Aussie metallers Lo! have been touring Europe with German experimental metallers, The Ocean and Swedish post-metal pioneers, Cult Of Luna for the past couple of weeks. Bassist, Adrian Shapiro has been writing a tour diary about driving, eating, drinking and sleeping. And playing Here it is.
We arrive in Zurich after that fun flight from Sydney and are met by a chap from the van company to give us our van for the next month and all our backline. Driving on the wrong side of the road in a manual definitely takes a bit of time to get used to. Four hours later and a nice drive through some snowy areas and we’re there. We’re staying with a couple of the guys from The Ocean so we headed back to theirs and crashed for the night.
Awesome day of practice and working out the set lists for the upcoming 25 shows. Jamie (Leigh Smith, vocals) practiced some punk jumps and some crabcore crotch bend moves. It all looked good.
As we go outside, lo and behold, it starts snowing. We’re like little children running around in the snow. The Swiss people aren’t as excited as us. First gig is at a venue called Bikini Test and we play with The Ocean and a black metal band called Rorcal who open and almost give the crowd a group seizure with the amount of strobes they had going. It is incredible. We play next and it’s quite an intense and amazing feeling hitting that first note on European soil. The Ocean are up next and play their new album start to finish to a very excited home crowd. It’s great to know we get to see them play another 20 times on the tour.
[Travel to London]
Get a pretty disturbing message from Robin from The Ocean that they’re broken down in France with the van engine completely fried. They’re unsure they’ll make the Borderline show. The show is due to start at 5pm, and the last ferry is at 4pm. We’re meant to be using the Ocean’s cabs. They also have all our merch in the back of their trailer so we have nothing for the show. It’s all a bit of a stress. We get the call they’ve missed the last ferry by 15 minutes, which is heartbreaking. A call is made to carry on and go ahead with the show with the remaining bands. With Bossk, Shapes and Empress playing as well, it goes great.
We get up early and head back towards the white cliffs of Dover to jump on the ferry back to France. The show tonight is in La Havre. We join back up with the Ocean and two local French bands for the show at a great venue at the bottom of a pub. The stage is on the floor, which we love. We stay with The Ocean at a hotel and indulge in quite a few drinks to end the night.
We get on the road for a long drive up to Gothenberg, Sweden. We split it up by staying in a little town at Hambuhren, near Hannover, Germany. Robin from the Ocean’s parents live there so luckily we’re invited to spend the night.
Tonight we start the run of shows with Cult of Luna, which is extremely exciting and daunting, at a venue called Pustervik and it’s only them and us on the bill. As we walk in, we realise how large this tour and what we’re due to expect over the next three weeks. About 800 come through the door. We play a solid set and hopefully turn a couple of the Swedes into Lo! fans. Cult of Luna play one of the most brutal sets over the next hour and a half. It’s incredible to watch and we feel like the luckiest band in the world, not only to play every night with these guys, but also to watch them every night.
Only a short drive of three hours to Copenhagen, Denmark for tonight’s show. We’re staying with a friend of ours, Michelle, who has very nicely offered up some beds for us. Again tonight’s show is just Cult of Luna and Lo! at a venue called Lilli Vega. There are maybe 300 people there when we start our set but I think we’re starting to find our groove. Cult of Luna absolutely destroy the place tonight and it’s incredible to watch. Tomorrow we have another huge drive all the way back to Tilburg, The Netherlands to play the ridiculously amazing Roadburn Festival.
This is a serious day of driving – about nine hours. Three of us have been sharing the driving but it’s pretty taxing on the body. From the moment we drive through to backstage, we’re in awe. Roadburn is a pretty exclusive festival – they only sell around 3,000 tickets and the only thing that sucks is that we play at the same time as High on Fire who are one of the bands I really want to watch! The room is packed when we hit our first notes. It’s a great festival and I’d definitely go back as a punter. We stayed in a hotel that Roadburn put us up in for the night and got some well needed rest.
We head into France today to play another festival called Impetus in a town called Audincourt. The festival has been going for a few days already, with bands like Behemoth playing earlier on. We open the show to a really good response from the French. We then head backstage for an amazing dinner the promoter has put on for us. It’s one of the best things about touring over here. The meals that you’re fed at all the venues. Feels like we’re getting spoiled!
This is one of the most amazing drives we’ve done yet as far as scenery goes. Crossing through the Swiss Alps, we’re so blown away by what we were seeing that we have to pull over into one of the villages and get some touristy shots. Fribourg is a really pretty town and actually the home of our sound engineer, Christoff. The power source to my pedals decides to completely stop working tonight so had to get some batteries and adaptors to power up. Christoff gives us the key to his apartment so we can crash on the floor for the night.
As soon as we cross the border into Italy, the roads deteriorate to a bumpy mess. Not much more possibility of sleep! Mezzago is about 45 minutes outside Milan and the venue is a pretty awesome space. The Italian promoter has put on a bloody delicious stew for dinner tonight. We play a pretty killer show tonight and the Italians go nuts for it and COL’s merch guy hooks us up with one of his friends who said we could stay on his floor. After loading out at 2am we jump in the car and drive to Milan but when we get to his apartment we can’t wake him up – pretty brutal at 3am. We end up finding a cheap hotel around the corner and crash out for a couple of hours. Griff and Jamie sleep in the van and look pretty haggard in the morning. We wake up to missed calls and texts from the Italian guy saying he slept through all our calls and messages. He felt terrible, but we sorted it out so no problem.
Feel like we’re starting to become a driving-playing-eating-drinking machine now. Long drives every day and a general tiredness are falling over the band. We have another long drive today to Rome. Once there, I do a mission to see if I can find a new power source for my pedal board. The music store doesn’t have one, but I find an electronics store and I buy power sources to run pedals individually. I get back for sound check but now my OCD pedal has died! I’m dropping pedals like crazy. It’s an early show tonight, which is kinda weird for Italy as everyone goes out late. Doors are 8.30pm and we go on at 8.45pm but start playing to about five people! By the end of the set the room is pretty full but this is the smallest show we’ve played. After load out, Robin and Chris from The Ocean decide they’ll stay with us to do a bit of sight seeing in the morning.
We get up early and head towards The Coliseum. What an amazing place to visit and see. We don’t go in but walk around the outside and then head up towards the Italian parliament to see the other ruins along the promenade. Amazing! We have a delicious lunch of pizza and calzone and then jump in the van to head over to Ravenna for tonight’s show, which is packed out from our first note. Jamie has a few issues with his voice tonight and ends up dropping quite a few lines. 11 shows down and there’s a shitload still to go so he does get a bit of a fright. Hoping he’ll come right for the next couple of shows.
The start to each one of these days seems to be the same thing… Another long drive to our final Swiss show. We’re playing in a town called Winterthur on the other side of the Alps so the drive through the snow is really beautiful. We’re spending the night at the venue, so no driving after the show, which is great. We play well but it’s definitely the most exhausted we’ve been on stage. They have a free flowing beer tap back stage. Some nasty hangovers tomorrow!
There might be more tour diary, there might not – we don’t know yet. If we find out more about Jamie’s poor voice, whether Adrian ever sorts his pedals out or the next place Lo! get to lay their heads, we’ll tell you. We will. Promise. Until then, go find out more about Lo!.