In the malleable and ever-shifting enigma that is Loch Lomond, class of '12 is poised to take over Europe on a 7-country, 19-date tour, and we want to take you with us. Meet Ritchie Young, Jason Leonard, Mike Young, Dave Depper, and myself (Brooke Parrott), who arrived in Brussels (Jade Brings Plenty will be joining in Hamburg) early Friday morning, after a fitful red-eye from Portland. Making our way to a shabby and red light district-adjacent hotel, we dropped our bags and headed for Brussels city center for a tourist day off. A biting cold bore through us as we made the rounds of caddy-corner churches, picture-posing-worthy sculptures, and the majestic Palace of Justice. A stop to get caffeinated turned sour as Dave spilled coffee and melted chocolate over most of the surface area of Ritchie's pants (which elicited confused and often frightened expressions from many a shop owner over the course of the day).
The following morning, our tour driver Wouter spirited us away to Zwolle, Netherlands; the first stop of the tour. A beautiful, quaint town that once boasted imposing towered gates (of which only one is left) and a house-boat encrusted moat, Zwolle was now playing host to it's own version of Mardi Gras - a carnival of epically drunk proportions, and equally epic costuming. At the venue on the outskirts of old town, the occasional bumble bee family hinted at the bizzarity ensuing in the city center, of which we would be privy to the next morning...
Back at the venue, Eureka, we played a show to the carnival-unimpressed and non-participatory—a wonderfully silent, attentive, and appreciative crowd.
We awoke the next day to a beautiful, sunny Netherlands. Armed with iPhones, we descended on the city center to get a good look at the carnival. An eerily quiet Zwolle greeted us, but as we neared the town center, we began to catch glimpses of a stray energizer bunny-costumed woman here, a chain-smoking jester there.
The city-center tent was chaos. Costumes ranged from the bizarre but still recognizable to the completely baffling and indecipherable. Gnomes mingled with pirates, dancing flowers, courtly ladies-in-waiting, sailors, many-sequined jesters, and octogenarian popeyes, all bursting sporadically into song to marching-band accompaniment. At one point, the mayor of the carnival (apparently elected to run the city for these four days), led a procession through the tent and proceeded to enlist his governmental underlings in a form of glorified karaoke - a gesticulating and gusto-ed rendition of a single they'd pushed to radio especially for Carnival. Literally the only people in the tent without a costume, we eventually decided to leave them be and hop in the van for the next stop of the tour: Nijmegen.
We pulled into the center of Nijmegen, and ran smack into a spectacular Carnival parade that was going on there. Costumed, candy-throwing and beer-toting residents sat atop spectacular parade floats, each one boasting a different song blaring over loudspeakers. After a good wander around we retreated to the hotel as snowflakes began to gently dust the parade.
The show that night was another one to remember—we could feel the songs settling into a comfortable routine, and a group of girls in the audience were even singing along.
The next day we took a slight detour to pick up our brand new European tour EP, 'White Dresses', hot off the presses from our European record label Chemikal Underground. We were heading to Winsum, NL ("Winsum, lose some", joked Dave) to play a house show, and Wouter took us on a wonderful detour through the village he was born in, complete with a fascinating history lesson of the area. We even drove down a road lined with trees planted by Napoleon so that his army could always walk in the shade.
After a lovely acoustic show that night, and wonderful company from our hosts, we slept like the jetlagged dead, and in the morning began to trade our newlyfound Dutch phrases ("leuk" = cool) for German ones (sprechen sie Englisch?), as we headed for Deutchland. BROOKE PARROTT.