After only a few weeks back from my two week vacation around Europe the newsboys (one of the bands on the label I work for) decided to take me with them to the two festivals they were playing in Europe in August. So essentially I was going on tour to Europe with one of my favorite bands as their photographer… no biggie
The two festivals were Flevo festival in Apeldoorn, Netherlands and Revo festival in Frankfurt, Germany. What’s amazing about that itinerary is that those were both places I hadn’t gone on my previous European jaunt!
The plane ride was as expected, but what was quite amusing and different about traveling with a band through an airport is all the extra luggage… or road cases rather… even with the stripped-down international set-up (the venue provides as much as possible in the way of equipment and crew) we still had 13 people and about 2 large road cases per person… so imagine a long train of people, a few of whom are rock stars, rolling a procession of those little airport carts chock full of road cases all the way through the airport. The baggage claim people seemed to see us coming, and got extra people to come assist in a speedy check-in. Baggage claim was uber stressful, since there are so many bags to account for…. but all of our bags made it.
Just like with my travels around europe with the trafalgar tour group two months before, we were counting on total strangers, the local festival organizers, to arrange our transportation, hotel and food. Which is always a little strange. I hope to someday travel Europe on my own, but alas, I will just have to wait until I’m old enough to rent a car.
We sat for a long time at the shuttle stop outside Schiphol airport in Amsterdam, waiting for the festival shuttle to come get us. We actually met up with another musician in one of the other bands playing the festival at the shuttle stop – Mojo of the Supertones – which was quite awesome since I was a huge Supertones fan back in the day.
After pilling into the shuttle, we were off on the hour long journey to the festival grounds and our hotel. We stopped on the way at a gas station to eat (another thing I had been accustomed to from my previous europe trip) In Europe, gas stations have much better food than in America. We all got sub sandwiches, and when I asked for mayo on mine, they looked at me very funny and didn’t know what I was saying. Some nice person translated what mayo must be in Dutch, and then they handed me little packets of “frietsaus” which literally translated means “sauce for fries” which explains why when I started squeezing the sauce all over my sub a Dutch guy next to me laughed and said “that’s not for sandwiches! That’s for potato fries!” I quipped that he should try it sometime and he would love it.
After we all payed to use the restrooms (my leftover Euros from my last trip came in handy) we were off again. Our driver was a delightful man named Pim who apparently had been the guys chauffeur the last time they went to Flevo a few years before. On the drive we passed a lot of pretty Dutch countryside, some windmills, and not much else. We finally arrived at the festival grounds, which were covered in tents and out in the middle of nowhere. We sorted out all the backstage passes, the schedule, and all that fun stuff, then went to the stage to do soundcheck. It was a long walk through a little wooded area to the main stage. I still remember that walk vividly because I had to make it 100 times.
At soundcheck I grabbed a lot of fun pictures (I love soundcheck because it’s more laid back then the show, so I tend to take even better shots since I’m not stressed) there were already some early birds there, so I took some pictures of the festival peeps too, and to my great surprise after putting them online a few weeks later, one of the people in my pictures emailed me to tell me it was her and that she was grateful I put the shot online for her to find. The power of the internet!
Flevo is the longest-running and one of the largest Christian music festivals in Europe, and it’s easy to see why… apart from booking a lot of awesome bands, it’s extremely well-organized and they take very good care of the artists. The people behind it are all extremely nice and genuine.
After soundcheck was done, it was time to check into the hotel. Surprise, surprise… the hotel was a Mercure, a kind of nicer holiday inn type deal in Europe. I had stayed in one in Paris a few months before. I had stolen a mechanical pencil. That pencil was still in my purse. Hahah. I roomed with Grace, which was quite fun. I prefer rooming with people to being alone… so much more fun on vacations! Our view out the window depressed me… I always hope for pretty views. Here we were, in Holland, and the view out my window was the front of the hotel. Boo. We were given a few hours to freshen up before heading out to Deventer, the nearby town. Steve (newsboys road manager) claimed that to break the cycle of jetlag, we needed to stay out until at least midnight Netherlands time to reset our internal clocks… which was about 7am Nashville time. Oh boy.
We arrived at the main square in Deventer (pronounced Day-ven-tear) around 7pm. There wasn’t much happening at the time, but some locals seemed to be setting up a giant projector screen and chairs in the square. We all grabbed some seats at a pub, ordered some drinks, and started to chill. I didn’t feel like chilling out though… I was in Holland! So I got up and announced I was going for a walk. Nobody came with. I started up a street that looked as if it would lead to a giant steeple up the hill, which I could only assume was a gorgeous middle-aged church… and I was right! After a brisk couple minute walk up on the most beautiful cobblestone streets I had ever seen… I arrived at a timeless, perfect church. On my way back down the hill I took another street, praying it would end up back at the square… which it did to my delight. I told everyone about my short little adventure and how wonderful it was, and recruited Grace for another quick trip back up the hill. It was more fun with Grace… we took pictures of each other, and she claims she saw Peter Pan fly out of an open window. I sort-of believe her. If that was possible anywhere it was possible here. It was exactly like a Disney fairytale setting.
After about an hour sitting at the little table of the cute little cafe, the square really started to fill up… and then belly dancers started to perform in front the projector they had set up. I kid you not. After that it finally became apparent to us what was going on (none of us knew Dutch so it was quite hard to determine, you see) when they began the movie Slumdog Millionaire (with Dutch subtitles) it finally clicked… this was some cultural Indian celebration of some sort… complete with belly dancing and the best Bollywood movie of all time! Funny thing is I didn’t see s single Indian person there besides the belly dancers! The Dutch just love celebrating different cultures I guess.
A few of us decided that it wasn’t the best way to spend our time in Holland watching in American film with Dutch subtitles, so Grace, Jojo, Ben and I went off on another adventure… this time to “the bridge in that one war movie”. Someone had heard, from someone, that this town was famous for it’s bridge because it was used in a war movie. We didn’t figure it out there, but upon recent googling I’ve found this to indeed be true: the movie was “A Bridge Too Far”, a movie I had yet to see.
The walk was a very pretty one, past another beautiful church, a Russian nightclub, and down to the river… where the bridge was. We got there right at sunset, and climbed up to it… and noticed something very amusing about the stairs… they had smoothed and grooved bike track through the middle. Holland is of course known for it’s abundance of bikes and bike enthusiasts. Atop the bridge we took lots of pictures and a wonderful video, that my stupid memory card ‘corrupted’ and I lost. I still have the beautiful scene etched in my memory thankfully.
After countless hours sitting and wondering around the square, mostly searching for my food (we ended up eating a lot of fries with mayo) it was time to catch a cab back to the hotel. We had arranged a midnight pick-up with the cab company. They were late. There was an ice cream shop across the way, and I suggested we all go get some yummy European gelato… I went alone. It turns out the temptation was too much to bear however, because after I was done paying, everyone had followed my stead and got in line for their gelato. We had just made it in time, too… they were closing. Whilst enjoying the delicious gelato, we sat in the moonlight bathed cobblestone square, shivering. It got very chilly at night.
We slept very good that night… I don’t even remember waking up in the morning or anything before getting to the festival around 10am the next morning. Why I had to be there, I couldn’t figure out. The show didn’t start until 9pm. There was another soundcheck, but I wasn’t obligated to shoot it. My wild imagination and ADD began to kick-in hardcore, and I went up to the festival organizers and took a huge gamble: I asked if there was a way they could arrange a trip to Amsterdam for me. I was willing to pay the cab fare, no matter how expensive. To my surprise, not only were they totally cool with this, they were excited about it. They got Pim, our chauffeur from the day before, to find me a ride. A FREE ride. Along came David, one of the festival employees, who had nothing to do. They told me David could drive me in one of the “shuttles” (actually a cute little european car) to Amsterdam, give me a tour of the city, and return me to the venue. Doesn’t get much better than that.
We made the hour journey north back up to Amsterdam, talking about everything from the weather, to religion, to politics, to the always popular topic between international visitors and locals: the differences between our countries. I never get tired of talking to Europeans about America, and vise-versa.
When you arrive in Amsterdam you pass (or perhaps drive over, depending which direction you come from) one of the coolest bridges I’ve ever seen in my life. I couldn’t get a good photo of it sadly, but the bridge is called Enneüs Heermabrug, and it’s amazing. I love cool bridges. You also pass a lot of very modern, fun architecture on the way into Amsterdam.
We began our long walk through the city, just randomly crisscrossing the canals and wandering through markets and side streets… observing the locals, taking in the sights… my favorite thing to do! We eventually found Anne Frank’s house, which we decided not to do, since it was an hour wait to get inside. It was good enough for me to see the outside. We then bought some fresh Dutch cookies at a little shop… the Dutch make some mighty awesome cookies. We stumbled into the infamous Red Light District for a bit… quite sad and disturbing. After we passed through we came into when I can only assume was one of the central squares of the city – since it was huge, with thousands of bikes parked in bike racks on the sides of the street.
We wandered out of the square and down another, and there was some festival happening on a float in the canal, and the canal was packed with boats so densely you couldn’t see the water… and if you wanted to you could easily just walk across hopping from boat to boat. It was quite similar to Venice in this regard… the canals were used as streets, more so than the streets themselves were. Sadly, it finally it came time to say goedag to Amsterdam and head back to the festival!
That night was spectacular, the ‘boys and newworldson (the other band on our label playing there that night) were brilliant and Flevo fest had the best lighting set-up of any festival I had ever been too, which made my job as photographer at LOT easier. They also had a kick ass crowd… the Dutch can ROCK! There were about 15,000 people and almost every single one of them was on their feet rockin’ out the whole show.
The next morning we had to wake up bright and early for our drive to Frankfurt… or Grossostheim rather, a small town south of Frankfurt. Our ride was much better than the previous day. We had an entire double-decker (or double dutch as someone clever called it) coach. I sat up top with Grace, Jojo, Duncan, Ben and Mike… and some of the Bluetree guys, who shared the bus with us. Their Irish accents were highly amusing to listen to. Most people slept the whole drive… but I stayed awake, except for the 20 minutes in which we apparently passed a magnificent castle. Just my luck. We tried to decipher when we arrived in Germany… because there is no border station between the Netherlands and Germany… and we finally relized the name for exits had switched to “Ausfahrt” the Germany word for Exit.
We arrived in the tiny, quiet town of Grossostheim around 3pm I’d say… and immediately I had nothing else on my mind but exploration… and everyone else wanted to sleep. The “green room” was quite tempting… it was on an outdoor patio with tents and lots of inviting sofas covered in white sheets. The catered food was a traditional German variety, despite the fact that the promoters of the festival were Americans. You’d think they’d prep American food… but no. I had a giant ball of something meaty, covered in shredded beets and gravy, with a potato pancake like thing on the side, with applesauce. It was interesting. The festival turn-out was quite poor, but this was to be expected since it’s a fairly new festival, in a very small town.
After eating I decided to set out and explore.. and Grace a Jojo came along. We made it to this great stone tower thing in the middle of town, with an ancient well across from it, and then a very strange old man started shouting out to us something in German, and Jojo and Grace got understandably freaked out and we walked back to the venue. My thirst to see more of the town was eating away at me whilst I was lounging on a sofa in the green room… gazing out over the track field that was beside the gym that was the venue. I couldn’t take it anymore, got back up and started down the street into the town again by myself.
This time I made it all the way to the center, an adorable and perfect German square… complete with german style buildings and a cute little church. Smack dab in the middle, a perfect reward for my journey, was a Gelato stand. One banana, please! I said to the taken-aback small town Germans who obviously didn’t get many tourists. I issued a quick and quiet “Danke” after I realized everyone was now starring at me. I sat and ate my gelato on the square with the locals, trying very hard to blend in. Maybe it was just that I was alone that was weird? Yes… that was it.
After finishing I found a little holocaust memorial beside the church.
After returning to the venue, while we were still waiting for the show to begin, we heard that the lead singer of Bluetree was vying to sing the rap when newsboys played “Jesus Freak”… and I argued that I could also sing the rap, as I had it memorized. I sadly don’t remember the exact turn the conversation took after that – only that it ended with my friend Laurie and I deciding we would sing the rap together, and that we were starting our own rap group… her name would be “Laurie Licious” and mine “Breezy Vicious”… yes, we were all very bored. In the end Bluetree lead singer won out, and he did in fact end up performing the rap during the show. We still had a little bit of time to kill before the show started, despite it seeming like had been there all day…. oh wait…. we had been there all day. Tour life isn’t as glamous as one would think. Jody and I decided to play some ping pong. Well, let me rephrase that. I wouldn’t stop begging somebody to play with me since I was bored out of my mind, and Jody probably offered to shut me up.
It was finally time for the show to begin. It was a small crowd, not even 1/10th the size of Flevo Festival the night before… but just as fun. I love small shows just as much as big ones. Less exciting, but more personal. At Flevo I had missed the opening acts, since I had been running all over Amsterdam instead of sitting around the festival all day… so I decided to listen to Mojo w/ October Light… Mojo from the Supertone’s new band. I was pleasantly surprised… no… that’s an understatement… I was extremely excited to hear them play Supertones songs… something I’d never thought I’d get to witness again. The Supertones had long since broken up, to my dismay. But it was like that had never happened that night – rockin’ out to the greatest ska music every written (in my humble opinion) here in Germany… with a bunch of Germans… who were standing there like trees. Only trees actually moved more.
The show was awesome despite the smallness of the crowd… the Germans finally started moving a bit when the ‘boys came on. On the way back to the hotel that night we drove past a magnificent castle lit up on a hilltop. We didn’t arrive at the hotel until well after dark, however even in the pitch black you could tell we were up on a high hill, and had a spectacular view of the village and forrests beneath us. The hotel, to my delight, wasn’t a commercial hotel… it seemed more like a family owned lodge. I only hoped I had a good view… and I wasn’t disappointed at all. When I awoke in the morning I stepped out onto my private balcony, taking in the amazing sunrise over the hills. Then I was interrupted… by a phonecall from Jeff. “Hey Breezy – are you awake?” “Yes.” “Ok… just checking… you gonna be down in a few minutes?” “Um… ya….” I lied. Sort of. I hadn’t planned on being downstairs in a few minutes, but since he made it very clear that I should be for some reason (the airport shuttle wasn’t supposed to leave for another 45 minutes… I thought I had woken up early…) I decided to throw my bag together, throw on some clothes and get downstairs. Good thing I did – turns out that somehow, despite double-checking, I had got the time wrong, and I was actually 10 minutes late. Thank God I had woken up “early”… hahah…
The guys forgave me and we were off to Frankfurt International Airport. To go home. Not everyone, mind you… many were staying behind to take a train to Paris for a few days vacation. Jeff, Jeff, Duncan and Johnny O were all traveling home, like me. The ride down on the Autobahn to the airport was a sad one, despite a funny conversation about how Jeff and I thought the Autobahn was actually a certain road in particular, not the entire freeway system in Germany.
After pushing all the carts of road cases through the airport and an uneventful check-in (this is not always the case, I’ve been told, since airport security, especially international, are sometimes not friendly to bands… they all hold their breath in anticipation for a problem) we were off on our way back home. It was a direct flight from Frankfurt to Atlanta, which I found a little strange. It seemed weird to me that was even possible. To travel directly between two places so incredibly different, and far from each other. That distance became even farther than I originally imagined, when to avoid bad weather in the Atlantic the plane was routed even further north – all the way over Iceland and Greenland. I had my head glued the the window, trying to spot the land masses. The flight was 13 hours. Apparently Duncan watched 5 movies in a row. Let that sink in. I watched 3, and that was too many for me. After what felt like an eternity, we landed safely in Atlanta… only to wait an hour more to board a puddle jumper to Nashville. We all ate at Houllihan’s, except for Duncan… who had headed for a lounge to relax. The food was very noticably un-european, which made me sad.
Eating made things a little better temporarily – but when we landed in Nashville I was totally dead. 18 hours of non-stop travel had taken it’s toll. After another 30 minutes I made it safe and sound to my house, after my second journey to Europe in only two months.