Wow, so we are back home after a 10-day, 6-show tour of Europe, and it was amazing! I can't speak for the rest of the guys, but I'm ready to go back (well… after a couple of weeks home with my family first).
We started our trip with a day off and 2 amazing show days back at Wiston House in England, where we were last time we went to Europe, for Big Church Day Out. The people there were amazing, and the rooms were great too. It was nice to be there for a few days and have time to catch up with everyone, including friends from other U.S. bands. Aside from flights, it's rare for us to have moments just to sit and talk with each other, so it was really good to have some downtime. Tim Jupp, formerly of Delirious, hosts the festival and has gathered an amazing bunch of people who are eager to help pull together all the logistics required for an international show... smiling all the while!
After an all-night crossing of the English Channel into France, we found ourselves with a day off in Belgium. Let me just say that we in America have no idea what a Belgium Waffle is supposed to be! Chocolate sauce on a waffle? Yes, please … amazing! Also, the architecture in Brugge, Belgium is beautiful. Some of these buildings have been around long before Columbus sailed the ocean blue. We toured a few cathedrals and just kind of bummed around town, soaking up the cobblestone vibes. Such amazing history!
Next came a day off in Luxembourg, which felt reminiscent of a suburb of Toronto, aside from the caves and houses built into the sides of cliffs. This was much more familiar territory than we had encountered so far on our trip. Tim and I spent the morning in a coffee shop, sipping coffee and discussing the Gospel. It was good to be reminded of some basic truths which can oftentimes be forgotten as we grow in our faith. He is made great in our weaknesses. I’m thankful to be able to globe-trot with believers who constantly point each other back to the Cross.
Then we headed out to Switzerland, the land of milk chocolate and army knives, for Springtime Festival. This was the first day that language had actually proven to be somewhat of a challenge—fortunately there were folks on hand to help with that. Being the merch guy, I probably have to deal one-on-one with more people than the rest of our crew, but I managed to laugh my way through the transactions. The Swiss were very patient with my southern drawl, though they did have to ask me to talk slower! The show itself was so energetic, and it was the first time I've seen TobyMac crowd surf all the way to the stage from the front-of-house console. There was SO much energy in the room!
We woke up in Germany the next morning, for the Himmel Farht Festival. This place was packed out! There were kids everywhere, so much so that security had to shut down the balcony because of weight. It was another energetic show and again, in spite of the language barrier, the passion was contagious. You could feel the floor moving due to the jumping of the crowd. These overseas shows often present more technical difficulties than usual, probably because of power conversions, but TobyMac and the band members were unfazed. We've got an amazing technical crew, and most of the audience probably didn’t notice a thing. I know I couldn't, but my specialty is cotton and polyester blends, not audio.
Our second German show, Maiday-Festival, was in Minden, Germany where we all wandered out to soak up the atmosphere of the downtown market. The food was so legit! We dove in for sausages and pretzels and again just enjoyed time together. The weather was perfect, so we stayed outside and stuffed our faces to the sounds of accordion music. Who could ask for anything more?
We wrapped up our tour in the Netherlands at the EO Festival. I don't really know how to put this day into words. I've never seen such a huge live show! The closest thing I can think of to compare it to is the U2 DVDs that I've seen. The stage and rigging were both just massive. I guess they have to be in order to be seen by the 35,000 people in attendance, not to mention that it's broadcast live on television. I will let the pictures speak for themselves, though I doubt my camera was able to catch the massiveness of it all. We see a lot in our travels, but I've never seen anything like this before. The people running this festival had everything set perfectly, total clockwork. If you ever find yourself in the vicinity of EO Youth Day, please go! It is amazing. We wrapped up our night and our tour with a little family time at a Cuban tapas restaurant, where we were reminded of how blessed we are to do what we do with people we love.
So, that's it, in a nutshell from a merch guy's perspective. I can't tell you how thankful I am for this group of people and for the opportunity to do what we do. We had an amazing and exhausting trip. It was filled with "How did we end up with these jobs?" moments. Thanks to everyone who hosted and attended these last few shows. You guys made us feel so welcome across the pond.
Until next time...
The Merch Guy