Saturday, February 18th, 2006
Tram #7 To Heaven
Seeing as how I am on this trip ostensibly as a music blogger, it seemed appropriate that I would do some actual local music blogging. In this case, trekking down to Utrecht, about 30 minutes by train south of Amsterdam, with Coolfer to catch Swedish troubadour Jens Lekman at Ekko, a small cozy club in town. Lekman and his band were their own opening act, performing some instrumental jazzy numbers led by the horn section. By the time Lekman took the stage as headliner, the club was pretty packed with punters.
It’s been almost a year since I saw Lekman last, and I’d almost forgotten what an entertaining performer he is. He played a mix of new songs and old and interjected them with charming little bits of storytelling, including stopping “Do You Remember The Riots” halfway through to ask the crowd if we knew the story behind the song, telling it, and then picking up right where he left off, and explaining why the t-shirts he had on sale said only “2006” on them (“it’s going to be the best year ever – the shirt is for the optimists, and in the future, the nostalgists”). It was also especially nice to see him playing with a horn section, as it really helped recreate the album arrangements (“You Are The Light” just isn’t the same trumpet-less) and bring out the Motown-ish feel of a lot of his songs. The set was a little brief-ish at just an hour, but even though he suggested he might continue playing songs out on the sidewalk, we opted to grab the train back into the city.
My first transoceanic gig photos! I have to say, I was amazed by the cameras at the show – at home, everyone is wielding little pocket digicams but last night, it was DSLRs all around – some with some pretty intimidating lenses. I guess people on the continent take their photography a lot more seriously.
So you’d think that commuting to another city to catch a late night rock show would be the most adventuresome point in the evening, wouldn’t you? Not so much, as it turned out. The Amsterdam trams stop running at around 12:15AM, and since I opted to grab some shwarma after getting back into Amsterdam Centraal, I missed the last one. No problem, they run night buses, one of which appeared to pass through my neck of the woods. Well funny thing about being on a bus at 1AM in a city you really don’t know at all… I thought I knew where we were, but after about 20 minutes of riding in relative silence (no stop announcements from the driver or onboard PA, just over-loud cackling from kids in the back – teenagers really are the same the world ’round), I asked the driver if we were going to be passing by the Lloyd Hotel anytime soon, pointing out my destination on the map. He just stared at the map bewildered for a few moments. Never a good sign. As it turned out, the bus had made a hard left right before it would have hit familiar territory and I was now on a bus bound well out of Amsterdam to points unknown.
The driver told me that he’d be circling back after he finished the route and I’d get back eventually. The end of the line, however, turned out to be way out beyond the boondocks. Like a construction site along the water where they were just starting to build the middle of nowhere (or where I later learned was called Haven Eiland). Needless to say, I was the last one on the bus and as it tried to make a fifteen-point turn through the dirt and sand to get back on the road heading into the city again, it occurred to me that this would be an ideal place to rob/murder/dispose of a solitary Canadian tourist. They’d never find me. Who would think to dredge the IJ Canal? Not me, that’s for sure, and I’d be at the bottom of it. But Mr Bus Driver was as good as his word and eventually got me back to within a couple blocks of the hotel and I got back, safe and sound – but what would have been about a 3-minute ride if the trams were still running turned out to be an hour-long trek into terror. Okay, not so much terror as agitation. But still. Gonna have to pay much more attention to where that night bus is going, if I ever end up on it again. Which is entirely possible.
Metric have completed a second video from Live It Out for “Poster Of A Girl”. Watch it at Muchmusic and read about it at Filter. Via For The Records. Metric are doing a two-night stand at the Kool Haus next weekend.
np – My Morning Jacket / Z