First day in Italy, Rovereto and it would be the first of a plethora of outdoor shows. Sound check was interminable in the most depressing of ways that I actually began to count how many times I hit each drum…my floor tom maxing out at 105 hits (while the next day it was a reasonable 102). Having rained earlier in the day, the whole space carries one of my top five least favorite aromas…wet grass.
I guess I just equate wet grass to rain-delayed (or rain-cancelled, or worst of all, rain-soaked) soccer or baseball matches of my youth. I never liked a wet competition…slipping and sliding didn't level the playing field, it merely turned a game of skill into a game of chance. That, coupled with the even-more-nauseating concoction of wet grass stains and sweat and let's just talk about something else.
With absolutely NO carpets around to put our drums on, the first suggestion of putting kegs of beer in front of our bass drums worked ok for Pantano, but mine still kept on slipping. Seriously, there were at least half a dozen runners/loaders working there, would it be that much trouble to get one of the fools to drive into town and just turn up two old rugs from anywhere? The front door of a restaurant? A carpet scrap store? Your own house for chrissakes? How do you have festival and not have ANY CARPETS FOR THE DRUMS?
Luckily a stage tech came correct with a much better plan. Armed with some scrap wood, a handful of nails and a hammer, he battered those pieces of wood into the drum riser old school-style and the problem of the sliding bass drums was a problem no more.
After check to the hotel and they've graced us with 5 hotel rooms. That means almost everyone gets their own room. If that weren't enough, they all have individual air conditioning units and free WiFi. Bonus! Mick and Troy end up bunking together as they were the last to get their own rooms and I strip down to my drawers, crank the AC to 15 Celsius and catch up on Freep.com
Dinner in the hotel was magnificent. I had some pasta, in some kind of sauce and a desert of a kinda ice cream thing then chilled more in my solo room.
Arrived back at the site after El Tres played. I actually wanted to see them…during check they did nothing but covers, but COOL ones at that…"Blue Moon of Kentucky" and a handful of spot-on renditions of Morricone tunes (not the easiest things to pull off). They were followed by the Mojomatics, dressed in all black, playing a vague amalgamation of R&B and garage. I can see why some may like it, but 'twasn't my cup of tea.
It seemed the rain had thinned the crowd and if we were playing in front of more than 100 people I'd be surprised. Sort of a shame figuring how big the stage was and what a big production it seemed (Bad Manners would be playing the next night and I had to listen to the rest of the band do their own approximations of their C-level Two-Tone Records "hits")
The view of stationary lights in the distance in the Italian Alps was mystifying. Under cover of darkness it was impossible to even notice the existence of the mountains. Instead, lights of homes or other buildings on the cliffside appeared to hover motionless in the blank evening sky. It's a strange phenomena one witnesses rarely.
The next day, while like most of our Italian days would find us sweating our balls off in a van with no AC and temps boiling, was a bit more exciting as it would be the first trip to Rome for everyone in the band.
My first and most lasting impression of the place was one of disgust at the complete proliferation of graffiti in every goddamned corner of the ancient city. And most of it wasn't even good graffiti under the veil of artistic protest. No, it was a lot of shitty tags, a fair amount of long-winded political treatises and occasionally the random etching by conquering centurians of millennia past.
The club was a decent, non-air conditioned room. Another long soundcheck makes me realize my favorite time of day is the completion of soundcheck, only because it signals the most amount of time until another soundcheck. I putz around free wifi for the duration of our time there and vaguely enjoy the cold pasta dinner coupled with bread and olive oil.
The room would royally pack out. Intellectuals and Margaret Doll Rod opened, amongst others, but I watched none of them. The crowd would only amplify the heat and it would become, arguably, the Dirtbombs' sweatiest show ever.
Thankfully, the crowd was amply amped and it merely propelled us to play that much better. I called Rome "the birthplace of graffiti" during the encore and got a chuckle out of the band. I also said I used to have a crush on Margaret Doll Rod when I was 15-years-old and that hers may have been the first bare breasts I'd ever seen with my own eyes.
Upon completion of the set, I went to the bathroom sink and easily rung more than a pint of sweat out of my shirt. My jeans were thoroughly soaked as well and surprisingly my boots even seemed wet. We load out through the crowd of disco dancing demi-sluts and find our way to the hotel that feels more like someone who happens to have three rooms each with a bed and a futon in their apartment.
I take a cold nighttime shower and the sounds I make underneath the wintry water spout are hilarious to me. I had to be brave though and ultimately it aided in my getting through the scorching night.
We awoke early the next morn with hopes of being touristy. As it was a Sunday and St. Paulo day, the Vatican was immediately ruled out. Sights were set on the Coliseum and the Forum with approximately two hours to kill.
As I walked down some steps approaching the Coliseum, I was astonished to see an old man pickpocketed by a girl no more than 9-years-old. The girl appeared to be in cahoots with a seemingly pregnant woman as the scam was to offer the unsuspecting man his wallet back for a price.
I didn't let the shadiness of it all bum me out as much as I left the craftiness of the operation impress me.
Line to get tickets for the Coliseum was 40 minutes long and it was suggested one needed at least an hour to view it all properly. Or we could get a proper tour guide for 10 euros extra per person and be taken directly into the Coliseum for a guided viewing. I decided I'd rather just peek around than feel rushed, so we passed up paying for anything and took some photos from the outside.
All around there are "actors" for lack of a better term, dressed as Roman soldiers and offering to take pictures with you, you know, for a little donation. As I made my way away from the Coliseum towards some huge white building down the street with all kinds of statues and fountains in front of it, the blinding sun was soaking everything and everyone as a celestial equalizer in terms of oppression. I had not an umbrella nor sunglasses, but felt strangely happy to be walking around.
My highlight was using the digital photobooth in subway station, immediately followed by using the pay-per-pee toilet in the subway station. A more disgusting and vile shit-torium I have never been privy to. Ice cream and Gatorade lessen the heat's affects, but ultimately, just to wander 'round the ancient town two hours in full was as timely treat as any. That last sentence was so gay I promise to kick my own ass for forgiveness.