Madrid was bueno. Club was El Sol and the Dirtbombs had played there before back in 2002, a tour that was booked without anyone knowing and found neither Pantano nor I on drums, as he had the Come-Ons and I had finals. Ah the days of being told about a tour two weeks beforehand…
Dinner at the hotel with Death Ray dudes and camaraderie was flowing like table wine. My dish was passable, but those who got the ox steak raved of its quality. The street of the hotel (and right around the corner from the club) had it's fair share of beat, ugly, skanky prostitutes to which all I could say was "It's nice to know a young girl can get a job in this town."
Club was packed, Death Ray rocked and we straight-up delivered. The crowd was so reactive, bouncing energy back at us, dancing and being the complete opposite of what we'd encountered in Barcelona. The band agreed (as did Death Ray) that our show was the best in quite some time. And it's ALWAYS great to follow up a particularly downer of a show with a total barnburner of one.
Add to that the sheer number of people from the crowd who explicitly came up to me to tell me how much they really enjoyed the show…I'd say it had to be at least thirty people, and there was probably no more than 200 there. For me, that's a good percentage.
Woke mega-early to get to our 2pm load-in in Carballo. I cannot begin to tell you how evil a time that is. But we were there on time, I used a house drum kit (something fancy-ish) and after brief chatting with some of the Trashmen, we went back to the hotel for much-needed rest.
Not much one for rest, I searched out the post office in need of post card stamps. Finding the office was easy, but getting across the concept of "post card" would prove quite difficult.
It seems that the post office in Spain isn't an establishment run with the same amount of federal oversight as its American counterpart. Instead, the woman working the counter appeared to be all of 18-years-old and entirely unfamiliar with even the vaguest understanding of postal rates.
Granted, I was speaking to her in English, a language she was wholly unfamiliar with. I sat there for a couple minutes, idiotically repeating the word "post card" hoping that by the ninth time she'd actually understand what I meant, clearly with no luck. I then tried to display the SHAPE of a post card and while I thought I'd made headway, all she could do was reach into a cabinet behind her and proffer up an envelope.
With the situation clearly going nowhere and her desire to please the customer ranking just below "getting a pap smear" on the list of things she loves to do, I had to improvise. I left the office, trudged up the street, found a souvenir shop and amidst two women arguing at high volumes about god-knows-what, purchased a post card with a photo from some time ago of young adults, wearing traditional clothes, standing up in what resembled a gondola, for the low, low price of .35 euros.
So back up the street to the post office, I display my newly-purchased card with pride and the clerk-woman STILL needs to ask someone else the rate for sending them to the United States. Makes me miss the hours spent waiting in line with an armful of packages back at home. I go back to the hotel and compose.
After a decent dinner, I head down to the festival we're playing. There's lots of carnival rides, games of chance, booths selling t-shirts with air-brushed depictions of American wrestlers, roasted almonds, cotton-candy and an overall mélange of midway attractions. I sit on a bench and catch a bit of the Neanderthals. After them, the Trashmen.
"Surfin' Bird" is one of the crowning achievements of Western Civilization. But the deranged surf nonsense dreamed up by a couple of teens in Minnesota is so ingrained into American culture that it has been castrated of its true demented leaning. From sporting events to television commercials to feature-length motion pictures, "Surfin' Bird" is that rare commodity that has permeated most all facets of American pop culture and thus finds itself in that exclusive canon of songs like "YMCA" or "Blitzkrieg Bop" or "Lust for Life" that has been co-opted for the masses and lost it's controversial meaning in the process.
Nevertheless, amidst the standards, "Surfin' Bird" rocks like nothing else in the Trashmen's set. When I'd heard that two of the guys in the band have been playing music together since 1957 I damn-near shit myself. That's over fifty years! I'm going on nine with the Dirtbombs and am about to lose my mind. Plus the fact that some of them are retired from their day jobs and just do this for fun now…travel Europe every once in awhile, bring their wives with them for a little bit…it seems like they've got it all figured out.
Our set was strong. The crowd was substantial (it was a free city fair, but there still seemed to be a lot of fans there) and the stage was big, but nothing too crazy or stray from the norm for us. Once we'd finished we went back to the hotel for approximately twenty minutes and then hit the road to make our 2pm load-in for our 1:40am show in Andoain. Yes, that is correct, our soundcheck would be 12 hours before our set time. No, this is not common. Yes, it fails to make any sense. No, I don't make these decisions...I just work here.
We made it alright, sun a'blazing as we banged away interminably as these outdoor public square sound checks seem to thrive on their mind-numbing lengths. To the hotel for some nap time, back toward the stage for dinner. We ended up eating with the Trashmen and I took true delight in being able to chat with them. How long they've been around, what they've seen, what they've accomplished…the only way I could describe my feelings toward them would be complete and utter deference.
It would get rainy as we walked back to the stage…the T-men in their matching all-black outfits trying to dodge raindrops while I just made a mad dash for shelter. Back to the hotel for a spell (as no one wanted to wait around in the rain) and we got back just in time to hear "Surfin' Bird", complete with a throaty "That hurt!" added after the baritone exclamation of the song title followed by finger-rubbing-lip gibberish. While the rest of their set was standard fare, "Surfin' Bird" was enough to light up even the most skeptical and in the end, it really is just a song about fun, isn't it?
The rains subsided for us and we put on a good rock show. I climbed on slippery metal barriers during "Kung Fu", someone kept asking me if I was from Texas while I was talking to the crowd, the lights blew out and thinking it was a conscious choice, I started screaming my lungs out for them to turn the lights back on. The crowd passed me around over their heads and (so I've been told) dropped Troy. Everyone seemed to have a good time though.
At some point in Carballo the ugliest plush animal I'd ever seen ended up onstage. Apparently a licensed product for the film Ice Age II this rodent doll looks like it has the mange, comes with creepy fangs and overall looks a little retarded. I can't imagine anyone buying such a monstrosity even out of pity…it truly is that hideous.
Somehow this stuffed animal made it into our van, but remained unnoticed by me until the next day. Lacking a mascot, we dubbed him Bingo (my original nickname for our GPS system) and prop him on our salon table and he would guide us wisely for the rest of the tour. Ko even gave him a name tag that read "J'mappelle Bing-O-possum" as we surmised anything that ugly must be an opossum. And Bingo was his name-o…
Back at the hotel and a group of teenage Christian travelers from the States get lectured in the lobby like so:
"Tomorrow, for the baptism, I'm gonna need all of your to bring a change of clothes. And gentleman (long pause, eye contact made with many) in respect to your Saviour (pause) and with respect to your future wives (LOOOOOOONG PAUSE HERE, maybe 20 seconds) don't let your eyes wander where they shouldn't be, ok?"
(I'm assuming this was referencing the wet clothes that would result from the baptism, right?)
All I can say is that if Jesus was truly meant to be human, than he most certainly snuck a peek from time to time. The choad giving the above-quoted lecture seemed way too self-important to be trusted in the care of our nation's youth. Part of me wanted to patrol the hallways of the hotel to see how many of these kids were slipping out of their rooms at night to ball surreptitiously. Probably most of them and probably because that douchebag just doesn't know how to do his job. For shame.
Spanish women walk around like they invented white pants while Spanish hotels act like they invented flies.
Sunday off…four star accommodations in San Sebastien on an overcast day. While we couldn't get the temp in the room below 24 centigrade, I did get to explore the beach, walk around some sort of manicured gardens overlooking said beach, get some tasty ice cream in my moustache and relax in the room with flat-screen TV and furniture that seemed too aerodynamic to actually sit in.
(I must've seen a dozen different people in wheelchairs throughout the duration of my walk…with no real explanation, I'm left to assume there's some sort of hospital nearby and Sunday is the day for patient perambulation)
Dinner was three courses for 26 euro and well-worth it. Dessert included a chocolate fountain. Upon finishing eating, we joined the mass watching the Italy vs. Spain European Cup match. It's nice to feel a bit of mob mentality, you know? The game went to penalties, Spain won, the crowd in the hotel common area rejoiced and dispersed and then back to the room for a much-needed shower.
The shower I took would be the greatest one I've ever had. Not only did it have the mobile handle control, good for focusing the water spray on specific trouble areas, but the stationary showerhead was oversized to the point where you felt like you were under a dense rain cloud. The coup de grace was those high-powered sideways jets, six of 'em in all, hitting you with the tender intensity you'd expect for a Lamborghini car wash. Spread your cheeks just a little bit, position yourself just right and PRESTO, a DIY colonic that will send magnificent shivers of pleasure up your spine.
I must've spent at least a half-hour in the shower with no less than twenty minutes of my time devoted to just standing still, trying my all to absorb the water (to BECOME the water) and lowly muttering "uhhhhhhhhhhhh" to myself. The temperature was slightly schizophrenic and that only made the pleasure stronger…while never veering too scalding or chilly, it would invariable and without explanation run the gamut of acceptable temps. This was surprisingly comfortable and relaxing…the slow and continued change of water temperature proving soothing and satisfying in only the truest sense of the words.