Monday, June 4th, 2007
Radio Free Europe
…And so yes, I’m back. Touched down in Toronto Saturday afternoon, safe and sound and rather happy to be back. Maybe not so much to be trading in the jagged majesty of the Swiss Alps, the lush greenery of the German forests, the Adriatic splendor of Venice or the rolling fields of the Czech Republic for, well, the sweltering asphalt embrace of ol’ Hogtown, but home is home.
Happily, I can say almost without qualification that I had a great trip. Sure, a bus tour across the middle of Europe with the parentals might not rate too highly on the hijink-o-meter, but I actually drank more in the past two weeks than I have in the whole of 2007 to this point. Do with that information what you will. I also slept a lot on buses and planes and ate more pork than is probably wise. Happily, the whole tour group thing didn’t turn out to be as heinous as I’d feared it might – while the demographic still skewed decidedly senior, there were some younger folks along as well who I could talk to and most everyone was friendly and got on well. Which is really necessary when you’re stuck on a bus together for a fortnight. That said, I think my tour group vacationing days are over or at least put off a good long while – buffet-style holidays are simply too exhausting and hectic. From here on out, it’s going to be picking one or two countries at a time and exploring them properly – and ideally only dealing with a single currency or language while I’m at it.
I’m not going to get into a day-by-day recap of my travels here, instead saving those for my Flickr to accompany my photos. Yes, there’s lots of photos. So far I’ve gotten sets for the first stops in Germany, the Czech Republic and Austria with many more to come. And while I’ve never wanted to be the guy who was all, “hey check out my holiday snaps”… hey, check out my holiday snaps. I’ll link to more sets as I get them up over the next week or so.
As far as the hoped-for recharging of the batteries while away, I think that’s mostly been a success though I have to say – not having to get up every day and think “what am I going to write about?” was a welcome relief… I almost hate to give that up. And while it was strange to be extracted wholesale from my daily life and dropped somewhere else entirely for so long, it was also good for getting some perspective on things, blog and otherwise. Did I go to Europe and find myself? Not so much, but I did turn up some promising leads.
But vacations are only really enjoyable when they’re relative to non-vacations, so it’s back to the (mostly-)daily grind. And what a week to do it in – starting last night, with Loney, Dear at Lee’s Palace, The National at the Opera House on Tuesday and then NxNE Thursday through Saturday. And let’s not forget the Long Blondes/Nicole Atkins chaser on Monday night. When THAT’S all over, then I can rest a bit.
But while I’ve been away, I haven’t been completely inactive. Though internet access was sporadic in Europe, it was there and I did keep up with some of what was going on while abroad. Some of it will filter out over the next few days, but some stuff that bears mentioning now:
The first MP3 from Okkervil River’s new album The Stage Names. First impression? Sounds slick (for Okkervil) – listen to those drum sounds! – and is it me or does Will Sheff sing in tune through the whole song? No, never mind. Still, sounds pretty damn good – August 7 can’t come soon enough. Will has some notes on the song over at the ORNAG and Playback:StL has an interview.
And a whole pile of shows announced in the past couple weeks which I’m just going to run them off laundry list-style.
June 14 – The Veils, The Comas @ The El Mocambo, $12.00
June 20 – The Lemonheads @ Lee’s Palace, $23.50
June 23 – Montag, Miracle Fortress @ The Whippersnapper Gallery
June 26 – Get Him Eat Him @ Sneaky Dee’s
June 28 – Bishop Allen @ Lee’s Palace, $10.00
June 29 – Ryan Adams & The Cardinals @ The Enwave Theatre (official capacity is 422? That’s TINY, and of course this is as sold out as you can get)
July 8 – The Blow @ Horseshoe, $10.00
July 18 – Deerhunter, The Ponys @ Lee’s Palace, $15.50 (missed both acts their last times through town – not this time?)
July 21 – Slint @ The Phoenix, $21.50 (So does this mean Dave Pajo doesn’t hate us anymore?)
July 23 – They Might Be Giants @ Mod Club, $26.00
July 24 – Jason Isbell @ El Mocambo, $8.50 (Hey, nice profile photo…)
August 6 – The Hold Steady @ The Opera House, $15.00
August 26 – Camera Obscura @ The Phoenix, $21.50
September 26 – Ulrich Schnauss @ The Rivoli
10 5 – The Magnolia Electric Co @ Lee’s Palace (More interested to see who’s playing with them – Jason Molina has some great taste in tourmates)
And a few very enticing additions to the Virgin Festival lineup for day two – what had been rather the weaker day (IMO) is now pretty damn meaty with the the presence of Stars, Explosions In The Sky and Blonde Redhead. I’m really really starting to get psyched for September 8 and 9 now.
And some more of those free Beautiful Noise shows coming soon to the Berkeley Church – more info to come, but I expect the details will be the same as for the Long Winters show there last month.
And a bummer to hear about Sam The Record Man closing on June 30, but I’m not surprised. When they reopened after their big bankruptcy scare a few years ago, I was confounded to see that their prices were just as high as they were before they nearly went under, if not higher. Way to be competitive. But like most, I will be saddened that the giant neon records that have been a Yonge St mainstay pretty much my entire life will now be gone. I still have a small hole in my heart where the giant neon A&A Records sign from just up the street used to be. Okay, not really.
I think I’m running on Newfoundland time.