We were extremely fortunate this year to end Spring by touring a few cities in Europe. The trip began with some meetings in Cannes and then we wound our way up to Paris, Barcelona, and Porto.
Cannes is a glamorous and confusing place. We ran into some stars (Slash! Adrien Brody!), ate amazing strawberries at a farmer’s market, watched a woman carry her infant down a steep cobblestone street wearing purple stilettos, and talked to people about their yacht trips to Monaco. We can’t deny it was a little uncomfortable sometimes, people definitely stared at us when we walked back and forth with our instruments and suitcases full of gear. We were relieved to return to the anonymous hustle of a big city.
When we arrived for our week in Paris, we found our favorite audiences of the whole tour. They were excited to hear our songs and we had great conversations with people before and after the shows. Our new friends Maxime and Brad played some stellar tunes one night with us, we’re anxious to hear their future recordings, which we’ll be sure to share with you. We wound up playing five nights all over the city, accompanied by our dear friend Danay who captured the whole thing with her trusty camera. A few of the bars were in the Latin Quarter and I swear we saw Rodolphe and Mimi strolling by in borrowed finery! We were excited to have another great photographer, Lautaro Catalan A., take a few professional shots of us near (near enough to karate chop..) the Eiffel tower.
From there we took a train to Barcelona, where the warm afternoons were interrupted by rain and dark clouds. Happily, the sun was out whenever we needed to wander into the city. We got hopelessly lost in the maze of the Gothic neighborhood and stumbled upon some delicious tapas which immediately made us fall into a stupor at the table, was it a siesta attack? We were probably exhausted from trying to have conversations with our argentine castellano and not understanding the catalan responses we got in return. The next day we had time to catch a few of the afternoon Primavera Sound concerts in the Parc de la Ciutat before our gig at a pub a few blocks away. We had a great time with the singer from Ladies Di and the rocker Tatsuya and the house band who stepped in to play a few of our songs with us. Rodrigo and the band also broke into a version of Johnny B. Good that left the drunk college students spinning. That night Autumn ate something wrong, which added some chaos to our attempts to pack up and leave in the morning. We luckily had a distraction when the taxi driver took us around La Sagrada Famillia on the way to the train station. Holy fruit spires, batman! That’s one trippy and fantastic piece of architecture, good enough to make Autumn forget her food poisoning.
Our overnight train ride through Spain ended in the lovely port-town of Vigo, where we were informed that we’d have to wait seven hours until the next train to Portugal. Excited about a chance to inhabit a cafe, we promptly parked ourselves and our boat-load of bags at the corner restaurant and ordered orange juice and coffees all day without ever being asked to leave.
We made it to Porto later that night (after we almost missed the train because someone was suddenly inspired to buy Spanish candies at the last minute) where the rain was pouring and our hotel was up a steep sidewalk paved in intricately cut white stones. We were actually thankful for the rain because it drowned out the racket our midnight luggage riot parade made rolling up the stone sidewalk.
Our performance in Porto was at a lively art space called Maus Hábitos, where apparently the Black Lips had given a secret show the night before. It’s the entire fourth floor of an old Art Deco auto garage, across the street from the huge Coliseu do Porto. It hosts dances, theater pieces, avant garde vegetarian lunches, djs, rock bands, art studios, and all styles of artistic rambunctiousness. It’s complete with a beautiful rooftop garden, a scary clown mural and a talented sound guy. Everyone was so receptive – obgrido a todos de Maus Hábitos!
We loved Porto – slanting cobble-stoned hills full of terracotta rooftops and towering churches covered in blue and white hand-painted tile, with a glistening river and remarkably kind people. Something wanted us to stay there because when we went to the station to pick up our last leg of train travel back to Paris, we found out that we were in the middle of one of Europe’s infamous train strikes, which meant we couldn’t use our last pre-paid train ticket. The sweet couple at the hotel Residencial Santo Andre helped us calm down when we thought we’d never make it home again and found us a cheap plane ticket back to Paris. We had to pay extra for our bags of gear, but we pretended it was a really fun thing to do because it was all in Portuguese (everything’s fun in Portuguese!). The only truly unfortunate part of that night was the last minute hotel we found in Paris due to our early arrival. Instead of spending the night cruising on a hotel train – we walked into the moldiest, dankest hotel room in all of Paris and left as early as we could in the morning – running past our crying neighbors (they were literally crying).
It was a relief to find a much better place to stay on our last night and to hang out with friends, french wine and good old brownies. And now, suddenly we find ourselves back in LA again, happy to see the Pacific, but also looking forward to our next invitation to revisit all the great cities we got to know. Thank you to everyone we met along the way, we’ll be seeing you soon, next time with the full band! A bien tôt, nos vemos pronto, até logo!