Early start at the TraveLodge: We need to hit the road at 6:00 AM to make sure we can get on the ferry that will take us from the U.K. to France. This weekend is a bank holiday, so lots of people are traveling, and the ferry company sent out an email saying that there could be 90-minute delays.
So, we are tearin’ through the country roads and it feels like there is a roundabout at every intersection. It’s making me a bit nauseous so I decide to try and sleep. Next thing I know, we’re approaching the entrance to the harbor.
Luckily, our ferry ride goes pretty smoothly – we seem to have beat the rush. The ferry has an awesome vegetarian English breakfast in the food court: Don’t mind if we do. Jarrett and I finally get to play a game of Magic while Marissa draws in her sketchbook.
After disembarking the ferry, we drive through the port of Calais and head towards Paris. Jarrett points out that this is where thousands of migrants camp out, trying to enter the U.K. The encampment that had received the most media coverage, the Calais Jungle, was evicted a couple of years ago, but our global refugee crisis remains. In our dystopian world, we get to drive freely, right on through the area where thousands of people were held in fenced-in jails.
My first impression of Paris is that it was a lot different than I was imagining. I guess I’ve had a stereotype in my head that everything French would be fancy and ornate. But as we approach the city, all of the structures look grimy and there is graffiti art everywhere. It doesn’t have the feel of an ancient city like Rome that has weathered the years. Instead, most of the buildings look newer but still worse-for-wear. There are tent cities everywhere made by people living on the streets. I’m sure things are different in the more touristy-areas of the city, though.
We arrive at the venue and try to figure out load-in logistics. The language barrier is suddenly an issue again. I’d gotten used to the mostly easy communication in the U.K. and realize that I am totally unprepared for France. I should have tried to learn some basic French. This is going to be an interesting night.
Jarrett and I go for a walk through a park before we have to load in. We walk past a science museum, and there is something called a geode there, but I can’t really figure out what the geode is, exactly. The science museum building brings to mind the word “dystopian” again – it looks just like the set of the movie “Brazil.”
We keep walking and end up in part of the park that has a carnival-esque feel. There is a playground designed to look like a giant dragon with candy-colored metal scales and a humongous slide that comes out of its mouth. There are also lots of geometric, modernist red structures called “folies” everywhere. Everything here is creatively designed in a way that I don’t entirely understand. It’s pretty fascinating.
Back at the venue, we have the usual routine of load-in, soundcheck, setting up merch. But (joy of all joys!) there is a cheese plate in the green room with a giant wedge of brie cheese. I’ve been waiting for this the entire tour: The legendary French green room cheese.
We have a little free time to chill out and chew the cheese before the show starts. The band has an interview as well. I download some maps to my phone over Wifi and then I go wander around in search of postcards. It’s fun to explore a bit on my own. A couple of people on the street speak to me in French and I just smile and nod. Bonjour!
I get back in time to see the first band, The Maggie’s Marshmallows from Prague. I really like them. They sound a bit like Shannon and the Clams. The singer also plays bass, which I always admire, and the bass lines are cool as heck. Next up is local favorite Wonderflu, playing grungy, sometimes heavy rock.
By the time Screaming Females take the stage the room is basically a million degrees. But, it doesn’t slow anyone down one bit. There is a lot of headbanging going on, especially during A New Kid. Fans are already flocking to the merch stand in moments of inspiration before the set even ends.
At the end of the night we are all totally soaked in our own sweat. We pack up and head over to our hotel. We were supposed to stay with one of our hosts, but he had to cancel because of the horror of all horrors: Bedbugs.
Tomorrow we will return to our homeland-away-from-home, Amsterdam.