RANGES EUROPEAN TOUR BLOG // DAY 3 // FREIBURG, GERMANY
It was a late night in Lyon. As I mentioned before, I was forced into segregated sleeping arrangements due to my snoring debacle on night one; this of course was part of my plan to get my own space the entire time. I had my headphones in as I usually do when going to sleep, but in between songs I could hear the sweet sounds of grown men giggling in the adjacent room. I didn’t ask, but I can only assume that Joey, Mark and Joseph were having a pretty sweet tickle party. Point being, we were all up way past our bedtimes. We spent the morning recharging with some Turkish wake-up music (which is not a European code word for cocaine, as this is at least an attempt at a “grown up” tour), coffee and French chocolate éclair-type pastries at the apartment of Cloud Shelter’s Jerome and his girlfriend Laura. As has become a theme for this tour, the hospitality across the board has been pretty special, and obviously much appreciated.
We set off to Freiburg, Germany in the late morning. The journey through the French countryside was rife with discoveries, both wonderful and unnerving. Bright spots included the fact that one can seemingly find good food literally anywhere in France. I picked up a piping hot baguette stuffed with chorizo, cheese, herbs and red wine vinegar at a rest stop convenience store, and I can genuinely say I have zero complaints. Back home it’s fairly well known that anyone who seeks to dine on gas station food at best has no regard for their own health and at worst has an outright death wish. I can not even fathom how long those packaged devilled eggs sit in coolers until some doomed soul decides that today is the day that they’re going to dance with the devil in the pale moonlight. But in France I have had multiple gas station lattes that challenge more than half of the pretentious boutique beaneries back home. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a fan of pretentious bullshit in many instances. But I’ll certainly not turn my nose at quality offered for cheap at a location typically associated with garbage-on-the-go.
Giving me more pause were some of the things I saw in said rest stop’s bathroom. First and foremost, the toilet paper dispenser that was buried deep within what can only be described as a re-purposed glory hole. Call me an uppity American if you’d like, but I’d prefer my toilet paper not originate from an indeterminate location inside of a fixture typically associated with anonymous sex. Less directly disturbing, but worth mentioning nonetheless, was the bathroom sink that featured the designer’s replicated signature. I mean, c’mon France, I know you like to tout the many beautiful things you produce, but not everything is art. Let’s just leave it at that.
Post-rock is often defined by the construction of soundscapes steeped in build-ups drenched in reverbed-out melody and high-drama climactic outbursts. The Ranges tour van, however, is more a full-on sensory experience focused on not only sound but also smell. A cacophony of farts, burps, exaggerated stretching noises, purposefully unnerving giggles, and Joey Caldwell practicing the languages of whatever country we are in with mixed results. It’s more akin to deep experimental noise-drone-jazz, a blend of style and sonics that would make Keiji Haino and John Zorn collectively blush.
We rolled into Freiburg a couple hours prior to load-in, so we took the opportunity to sightsee a little. We really ran the gamut when it came to architectural and artistic wonders, ranging from gazing upon the Freiburg Minster cathedral to checking out the penises on animal statues. I also took as much time as could be afforded to grab some local food and bev. I had an awesome apple and pistachio tart just steps away from our venue for the evening, Slow Club. I also took a walk down the street and had a Schokoccino at a café/bar. I also had the unexpected high-nerd opportunity to drink this concoction of coffee and warm German chocolate directly outside one of the spots that plays a role early in Dario Argento’s “Suspiria” – Eschholzstrabe. Didn’t expect that, but I’m super happy that it popped up as part of my time here. Since undoubtedly zero people reading this care about that, I’ll move on. But still.
One of the nice things about this tour has been the variation from venue to venue. From what I hear, “Ghent” was “packed” but “very small.” I’m still kind of perplexed that everyone is talking about it like it actually happened. Paris was a smallish venue in what I can only assume was in a less than 100% savory part of town, judging by the amount of time I spent faced with a grown man’s exposed genitalia in the street. But the venue itself was fun, had a good vibe at the bar upstairs, and an enthusiastic crowd. The Hard Rock was obviously what you would expect – clean and well-composed, with a pro setup that provided a wonderful experience. Tonight in Frieburg a lot of us felt returned to our DIY roots; it was a small venue in a back alley that is owned by the community and staffed by volunteers. It’s also a smoking-permitted club, which is something I haven’t been used to in a great long while. It felt very much like a collective though. Promoter Jürgen spent a decent chunk of the afternoon cooking lasagna for both Ranges and Ukrainian opening band Nonsun. Once people began to arrive it felt like a grilling party could break out at any moment. This was definitely a crowd that seemed to be ingrained into the music culture of the area. I was struck also by how many people there were at the show that appeared to be over fifty. It was very refreshing to see so many enthusiastic people of that age continuing to support music. I can’t imagine ever not being the way that I am currently when it comes to music, so these folks really resonated with me.
A fellow labelmate on dunk!records, Nonsun presented a contrasting foil to Ranges’ often placid, hopeful sound; they are dark and dissonant and sound like the sonic representation of quietly seething fury. They struck me as a perfect kind of band for the German crowd, who seemed more prepared and even eager to have their buttons pushed and their sensibilities challenged than the crowds of previous gigs. They clearly appreciated it, which made me wonder what the response to Ranges would be. But it was again a very successful evening. The 40 or so people at the show all seemed to genuinely love what they were hearing and like last night, when it was over there were factions in the crowd asking for an encore tune. It wasn’t in the cards tonight though, as the extended performance in Lyon, the long drive to Freiburg, and the prospect of leaving at 6 AM for Zottegem the following morning proved to be fairly overwhelming.
That being said, this one was another huge success. There has certainly not been a single dud show on this tour, and tomorrow will of course prove to be the biggest of all, as the Ranges boys take on the main stage at dunk!2018. Stay tuned.