my stomach, and the fun begins. Just as the show is getting underway, I start getting violently ill backstage. While both openers are on, I am in the backstage bathroom wishing for my death. I quickly realize that I am in the midst of a fairly serious health situation.
I says to myself. What would Evel Knievel do?
I managed to get onstage and perform for about 35 minutes, while standing stock still and just rapping the songs how they appear on the record. Very little extra movement, as I felt there was a good chance I’d start throwing up or faint onstage otherwise. Not one of my finer sets, I admit.
I finished rapping, explained to the crowd that I was extremely sick and that I was headed to check out one of their local hospitals, walked offstage, into the cab, straight to the St. Gallen ER.
200 Euro, 11 hours, 3 vials of blood, 1 x-ray, 1 ultrasound and 2 ENEMAS LATER, I left the ER, having been diagnosed with food poisoning. The Swiss sure are thorough. This caused me to miss my train for the next day’s show, and anyway I hadn’t slept and was asked by the doctors to stay in St. Gallen for the day and return to the hospital if my condition didn’t improve.
I’m hoping to return to Europe in the fall of this year, and when I do, I owe both St. Gallen and Innsbruck the shows they missed out on due to this. Consider this your apology and raincheck.
4. Polar Bear Digital.
Due to our sharing a booking agent, 3 of the shows on this tour had me opening for the recently reunited Anti-Pop Consortium across France. Not only are these guys legends in the game, but they were also extremely personable and we hit it off immediately. Their sets were bonkers (including a surprise appearance by Mike Ladd in Paris!), their audiences were extremely receptive, and I consider all of them friends at this point. Keep an eye out for more cooperation between us in the future, and check out their new material. Shit is off the chain.
Thanks to all the audiences that came out, Anti-Pop, Cyril at Zoobook, and of course Sage Francis for facilitating this leg of the tour specifically. I made all my motherfuckin trains on time, except when I was poisoned. And that’s still sumthn.
Next up, the Rocky Road to Dublin.
4 / 20 / 10 – “Barfly Club” w/ Dan le Sac vs. Scroobius Pip – Wales, UK
4 / 21 / 10 – “The Pavilion” w/ Dan le Sac vs. Scroobius Pip – Cork, Ireland
4 / 22 / 10 – “Rosin Dubh” w/ Dan le Sac vs. Scroobius Pip – Galway, Ireland
4 / 23 / 10 – “Trinity Rooms” w/ Dan le Sac vs. Scroobius Pip – Limerick, Ireland
4 / 24 / 10 – “Whelans” w/ Dan le Sac vs. Scroobius Pip – Dublin, Ireland
4 / 26 / 10 – “Nerve Centre” w/ Dan le Sac vs. Scroobius Pip – Derry, N. Ireland
4 / 27 / 10 – “Mandela Hall” w/ Dan le Sac vs. Scroobius Pip – Belfast, Ireland