“Has this guy ever actually seen a map of Europe?”
I wake up in sunny Prague with a fine van sweat about my person, cursing my luck for not having slipped into an endless coma. It’s 11am, which is the checkout time for the hotel, so naturally nobody is here yet. I snooze for a bit longer before the Brits and Aussie 2 appears, Aussie 1 is having that crucial third shower I guess.
We decide to have a bit of a look around for breakfast, and let Aussie 1 know where we’re going. The touring party settles in a cafe that’s out of my budget, so I wander a bit further and find a dirt cheap Asian restaurant that serves me a mean breakfast chow mein and also offers me the added bonus of eating alone.
The guys have been talking over breakfast, and Aussie 1 makes it abundantly clear that he is still ill, it’s probably the most ill that anyone has ever been, and he’s not sure he wants to do the rest of the tour. We sit down and discuss the dates we have left: Chemnitz (Germany) today, Bratislava (Slovakia) after that, then Bellinzona (Switzerland), Milan (Italy) and the last show is of course, according to the tour poster, in Offenbach (Germany.)
Or, at least, it was in Offenbach before it got cancelled. Now it’s in Amsterdam.
Look at a map of Europe right now.
Google ‘Milan to Amsterdam.’
Apparently our beloved booker thinks it’s no issue at all for us to drive 1000km+ after a late show, and expect to a) be there on time and b) be able to function.
Now, if I’m honest, I’ve done worse drives. However they’ve always been on a day off, or at the end of a tour, basically when there’s no set arrival time or pressure. The drive can be chilled out and plenty of breaks can be taken. This news, added to what was already a trainwreck of a tour, was enough to send me over the edge.
“I’m not doing that drive, guys. This isn’t what I signed up for.”
Anyone who knows me knows I’m pretty chilled, and if I like the people I’m on tour with I’ll almost always go above and beyond to do what needs to be done. As you probably have gathered by now, I don’t like the people I’m with and I don’t want to do anything for them at all really.
Luckily by this point they haaaaaate being in the van. From what I understand of touring Australia there isn’t a great deal of driving: it’s too big for that, so tours are usually short runs in more concentrated areas. (Apologies if I’m way off on that, that was just the impression I was given.) So they really aren’t enjoying these (relatively short and simple) drives and definitely don’t want to do a 12+ hour trip for what isn’t even a paid show.
The group decision is to cancel the Amsterdam show. Thumbs up.
Problems arise, however, when it comes to the subject of the rest of the shows. Aussie 1’s illness means he doesn’t want to do all of the shows, and so we do a bit of investigation to see what the best course of action would be. A quick search for the Facebook event reveals that tonight’s show has a low ‘attending’ number, however there is a guarantee, so it’s decided we will head to Chemnitz. Great.
Now here’s where things get a bit silly and I have trouble understanding the trains of thought going on. The show in Bratislava looks to be great – over 100 people ‘attending’, a guarantee, local bands, etc. In my mind, it’s an obvious choice to not pull it.
Switzerland and Milan I have historically not had great experiences with, and Switzerland especially can be a real nightmare for DIY tours. As they’re not a member of the EU they will almost always stop a foreign car at the border, and are especially savvy as far as touring bands are concerned. Once they identify you are a band, they will ask if you plan to sell merchandise whilst playing there. If you have merchandise, you are expected to pay an amount of tax, upfront, for every bit of merch you have. The tax is refunded on whatever you don’t sell on the way out, but it’s still an awkward and time consuming thing to worry about for an already incredibly unorganised tour. I also state that we need a vignette, which I don’t mention that I actually already have from a tour earlier in the year.
My helpfulness is at an all time low at this point, my bad.
Anyway, my point is: Switzerland is absolutely not worth visiting as a band unless you have a really solid show/run of shows. As this show was in the middle of nowhere on a Sunday night and there was no guarantee or even a Facebook event, I make it very clear that they should cancel this show. In fact, my suggestion is that we cancel the shows in Bellinzona and Milan and instead play the shows either side in Bratislava and Amsterdam. It means a heck of a drive from Slovakia to Holland, but it means we have 2 whole days to do it in.
You’ve already guessed what happens here, right?
They, for reasons unbeknownst to me, decide to pull Bratislava and Amsterdam so they can play Bellinzona and Milan. They want to cancel the only show of the 4 that looks like people might turn up to and commit to 2 shows which will undoubtedly be terrible and will result in all kinds of aggravation and awkwardness.
I have 100% lost all faith in humanity. I wonder if this is an especially cruel reality show before realising that even television executives must have more humanity than to place someone in this situation.
I argue the points, believe me, but they’re adamant. We play Chemnitz, take a day off, play Bellinzona and Milan and then take a day off to drive back to England.
The rest of the day is largely uneventful. The drive isn’t too bad (though they still find cause to stop during a 2 hour drive) and when we arrive the venue and surrounding area looks pretty incredible.
They don’t seem to agree. Noses are turned up immediately, and heavy sighs are audible from the back of the van. Fuck these guys. The place is great, inside and out. We’re given an incredible spread of various culinary delights, there are beds above the venue, and there’s even a gym that i’m delighted by but in reality will never use.
The show itself, I have no idea. There was a bed and wifi. Night.