Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Europe Part Five: Warming to Seafood and the Rapture...

The overnight van ride was interminable. We awoke in front of the wholly breathtaking Auditorium I Palau (usually followed with a bunch of other Spanish words that are unnecessary to type here because it's not like you know the place). This was a right and proper high-end performance center accustomed to hosting the likes of traveling European symphonies and (apparently) now, garage bands.

Would be the first of our shows with Viva L'American Death Ray Music. I first saw them open for the Demolition Doll Rods at the Detroit Contemporary around 2002 and was completely blown away with their brain-bending performance for approximately 12 people. I got to be friendly with mainman Nick and consider myself privileged to have released their "Same Suit, Different Tie" 12-inch single.

So to meet-up with them at an ultra-luxe Spanish music hall was something I wouldn't have predicted upon our initial meeting. The room they had us in held about 200 people, but it was a proper theater setting with seats and such. Layout was so that there was no real space between the first row of seats and the vocal mics, but I guess that just added to the weirdness.

Death Ray played only one old song, instead dedicating most of the performance to their new double-LP. I was into it but would be lying if I didn't express how badly I wanted to hear some of the old songs…"Coconuts" especially.

Our set was alright…the room sounded a bit funny but I was able to make everyone watching us participate in a clapalong. So that was nice. But the highlight of Castellon was clearly the four-star hotel and the two meals we ate there. Was like rolling on a cloud.

Until we found ourselves in the completely unfriendly confines of Barcelona. While all accounts seem to suggest that we blew the city a new asshole at Primavera Sound in 2005 and spent three days at a posh oceanfront hotel replete with views of a topless beach, any evidence of said anus creation or bare mammaries remained to be seen.

Instead, two star hotel and a club SMALLER than we'd played the first time. How do you go from an 800 capacity room, then a couple thousand people in a tent at a festival, to a 300 capacity room? I guess I would complain had we actually filled those 300 spots.

Dinner at the outdoor café Cochitos was phenomenal. While not the most adventurous of eaters, I get the courage now and again and try something I'd normally gag at. While everyone else at the table was delighted with their seafood tapas selection, I wasn't feeling it and wanted something simple. When I saw "Black Noodles" on the English menu, that was all I needed to read.

So while I was expecting some simple noodles with some sort of flavoring/ingredient that rendered them black, what I got was a hot pan, while full of the aforementioned noodles, brimming with every possibly seafood ingredient one could imagine…calamari, shrimp, clams…the exact opposite of what I was planning on eating. Nevertheless hungry, I dove in and was astonished at how delicious it all actually was. I was readily and willingly eating this multi-species seafood spectacular and savoring every second of it. The pan seemed vaguely old too and there was definitely some parts where I could look through an actual hole in the metal…but I think the resultant burnt black flakes of pan peppered throughout my dish merely added a welcome piquancy to it all. I shared with the rest of the table (as they did with me and their tapas) and they agreed on the overall magnificence of the black noodles.

From there, walking alone through Barcelona…hoping to find the Nike Vintage I'd been searching for or, failing that, some orange/blue Adidas Rekords. No such luck. In my hour plus of ambling though, I did happen upon Corte Ingles. It's THE Spanish department store (their answer to Harrod's or Macy's) and this particular flagship store has frontage on a fairly prominent open space/arcade/square in the city.

It was at this point I realized I knew where I was. I oriented myself to La Rambla, the high-density pedestrian walkway overcrowded with tourists, unique/interesting street performers like human statues and (most likely) pick-pockets. Once on Rambla, I got myself to the particular street that branches off and has a handful of decent record shops, some shoe stores and even a vintage clothing shop.

Granted, my time of arrival made it possible for me to enter only one of these establishments (and even then, I bought nothing) but I was more overjoyed by the fact that while I'd merely stumbled upon Corte Ingles, that landmark guided me to the street that led me to the one vague area in town that I knew I wanted to be in. I'm always excited (yet never amazed) when my ability to recall city layouts comes through.

Back to the club and Viva opened with "Dub SS" a song I had released and would pulse through my brain the rest of the time we'd spend in Spain.

Our show kinda blew. The crowd was entirely deadpan, as if they were all collectively working on their Steven Wright impersonations in the middle of a rock and roll show. They pleaded for an encore and although they deserved it not, Troy really wanted to do one so we gave them the tease of "War Pigs" and called it a night. General consensus amongst the band was that it was the worst show in recent memory.

We were unceremoniously hurried out the door for what we were told was the disco, only to see the club locked and empty of any people (employees or otherwise) on our exit.

Back at the hotel (conveniently across the street…at least something good came of it) I pop on the TV and happen across the Rapture performing at some festival. I had a copy of Mirror on CD in 2001 and thought it was alright, first heard "Out of the Races and Onto the Tracks" in French class at Wayne State, remember hearing for almost two years how great the Echoes album was before it had ever been released and then receiving an as-yet still unexplained promo copy of said disc in the post that I then reviewd for Creem.

Not long afterward I saw them live and immediately gave away all their CD's. Something deep down in their performance, intrinsic almost, just completely turned me off. So it was with a peculiar fascination I watched their performance on TV. "House of Jealous Lovers" is still a complete jam (and I wisely never gave away the 12" version of that) but the way the dude played the cowbell just INFURIATED me, the attitude, self-importance and demeanor were all just like an AIDS-infested hypodermic thrust into my eye.

The same could be said about anything the bass player did…clapped his hands, grabbed a microphone, stood there…something just made me want to beat the shit out of this guy. I'm not a dude-bro in the least, but the brainwaves I was receiving told me this putz was long overdue for a beatdown. And is it just me, or does he totally look like Bababooey?

That being said, I still totally got into their groove. The Detroit-techno-vision of "Olio" was completely head-bobbable while "House of…" can still set ablaze the hypothetical dance floor that exists in the perfection of my mind.

So while I cannot stand having to look at those goons, I may have to humble myself and go back and buy their records.

About 3am, I look out the balcony and see a line for the club we'd earlier underwhelmed. There were at least 300 people OUTSIDE, waiting to get in. I'm in the wrong business.


jambi said...

fafa flohi!

Anonymous said...

an inspired anti-rapture rant. I have to say that although I quite like that band it really made me laugh. you'll be able to re-aquire most of their back catalogue for next to nothing.


I guess it must be tough playing to audience and getting nothing back. I'm sure they were dancing inside.

Anonymous said...

Next time do the food review in Catalan.

I b'lieve the "black" was squid ink, FYI, not burnt pan

Chris said...

I agree with you on the rapture 100%.
Now when all is said and done are you going to relocate to Spain and open a disco/ brothel?

I could easily see you were some fake gold and your button down shirt 1/2 open.

Ya can't kill'em every night!