Today we left Germany and made for Switzerland. The Swiss do not drive like the Germans do. The no-limits autobahn and ‘everyone get out of the way’, gentlemanly attitude, is replaced with strict speed limits and a general decorum of hogging the fast lane; much like England. It does, however, boast some amazing sights. Today I finally got the see the Alps from ground view. Even from a distance, they are something to behold.
Nyon is a fairly small city, but unlike the places in Germany we have visited so far, it is a Roman town and is picturesque, even at night. It was too dark to see the lake Geneva from the hill, but I am very excited to see it tomorrow.
The promoter/manager of the venue tonight, La Parenthése, was most generous with his treatment of us. For him, music is important and he wants to treat every musician who comes through Nyon, to the highest standard. He took us to a local restaurant (which served the best, locally-sourced, fish I have ever, EVER tasted!) where we spoke about what the music scene was like in Nyon. It was sad to hear that there is almost no local scene at all. La Parenthése is the only small, independent venue in the city and it cost a lot of money to set it up. I asked Ben, our host, and Jean-Luke, our sound guy, what being a musician in the city was like. Where London has a vast array of venues and practice rooms, Nyon boasts hardly any. There is nowhere for an artist to develop their sound and live act. The local authorities also make it harder by only sponsoring larger venues and skilled musicians, leaving the main core of the music scene; the small venues and bands, to fend for themselves. Only real commitment and backing will see any Swiss bands make it successfully, and even then its still tough.
I hope people like Ben; that are willing to put money into supporting the music scene and bringing in good foreign bands to kick start some local interest in music, get the support they deserve. It all has to start somewhere and from talking to Ben tonight, for Nyon at least, I believe it will.
Apart from Alex; who has paid for the privilege of having mobile data abroad, the rest of us are reliant on venues’ WiFi to keep up to date with the rest of the world. The first two things we ask when we arrive are “Where are your toilets?” and “What’s your WiFi password?” It goes to show the reliance on technology we have in this day and age. It keeps us occupied, it connects us with friends and family and it helps us keep on top of admin. We may be on tour, but emails still need replying to.
Tonight is the first night where our host has no internet. They have made a conscious decision not to have internet or TV in the house. Their argument is that they spend all day at work on the computer and their home is a refuge from technology. Instead, they have art on the walls and a vinyl collection of over 3000; constantly playing throughout the house. This is a guy whose priority is music above all things. Maybe he has the right idea.
Tonights gig was for Baden’s One of a Million festival. We were the openers for the next eight days of music; including Temples, who headline tonight, and Poliça. The atmosphere was amazing. Everyone who attended and volunteered at the event were really enthusiastic. As a running theme with is tour, they made us feel right at home and we partied late into the night with them.
Tonights lineup was entirely British bands. Temples, mentioned earlier, and The Slow Show. It was great to chat about our own experiences of gigging both the UK and Europe. We all agreed that the enthusiasm for music on the continent is a reason bands will keep returning to play. That and the food.
We entered Austria today; the third country of the tour. Apparently this winter is much milder than usual so there is no snow; except on the top of the Alps, which are much closer to us today.
We stay in a hotel tonight. It’s the nicest place so far. Well decorated rooms with doors adjoining them; that kind of thing. And we finally have access to WiFi again!
It’s come at the right point on the tour where we are starting to flag and would rather not have conversations with our hosts at 3am. Some time for ourselves, which is rather important when you’re stuck in a van for up to 6 hours a day with 3 other people. It keeps you sane.
Tonight’s gig is the second of 2 gigs with The Slow Show. These Manchurians have toured Europe many times over the last year and a half. They have had the same experience with audiences we have. They helped us out immensely by lending us one of their guitars as we were having sound issues with Sophie’s acoustic. This was the first gig we’ve done totally electric! Hopefully we will get to play another gig with them soon.
One benefit of this tour is that while you are being looked after, often by locals, you get chance to visit places tourists won’t know about. In Darmstadt it was a little basement club open just once a month, and tonight it was the back of a cafe that converts into a small club playing nothing but Detroit house. The whole situation was surreal. Amos, our host Johannes, half of The Slow Show and myself waited sheepishly outside this cafe and had to wait for the coast to be clear before the owner let us in, and even then it was at his digression. Unlike most clubs in London, the vibe in this place was pleasant. As big as a living room, and mainly just bar area, it’s the last place open in Feldkirch at 4am. Due to its unofficial status, people know and respect the venue otherwise they will loose the privilege of going there. We got back to the hotel at 6. Luckily tomorrow is a day off, I will sleep then.