I’m starting this tour tour report as we’re flying from Brussels to Madrid. The first of many take-offs and landings. After Madrid we’re flying to Sao Paulo and Porto Alegre where the first show will be. Usually when we tour on other continents we’re done flying after arriving at the first show and we continue by van. Not this tour. This one seems to be completely different from any tour we have previously done. Once we finished our show in Porto Alegre we will fly to the show in Sao Paulo the next day. And to Buenos Aires the day after that. And so on, and so on.
We’ve done many tours in the past, in a lot of thinkable ways. We did tours on our own, in our own van, relatively close to home. We also did support tours with bigger bands. We also toured in a nightliner. And on other continents than our own. But we never did a support tour in a different continent, where we flew to every single show. That is what makes this tour different from anything we ever did before. Hopefully better, probably crazier, definitely more exhausting. Our tour book, which is our bible for the next weeks, tells us what to expect, tells us there are days we get up at 3:45am after playing a show till probably late the night before. I wonder if we will ever notice a jetlag or never really get into any rhythm.
Last time we toured Brazil is like a haze to me. When you are not in charge of booking, driving or managing a tour, it’s harder to keep track of where you are and what’s going on. I’m sure this tour will be the same. What I do remember from our previous visit to Brazil is the warmth and friendliness of the people. They are so thankful that you come and tour their country. And when the show starts their enthusiasm translates into the most intense crowd response; from dancing to singing, screaming to running around.
I’m collecting memories of the first 2 shows in Brazil, in Porto Alegre and Sao Paulo, as we’re having 2 days off in a beach house. It’s nice to see that people not only come out to see the headliner, Satanic Surfers, which is always the “risk” of being a support band. But people really seem to know us. From when we toured here in 2012, or from online activity and of course from the new album that got released a month before the tour by our Brazilian label, Fusa Records. The 2 Brazilian shows were amazing. Completely packed venues with sweaty, singing and dancing people. Old and new friends coming up to us and asking us when we will come back again first thing after the show. And never before did we appear in so many selfies and did our signature appear on so many merch items. (Check our instagram and facebook if you don’t believe us!)
It’s nice to have 2 days off in Itanhaém Beach, close to Sao Paulo. Not only because the early “lobby call” at 3:45am to get to Sao Paulo, but also because the next 6 shows will be without days off, but having equally early get-up times. From here on we won’t be guided by tour manager Lucas from Solid Music Entertainment. It’s us and the Surfers on our own.
The biggest upside to this tour is the biggest downside at the same time: in 2 weeks we get to play Latin America from north to south, from west to east. We’re playing to skatepunk and melodic punkrock fans in all major capitals in Latin America, getting our music out to people that might not have heard our music yet, but are likely to appreciate it. A chance of a lifetime, we owe Satanic Surfers and Solid Music Entertainment eternal gratitude for having us on this tour. But on the other side, touring on a crazy schedule like this means that airports, hotels and venues are pretty much the only things we get to see. Most impressions we get from the cities are from traveling in between these anchor points. And even when there is a dead hour it might be wise to spend it asleep and invest in the show later that night.
Loud music is more common in Latin America than it is in the Netherlands in particular and Europe in general. In the beach house in Itanhaém Beach there is a radio with a national channel playing 24/7. Within one hour The Offspring, Ramones, Bad Religion and Rage Against the Machine have played from the speakers. What Dutch or European national radio station (still) has such playlists?
It’s not the intention to make a political piece out of this, but hallelujah to the EU! (Disclaimer; not all aspects are OK, of course.) I think we pretty much toured Latin America the way bands used to tour Europe before the EU: border crossings and custom stops before and after every show and recalculating merch prices to the local currency for every show. For anyone who has ever traveled to the US or outside of Europe you will probably know how idiotically senseless the customs forms are that you NEED to fill in (“Please check the box if you were active as SS soldier in Nazi Germany”), and how purposeless the baggage checks are (“Merch? No problem if it’s for promotional use only!”) Endless formalities where you’re in big trouble if you check the wrong box. Can’t wait for the “Latin Union” when we get to go back.
Despite the little time off, some interesting things occurred to us, unfortunately a lot of which based on their colonial history. We saw a lot of European heritage while we expected to see more USA influence. For instance, everywhere the metric system is in use, in most countries there’s more European cars than American cars. Certain countries and cities seem more like poorer versions of European cities than anything else. Then again there are differences; Brazil, Colombia and Mexico “feel” more American than the other countries, especially the public space does.
Touring Latin America is very rewarding, even when you are “only the support band” and most people might only know the headliner. First of all people are thankful that you take the opportunity to travel to their continent and play for them. Second of all, it occurred to us how many people appreciated the political aspect of our band. When Latin America crowds are usually known to love fast punk, the faster the better and take lyrical content for granted (a language issue I’m sure). But many people came up to us after the shows saying they liked both our music and the message we stand for. On the other hand, the punk scene is closely related to the hardcore and metal scene. A lot of the shows were announced as “Hardcore shows”. Partly a good thing, because it brings wide varieties of people to the shows. On the other hand, the mix of hardcore and even hip-hop results in a certain macho attitude at shows and VERY few females who are not girlfriends at shows. Not to speak about the fact that we played with a lot of bands, none of which had female members. Some steps are still to be taken …
We were truly struck by how many people already knew us. And it is awesome to notice how small (or big, depends on how you look at it) the punk scene is. In Mexico we played with We Step Out, a band that covered a song by Smash the Statues, our friends from the Netherlands (that never toured or released in Latin America). After the last show with Satanic Surfers, our paths split and we arranged to drive home with the We Step Out guys. People we never met before, took us in their van to drive us from Guadalajara to Mexico City, took us in their homes for some sleep and showed us around the city when we have a day off before our last flight. Long live the DIY/punk scene!
5 languages (non-Latin American like Dutch and Swedish included)
1000s of people at the shows
100s of merch items sold
3 hearts filled with joy to return to Latin America as soon as we can!