Fred does Europe  does Hazel


          It's practically conspiritorial how different Europe is from America. Information crossing the Atlantic is kept to a strict minimum in both directions, and what scanty data is available to our respective populations comes only - with the exception of a few gems of realist cinema - via the completely plastic and narcissistic and U.S.-dominated modes of commercial mass-media.

          In Holland, virtually everyone speaks English as a second language - it's required in elementary school. In the rest of Europe, English is the second language of choice - easily half of all advertising, most song lyrics, what Bulgarians speak to Iranians in France, what shopkeepers speak to all nationalities. The only language barrier is getting over the shame of being a monolingual freak.

          Toilets are completely different. Well, not completely.

          Street-signs are never free-standing, always on the sides of a corner building or wall.

          All countries are obsessed with using names and pronunciations for each others' countries and geographical features other than those used by natives. After a while, this practice begins to cloy, at first for the inconvenience, then more for the odor of willful ignorance. Cro-osh-ya may sound quite wrong to American ears, but Cro-ai-sha sounds ridiculous to Croatians.

          30 years ago, elements of the European counterculture - 'hippies', but the word's a fucking slur - moved into abandoned and unused buildings in a big way, and enough cases ended in negotiations with the absentee owners and the authorities that today all countries in Europe have squats: communally run, politically active, and often subsisting in large part by putting on rock shows. In Ljubljana, a squat occupies the former headquarters of the Yugoslavian Army; in Rome, a 10-acre 19th Century fortress; in Berlin a six-story block-long galleria; in Bern an old schoolboys' academy; in Amsterdam a monumental grain mill and harbor silo-complex. A development as earthshaking as zines or all-ages clubs or personal computers, seems to me. Probably more so than computers, actually.

          In spectacular contrast to the U.S.A., practically every inch of Europe attests to a public consensus that old and deteriorating architectural artifacts are of intrinsic value, that deterioration itself is not devoid of aesthetic power. You can almost die of beauty a dozen times a day, no matter where you are on the entire continent.

           When I was little, before freeways, ubiquitous franchises, slick mass-market advertising, and that last huge round of wholesale clearcuts, urban America was something like that, and rural America was just like that. It's absolutely heart-stopping to find it again here as it was - multiplied.

           I'd expected to see some very big, very old trees on this tour, but Europeans are every bit as compulsive and rapacious about not leaving a single ancestor standing as we are. In 6000 miles, I saw one big tree - already cut up.

          The seven of us rode in a white window-van driven by Carmelo, our Dante, our Virgil, our Beatrice, which is to say, his efforts were epic.

         We played 25 shows, May 30th through July 5th, 1997, starting and ending in Amsterdam. Hazel alternated in the headline spot with Ovarian Trolley from San Francisco: Jennifer (drums & vocal), Laurie (bass & vocal), and Buck (guitar). Hazel is from Portland: Jody (drums & vocal), Pete (guitar & vocal), Brady (bass), and me. Both bands are ferocious and woman-dominated.

          I brought along a handsome used $125 folding (to fit easily in the van and to spite the airlines' obtuse fees and deterrents) Royce-Union bicycle. At every destination, it was the first thing unloaded and the last thing loaded back in.


   photo by ?

buck, fred, jenny, carmelo, pete, brady, laurie, jody



* = great show        B = no Brady           F = no Fred


date               city                         country               club                  code

May 30th      Amsterdam             Holland               August              B

- 3 days off -

June 3rd        Siegen                    Germany            Uni Cafe            B *

       4th         Nuremberg                                         Desi                  B

        5th        Berlin                                                 Tacheles            B

        6th        Bremen                                               Grunenstrasse  B *

        7th        Hannover                                            Korn                 B

- day off -

        9th        Bern                         Switzerland         Reisschule        B F

- day off -

       11th       Basel                                                    Irshneker         B F

- day off -

       13th       Enger                         Germany            Forum             *

       14th       Linz                           Austria                Kapu

       15th       Vienna                                                   Flex                *

- day off -

       17th       Pecs                            Hungary             Hard Rak

       18th       Ljubljana                     Slovenia              Gala Hala       *

- day off -

       20th       Giulianova                   Italy                    Indhastria       *

       21st       Rome                                                      Forte Prenestino

- 3 days off -

       25th       Marseilles                    France                La Cote           *

       26th       Onati                            Basque               Gazteleku        *

       27th       Gorliz                                                     Xurrut

       28th       Donostia                                                 Mogambo        F

       29th       Elorrio                                                     Gaztetxea         F

       30th       Perigeaux                      France                Radio 103

  July 1st       Lyon                                                        Pez Ner           *

- day off -

          3rd      Groningen                    Holland               Vera                *

          4th      Leuven                          Belgium               Sojo

          5th      Amsterdam                    Holland               Silo


Additional opening acts:

Berlin - Kepone, U.S. Midwest ugly hardcore, plus one extraordinary hillbilly plaint

Bremen & Enger - Assassins, brilliant kickass women's punk rock

Hannover - Sparkmarker, sweet & tender hardcore boys, old friends from Vancouver

Giulianova - Student Zombies, virtuoso rock divas of Rome

Rome - Kundry's Love, raucus local boy-band

Elorrio - Antolatzailea, cute raucus local boy-band

Leuven - Rapunzel, Little Fury Things, and Hypno 69, very loud and young boy punk trios