Welcome back to my continued coverage of the Turn Me On Dead Man 2018 European Tour. This was day 6 of our journey and this would be our fifth and final show in Italy.
Back in the van!
Even though we had one more show in Italy we had to pass through Switzerland, which meant we had to deal with Customs!
A touring band passing through the Swiss border should be ready to take out all of their merch in order to assess how much stuff they come in with verses how much they leave with. They tax you for the stuff you sold during your visit. The stressful part is that they put a lien on your card, which in this case was around 1000euro. This is essentially a deposit which they return to you minus the tax as you leave the country. We crossed a couple of times so we had to do this twice…I believe we sold enough merch to generate roughly 9euro for the Swiss! This can also be time consuming, so plan for this if you have an early load-in.
Some shots from the drive
Crossing the Swiss border went smoothly and we could now enjoy our first glimpses of The Alps! I was gonna do a slide show here but the alps deserve an unobstructed format, so enjoy these in full!
Arriving in Torino
I forget the story about the archways over the walkways in Torino. Something about the ruler at the time wanting to be able to ride his horse around town without getting rained on or sunburnt or something like that. Anyone who knows the story, feel free to comment. Anyway, the architecture as to be expected, was stunning.
The venue was excellent and served as a combination bar/restauraut and music venue. This added to the liveliness, as we were so used to walking into cold empty venues at load-in. It was nice to arrive at a lively spot full of people enjoying some drinks and dinner even if they weren’t there for the show.
A few minutes from a couple songs from our set that night:
We continue our journey through Italy along the Western Coast, now heading inland toward Zero Branco. Before heading to the next town, we stopped to visit Verona. I was actually hoping we’d have time to see Venice which was also in the vicinity, but just a bit too far for us to see and make the gig on time, so Verona it was!
We unexpectedly got to see some Roman ruins. The ‘Porta dei Leoni’ or ‘Loins Gate’ was exposed during excavations in the late 1950’s. I intentionally overexposed the pics below so you can see some of the detail in the recessed shadows beneath the walkway.
We tooled around The Piazza Erbe, which was excellent for people watching, and we found the contrast between the old ruins and the modern fashion market element pretty amusing. You could almost travel back in time in your mind but then a spot of neon would catch your eye and immediately broke the spell.
Chris and I broke off at one point to kill time while others were finishing lunch. We wandered around the narrow side streets for a while taking in the architecture.
LOVE IS ALL AROUND
We eventually ended up at the infamous ‘balcony’.
Supposedly this is where the famous scene in Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliette took place.
There were hearts graffitti’d everywhere and messages of love, and people crowding in to get photo’s in front of the ‘Where for art thou balcony’, ambling to touch a piece of history.
It’s funny that it’s treated as such an historical place when, in reality, none of that ever happened! It was also a bit amusing that people had travelled from far and wide to see this site, and we were pretty much unaware of where we had stumbled upon until we had been there for a few minutes! We had no idea what all of the hearts and notes were for at first, nor why there were so many people crowded in this area, then we realized that it was 2 days before Valentines day…apparently this is the most romantic place on earth to many people!
Another thing that ‘broke the spell’ was when we turned around to leave the courtyard and saw, in the adjoining gift shop, all of these little ladies, sitting behind sewing machines, cranking out stitched hearts on various fabrics and items. The whole romantic image of the Shakespearean tragedy, and those extravagant times completely dissolved with the sight of this very public sweatshop.
More pics from Piazza Erbe, Verona:
TO THE VENUE
I only took a few shots as the van windows were getting grimy, and there was also a bit of rain making it difficult to shoot ‘from the hip’ while in transit, though this added a nice effect to a few of the pics that did come out.
Altroquando is essentially a dart club with an extensive menue of craft beer and liquors, located in a semi-remote area in Zero Branco. I didn’t get many pics at this point but following are a few shots we obtained from a fan. I apologize as I don’t remember who took those.
One of the nice things about this venue was that we also had lodging above, so we were able to hang out for a bit and crash without having to load out! We got a good night’s sleep and tackled the gear first thing in the morning before heading to Torino, the location of our final show in Italy.
After an excellent show in the historic town of Castelfidardo, we drove 20 or so minutes, through dark, winding roads, to our digs for the night in the nearby town of Osimo. We stayed in a sort of rustic hotel, which was essentially a house on a hill owned by a lady who lived upstairs. There were a few rooms with beds and a couple of bunk beds, 2 showers and a fully functional kitchen stocked with breakfast biscuits and tea. We settled in a got some sleep.
I woke up to the sound of distant church bells that went on for at least 10 minutes! We arrived the previous evening in the dark of night, so I had no idea what the surounding area looked like. This was the view that greeted us:
…and this cat:
This little one kept us company while we packed the van and gave us good luck on our journey.
More pics of the surrounding area:
We packed up the van, took some ‘arty pics’, bade the the ‘Osimo kitty’ farewell and headed toward Pastrengo in the Province of Verona.
Let’s take a few minutes to see some of the town of Osimo as our driver, Davide, expertly manouvres the narrow roads, displaying some impressive skills right at the beginning, where he backs us out of a precarious position to allow some drivers to pass. We were listening to old Puerto Rican music while driving through the empty streets, which, for some reason, was the perfect soundtrack. It was Sunday and everyone was still asleep, even though it was probably around noon. I added a couple of tracks from the album to enhance the video. Enjoy the winding roads seen through a dirty tour van window!
Here’s a slide show of our drive, we had another brief view of the Adriatic Ocean. Another thing of note, something we would see throughout our trip, was that a lot of the highway sound/wind barriers also absorb solar energy, something we should definitely pick up on in The U.S.
We arrived at the venue, met the other band, Holy Fuzz, and got set up. The stage was low, so we were more on the level with the crowd, which I like. The venue was really nice, had good acoustics and we took part in an excellent prosciutto and cheese spread.
Here’s a short clip of the opener Holy Fuzz doing a rendition of “The Money Will Roll Right In” by Fang, no doubt a nod to our hometown as Fang were from The Bay Area (Berkeley).
Also, a short clip of “Starlust-Face on Mars” from our set.
This was a pretty early Sunday show, so we drove to where we were staying, Villafranca, and had a lovely home cooked pasta dinner with Daniel and his dad Franco, a Sci-fi writer.
We woke up the next morning, still jet lagged in a small town near Pescara or it may have still been Pescara. The architectue around there was a taste of what was to be a constant througout the entire trip, old crumbling buildings, with overgrown vines that really gave you a sense of being somewhere with deep history.
The photos were taken right across from where we stayed and the short video below gives you a sense of the old roads.
We had a short drive to Castel Fidardo which was very pretty, mostly farmland.
We passed Loreto where the Basilica Santa Casa sat shrouded in mist. We didn’t have time to stop but what a sight! Read about the legend of the Black Madonna if you’re not familiar. This is one of the biggest pilgramage sites in the world with nearly 4 million visitors per year! We blazed right by it though, we had to bring the spacerock to the people, no time for infamous pilgramage sites!
We got to the venue which was also in a really cool area on a hill. We eventually found out that we were in a very special place regarding the history of the accordian. It turns out that the Stratovarius of accordians are manufactured here, and people travel far and wide to obtain one. Furthermore, and perhaps even more interesting is that the club owner, Giampiero, has an uncle who was the guy who travelled to Houston in the 60’s and set up an accordian shop, which directly fed the Tex-Mex and Tejano scene in a major way. Again, the history of this place was pretty special.
The building the club was in was also a music shop, Casa della Musica which was built by the founder of the accordian in the early 1900’s.
Aside from the heavy music history here, Giampiero was a gracious host, really excited to have us and treated us like family almost! The food was also amazing, we had a nice spread backstage as well as a bar full of prosciutto and cheese plates to pick at.
Also adding to the family atmosphere…family! I’m guessing from the ‘Shaolin’ gear, these were the bands kids, or friends of the bands kids, or maybe they just really attract a young fanbase. Either way, It was a cool experience to see kids hanging out in a bar scene without it being weird or dangerous. These kids knew their way around a pool table as well as a can of silly string!
One of the first observations I made being in Europe was this openeness of culture. We generally wouldn’t dare bring our kids out to a little dive bar like this, I very rarely ever see bands bring their families out to shows, unless it’s a festival or giant tour scenario, but never little dive bar gigs. These kids were so well behaved around pool cues and pint glasses, and these early social experiences are sure to form them into well adjusted adults, actually. they were better behaved than most adults I’ve encounter in bars!
In The U.S., we have such a different stigma around our bar scene. These are dark places where only dark things happen. Aside from rampant alcoholism being an obvious element, these are places where drugs are obtained and consumed, the focus is usually a search for random sex, and gun violence is a frequent occurence. The club scene often has an intimidating gang element, or a vibe of machismo, groups of “bro’s” out looking for girls, which can easily create a predatory environment. Rock and Roll, punk and indie/DIY shows can seem intimidating from the outside, and there is a real lack of all ages venues everywhere which makes it difficult to expose our youth to more diversity in culture and locally generated creativity.
I’m not saying all of Europe is like this, but this one isolated experience was an eye opener, and made me question if this could ever occur in the US where we fear even sending our kids to school these days.
Let me also add that this was a small humble venue, I say ‘dive bar’ but it was a really clean, well decorated venue with a decent sound system and competent sound guy. The bathrooms were also really clean and everyone kept up on that, another phenomenon I would observe throughout our trip.
Here, it was all about good food, music, family and strong coffee! People were drinking alcohol of course but with a different sort of approach that wasn’t so much to escape from something as it was to enhance an already great atmosphere and experience.
here’s a couple of minutes of the opener that night. Shaolin were a great bunch of young musicians.
Here’s an excerpt from Maharishi from our set that night:
We had a great set, packed up the gear and drove 15 minutes to our digs for the night in Osimo. Stay tuned for more…
All pics by Jeff K.
“Action Shot” by Imanuele Pirani
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