Road Blog: Saturday October 06, 2018 - Swansea, Wales
October 6, 2018
We hit the road just after 11am, heading east on the other side of the road, through rolling hills and sheep farms, around and across the Bristol Channel. There were grouse everywhere, picking at the vegetation and insects along the roadsides. After an hour, the drive turned into divided highway, fast moving and relatively stress free. Patrick's got a good dial on the van now and in general the travel was much smoother today. We crossed into Wales around 2:30 and arrived at our hotel around 4. The GPS took us into a travel plaza, similar to what you might find on a turnpike in the states, and we thought we’d made a wrong turn, but the hotel was right in there, nestled behind a Burger King and room of slot machines. We changed clothes and headed out after a few short minutes and drove into the city of Swansea.
Our venue last night was Llewelyn Hall in the YMCA Swansea as part of The Swansea Fringe Music and Art Festival. We weren’t sure exactly what to expect but it was a really cool old workingman’s dance/reception hall in a super cool old building. There was a big stage on one side, overlooking a big hardwood floor, with a bar in the back corner and a seated balcony overhead. It’s been a while since we’ve played a big hall like this so we were excited. We loaded in using the lift, stowed our gear in the green room, said hello to the sound engineer, bartenders, and the other bands, and set up merch. I met Simon Parton, one of the organizers, who was a really nice dude and seemed genuinely happy that we were there.
The first band on was Salvadôr Sanchez. Super nice dudes with a great droney, pop, but heavy guitar sound. The sound guy Gram had them dialed in nicely, and they let us use their bass rig (we assumed it was the house rig, which is why we left ours in the van). Thanks guys! We went on second, around 6:30, which is really early for us. There was a respectable amount of people there, a bit thin, but considering the hour it wasn’t bad. We played well, felt a little more comfortable on the borrowed gear, and got a great reception. Gabriel is pretty much 100% back in game shape and hasn’t missed a beat. After the set we sold some merch, loaded out, said some goodbyes, and hit the streets of Swansea looking for some rock and roll and some food, in no particular order.
We stumbled into The Bunkhouse Swansea, a nearby club, watched a band and had a pint of Welsh bitter. From there we walked around a bit more, then decided on a Sri Lankan joint called The Banana Leaf for dinner. They had a great menu. We started with the Manchurian Cauliflower then I had some spicy lamb chettenadu curry that was possibly the best I’ve ever tasted. There was a birthday party at a nearby table for a little kid who was too young to appreciate such food, and I might be more forgiving if he hadn’t spent the entire meal rubbing balloons against the side of his head in an effort to create enough static to stick them to the wall. From there we walked down to Crowleys Rock Bar, an edgier punk/metal bar that had a lot of character and quite a smell, and checked out a rowdy punk band for a few songs. Patty ran into Joe Bayliss, the other organizer of the festival, and they had a nice chat and invited us back to the city to play anytime. We had one last drink, then headed back to the hotel for an early crash time.
It was nice to have an early night, but the jetlag had me awake for most of it, tossing and turning, until I finally fell asleep, waking up every so often. We got up at 8 and went out to the travel plaza for coffee and Wifi. It’s a mostly cloudy day here in Swansea, on the cool side. We’ll drive back to Devon along the same route we took yesterday to get here, stay at the same hotel we stayed in Friday, and play The Palladium Club nearby Bideford. We’re now into that Sun-Wed part of the tour where the shows carry lower expectations, but we’re hoping for some of our new friends from Friday show up tonight. We’re on at 9:30!