Tour Diary: Salt Lake City's Subrosa take Europe by storm, and chocolate. | Music | Salt Lake City | Salt Lake City Weekly

Tour Diary: Salt Lake City's Subrosa take Europe by storm, and chocolate. 

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Salt Lake City dark-rock (don't call it goth) band Subrosa toured Europe in October, supporting their Swedish label debut Strega. The following is is singer-guitarist Rebecca Vernon's best recollection.n

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Touring Europe has been my dream for years, and we finally did it: Subrosa toured for nine solid hellish-amazing days in Europe last month, making it through customs, six country borders and six gigs without any major snafus, and with four of us wearing the cutest boots imaginable. Don’t be too jealous, though; it was hard, weird and even scary sometimes, too. Here are the best and worst highlights of the tour for each of the 11 days we were gone.n

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Thursday, Oct. 16n

Worst: One of Subrosa passing out on the plane to Brussels on the way to the bathroom. (Everyone got complimentary wine and it’s pretty potent at high altitudes.) One of the stewardesses rushed back to me, saying, “What is wrong with her? What did she take?” implying that she was on drugs or something. Well, if she was, it wasn’t crack cocaine, I wanted to say.n

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Friday, Oct. 17n

Best: Getting through customs without work permits. Bands technically have to have work permits to play shows in Europe. Work permits in England were offered to us for 600 pounds (about $1000 ). I had freaked out upon hearing the story of The Tremula arriving in Heathrow Airport without work permits, only to be turned back to the US immediately after customs opened their suitcases and found their merch and CDs. So even though mainland Europe is more lax, I shipped our merch to Fred from I Hate Records band Serpentcult a couple weeks before we flew over. But it turns out all the Belgian customs did was look at our passports and stamp them.n

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Worst: Sneaking extra people into our hotel. The hotel clerk at our hotel was suspicious of the fact that only two of us were checking into a room, but we had a mountain of luggage that our “friends who were staying at another hotel” were helping us load. We spent the next 10 days sneaking into various hotels with more people than beds, stuffing people into rooms, some sleeping on the floor. And saved a ton of money, but it was nerve-wracking.n

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Best: Belgian chocolate.n

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Best: Spending Friday night in downtown Brussels. Late at night, Kim, Zach and I slipped out and went downtown on the subway. All the locals were getting drunk in the town square, breaking glass and yelling obscenities against America. Awesome!n

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Zach and Kim got some amazing quality bottled beer at a Beer Mart for about 70 Euro cents (about $1). We stayed downtown till after the subway closed, so Kim and Zach peed from some scaffolding surrounding some venerable building or other and we walked back to the hotel.n

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Saturday, Oct. 18n

Worst: Being four hours late for our first gig. Beneath the Frozen Soil (driving from Sweden) were badly delayed getting to our hotel to pick us up because of a huge traffic jam on the freeway. Being four hours late to the Aalst gig at Negasonic (like a Euro Burt’s) was so incredibly rude that it transformed into being really awesomely brash, if you think about it.n

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Best: A dude from a cable channel in Berlin filming us with the promise of airing it. I’m stoked that seven drunk housewives will see us in Berlin at 2 a.m. Guust, the organizer, also fed us homemade spaghetti. He forgot that 4/9 of the two bands were vegetarian, but they ate the noodles. (Most venues in Europe provide a meal and a place to sleep, even for small bands.) Fred from Serpentcult brought our merch and took awesome pics.n

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Sunday, Oct. 19n

Worst: Loading the van. It was a Tetris challenge after every show and every morning. Nine people, their luggage, instruments and equipment can fit in a 9-passenger van, but I don’t recommend it unless you want to come down with Restless Leg Syndrome and a bouquet of airborne diseases.n

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Best: The cheesyfabulous decorations at our Black Forest guesthouse. There were ‘70s and ‘80s plastic décor, doilies, wild curtains and weird self-help and medical books, all in German, in nightstands next to our feather-deckered beds. Eating at an Italian restaurant called Francesca’s with BTFS really helped us soak up the whole authentic German experience.n

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Monday, Oct. 20n

Best: This weird Milka chocolate bar with watermelon filling I found at a corner mart that had, like, Pop Rocks in it. I made everyone eat a square. Kim discovered the Pop Rocks exploded more when you drank beer after.n

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Best: Bonding with Beneath the Frozen Soil. We had a lurking suspicion that BTFS thought we were all stupid, giggling Americans. That wasn’t our fault, though; there was a lot to giggle at. Tonight, though, they finally knocked on our door and we hung out with them for an hour. Getting to be friends with them was one of the best parts of the tour. They teased Zach a ton, calling him “Zachy” because his wife, Rachel, does, and helped us come up with song titles for our next album, Dragon Muff: “Covered in Ghost Poo” and “Basketlust,” among others.n

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Tuesday, Oct. 21n

Best: The gig in Slovenia. Marko, the promoter of the show in Slovenia, flagged us down on the main road of the small village of Pivka, where he had helped create a Youth Cultural Center with the help of some grants. The center had free Internet, a kitchen where he heated up some amazing homemade vegan soup for everyone (one of the best meals of the whole tour, hands down) and a room with nine mattresses and a space heater.n

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The room where we played was a small basement room with paintings all over it, smaller than Kilby Court. About 25 people showed up, and even though we played bigger shows, this one was our favorite, because of how welcoming and nice everyone was. Everyone was very appreciative we’d come all the way to their village to play a show; some people hitchhiked from an hour away to attend. They also donated 110 Euro between all of them (usually Marko said the average was 30-40 Euro). n

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Worst: Parking the van backed up with the doors against a wall because someone there was giving off I-might-steal-your-$350-pedal-for-pig-antibiotics vibes.n

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Wednesday, Oct. 22n

Worst: Having to push the water button in the shower at our hostel in Vienna every 6 seconds (I counted). Also, their “breakfast included” meant a basket of bread with little jams, and a gigantic bowl of community yogurt.n

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Best: Homemade goulash and an encore at our Vienna gig at club Escape. The goulash was made by the mother of the venue owner. For real.n

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After our set, the audience wanted another song, even after I had told them twice we didn’t know more songs. Finally I said, “OK, you asked for it,” in a warning voice, and Sarah and I played “Isaac,” our acoustic ballad.n

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Thursday, Oct. 23n

Best: Getting a tour of downtown Vienna. Chris, one of the promoters from the night before, and a local journalist who had interviewed us, walked us down tiny cobbled side streets that suddenly opened up into a large square that had a huge cathedral in the middle, towering over us. We also saw a Greek church and the only Jewish synagogue that had survived WWII.n

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Worst: Getting stopped and fined 120 Euro by the Austrian police for not having the right sticker in our car window. The sticker was a toll sticker for about 7 Euro that allows you to drive on Austrian roads.n

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Worst: Sketchy alley encounters. As soon as we arrived in Budapest, we knew something was weird. The main streets were closed off, and there were hundreds of armed policemen in the streets.n

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At one point we were in a small alley looking at our map when all of a sudden, five pissed-off-looking guys surrounded us, walking towards the van and blocking it. We were scared. Svante put his foot on the gas and slowly but firmly drove forward and the guys parted like the Red Sea and let us pass. Later, the promoter, Balazs (pronounced Buh-laj), explained that Budapest was celebrating a National Feast Day, and there were protests and riots in the streets that night. The men were probably rioters, he said.n

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Best: Daniel and Balazs. A boy named Daniel helped us get the show in Budapest by getting us in touch with Balazs over Myspace. We met him and his friend, Annett, at the After Music Club. She told us where to go buy a hair straightener, because Kim’s and my life were getting steadily ruined by not having a hair straightener for 3 days in a row. Daniel sang along to all our songs.n

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After the show, Balazs gave us our guarantee of hotel rooms and 100 Euro a band, even though we’d really only make him about a third of that from door money. He said the riots had kept people from coming, and that he’d made extra from a show the night before. He used to do much bigger shows, he said, but stopped because the pressure and stress “took all the joy out of it.” It was incredibly cool to meet a promoter with so much integrity.n

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Friday, Oct. 24n

Best: An awesome meal at the club in Crailshelm, Germany. It was pasta with a choice of vegetarian or meat sauce, and a big bowl of salad, all on metal chargers, like at a fancy restaurant. The owner of the club was a guy named Roman who was in his mid-50s, with a long, flowing grey beard and a commanding presence, like if Zeus were a rocker. You got the sense he was some kind of pillar of the regional music scene.n

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After we played, he laid out eight mattresses on the venue floor and yelled at all the people in the venue go to the back eating area to continue partying. Then he turned off the lights in the main room so we could sleep. n

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Worst: Roman yelling at us like a big, belligerent god for like, three minutes about how we needed to get to bed and be quiet and “respect our drivers” after the lights were out and we were trying to talk about the driving schedule for the next day. It was funny. Sarah said she was afraid we were going to get grounded.n

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Saturday, Oct. 25n

Worst: Getting up at 4 a.m. to get to Dutch Doom Days on time and getting lost near Cologne, Germany on the way. It cost us 45 precious minutes trying to get back on track and we were already cutting it super short.n

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Worst: Yoran accidentally stepping in human feces while we made a pee-in-the-trees stop by the side of the road, and bringing it into the van on his shoes without realizing it. Apparently it was a favorite bathroom stop for other Autobahn drivers. The gag-inducingly smelly poo got all over a couple duffel bags.n

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Best: Meeting Ola, the ex-co-owner of I Hate Records [the label that released Strega], for the first time. He walked into the equipment room in Baroeg (the Dutch Doom Days venue) where we were getting ready. He recognized me and Sarah and we gave him big hugs. He was the one who convinced his partner to sign us, even though we are to doom what Iggy Pop is to metal.n

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Best: The audience giving a collective startled motion when we crashed into our first song, “Christine.” “Christine” was probably a punch in the face after all the super-slow doom. But then people started to smile. n

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During the fifth song, we had some bass power problems and had to stop. Sarah and I sang “Isaac” and called it good. We were satisfied; it was the best set we played all tour, and five songs was enough for them to get the Main Idea. Ola stood in the front row and watched us live for the first time. After we played, Ola’s band Griftegard played; they were great.n

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Sunday, Oct. 26n

Best: Rotterdam pot. The Subrosa pot-lovers got to smoke weed at a public coffeeshop without worry of being stopped by cops. The weed was smooth, but not any better than the stuff they could get back in Utah. Weird?n

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Worst: What with repacking our merch and buying train tickets, there was no way in hell for me to make it back to the second day of Dutch Doom Days.n

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Monday, Oct. 27n

Best: Playing trivia games on the airplane. It was set up on a network so all the players on the plane could compete against each other. n

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Best: Running into Josh Joy at the Salt Lake airport, totally by accident.n

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Worst: Someone in Subrosa threw up on him/herself and someone sitting next to him/her while he/she was unconscious, after taking sleeping pills and that high-altitude complimentary wine.

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Rebecca Vernon

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