March 9-11, 2012
We arrived in Athens with plenty of time to spare. After getting the last few blog entries together over coffee, we loaded into Kytarro Live with the help of the promoter and their stage crew, who were great guys. Not the worst load-in, but not the best either: flat streets, but about 200-300 m and around the corner to where the bus was parked.
Kytarro Live is a nice venue: a big room, nice PA, competent engineers, decent backstage facilities. We got set up and fed and watered with a couple hours to spare, so Doug, Sean, Nili and I decided to try and see some of Athens. After a brief discussion on the street, we decided to walk to the Acropolis, about 2 km south. This proved to be educational, but clearly not advisable. We ended up walking straight through what appeared to be the worst parts of Athens for nearly an hour. We did see several showbills posted on the way, clear evidence that the promoter had done his job.
After we’d reached the foot of the Acropolis park, we wandered around a bit, checking out Hadrian’s Library (from 152 AD) and the local shops and sights. I successfully haggled for the first time, and we saw many cats. We took a cab back to the venue and got set for soundcheck. I napped whilst Tony and band checked, and then AC got to it. We were nearly done when the hi-hat stand popped ANOTHER rivet, this time at the top of the chain. We stopped soundcheck, as we were pretty much done, and I set to work fixing it. The monitor tech George helped, and although I got it together, I wasn’t happy or confident it would hold up. He suggested we jump on his scooter and roll to a local drum shop to get another stand, and eventually that’s what we did. Imagine two grown men on a scooter rolling through rush-hour traffic in Athens on a Friday, with a hi-hat stand. We got back and I painstakingly set up the new gear to match the old. Aquiles arrived just as I’d finished (he’d also done some sightseeing after soundcheck) and said “perfect.”
As I went through the doors to the backstage area, my bandmates were headed to the stage to strike our gear. Here’s why: the tour manager is dropping the ball like crazy. Our bus driver just happened to call the ferry we were taking to Italy later that night, to confirm the schedule, and learned we’d been given the wrong times: the ferry left an hour earlier than we thought. We’d adjusted show times to allow for this, or so we thought. Whilst I was having a scooter adventure, Sean was looking at the schedule for the evening and doing the math, and he realized we’d never make it. In the end we decided to not play so Tony could start a full hour early and we could be on the road by 11 pm to make the 6 am deadline for the ferry. The result was 42 prepaid tickets had to be refunded, because there was no way to notify them. The alternative was, if we’d missed the ferry we’d have to drive for 3 days straight to make the Barcelona show, because we still don’t have a CARNET (thanks tour manager) and would have to drive back through Greece, Bulgaria and Romania before we could turn west towards Spain. We’d never get through customs of some other countries without it.
In case you’re wondering, a CARNET is a gear manifest that has been signed and stamped in the originating country. We’d all emailed serial numbers and gear descriptions to the tour manager, but he never followed through. This is one thing that screwed us in Turkey (there were several). He claimed at the time, that in his 15 years as a TM that he’d never signed a carnet, and it was the agent’s job. There are over 125 years’ of combined touring experience on this bus, and when asked, they unanimously expressed that the tour manager always handles the carnet. I could go on, as this is the tip of the iceberg with the ball-dropping.
But I digress…
Back at the show, Tony and band began to deliver a spirited performance (the sound and monitor setup was great for a change) when the NEW hi-hat suffers a catastrophic failure during the third song. 110 Euros for three songs. I switched it out with the old one and began to pray, but it held. Upon close inspection, the new one really had gone teats-up, and was useless except for parts, not even fixable with the tools and parts we have.
After the show, we really did the Cookeville breakdown: just under 49 minutes from Tony’s last note to the close of the trailer door. I broke down Aquiles kit in 30 minutes, a new best. Everyone really pitched in a lot. We made the ferry on time after a typical earthquake of a ride, although it did seem like Gary was driving with a lot of gusto.
We all got our day gear together and went to our rooms on the boat for the 26-hour ride up the Adriatic Sea to Venice. I lucked out and ended up sharing a room with Daniel (the others were 4 to a room), immediately showered, got breakfast and went to bed. I woke up after lunch and went to the lounge, and that was pretty much the story for the next 8 hours: sitting around drinking beers and chatting. We went to dinner about 7:30, and after a long wait, got some great food. The ferry was like a mini-cruise ship. Then to the duty-free shop for a bottle of Chivas Regal and some mini Snickers, a few rounds, and in bed by 10 pm.
I woke at 6 am so I could watch the sunrise over the Adriatic, and see Venice as we came to port through the Grand Canal. It was breathtaking. I took pictures. I had Greek coffee.
Now we’re back on the bus for a four hour ride to our next show. Next stop: Mezzago, Italy.