I don't always get a chance to write about all my trips, but I do try...
This last one definitely calls for it! This was Gato Loco's most intense journey since Bordeaux in 2010, where it all started!
The center of this trip was the Stanser Musiktage festival in Stans, Switzerland, where Gato Loco had the privilege of our own show at our own venue - and the task of proving the afterparty after the legendary Medeski, Martin, and Wood. It was a request we simply could not pass up!
...so we built a tour around it. This was convenient, as our friend Paolo Rosso of the arts organization Microclima in my favorite city of Venice, Italy had wanted to present us for a while. I was thrilled as I have been an obsessive fan and amateur scholar of Venice for some time. To bring Gato Loco to such a place was just too enticing! Then to cap off the trip, we went again to one of our common European haunts of Munich, Germany.
These are 3 amazing places to play, but the situation posed some difficult logistic hurdles....
We set our home base of this trip to Venice/Milan. We flew in on a host of different flights, as coordinating ten full-time musicians is a task on it's own.
The bulk of the band ended up on a flight to Milan, strangely enough with almost an eight hour layover in Dublin. Well, what to do with such a hefty layover? Find the perfect pint, naturally.
We left the airport and headed to the famous Brazen Head... the legendary oldest pub in Dublin. And we found it... the perfect pint... and one of the best bowls of stew I've ever eaten. And after a nice chat with some locals and a nice walk around, we got back to the airport to continue our journey.
Once in Milan, we had to wait until the following morning to continue to Venice, so we crashed at a hostel there after some wild cab rides. Never a dull moment....
In the morning, we set off for La Serenissima, still weary.
After a nice train ride, we pulled through Mestre onto the two mile long causeway that connects Venice with the terra firma. Once in Venice, our weariness instantly evaporated. We were picked up at the train station in a boat.
Our gracious host, Paolo Rosso, chauffeured us and our gear in his "pimp-boat" as we called it... and at first we had to pick up some groceries for a feast that night, at the market in the Rialto. I was in absolute heaven. Running errands, in Venice, in a boat. Time stands still in Venice and life's actual poignancies seem to be less obscured.
We eventually got settled into our apartment there in the San Marco sestieri, and Paolo and Stefan immediately got to cooking.
After some amazing food, this being Gato Loco, we of course had to head out on the town. A festive night then ensued... in true Gato Loco fashion, hanging with a crowd of wonderful locals and travelers alike.
In the morning (which actually means early afternoon...) we had work to do. Some members went out for some last-minute promotional activities while the others got acclimated to the strange city of Venice.
Soon, it was gig time - and that meant loading gear.... into the boat. We then headed to El Chiosotto - a bar kiosk in the popular area called the Zattere which often presents public concerts. Permits for outdoor amplification can be hard to come by in a city nicknamed "La Serenissima", and it turned out that El Chiosotto didn't have one.
No worries though... this being only a promotional exhibition for the following night's larger concert, we adjusted a few things and I simply played the bass parts on tuba and we acoustically rocked it for a while for an excited crowd.
The following day, after a great breakfast back on the Zattere, it was time to get to work. But first, there was time for a prosecco toast!
Then it was time to load up Paolo's boat and take all the gear to the Arsenale / Bienalle area in the Castello sestieri, which is where our larger show would be. After several boat trips, we made it over to the other side of Venice, as did the gear. Nothing got wet.
After load in, it was time to hit the streets, or the canals rather for some more promotion. The horn section of the band, grabbed their axes and got back in the boat for some guerrilla music-making, in true Gato Loco style!
People across the city were serenaded with some floating (bouncing!) Psycho-Mambo madness... and they ate it up! We ended up mooring adjacent to San Marco and rocked it for a while to a large roused crowd! It was actually exhausting work to play and stay upright in a small boat...
Back at the space, near the Arsenale, some of us crashed for a few needed zzzs. This was our second full day in Europe, so that meant that it was also "jet lag day"
The snoozes didn't last long, however... it was showtime! Our gig was also to be out of doors, in one of the only green areas of Venice outside a gorgeous restored greenhouse named Serra dei Giardini, which is the homebase for the Microclima organization.
However... this being Venice... the weather loomed ominous...
It was a 50/50 chance of rain, so we went ahead and got our setup (which is pretty large) going outdoors. And then, as Murphy the optimist would have it, the rain started. We immediately grabbed a bunch of folks and dismantled the stage and moved the entire setup inside the greenhouse... which included literally dismantling a flower shop, and overtaking a cafe.
The band was a bit bummed. It looked as our Venice debut might be a bust.
We reset our concert setup in our contingency format... indoors. Fortunately huge windows on the side of the greenhouse opened up to the outdoors.
Concert time rolled around, and of course, this being Italy, not many were there. We waited a few minutes and casually got ready to play, sort of crestfallen.
However, about 20 minutes later throngs of people started showing up and we fired up the show!
It would then turn into what would be one of the most special and intense Gato Loco shows ever.
People kept showing up, and kept showing up. People were calling their friends and having them show up. The cafe side of the greenhouse completely filled up, people were practically on top of each other. The space behind the band then filled up, and soon there was a large crowd outdoors standing in the light rain listening through the large open windows. It became a concert in the round... the band played to all sides, the rain stopped and the crowd of several hundred was going WILD. This became a show of memory. The band absolutely rocked the hell out of it.
For the encore, the band split in two - part of it playing indoors, part of it outdoors... we had simultaneous dance parties going on. Complete madness!
We finished the show and the cafe had drinks for everyone and it was a party!
What a day. We immediately discussed when to come back.
Part II coming soon!