Tour Blog #7: Illness, French Grocery Stores, and Tattooing Boobs

We had another free breakfast at our hotel in Parma, but I was so tired that I wasn’t able to take much advantage of it. I ended up going back to bed until we had to leave at 11, then sleeping for almost all of the three hour drive to Milan. It’s my birthday and I’ll sleep for 12 hours if I want to, okay?

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Originally, we’d planned to get to Milan early, drop our stuff off at the accommodation, and walk around for a little bit, but our host wasn’t ready for us. These plans were also complicated by rain that lasted nearly all day. We ducked into a little restaurant that looked like it was run by a family—there were older men playing pool, and collections of Barbie clothes on one of the dining tables. As someone who grew up with my family running a business, the scene was very familiar to me.

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We had wonderful pizza that left us stuffed, and we headed to the venue. Unfortunately, we had to load in the rain, and through giant puddles. At least it was warm!

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Club Legend is currently tied with Keller Klub for my favorite venue on this tour. Club Legend had a great green room, a killer food spread, and arguably most importantly: a barricade. I truly couldn’t ask for a better birthday present. While it can be very fun to spend time with the lovely people in the crowd as I try to shoot, sneaking between the barricade and stage means my gear is safe and I don’t have to worry about being in the way of people trying to mosh. If the venue had working WiFi, I would’ve stayed there forever. They also served us a massive plate of pasta for dinner, which needless to say, I was really into.

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There weren’t 200 people at the show, but the girls prefer to play to smaller crowds if they’re more engaged, which Milan was. The venue also took the initiative to change the lights around after each song, which really helps my photos have more variety. It’s a simply luxury I’m not usually afforded.

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As if barricades and nice lights weren’t birthday presents enough, Doll Skin pulled me up on stage (or, perhaps “over the stage” is a better term as I was already hiding behind Meghan’s drums to shoot) to have the crowd say “happy birthday.” I think she would’ve had them sing, but we weren’t sure what the birthday song in Italian sounds like, so she kept it simple.

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We loaded out to the van with no rain but sizeable puddles. Our accommodations for the night were a little strange—we think our host was a friend of the promoter, and we were mostly on air mattresses on the floor. We aren’t ones to complain, but it just gave off some weird vibes.

Our next day was kind of a day off, but we spent pretty much all day driving. We managed to stop at a pharmacy—the headcount of the ill includes Meghan, Alex, and Nicole, with Dora and I having scratchy throats. We’re loaded up on Sudafed and cough drops, at the moment.

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One of the coolest culture shock moments was visiting a French supermarket—it was about the size of an American Walmart, but only food. There were fish markets and massive produce sections, and it took us about 20 minutes just to figure out what we wanted for dinner! There was also a miscommunication about who was buying wine for the night, so we ended up with four bottles.

After a long day of sitting in the car, we arrived at our Air bnb, which was hosted by a very nice French man who tried his very best to speak English. There was more than enough space, and we all got our own beds. Many got their own rooms.

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We made a simple dinner of spaghetti and roasted broccoli, and attempted to make a dent in our wine supply. A little while after dinner, the girls surprised me with a belated birthday cake and song (I’d like to mention that Meghan lured me upstairs, looked me in the eye, laughed, and said “I was told to keep you up here.” Do not tell Meg secrets). I was so touched—with all the chaos of the day before, it didn’t 100% feel like a birthday. I can’t wait to celebrate with my friends and family when I’m back in the states, but the little party made me feel so appreciated.

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After a couple more glasses of wine, Nicole actually fulfilled a running joke we’d had on the tour—she’d been offering to give our driver a stick and poke tattoo, and by god, they actually did it. Petr now has “IWM” over a pair of boobs on the back of his arm—signifying two of the inside jokes we’ve had on this tour.

After a simultaneously exhausting and restful day, we called it a night and headed to bed.

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We awoke the next morning to sunlight streaming from the balcony, and left our air bnb. Despite the long drive yesterday, we still had a long way to go to get to Barcelona. Petr was raving about Spanish gas stations, and our lunch was worth the hype. The food in truck stops is insane—fresh pizza, fruit, parfaits, tarts, salads, and pasta, plus everything you’d find at American gas stations.

We arrived in Barcelona with some time to spare, so we headed to the hotel to drop off our stuff and take a breather for an hour or two. The venue for the night was just a few blocks away, but we drove over to unload the gear. After sound check, we ran over to a sports bar nearby, where the food was surprisingly tasty.

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When we came back from dinner, we found a line of people sitting outside the venue before doors open. This was really touching for the girls, as that hasn’t happened for them a lot while they’re so far from home. The crowd still ended up being small, but they were happy to see people in the audience singing along.

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The set went well, and was a little more casual than most, with Sydney taking a little more time between songs to chat. The stage was pretty tiny, so I struggled to shoot a little, but I’m happy with how the photos turned out nonetheless. I’m still impressed that the girls can shred like they do even while they’re sick.

Finally, we loaded up and ended up walking the quarter mile to the hotel. Alex even took her guitar all the way back with us because we’re all kind of nervous about getting robbed.

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The tour is winding down! I’m so sad that I only have two shows left with the girls, but the magic hasn’t faded yet—I still feel star struck to be here, even though I consider myself to be friends with the girls. Thank you all for the birthday wishes, and stay tuned!

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