Paris and Thiers

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Paris and Thiers

Wednesday 3rd July

We left Glasgow at 6am to drive to get the train to France. The tunnel amazed me AGAIN by getting us there in 35 minutes, I wonder if it will ever not amaze me! We didn’t drive too far that night in France. We stayed over in Saint Omer, what we saw of the town was lovely; the sun was shining which always makes places look nice! We were all pretty tired after driving all day so we were very rock n roll – dinner then a DVD in bed! Our DVD of choice that night was “I Love You, man” It’s hard to choose films to take with us to please 2 girls who like a good chick flick, and Scott. I think I chose pretty well at 5 in the morning while I was half asleep and getting ready to leave!

 

Thursday 4th July

Paris day! We had a 3 hour drive to get there and sound check wasn’t until 6pm – this gave us plenty of time as we were out of our hotel by 11am – why can’t all hotels be a 12pm check out!? Driving in Paris has always been a bit of a nightmare any time we’ve been there before, we’re usually staying on one side of the city and playing on another but today our hotel and venue were only 1km apart. We decided to check into the hotel before heading to the venue to lighten our load. The hotel had an underground car park, we had to park 5 floors down. Kirsty and I were at the car alone while Scott was still in the hotel, we were standing chatting outside the car when I heard some sort of animal padding along the concrete. I freaked out thinking it was going to be some sort of creature that lived underground because you just never know!! Turns out it was just a dog that seemed to live down there but all I could think of was the crazy dog in “I Am Legend” so I locked us in the car.

The venue was called Espace B, in the north east of the city. We were pretty early so we loaded our gear into the venue then had the afternoon to ourselves. We wandered around the corner to a nice little bar that I had spotted on Google maps when I was looking up the venue before we left. We just spent the afternoon sitting outside the bar, people watching and having a few drinks. I even drank beer – I’m not a beer drinker, I don’t like the taste at all but this one was a raspberry beer which was lovely! I suppose that’s sort of cheating but it was still called beer!

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‘Paris graffiti’

Headed back to the venue for 6pm but everything was running late as there had been some technical problems during the other bands sound checks, we were first on that night so were the last sound check. We were happy to line check then play but doors were pushed back by half an hour to give us some more time to check everything. The stage was a busy one that night, the headline band The Music Tapes had a cool set up but there was so much equipment on stage! We don’t take up that much room though so we managed to fit in comfortably. Our set was 45 minutes and I really enjoyed it, Paris gigs are always fun, we’ve never had a bad one! Our booker Pascal was there with his family, he is also the booker for The Music Tapes, it’s always nice to see him and his family when we’re in Paris. It’s nice to see familiar faces in foreign places.

Friday 5th July

Check out at this hotel was 12pm! Hallelujah!! We obviously had to go back into the terrifying dog car park, I’m not scared of dogs, I actually love dogs but this one looked a bit terrifying! Luckily we didn’t see the demon dog on the way out!

We were heading to Thiers in the South of France, the drive was stunning – the sun was splitting the sky all the way. We arrived in Thiers at around 6pm and it was still incredibly warm, we managed to find the tennis on French tv so decided to get some drinks in the hotel room and watch it, our hotel was just next to a supermarket so Kirsty and I got some beers and prosecco while Scott watched the start of the tennis. We didn’t last long watching it because our hotel room was so warm – it seemed like a waste to sit inside so we took our drinks outside and caught the last of the sun. We went out for dinner that night just across from the hotel, it was a 5km trek up a huge hill into the town that we knew we were spending the whole day in on Saturday so we didn’t go to the festival on Friday.

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‘sunset in Thiers’

 

Saturday 6th July

Once again the sun was splitting the sky, it was insanely warm all day but the festival had a great atmosphere. All the roads around the town were closed to traffic, there were 5 or 6 different stages dotted around the town, we were playing on the biggest one which didn’t open until 8.30pm. The other stages had bands on from 2.30pm. We arrived quite early so had some lunch in the artist catering area which was amazing, the view from there was unbelievable. There was so much choice for lunch, I took some pasta and what I thought was ham – WRONGGG – turns out it was tongue. I was not amused when I was told it was tongue. It didn’t actually taste that bad but it’s more the thought of eating a tongue that made me not finish it. This obviously led to a few puns from Scott.

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lunchtime view

After lunch we wandered around to see what the rest of the festival was like, the town was very hilly so along with the heat and the hills it felt like walking around was giving us a good workout! The town looked amazing, they had flags hanging in all the lanes, it was so colourful. We came across a stall doing hair braids, Kirsty has wanted one for so long – every time we play a festival we have a look around to see if anyone is doing them but this was the first time we’ve found a stall so she decided to get one. She chose blue and green threads – I tried to watch the woman who was braiding the hair to see if I could work out how to do it if Kirst ever decides she wants another one but her hands were moving so fast I don’t have a clue where I would start!

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We had a sound check at 6pm so we headed down to the car to load our stuff to the stage. The walk from the car to the stage wasn’t that long but remember when I said the town was very hilly? And warm? It wasn’t too bad for me because I didn’t have nearly as much stuff to carry as Scott – no idea how he carried so much stuff in that heat. Our stage was directly in the sun at 6pm so we were melting during the sound check – I don’t think I’ve ever been that warm on a stage. Last summer we played an open air festival in Vienna and it was warm but I think Thiers topped that! I’m so glad we weren’t playing until 10pm! It’s nice to get a sound check at a festival because a lot of the time it’s just a quick line check then you play. All the techs were great and made everything really easy.  There was a great backstage area which was so nice and cool compared to the crazy heat outside – we headed straight there after almost melting on stage then it was time for some dinner. I was much more sensible with my food choices this time – they had salmon. My favourite fish, perfect!

Our stage time was 9.40pm but everything was running late so it was nearer 10pm when we actually played, it was one of my all-time favourite gigs! The atmosphere from the crowd was amazing. Our stage was just next to a church and during ‘poster children’ our light show was purple. The purple lights against the church looked so spooky and eerie along with the song. My side of the crowd were pretty rowdy and at the end of the set during ‘Moondogs’ they were moshing! Amazing. Definitely in the top 3 best Haight-Ashbury gigs!

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crowd shot

 From there it was off to the crazy heat of Perpignan – heat which I am currently sitting in, melting, waiting to play our gig! Look at that sky!

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Linz and Leipzig!

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I slept the whole way from Vienna to Linz and woke up just as the car was pulling into the venue. One of the first things we saw when we arrived at the venue, Posthof, was this very large – and by large I mean HUGE poster of our faces! It took up almost the whole size of the side of the building.

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The venue had used our faces on the music listings poster for May/June, the more we explored the venue it turned out that almost every time we turned around we would see this poster. There was even one in the bedroom that Kirsty and I were staying in that night.

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It’s a shame we never got a poster to keep, I always try and get a poster from each show we play to keep as a souvenier but these ones were all framed so I never managed to get one.

We were playing with 2 other bands that night, Francis International Airport and Nowhere Train. We were all staying in accomodation at the venue so after what was a really fun night of watching the other bands and playing the gig we all got together in the green room upstairs from the venue. Someone got a guitar out and Scott was playing all the big hits while the guys from Nowhere Train sang with him – Kirsty and I sat listening and enjoying them all – we couldn’t stop smiling! Their voices were amazing – the sort of voices that make you never want to sing again because you know you’ll never be as good as them! haha! We did do a bit of singing that night though! I have some great videos of everyone playing and singing together which I’ll need to upload somewhere. That night was definitely one of my favourite nights we’ve ever had on tour.

After a pretty late night we had a very long drive to Leipzig – hungover and very tired! We got there with plenty of time to spare – we weren’t on stage until 11.30pm so we made the most of the sunshine and sat outside the venue, had another few drinks (to cure the hangovers) and had one of the best dinners we’ve had on tour. We also watched the whole of the Eurovision song contest – one of our more rock and roll days that one! The venue was called Isles Erika, there was a club/venue downstairs and a cinema upstairs so we couldn’t soundcheck or play the gig until the cinema was closed. It was a really interesting place, the owners were great and created a really nice atmosphere for the night, it was a lovely relaxed last night of tour.

From now on I’ll be blogging as we tour – trying to remember everything afterwards has been tricky! Next stop on our touring schedule is Paris on the 4th of July!

oh Vienna

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We had an instore performance at 5pm in Vienna and the drive from Budapest to Vienna was just over 2 hours so we had plenty of time to get there, check into our hotel, drop off all our gear at the venue and get to the record store. Or so we thought…

The hotel and the venue were on the same street so we thought it would be a simple task to drop off all the gear at the venue after we checked in, unfortunately, Barbara, our sat nav, had other plans for us that day. The venue was in one of the arches under the railway, Barbara had no idea how to get there, we were running late after driving around in circles for a while so our plan changed – straight to the record store for the instore performance!

We met up with Tom, one of our bookers, outside the shop. It was called Recordbag,  he took us in to meet the owners. We were taken to the back to tune up and get ready. We played 4 songs, Moondogs, 3 Little Birds, Freeman Town and Sophomore to a small but very friendly crowd. I get stupidly nervous about these sort of things usually, for some reason if there is a microphone in front of me I don’t get nervous but take it away and I’m a ball of nerves! That day however, the atmosphere was pretty relaxed so no nerves!

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Just at the front of the shop there was a whole stand filled with band tshirts for babies and kids, all very cute, Kirsty was  ready to buy one for her niece but Sylvia, the shop owner, gave it to her as a gift! Can’t wait to see little Eilidh wearing it! How cute!!!!

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After the instore we had to try and find our way to the venue, which would have been another disaster had we not had Tom with us! He got us there with no trouble at all, if only he had been with us at the start of the day! The venue we were playing was called Chelsea, it really reminded me of  The Green Door Store in Brighton. The soundcheck was really quick and easy, just the way we like it! We had a photoshoot to do afterwards with The Gap magazine which again was really quick and easy – just the way we like it!

We all love Vienna, I think it has a lot to do with the fact that the very first time we went we had a good few days to see a bit of the city and get a feel for the place. There’s a really nice relaxed atmosphere when you are walking around. We went for Vietnamese food that night and I had a chilli challenge of my own, completely by accident, chilli oil is not my friend!

We were the only band playing that night, I really enjoyed the gig, another friendly crowd! The last few times we’ve been in Vienna we’ve played in a museum so this gig was something a bit different, we’re very lucky to get to play so many different kinds of venues. Boats, clubs, museums, fields, concert halls – you name it – Haight-Ashbury have probably gigged it! We enjoyed a good few drinks with our Vienna friends Tom, Klaus and Nadine that night!

We were up early-ish the next morning because it was so very very warm in our hotel room! I was up first and went down for breakfast, there was another band in the breakfast room and once Kirsty and Scott came down we all got chatting. They were called Dark Dark Dark and had played the night before in another venue, we got chatting about Glasgow because they had played there last year. Their gig got cancelled last minute and our friend Craig who books bands at King Tuts helped them out and saved the day by getting them in to play in the bar at tuts. Small world and as soon as they mentioned that their gig had been cancelled I remembered the story.

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ready to pack the car to head to Linz!

 

tour tour tour – Bratislava and Budapest

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We (Haight-Ashbury) are not long back from tour number…I don’t actually know what number, they all kinda roll into one in a great way, but it was the third one this year, and it was fantastic! I try and take as many photos as I can while we are away because I get the feeling that in the years to come I’m going to struggle to remember what a place looked like so I’m going to use this blog to share photos and memories and a few stories from tour. Not all the stories mind you, what goes on tour stays on tour!!!

We started on Saturday 11th May, up at the crack of dawn to drive to London to meet our manager to then drive to the Eurotunnel. I have lost count of the amount of times we’ve done this  but we’ve started to get into such a familiar routine with it that it feels completely normal to travel the length of the country before 2pm in the afternoon! Our aim for that day was to make it to Brussels to stay over before starting the long drive to Bratislava. I love the Eurotunnel, a big tin box that takes hundreds of cars back and forth to France in half an hour is pretty amazing. My favourite thing about it is the sign on the UK side pointing to France.

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The drive to Bratislava from Glasgow is 1411 miles. A loooonnnngggg way to go and it’s the furthest east we’ve been for a show. It was a gorgeous sunny day when we arrived for the gig at KC Dunaj (The cultural centre Dunaj˜) We were playing on the top floor of the centre, such an interesting place. It is used for live shows, club nights, literature, visual arts, theatre and social events. Part of the venue is a bar, with a terrace with a beautiful view of the Old town. Unfortunately my photos of the view from the terrace aren’t that great because the sun was just at the point that an iPhone decides to make a beautiful scene look mediocre. I can tell you though that the view was indeed beautiful, you’ll just have to take my word for it or go to Bratislava and see it for yourself!

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The show in Bratislava was fun, it’s amazing to play in a place that you’ve never been and have a crowd of people to play to, equally amazing is when there are people in the crowd singing along to our songs.

We had a great hotel in Bratislava. Interesting bathroom situation in the room…a window between the bathroom and the bedroom. No frosted glass just a nice big window so that whoever you share a room with can see you. Weird and kind of creepy if you ask me. Very similar to this one but I’m pretty sure our window was bigger because it was behind the bed. It was a lovely hotel though, always seems to be the way that when we are lucky enough to get an amazing hotel like this that we are only in it for a short time. Still, it’s nice to be in them for even a short time!

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We ended up having an unexpected day off after Bratislava so we had a choice to make – stay there for a night or head to Budapest, the stop on the tour. We all opted for Budapest,  so we packed the car, checked our route on the map because  our sat nav doesn’t have eastern European maps and we headed off.

We arrived in Budapest at around 3pm, we were staying in the same hotel for 2 nights (normal bathroom situation here guys!!) We dumped our stuff in our room and headed out, we were all starving and just along from our hotel we found a little restaurant/bar that we could sit outside at.  Chili was exactly the sort of place we needed, predictably Scott and I both had chilli. There was a tiny little chilli placed on top for what I decided, was presentation. Kirsty and Scott later decided to have a chilli challenge, just as they both bit into it I reminded them of this little gem – the smaller the chilli, the hotter it is – too late  though, they were both gulping down beer as fast as they could to cool their mouths. One round of the chilli challenge wasn’t enough for these two crazy kids, oh no, they went for round two! Both players did an excellent job but I would have to say Kirst handled the chilli challenge much better than Scott. Well done Kirst!!

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We moved to another bar for a couple of drinks and to watch the football. I’m not a beer drinker but even I could appreciate the tables in this bar, upstairs, each table had a beer tap!

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Lots of fun and the bill wasn’t even crazy, Budapest is wonderfully cheap, it’s definitely a place I would like to go back to and explore a bit more! 4 very merry people made their way back to the hotel that night!

We had a seriously lazy day the next day (Wednesday) which was a shame because we didn’t get to see or do much before our soundcheck. The venue we were playing was called A38 Hajó, it was a lot bigger than I was expecting and it was a boat! The 3rd boat we’ve played on, once you’re inside they just feel like a venue but every so often you feel the rock of the water which is a strange sensation. We had an interview to do after soundcheck which was done in an art gallery space on the boat, it looked out onto the river Danube, after that it was time for dinner in the restaurant. We ate A LOT of schnitzel on this tour but this one was particularly good! Might have had something to do with the atmosphere and the view we had from the restaurant.

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I was starting to forget we actually had a gig to play that night, we were having too much fun relaxing in the restaurant and in the outdoor bar. That day felt like a mini holiday, the sun was beating down on us!

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We were playing alongside 3 other bands which was nice, there have been so many times we’ve turned up at a venue and we are the only band playing, which is scary! It’s nice to have other people around backstage. Speaking of backstage, best part of that was the bar backstage. We all got given wristbands with 4000 forints to spend at the bar. ah-ma-zing! The gig was one of my favourites, again because the crowd was bigger than any of us expected. They were a really fun crowd, lots of dancing and singing, at one point during Blow Your Mind a group of people joined hands and danced around in a circle, good old fashioned hippy dancing! It was great, it’s so nice to look out and see people enjoying themselves. We met some lovely people afterwards, we even had 2 people jump a fence and a barrier to get to the backstage area to meet us!

 

BUDAPEST

 

Next stop on the tour was Vienna…