by Richard Lomax
It is the first night of the tour and we head south from Manchester heading for The Harrison’s subterranean ‘folkhole’ in London’s King’s Cross. We’ve played the Harrison once before for Textbook Records and after years of searching it feels like I’ve found one of my favourite places to perform in London.
An impulse to not drink, for the first couple of nights of the tour, swiftly evaporates as a mixture of surprise friends turning up for the show and the nerves that accompany having to speak in public take hold.
It’s our first night of the tour playing with poet and percussionist, Mark Mace Smith, who has joined us on djembe and beatbox (we had played one show and an open mic in Manchester as Granfalloon in the run up to this tour, and I’ve known and played with Mark for nearly a decade in various projects but this was still a first).
The friendly environment and laid back conditions of the night are perfect for the three of us to watch each other and get a feel for how to play together on stage. Peer’s new tape deck contains soundscapes of samples of people speaking Romansch over various other tonal sounds. He plays it between songs to allow us cover to get used to our new playing set up and save me from having to ramble too much between songs. I still ramble. I’m a rambler.
Robin Elliott from London // Natasha Heliotis from London
Le Garage Creative Musik in Liege is one of those venues that fulfills the boho dream. A music venue built into an industrial warehouse unit meaning that noise complaints are unheard of (pun warning). Despite this the beam dividing the room facing the band bears the legend ‘YOU PLAY TOO LOUD’ – the perfect example of the playfulness at the heart of this creative community – a collection of hippies, punks, bohos, dreads, crusties, drinkers, and above all, music lovers.
We are playing with The Kitchen Sink Drama – I know the singer Claire from playing with her brother Matt Wilcock (Hang Project/Murmurs of Tension) in my old project Johnny5thWheel&thecowards. They are also some of people who work with Freaksville Records, Belgium’s foremost proponent of freakmusic and antifolk.
The setting for our music is perfect, the claustrophobic nature of the warehouse helps hem in the thick swirls of dreamscape based sound before they have a chance to escape giving the gig that all elusive ‘atmosphere’. So emboldened by this atmosphere we try out a brand song for the first time EGO – a dragging beat, loop driven track in which I play Casio on stage for the first time. There’s a lot of layering in the song and a lot that can go wrong but thankfully we’re riding high in the moment and not only does it go without fault, the crowd react to it as the high-water mark of the set so far! Next single perhaps?
The Kitchen Sink Drama from Liège
Third country in three days (flurry through France notwithstanding). And as a recent driver I get to fulfil a personal goal of driving from Belgium over the German border bringing my total number of borders driven through to two (if you count England into Scotland).
Elephantß Castle is a one day festival in the centre of Karlsruhe organised by a collective of creatives who run the non-profit outfit Die Anstoß. From how its run, you can tell every aspect of it is put together with love, care and competency. More music lovers. We’ve been very lucky so far. There’s a mixture of games, food stalls, second hand shops and a marimba workshop which floats out over the day in between the bands and the DJ’s all surrounding a giant likeness of an elephant rendered in silver cardboard. It’s a glorious sunny day.
I sometimes have concerns that Granfalloon’s music is not ‘festival music’ in the classic sense. In the open air we lose those thick swirls of sound up into the sky and the sunlight thwarts our dream-based sound. However the crowd are so kind and giving that it feels wonderful to play. We even play a rare encore (those that know me and know my stance on encores will recognise that the mood must have been good for this to occur!).
The music continues on until their strict 11pm curfew becomes 11.30pm and the police descend in friendly fashion to politely end proceedings. I believe Mark and Peer also ended up dismantling the stage along with the Die Anstoß crew and by midnight you would never have known there was a festival there at all save for the giant silver elephant in the middle of the Kronenplatz.
Tomorrow will be our first run of two shows in the same country during this tour as we travel to Wetzlar (then Cologne, Mannheim and Heidelberg.) Hopefully this will afford us the chance to take a moment and see some of Karlsruhe as it’s a gorgeous old city.
Mademoiselle X + Operator 1 from Karlsruhe // Cosmic Mints from Frieburg
WHAT WE’RE LISTENING TO:
Part Two coming soon – but in the mean time, check out Granfalloon’s latest single, Year of the Rooster, here: