February 28 – March 1, 2012
Prague, Czech Republic
Cologne continued our German series with what I like to think of as a gray vengeance. A street-level club with the feel of a basement. The city was gray, the sky was gray, it was fucking gray. And it wasn’t about to change any time soon.
We parked on the street literally in front of the entrance to the club. I’d gotten up in time for the day’s big event: a trip to the music store! Nearly everyone went, and we took two cabs from the corner nearby to the largest music store I have ever seen. It was pretty much like any other music store but bigger, with a cafeteria, coffee bar and other luxurious amenities. I got some sticks and a guitar stand for Doug, Aquiles got a replacement for his cracked 14” china, Nili got strings, Eric failed to find fuses for his mixer, and I saw and used my first Dyson Blade, a fancy hand-dryer made by the vacuum cleaner giant. It worked ok.
Load-in and soundcheck were fine – rather uneventful, as were the shows, at least from a technical standpoint. Aquiles had a good night, and seemed happy with the show. Tony caught the cold that was going around and was not feeling well. The promoter failed to pay us our fee, claiming it wasn’t part of the agreement, but we showed the T.M. the signed contract he should have had in his pocket going into that conversation. He’ll cover it and chase the money down himself.
Our next stop was Prague at a club called Matrix. Quite possibly the worst load-in I have ever experienced. First there was a cobblestone courtyard. Then a LONG driveway. Then a long flight of medieval stairs. Then some more stairs. Then a long hallway. It made Smith’s seem like nothing. Really.
The show wasn’t great – again we’d been hosed on promotion. Now, in my past experience, that may sound like an excuse, but in this case it is not: Tony can draw 400-500 for a guitar clinic in Germany anytime. The clubs in these cases were not doing their part to get the word out. It was a little discouraging.
We finished up, and began the struggle for load-out. One of the club’s loaders dropped a bass drum and cracked the hoop pretty bad. We did the hurry up and shower dance and got on the bus. Everybody was feeling fairly puny so we went to bed early, after the bus had moved to the outskirts of Prague in a salvage yard, where we were to fend for ourselves on our day off. We’d made a plan to attempt laundry and the old square via a cab in the morning. My laundry situation was becoming desperate.
We got up and gathered our laundry and set out, a bit later than we’d intended. I splurged for some data download to use my GPS and find cab stand. After one wrong turn, and a lot of grumbling about the situation, we ended up at the doorstep of a small luxury hotel on the hillside. Someone said, “I bet they’d call us a cab from there.” This proved to be the turning point. Not only were they happy to call us a cab, they also allowed us to drop our laundry with their service, to pick up on our return. 5 loads for 40 euros – basically $12 per person. Things began to look up.
The cab showed up, a nice guy named Petr who happened to be a musician. It was fast and comfortable and cost about 10 euros. BAM. We were in the Old Square in Prague.
We found a nice sidewalk cafe’ and spent a couple hours getting fed and watered and offending the locals. Then we wandered around till our feet hurt. Nili, Sean and Mike went to check out the Old Synagogue, where the names of Nili’s forebears are etched in the monument there. Eric and I walked and walked.
And then, the kipper: THE SUN CAME OUT. It was like Jesus taking you out to dinner. We just stood and stared – everything looked so alive. You take it for granted, the occasional sunny day, but we’d not seen the sun for more than five minutes in ten days.
Refreshed by this miracle, we continued our meanderings, eventually grabbing seats at another sidewalk cafe and camping out to watch the sun set on the square. Soon we were joined by our wayward companions, and we got dinner right where we were. As the sun set, we decided we’d need to return soon. The picture at left shows the planetary alignment that was happening at the time in the sky over the Old Square. Holy awesome.
Fully recharged by our day off, we grabbed a cab (after stopping at a nearby grocery) and headed back to collect our laundry and get to the bus. Okay, I’d thought I could get this all in one entry, but it’s too long.
Next stop: Krakow, Poland.