Woolen Men: Reports from the road pt. 3

Here's the final installment from Woolen Men's adventure abroad.

May 14: Toulouse

On the drive to Toulouse Jorge promises me that our hosts there will be, “really great.” He’s not kidding. They turn out to be Marc: aged but beautiful lifelong rocker and owner of completely insane Toulouse recording studio subsonic/massive vintage gear nerd and Sylvie: his charming companion/ subsonic bassist. In other words, the Fred and Toody of France basically. Even better Marc takes one look at my inept handling of our massive tour van, peremptorily gestures for the keys, and then drives the whole time we are there, neatly parking it in postage stamp sized spaces in true lifelong tour dog style. The show that night at saint de seins is in the tiniest venue so far, a converted wine cellar that is probably older than the state of Oregon. After the show a quartet of mop headed modders enthuse to us about the flamin’ groovies. France is cool.   

May 15: Barcelona / May 16: Madrid

Barcelona/Madrid gets pretty intense. The traffic here is bikers vs cars all the way and the pedestrians seems to have little qualm with hurtling their strollers/bodies in front of me as I drive by, obstacle course style. In one particularly narrow alley I scrape the shit out of the van on some small metal poles seemingly put there for that purpose alone. Bummer. The Barcelona show at lupita de reval is technically a “big deal” because in a way it is our trial run/audition for the primavera sound festival next year which Spanish music people seem to have a real love/hate thing going on with. That’s me eating a green tea cupcake after the show courtesy one of our hosts.

If possible Madrid is even worse than Barcelona for city craziness. Hard to forget the look of naked and withering contempt the Madrid police gave me after one desperate u turn to many downtown, only to let me go when I pull the idiot tourist act to perfection on them. The show at Wurlitzer ballroom that night features scantily clad Madrid babes shilling jaegermeister, the promoter doing coke in the band room with his girlfriend and awkward vibes between the other American touring band we are playing with. Those Los vigilantes are some nice dudes though.   

May 17: San Sebastian

A real break after the craziness of the last couple days, san Sebastian is one of the most beautiful cities I have ever seen.  Everyone just chills topless on the Beach and eats pinchos (special tapas style). Man it is great. The promoters are skate boarding older dudes who talk mostly about ogling breasts and feed us excellent sandwiches, the show is a fun breeze, and after its over we dance till 4 am at dabadabas, where one particular local is so in awe of my dance moves that I get to have some special times.  

May 18: Vitoria

As if to remind us of cruel reality Vitoria is brutal. Everyone here owns a dog and seems totally bored by their lives but a lot of people show up. Then at a bad moment Al does his disappearing act and I fear the worst (AGAIN) only for him to emerge minutes before we go on stage super pissed off at having been swindled by the locals. We treat our audience to the worst show of tour, a poorly played piss take of WM songs with bad equipment and zero effort. Tour diary, why do people love to be abused? I am shocked to discover through my haze of self pity that the audience loves our jaded rocker pose, so much so that they buy the most merch of tour so far. How Fucked up is that?

May 20: Paris

Whiplash style, Paris pulls me in the opposite directions. The rude French… the beauty of the city… good friends Tony and Stef deliver some body blows to my future life/conception of self with an authentic provenance Jodorowsky Marseille tarot card reading. Even as I write this the eyes of the magician still haunt me… how can I become him? Temperance out of reach, the hermit between us… Le monde at the end of the line like a promise of redemption… and hanging over everything, the inevitable appearance of the Wheel...

May 21: Charleroi

SHOW CANCELLED DUE TO ROCK STAR reads the sign as we pull up. Even the best efforts of the heroic DIY’ers at the pits can’t beat beurocratic indifference and our lack of pull in rock music land. Kid Congo powers, he of gun club and cramps fame, is playing on our night, and all in town will be there. Attempts to open for him unavail and my heckling is barely acknowledged at the show itself. To be fair I’m sure the man wasn’t even informed of our attempt to open for him by whoever his douche manager is, and he does have a certain muppet like charm to him… Still sucks.         

May 22: Kortrijk

After a quick stop at the tintin museum (love that guy) we reach Chucklestown, “the Detroit of Belgium.” Car dealerships stretch as far as the eye can see in this one horse town, but the beer is FUCKING AMAZING even in the shittiest dive bar. In true Belgian/Detroit fashion the show is in an insane converted factory warehouse crammed with art bric a brac and weirdo giant robot statues, and an actual working waterfall. But despite the big audience and promise of the space the show is just terrible. People show up from all over but nobody gives a shit about the band, they just want to get laid. Real frustration from our end ensues as we give everything we have to them only to be rebuffed by their total indifference to our songs. Even the young dancey babe shaking her thing in the front can’t get anyone to move… “Forget about it jack, its chucklestown.”

May 23: Brussels

AAARG another bummer. End of tour is turning into a real grind. This time we are creamed on a Saturday night by a massive free jazz festival down the block. Madame mustache is empty except for the rude waitress and two couples, so we play some songs in out of order fashion. Whatever… at least the promoter bought a record…

May 24: Koln

Thank god the last show of our tour is totally decent.  Cologne is super cool also and kinda reminds me of a bigger Portland a little. Nice promoter dudes and some enthusiastic locals “from the country” buy up some of the last of our merch, Jorge solemnly informs us that we kicked mucho ass finance wise (suck it other Portland bands!) we make ready to return to Amsterdam for a final trip to the “coffee shops” there and a return home. Fear not Europe, you have fucked with my life forever. I can’t forget you now, even If I wanted too… I have to return, the shows will be even better next time, Jorge says we can come back… godamit my life is changed, everything seems different…