Tour Taught Me a Lesson: A New Perspective of Europe

Europe is not as picturesque or delicious as one might think. For example, Italians never stop talking. Tolls on French roads are exorbitant. Red Bull has very little carbonation and tastes like a Jolly Rancher dipped in gasoline. Belgians eat nothing but junk food. Germans do not think ahead when it comes to road construction. Why does it feel as if we are the pawns in a new reality show? It seems like viewers at home voted on various precarious situations that we should be forced to deal with. The new season of “Joe Schmo Show” or “Truman Show” for bands was in full affect. What would they call the show? Band on the Run? TOURture?

We arrived in Frankfurt and got a ride to the small town of Dortmund to pick up our van. This would be the first test of endurance. We didn’t sleep the night before we left or during the flight. 60 hours of consciousness interrupted with three different drunk spells puts humans in the worst condition. The home audience most likely voted on which band member would crack first. Who would cry? Who would fall asleep in a strange spot? We found an internet cafe/arcade which seemed cozy enough. The place had few slot machines, a couple computers and a pool table. The most important thing was that we were out of the rain. One of the hick locals came up and asked, “Are you tramps?” We replied, “No we are Americans.” “Americans huh? Obama! You cannot make this your restroom.” We trudged back out into the rain into the longest four hours of our lives. We finally got the van from a fat nicotine addict named Ollie. The van was a brand new Mercedes Benz Sprinter. The large tainted man happily gave us the keys. “By the way, the deductible is $1300 euros if you even scratch the paint,” Ollie says. Blake killed the van twice on the way out of the garage.

Halloween was spookier than we ever thought possible. The Belgian countryside was dark and empty. Old, stone houses were dearth with life. The fog pumped thick through the woods and freaked us the fuck out. The filtered moon lit our windy path for a few meters at a time. Was this really the way to a place where we would perform? This is definitely a sick joke. The gods of reality television had delayed our arrival by six hours thanks to an incomplete German autobahn and were now toying with our frayed nerves with simple scare tactics. We pulled up to the venue which was a converted sheep barn. To our relief, we opened the door to a room full of bald men who were happy that we had traveled the confusing path.

For the next episode, the producers decided to direct us into a Bermuda triangle of sorts in the middle of Italy. All the locals knew exactly where the Cantina Mediterranean was and gave us specific directions. After driving around for another hour and a half, we decided to stop following directions and comb every street in the area. We arrived at the sign-less dump and the promoter of the show “Franco” asked us if we would take half of our guarantee if we didn’t play. This was an obvious test to see if we had courage to stand up for what was promised to us. The viewer involvement seemed palpable, with bets being placed on both sides. We persevered and demanded our money. We played on to a handful of people who talked loudly through the entire set. Would frustration poke through the performance? In the end we triumphed and were strangely awarded with a five star hotel complete with an attendant who mysteriously spoke perfect English. “Can I get you another coffee? We really want you to be comfortable.”

One of the most frustrating tests was in Barcelona. The traffic was exhausting and the producers put nails in the road to flatten one of our tires. While we were under the van changing the tire, someone stole Blake’s bag, which had an iPod, tour schedule, various writings and most importantly his passport. This test was particularly confusing because we had spent two worry free days east of Barcelona enjoying the sun and afternoon cocktails. It felt like a dream during those days, surrounded by new friends and a vivacious culture that forced us to relax and enjoy the moment. It was possible that we were out of range of the producers and allowed to be on our own for a few days. Reality is always harshest the day after vacation.

Overall the tour wasn’t what we would call successful. On the other hand, people were gracious, the food was lovely and the beer delicious. We had our fair share of positive experiences, and we can’t help but be grateful to the producers who gave us a bit of breathing room from time to time. The last week of the tour was surreal in a different way. Everyone and everything seemed familiar, like they were obvious casting decisions. We are beginning to believe we were cast as well.