It has become a ritual. Every summer, around late July and into August, I find myself in Europe, performing at any festival that will have me. In between I try to do shows wherever I can, to avoid nights off. This time around, it's a brief bit of work, less than three weeks. England, Holland, Germany, Poland, Scotland and then back to the USA for about 70 more shows until early December.
A lot of American performer types like me have become very familiar with Europe, as we sometimes spend months at a time here. I know some who enjoy being here and a few who can't stand it. I have always liked it, and it never occurs to me that I have been here too long. I go where the work takes me and don't think much past that.
The hardest part of these oft-vigorous sojourns across the continent is doing it under the weight of jet lag. After a flight or two, suddenly everything is eight or nine hours later and things get strange. It hits some people harder than others. Try as I might, I have not found a way to adjust all that well in fewer than three days.
A sustained state of sleep deprivation and sleep-cycle disruption makes for some interesting thoughts. It can make dreams very vivid and music sound very tripped out, and a lot of the music I listen to doesn't need much help in that direction in the first place.
I started this run of shows in England. I got there a couple of days before my set in Dorset, at Camp Bestival. I was staying in nearby Southampton at a cheap hotel that shared a parking lot with two other cheap hotels. I noticed there was a similar look to a lot of the people around the area -- dangerous tattoos on almost all the men and many of the women. What does a dangerous tattoo look like, you ask? Pot leaves tattooed on the neck, homemade work done on the hand they don't write with, etc. These are men who hit immediately and then laugh as you twitch on the floor. The women were showing a lot of skin: Guts hung over short dresses; breasts threatened to leap out of tops.
From my window, I noticed that many of them were loading incredible amounts of alcohol out of their cars and into the hotel. I had a feeling as to what was coming and I was right. On the two nights I was there, the noise in the hotel got louder and more violent in the halls and parking lot until, for some reason, it suddenly fell silent around 0430 hrs. On the second night, police came to the parking lot to disperse them. Why had these morons and their slutty women amassed? A football game, I was told.