Diary from Live Friday night in Geneva, Switzerland.

Here’s a slice of my life from this weekend. I wanted to live blog this but I couldn’t bare to spend about $35 USD on internet access from my hotel room. Why do they charge so much? The cheapest Café will give you free net with a $2 cup of coffee.

I had a booking set for Geneva, Switzerland at a club called LeZoo at Usine. The contract was signed and the advance and flights were paid so everything was go. From checking out the websites and MySpace pages of the promoters (myspace.com/feelingandsound) and other bands performing I knew this event would be a cool one. I’ve performed in Switzerland before in Zurich, Bern and Lausaunne and all those were also quite excellent. The only major hitch was the flight time home was brutal, 8:35AM back to Berlin!

Every show starts for me a full day before I travel. On Thursday I laid out all the equipment and went over my check list. The reason it’s important to do it 24 hours before is if anything is missing that gives me time to buy replacement stuff. In NYC, where I used to live everything is open all the time, but in Berlin (my current address) if I am missing a cable or adapter it’s not always given I will find it too easily. Worse case scenario if I can’t find something at least I can contact the promoter to help me search their city with some warning. I also check the live show in Ableton, make some backup CD-Rs, do laundry and a few other things.

I wake up pretty early everyday. I don’t have blinds on my windows and once the sun is up my cats think it’s time for me to get up too. So even though it would have been smart to somehow sleep late on Friday I was awake around 7:00 AM. The flight to Geneva was at 2:20PM. Normally I take a taxi to Tegel airport for 20 euros but this was a Easyjet flight from Schoenefeld airport and it’s far so I took the U2 to Alexanderplatz then a special S-Bahn train directly to the Airport. It’s all easy and only cost 2.10 euro but you do have to leave a bit earlier. I think I left my house around noon.

Easyjet corrals you into a room to wait to board and that room has less seats in it than any in airplane. This is some evil experiment I am sure. Standing for an hour to board pisses me off even more when I know I’m not going to be sleeping that night.

I’m picked up at the airport by the promoters and taken to the hotel. “How was your flight?” and the usual banter ensues. I’m uber happy to be performing but to be honest I’m totally jaded when it comes to certain things. I really never want to every tell anyone how my flight was ever again. It’s always the same. The airplane goes into the sky and lands. Thats it. It’s amazing for sure but it’s always exactly the same. That’s an ass-y thing to say I know but imagine 20 years of being asked the same question.

It was now 6:00PM and because the venue opened at 9:00PM they asked if I could drop off my clothes and do sound check right away. This was fine with me and off to sound check we went. I met one of the other acts Mimetic. His music was kinda noise mixed with breaks running of a Macbook and Ableton, no vocals. After setting up and testing my audio I had the usual argument with the “visuals” people concerning the fact that when I perform I don’t want any lights or their video playing. I have my own video that plays in sync with the music. Why is that so hard to understand sometimes? My show is only an hour they can spit smiling faces and fractals all over the club for the other 11 hours! Actually the video guys at Usine were great and they did have a cool set up of screens and the imagery they used was a nice mix of live footage from the evening and basic logos.

It was now almost 9:00PM and I wanted to see some of Geneva so a friend of mine who lives there met me and we walked around. Geneva is a wealthy and nice city. Plenty of Ferraris on the streets. It sits on Lake Geneva and the Rhône River runs through the center of the city. It’s surrounded by the snow tipped Alps. The streets were full of people dressed up heading out for the night. I heard a decent mix of French and English being spoken.

After walking for a few hours I realized I better get back to the hotel, shower and get my show clothes on. My show time was 2:00AM so I told them to pick me up at 1:00AM. I don’t like hanging in clubs before the gig. Nothing kills my mood more than standing and screaming over loud music some mundane conversation. Even worse is being backstage with whatever bands have been drinking there since soundcheck.

I always request a four star hotel. The main reason is I need to know for an absolute fact I can get 24 hour room service. Why? Because at 1:00AM I need some dam coffee! Guess what? This hotel’s room service was closed. Down I went to the lobby and although there was a coffee machine in the office they “weren’t serving” any that late. Four stars my ass. I had the instant coffee in my room, with the instant creamer shit and sugar and got myself an instant stomach ache.

Yeah so they pick me and I get to the venue and they tell me everything is delayed a bit. I go on at 3:00AM. Ok so now I have to stand and banter for an hour an a half. Remember I’ve been up, traveling and walking all day. You can see why bands do loads of speed/cocaine right? Although this blog post would be a lot more interesting if I did some lines… I didn’t.

3:00AM and I go on. This is the part I love. I really do enjoy performing live. As soon as the music starts I’m happy screaming my head off and running around. It’s what I do best… my true nature comes out. During the show I trying and attach to the audience as much as possible. I jump and and off the table and stage a bunch of times, sweat a lot, etc… I make sure not to “go through the motions” and really tell the words I am singing. I keep a fresh memory of being 17 and seeing bands like Front 242, Bauhaus and Neubauten live and what that meant to me and what makes a live performance incredible. I also keep in my mind that everyone in that club paid money to see me. It’s my job to make sure they get what they paid for. It’s my job to exceed their expectations. Amazingly videos from the show appeared on Youtube already (they are the ones on this page).

After the show I throw the equipment into the cases and go backstage for about 40 minutes. I get paid and a ride back to the hotel. A few years ago this part would be very different. It would involve all the excesses you could imagine. But to be honest I want to live to see my 80s so this post about this weekend stays PG.

It’s now about 5:00AM and I need to empty the cases and rubber band all the wires, etc… I’d say about 50% of the time I am stopped for a special check at the airport. It’s pretty wack to open your cases up and there is a huge mass of tangled cables.

I’m 38 and before I get a taxi to the airport (remember the flight back is at 8:00AM!) I have to take some Advil (Ibuprofen). Getting old is weird… tired = pain. Of course once at the airport it’s time for another Easyjet boarding area standing room only hell experiment. This time I’ve been awake more than 24 hours… bastards!

By the time I get back to Berlin it’s about noon again. Time to sleep. Imagine I had another show on Saturday night!?

7 Comments

  1. I had the privilege of opening for Jerome (Mimetic) when he came here a few years back. Talented guy.

    This post makes me want to get back into playing live again. Despite all the odd crazy stuff that can happen to make the evening go all to hell, nothing beats being up on that stage.

    Reply

  2. sounds like a fun lifestyle, even when living cautiously as you describe. flying to switzerland for the day, staying in a four star hotel, sign me up!

    do you feel like you’re giving up some networking opportunities when you take off really quick after the show though? or just making new friends?

    and have you ever had a merch table to sell CDs? just curious what are your opinions on that side of things.

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  3. “how was your flight?” – “Fine, how was your car journey?”
    :P

    Reply

  4. Hi Mr. Tunes. I’ll stay and chat if I think its important for sure. But in some ways I’m better via email for work stuff and if you want to know my weird personality just listen to my music :) I do know what your saying though…

    When I perform for something with Out of Line Music they set up a merch table. When I am alone I can’t do it for a few reasons… 1… airline weight baggage restrictions, the equipment is already almost the max I can take. 2… if I dont have someone to sit there I would have to do it and I’ll just end up giving everything away for free!

    Reply

  5. Very interesting and cool, thanks for posting. I’ve got 6 gigs coming up in April (eep!) so it’s good to hear about other people’s experiences and processes.

    I also find it interesting that you don’t bother with merch.
    Every band I know who makes a living from their music are very focussed on merch, in fact touring is primarily to sell merch, and they usually demand in the rider that someone be available to man their merch stand. Personally though, I loathe exchanging money for my CDs and feel akward every time. Never really found a way around that…

    Reply

  6. Yeah Pete exactly… during my show I give away some stickers, rock pins, CDs and vinyl. It gives me a few minutes break from the yelling! After the show I can’t see myself taking money from kids. But point of sale is important and I really should re-think a way to have merchandise at the events I play. Especially now that I am performing more EBM/Goth venues.

    Reply

  7. Yes I think it’s great the way you hand out the vynil during the show, as Slimelight everyone on the floor was practically fighting for them!
    I have a policy that if I sell 1 I have to sell them to everyone and can’t give any away, otherwise the people who paid would understandably feel ripped off or like I was playing friend vs fan or something.
    I’d love to be able to send releases to every DJ I know, for example, but that would be seen as pretty lame by the DJs who actually paid.

    Thing is though – you could practically set up a TTC stall at every show!
    Speaking Goth, apparantly Cruxshadows had a choice between taking a merch person or a sound person on tour, and they chose a merch person. They pay for themselves, and I’m surprised at how many artists in the EBM/goth scene actually do make a living this way. I prolly would’ve picked up a Horrorist Tee at Slimes…

    Reply

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