words by Dave Depper
Ah, Germany. My favorite country in Europe. A bustling, thoroughly modern, blindingly precise land full of beautiful landscape, friendly people, and great food. And of course, the Autobahn, where you can drive just as fast as your little heart desires.
Our first show here was at a club called Cafe Steinbruch, in Duisberg, a pleasant town in the middle of the bustling Ruhr area—a huge cluster of industrial cities (including Dusseldorf, Essen, and nearby Cologne) which is the most densely populated area in the country.
Loch Lomond was greeted with its first taste of German hospitality, which involved a huge platter of pre-meal snacks followed by a veritable feast. There's nothing nicer than this for a weary band on the road.
The show was great. A good amount of enthusiastic people came out, and we played well. This show ushered in the first of many times that we'd go out into the middle of the crowd to sing an acoustic cover of Damien Jurado's "Yuma, Arizona," which would soon become my favorite part of each show.
Kiel is located at the very northernmost tip of Germany—it's a fairly short drive to Denmark, in fact. Kiel greeted us with a bunch of bitterly cold rain and a harsh wind coming off of the North Sea.
The show this evening was at full-on punk rock called Schaubude. Our tiny green room doubled as the kitchen, where our charming hosts were busy cooking up a huge plate of falafels for us. Looking to spice up the dish a bit, I made the mistake of blindly grabbing some hot sauce from the cupboard and liberally dousing my dish with it. I hadn't realized that this was nuclear-grade stuff, bought from a hot sauce website specializing in extreme hot sauces. I spent the next 30 minutes or so with tears streaming down my face sweat beading on my forehead. "When we use this stuff, we make a huge pot of chili and put just a drop or two in it for heat!" laughed our host as he saw my pain.
We were once again surprised by a great turnout of people at the show. For us, it wasn't our finest hour—I think everybody was dealing with the final throes of jet lag, and the performance was laden with clams, as we say in the business. But the crowd was enthusiastic and forgiving.
None of us had every been to Hannover before. It's a fairly large city in Nothern Germany, bustling and thoroughly modern. Much of its modern verve is owed to the fact that the city was nearly completely destroyed in World War II and rebuilt from the ground up.
We had no idea what to expect when we pulled up to the club, a charming underground cafe called Feinkost Lampe, but we were immediately struck by the kindness of the proprietors of the place, a charming couple with bright eyes and big smiles.
The good vibes continued all evening. Over an hour before we were scheduled to begin, the club was completely packed—sold out, standing room only. And there wasn't even an opening band! We were all shocked and giddy, and the owners were beside themselves with glee.
The show itself was a total treasure—in fact, writing this from the distant future, most of us have agreed that it was our favorite show of the whole tour. The crowd was pin-drop quiet during the songs and hugely enthusiastic in between. We'd apparently gotten the kinks out in Kiel and proceeded to put on our best performance so far.
The club owners were so happy after the show that they brought us a bottle of champagne to celebrate—a tour first! We were all sad to leave. I'm telling ya, if you ever find yourself in Hannover, do yourself a favor and pay a visit to Feinkost Lampe.
The lodgings this particular evening are worth a brief mention. We stayed at the apartment of Ralf, an intimidatingly large German hippie/rocker fellow in his late 40s/early 50s. His place was a psychedelic rock dream—lava lamps, beads, bright orange carpet, and huge flat screen TV—it was fantastic. However, it seemed like we kept finding ways to accidentally offend him. Within 10 minutes of getting there, I spilled a beer all over the carpet in his living room. There was a laundry machine in his kitchen, and Ritchie began stuffing his clothes in without asking—this did not go over well.
Our final show on this string of German dates (though we would return the next week to play in the town of Offenburg) was in Wetzlar, an utterly charming, smallish town near the center of the country. It's one of the oldest settlements in Germany, and was nearly untouched in World War II, so tons of historical buildings still exist, as well as some Roman ruins and a town center dating back to the Middle Ages.