Tour Diary – Turnhout, Belgium (Nov 14, 2010)

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Kevin got the bus moving last night but he didn’t exactly fix it. Throughout the night we made our way across Germany with only two operational gears, 45mph was our top speed, our scheduled six hour overnight drive turned into an eleven hour odyssey. We arrived in Turnhout at around 3:30pm, it was raining and already getting dark. From the little I saw of it, Turnhout looks like your typical Belgium town: neat, tidy and efficient with a healthy scattering of artefacts from its medieval history and plenty of looming reminders of its dark Catholic spine. I’ve always liked Belgium, there is mystery here, I think it is mystery stewed in death and blood, but it is mystery nonetheless.

The gig tonight was at a very nice modern theatre, a much needed respite from the insanity of the previous couple of days. It was a beautiful sounding stage and a very keen audience. We had a pretty good show, but I think we slowly lost steam as the night wore on. The double dose of Christiania and the Rolling Stone Weekender pretty much sapped the little energy that we had left. It turns out that Alan doesn’t have the Baltic Plague, but he does have strep-throat, so he is running on fumes and isn’t the bouncing energetic bundle of joy that is his norm. This has been a tough tour on us all, but especially on Jared and Tim, our crew. Road crews generally depend on a certain amount of cooperation and support from promoters and local crews to get the job done. It only takes a couple of disinterested promoters or a lazy local crew or two to make the life of a road crew miserable. Jared and Tim have had a couple of those on this run, along with all of the other pressures and stresses that come with being on the road (especially if that road takes you through Europe). They are both completely beat, but still maintain their sense of humour and still take pride in their work: they are the absolute best at what they do, we can’t thank them enough. Despite all of the drama, and the unbelievably bad weather, spirits have remained high throughout this tour. This has been a very tough, but strangely fun run. Europe never fails to entertain.

We thought we were through. The bus was loaded up and we only had a short fifty mile ride to the airport hotel in Brussels, nice and close to our flight home tomorrow. But…no, that wouldn’t be a fitting end to this adventure. The address that we had for the hotel was wrong as was the phone number. We drove around the airport in circles for a good forty-five minutes looking for this ghost hotel. Finally someone steered us in the right direction and we found it looming, like the Promised Land, attached to the terminal, but just like the Promised Land, we couldn’t quite reach it. As we drove up the airport road we were pulled over by the airport police, barely 100 yards from the hotel, apparently our bus, the piss-mobile, was too high to get underneath one of the overpasses. So we backed up and pulled out of the airport. In desperation Jared decided that he was going to run the half mile back to the hotel to try and get some help ferrying us and the gear to the hotel. About forty-five minutes later he arrived back at the bus in a car with a hotel employee. We followed the employee back to the hotel (but not before he stopped for gas) and he took us back on the same road from which we had just been turned away. A heated discussion took place in front of our 4 meter high bus, between Kevin and the hotel employee, with the both of them gesticulating wildly at a sign that read “maximum clearance 3.5 meters”. The argument was finally resolved, it was decided that the bus was shorter or the overpass was higher than posted and we finally arrived in our room at 2:30am, three and a half hours after we left the gig. And so it ends.

We fly home tomorrow, we have the Toronto show on Friday and then we begin our cold turkey attempt at staying off of the road for a year. I think deep down we know that we won’t succeed (we already have a couple of NYC one-offs scheduled), but the idea of getting at least some extended time off the road definitely has some appeal. We have finished Demons, it’s mixed, mastered and ready to go. There will be more news on the release plans in the next couple of weeks and there will be more blogs posted about the making of the album as well. And then we’ll start work on Volume 3, Sing In My Meadow…more news about its content is imminent. We’ll see some of you at the Toronto show…make sure to stay in touch through the website. Keep safe.

outside of bus