Wednesday, May 4, 2011

A Day In A Life

In the first of a new series of features, Greg Hoepffner (Radius System/ Kid North / Dawnshape) shares with us a snapshot of twenty four hours on the road on Dawnshapes latest European tour with Montreal on Fire.


Today we're heading to Berlin, for what promises to be the strangest show of the tour... The original gig, planned at a venue called "Levee", was recently cancelled because the place was double booked with an electro / clubbing night. The guy in charge considered the DJ set would make more money. He's probably right, though it's a shame because the venue seemed really nice, thankfully, our German booker for the tour managed to provide us a backup plan, a gig in a flat in the city centre, which is equally exciting and scary. Although not really a comfort zone for Dawnshape, to play acoustic / quiet sets.

Last night we had the chance to play in a really cool place in Cologne called "Aetherblissment". Montreal On Fire totally killed it; well they did every night so far, but last night was incredibly great. We also got the chance to share the stage with Birds In Row, another French band from Laval. They played an intense and brutal show. These guys managed to play more than 40 shows in a row; they're obviously more than human. This made us all want to play hardcore again (Adrien & Simon from Montreal On Fire also play in a hardcore band called Plebeian Grandstand, Michel our driver holds the mic in Selenites, Alex also plays guitar in Selenites, and I used to hit bass in Time To Burn... basically we're all hardcore dudes undercover in indie bands).

It feels like we're getting better with Dawnshape. Honestly, I never thought we would play outside of France with this band. Reactions to our weird new songs have been good so far. Even our close friends, who didn't like the band much before, enjoy it now. Score! Thank you Torsten and everyone at Aetherblissment for making us feel at home. Now we're up for a six hour drive to Berlin...

Just as we leave the venue, we notice another van on the side of the road. Michel honks them as they're stuffing gear into their trunk. Looks like it's another band on tour. It makes them catch a quick look at us while we're passing by. I can't believe it : it's the guys from Electric Electric, one of my favourite bands ever! (and probably my number one live band) They're from France too. Apparently, they were playing in another squat near us last night. Crazy coincidence. I'm a groupie for these guys, although I'm always too shy to just go talk to them. Next time I cross their path, I have to try harder or drink a bit before.

Between a few Angry Birds and Tiny Wings tracks, we see the longest cue of trucks on the highway. It just goes on and on forever... Maybe a strike or something. Hopefully we're not stuck in it.

It's been almost 20 minutes since we entered Berlin. This city looks bigger than anywhere I've been so far. We have absolutely no idea where we are going to play... but at least Anal Blockaus is playing in the van.

We arrive at Anna's place, our host for tonight. She lives in the north of Berlin. Her flat is big enough for us to play in, but she has never hosted any house shows before. We're already apologizing for the trouble that may come. Joe, our booker for the German shows, is here too. They really are the nicest people ever. Anna made us delicious chocolate cupcakes, and a vegan meal that looked and tasted like real meat. I had no idea those things existed. Getting all our gear, drums and amps to the 3rd floor is quite a ride.

But the setting looks great. It feels more like we're preparing to shoot cover artwork than an actual show. With all Antoine's keyboards and pedals, the Battles "Mirrored" LP photo easily comes to mind.

After a really quick sound check, we start the show at 9.45 PM. I'm really doing my best to not hit the drums hard as even in proper concert venues, I'm very often asked to be softer on the drums. That's basically the most annoying thing ever, I'm always loathing those moments. Last time it happened, we almost got into a fight with the bartender (he put a towel on my snare, and it was still "too loud"). Tonight, we won't go any further than the first song. The neighbours are already begging us to stop the noise. That's alright, we were prepared for that. At least we tried, but I feel bad for Joe and Anna, they put themselves on the line to make this show happen.

After a few calls to try finding another place for the show, Montreal On Fire decide to try a few acoustic songs. And of course, they do great. Proof has been captured on video. At some moments it feels like we're all hippies, clapping hands and singing along. That's the kind of stuff we're often sarcastic about, but we're obviously all happy to be here, so contradictions are ok tonight.

Now it's time to party. Some friends from Paris, who are now living in Berlin, made it to the flat. It’s a really cool opportunity to catch up with them. The rest of the night can be summed up like this: alcohol was consumed in various forms, French slang was taught to German girls, bartenders were pissed off, buckets of cold water were thrown from above the building, screaming laughs were heard and pictures were taken for memories.

Also a Daryl Palumbo look-a-like has been seen.