Every band has one: the story of a show so spectacularly bad, they only got through it by constantly reminding one another, “This sucks now, but it’ll make a great feature for Popdose someday.” (Okay, they probably weren’t thinking about Popdose, but you get the idea.)
This week, drummer Stephen Pitkin from Toronto folk-rockers Elliott Brood recounts a less-than-idyllic tour stop in the wilds of rural Italy.
The year: 2007.
The place: Somewhere in the countryside surrounding Milan, Italy. GPS, maps, local residents…all were useless in helping us find the event, even though it was billed as a ”festival.” Roads in Italy tend to change names at any given moment, no help to this group of linguistically compromised individuals. It took many more hours than it should have just to arrive on the site.
Any other bands on the bill? About four other local bands were billed, mostly teenagers. The obvious age difference made us look even more out of place. Their music was all atrocious and derivative. Try to imagine a bunch of young Bon Jovis playing metal. And English lyrics covered phonetically, but incorrectly. For example, ”Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap” earnestly substituted with ”Dirty Jeans and the Jungle Jeep.”
What else went wrong? Firstly, the actual attraction was a teenage soccer (football) festival, so there was really little to zero interest in the music to begin with.
Secondly, the food was all meat. We are not vegetarians, but cashing in the meal ticket meant receiving one Styrofoam plate with a sausage, burger patty and ribs off the BBQ. No bread, carrots or corn. Just one plate of strictly meat.
As we were the final band going on at well past 11 p.m., we gave it our best to entertain the eight or so guests who remained. To add injury to insult, our friend Jeff, who was traveling with us for pleasure, sprained his ankle jumping to our music in an effort to kickstart audience enthusiasm.
Valuable lessons learned? Always have earplugs and vegetables on hand, even if just for throwing.
Elliott Brood are currently on tour in support of their latest album, Days Into Years, a collection of songs inspired by the experiences of Canadian soldiers who fought and died in World War I. Bring them some vegetables and they’ll give you a pie plate to bang on during their rowdier numbers.