A glimpse into the grandeur of our teenage dreams.
Three weeks into our European tour and memories of our first show, at a predominantly techno festival near the German-Polish border, seem like those of a distant past. Set in golden, rolling and apparently endless hills, scattered with lakes and people dressed in either all black or a concoction of bohemian and practical; we experienced our first ‘international’ show. A glimpse into the grandeur of our teenage dreams.
The show was a success, we’ve found German audiences to be the most attentive and supportive on our tour so far, and that performance was the perfect example. Despite the ranging levels of sobriety among its members, the audience was mute, not speaking or commenting until applauding at the end of each song. Their attitude was not limited to us, throughout the festival audiences loudly applauded during DJ sets too. An appreciation for music and music makers that we were lucky enough to experience. The energy, electric, had us up all night. It wasn’t until well after the northern hemisphere sun burnt purple, through cotton-candy skies as it rose above a still, misty lake, that we made our way back to bed. And so it began, a series of incomparable experiences, opportunities and conversations, drifting far beyond the topics of music and nationality.
Despite my iPhone’s best advice, a predicted thunderstorm didn’t deter us from attempting to see the rich history Berlin had to offer. We would start with a quick stop at Brandenburg Tor followed by a long stroll through the Tiergarten (Berlin’s big inner-city park) towards the Holocaust Museum. As we approached the centre of the park the heavens opened up in one of the biggest storms Berlin has had in recent decades. Gushing water, booming thunder and electric sparks filled the sky as a 1km race to any sort of cover ensued. Dressed in, now drenched, summer clothing with no umbrellas or jackets we finally made it back to the flooded U-Bahn. Bad weather seemed to follow us as we continued our European Summer Tour, with a few days in both Berlin and Amsterdam that had us wishing for Cape Town’s winter. As we left the heart of Kreuzberg, I was granted my first experience driving on the Autobahn, in a left-hand-drive nine-seater VW van. With trucks to the right and multi-million Rand cars cruising past at over 180km/h to the left, we made our way on to Bremen.
Welcomed with a vegan curry and delicious coffee, we sat on the beautiful old chairs and admired our next venue: Karton; one that we will always remember both for the hospitality of the owners and the warmth of the crowd. With a full-house attendance, the audience had us dig deep into our repertoire, asking for three extra songs, which we had not rehearsed for the show.
After a couple of beers, a few shots of schnapps and a fascinating conversation with a masters student about the local university’s robotic prosthesis project it was time for bed. As quickly as we had arrived in Bremen, we had to leave it for Amsterdam.
Arriving in Amsterdam to a grand parade, hundreds of rainbow flags flew from the narrow brick buildings that lined the canals. Pink tutus and glitter decorated the scores of people who had gathered to celebrate their sexuality at Amsterdam Pride. The energy of the city was contagious, colourfully dressed pedestrians packed like sardines in tiny alleyways, the staunch smell of weed burning throughout the streets and glares from eyes peering out from red windows, seemingly seeing into our souls. A soundcheck at The Winston Kingdom was followed by a quick ‘coffee’. We were lucky enough to share the stage with Amsterdam based IX, before exploring the night and getting lost on our way home (Amsterdam right?). The next few days were spent getting to know the enchanting canals and parks the city had to offer far away from the inner ring tourist-traps. We managed to squeeze in both the Van Gogh and Rijksmuseum as well as a great tapas dinner along the canals on #AdrianDay (our guitarist Adrian’s birthday). After a sneaky FIDLAR concert on the last night, it was time to move on to France.
Crossing four countries in the time it’d normally take us to get from Cape Town to Bloemfontein, we cruised through The Netherlands and Germany, stopping in the Black Forest for a quick road side snack and short walk under the densely packed canopy of gigantic trees. A few hours later and the great Alps seemed to grow out of the moss on the forest floor. As we came around a corner in the south of Switzerland, Lake Geneva revealed itself in a moment that Mother Nature must have been rehearsing for centuries. A sunset that shone a rich golden light onto tiny Swiss and French villages, barely more than a road wide. As the lake disappeared, the peaks grew higher, the roads thinner and far more windy, following the paths carved out for us by ancient rivers.
Our base for the next week would be a hotel called L’Aubergade in Morzine, a small town below the peak of Mont Nyon. With our first experience of real European summer weather, our week was filled with chasing waterfalls and lakes, hiking, football and a lot of momentary interactions with the most beautiful dogs. We performed three times in the Alps, with shows in Morzine, Montriond and Chamonix as well as enjoying a jam session with local musicians at their Open Mic Night. Surprisingly we played to mostly British crowds, made up of both holiday makers and immigrants who had left their bustling grey isle for a simpler Alpine lifestyle. A lifestyle that consisted of mountain biking in the summer, skiing in the winter and doing whatever work was necessary to pay the bills to sustain it.
Perhaps the highlight of our French experience came in Chamonix Mont Blanc, where we were invited to film a video with the town’s Balcony TV. We took a cable car, with gear and all, up to a wooden deck high in the mountains. With a surreal view of the highest peak in Europe, surpassing anything our imaginations could ever have inspired, we recorded a live performance of an unreleased song: Cosmic Dreamer. Looking back over my shoulder a paraglider soared past the snowy peaks and sharp cliffs that stood tall above the town below. Guided by a powerful wind, she steered and turned, carving her way through the baby blue sky, until landing perfectly in a tiny field, a target the glider had been focusing on since fearlessly leaping off of the starting peak. It was an image that stuck with me, resonating with my experience of touring thus far. As slaves to music, we are pushed and pulled by its force. Through accepting our insignificance and surrendering to the skies, we will learn to use its power to steer ourselves to where we hope to land, transforming a potentially fatal jump into a beautiful flight.
Written by Danilo Queiros