Saturday, February 20, 2010

UK / Euro Tour: Feb. 18th - Feb. 20

We arrived at London Gatwick Airport around 7am GMT on Wednesday. After getting about an hour of sleep on our 7 and a half hour flight, we were met and greeted by our new pal/tour manager/all-around-sweet-dude, Dan. His van, The Great Red Shark, is our means of transportation for this tour. It's been kind of different getting used to riding shotgun on the left side of the vehicle. We've definitely all made the mistake of trying to get in the van on the wrong side.

Once we left the airport, we embarked on what would be one of the longest days of our lives. We've been told that trying to power through jet-lag is the best thing you can do, and I'm glad we did. However, lack of food and lack of sleep made the whole day feel like a dream.

We spent the day running errands and picking up the amps and drums we've borrowed from Vagrant for the next month. You wouldn't believe the keyboard stand I was given to use. It seriously looks like it was developed by NASA. It's HUGE, COMPLETELY impractical, and looks like something that once belonged to Rick Wakeman. Luckily, at our first show in Glasgow - more on that in a bit - the sound guy, Dougie, sold me his old two-tier keyboard stand for a mere £15.

I'll give you one guess as to who has the worst luck in the world with vehicles...

Answer: We do.

After finishing our errands the first day, we embarked on a four hour drive to Leeds, UK, where we would stay with friends and promoters, Matty and James. On the way there, in the middle of the highway, the clutch on the Shark went out, and we were left stranded in the middle lane with cars whizzing by and no chance of getting over to the shoulder. Within four minutes of us blocking the lane and slowing traffic, a miracle occurred and man in a van pulled in front of us, hopped out, opened his back door, pulled out a tow-rope, hooked our front end to his back end, came rushing to the window and asked if our brakes still worked, and pulled us off to the shoulder. Honestly, it happened so fast, none of us could believe it.

Once we were off on the shoulder, we tried to come up with ways to express our gratitude, but nothing other than "Thank you soooo much," could be muttered in our shocked state. The man stayed only long enough to tell us that he had broken down in nearly the same spot a week before and that another motorist had plowed into him from behind. I still have NO idea what we would have done without his help.

Luckily, Dan has the UK equivalent of AAA, and after standing on the shoulder in the cold for approximately 35 minutes, we were joined by a repair van. In cases where the repair is easy, it's these guys' job to actually fix it on the side of the road. Unfortunately, that was not the case for us, and we had to be towed to a garage for the night.

Now, normally in cases where we've been towed to a garage in The States, we've had to wait until the next morning to have anyone even look at the van. But, because everyone is overly-friendly and everything is incredibly convenient in The UK, we had the van in the garage and repaired in under a half hour. It was 11:30pm.

The first show of tour was what every first show of tour usually is: rough around the edges. While setting up for sound check, we had a scare with some blown fuses and blown power adapters. Luckily, Dougie - the most helpful sound guy we've EVER had the pleasure of working with - came to the rescue again and sent Dan on his way to pick up a magical box that would provide us with the correct voltage we needed to run our American plugs into the UK outlets. (The next day we dropped £40 and purchased our own magical box.)

After the show, we drove to Sterling, Scotland and The Miniature Dinosaurs treated us with some real hospitality. Upon or arrival, we were greeted with drinks and snacks and Musical Trivial Pursuit: 90's - Present. I answered a couple of questions correctly and disappeared upstairs to catch up on LOST, while Griffin, Nathan, and Clayton stayed downstairs to hang tough.

The next morning, we awoke and stepped outside, and realized a giant castle was looming in the distance on top of a huge hill. The general consensus was, "Well, we have GOT to go see what that looks like up-close."



The view was absolutely breathtaking, and honestly, the pictures don't do it justice.

It's Saturday now and I can't believe we've only been here for four days.

More posts to follow...