Everyone was lackluster about Leeds. Almost apologetic. We’ve spent two days here, and played our first show, and though not somewhere we would live (climate), it appears to be a diverse and historic city with much to offer culturally. And the Northerners are nice.
So far, and perhaps this is a European or UK characteristic, it’s very friendly public bathroom wise. No signs, even downtown at McDonalds, warning that there are no public restrooms. And no charge.
We played a DIY info shop housed in a brick warehouse among other brick warehouses along the wharf, and appropriately named Wharf Chambers. We loved our sound man who sympathized with us on shipping experiences – his role on a cruise was to be the DJ and he’s still recovering.
We shared the bill with two fantastic bands:
It was an odd but perhaps “real” time to be scheduling a tour of shows through the UK. With impending elections set for our last tour date in London, the mood was hopeful but mostly resigned to Labour not winning out. I captured thoughts from bands as part of my “Bad Habits” documentary series on this tour.
Next up, we headed to Bristol, a cultural bastion that almost everyone recommended enthusiastically.
We stayed in a mushroom-themed room in Bristol, finding the Full Moon hostel after spending time in a cafe catching wifi to get a map. As we both looked at our smart phones intently, the Iranian owner began laughing at us. “See there,” he said, gesturing to us as an example. “A couple, whatever you are, sitting there, not talking, looking at these!” and he mimiced smart-phone keying/staring. Though his example was relevant to many, we had to mention that we’re spending months on end in one another’s company, and this particular phone use purpose was practical to find our room and drop off our heavy luggage. Nevertheless, we heard about the phenomena of not connecting for the next 30 minutes.
Before playing at this bike shop slash vegan/vegetarian cafe, the owner Rob kindly fed us with one of their deliciously unique veggie burgers. We also ordered, upon the suggestion of one of the bands, their brandy-infused soy latte. Pinhook, new theme drink!
The night opened with the excellent YcVn duo:
Then the great Pinot Grigio:
Following the show, we went with a few of the band members, a booking agent, and other randoms to a place that stayed open later for a drink and to talk about literature and TV shows that have made their way from the UK to the US. We really enjoyed getting to know some Bristolians better.
The next day, upon recommendation from Pinot Grigio we headed to the Bristol Museum.
We went to see the New York Apartment:
On first glance it’s pretty simple, but then walking through you begin to notice details like this:
We loved this idea of the temporary nature of space, and particularly your space’s fragility as an immigrant. Even more, we enjoyed trying to find Banksy around town as well as other graffiti:
And the iconic:
It was the best to walk around finding secret passages of Bristol’s exteriors transformed into subversive scenes – wishing more cities were this expressive. Though as with most things, freedom does not come without protest and this is true here, too. Due to popular demand, the City Council decided not to paint over Naked Man, for instance. In the end, it’s about control of public space – whose wall is it? The eyes that see it, the taxpayers who pay for the building, or the artist who re-imagines blankness?
Thanks to Bristol’s Drunken Werewolf blog for sharing our jangly music with the world!
Oh yeah – and in our continuing series of doppalgangers, here we found NIck Cooney (the drummer for Y cVn):
We were warned about London. The mood was sad, anyway, as election results favoring the Tory party started to roll in.
Adding to this, by the time we arrived to London we were sleep deprived, had no room to stay in, and randomly found a hostel which turned out to be our worst night yet. We rushed to the show to meet Amanda, connected to us by the Europe-wide org Animal Equality. She brought leaflets and joined us on London’s streets to hand out about 100 or so brochures before our show. Animals are lucky to have her voice:
So far, this show was the only place on tour where we did not select the bands that we played with. The venue was also more of a traditional club, though scarcely anyone came to see the bands, even though there were a total of five. Nevertheless, most of the bands were nice and I was kindly allowed to borrow drums.
We also found our 3rd doppalganger, David K.’s (former Free Electric State) elder brother:
It was quite a nice surprise to see an old Durham face (former Scene of the Crime Rover) Mandar:
I’m a bit behind on posting, but up next will be Paris, Amsterdam, Berlin, and more … thank you to everyone who has come out to our shows and otherwise supported our DIY tour!