Posted on Jun 12th, 2008 in Behind The Scenes > Live by A-Trak
Time for one of my long-winded tour novelas. I recently wrapped up a European tour that spanned the whole month of May, one which I arbitrarily named the Upper Crust Tour at the last minute, in honor of that beloved chain of sandwich shops found in almost all train stations. After doing a whole bunch of tours with other people — the Fool’s Gold fam, Mehdi, Kanye, etc — I felt like going off to clubland (Europe) and back to raw DJing practically every night for 4 weeks. Of course I wasn’t literally by myself the whole month. In most cities I was sharing bills with friends from either continent. But it did feel like a pilgrimage to the land of the DJ, and on off-days I would often link up with other producers and work on music. I loved it. I started a Flickr page towards the beginning of my trip so you can catch my full set of pics here. Let’s dive into it.
Right after Coachella I flew with my Flossy brethren straight from LA to London (and slept the whole way). My first gig was at the Bergen Festival in Norway with Diplo, Flosstradamus and Buraka Som Sistema. I expected a festival tent but in fact it was in a regular club, kinda warehouse looking actually. The city itself was super picturesque. We went looking for kebabs after the gig and stayed up way later than expected.
This must mean something else in Norwegian:
The next day Wes and I went to Manchester to do another gig together. Switch was in town. Ask anyone about going out with Diplo and Switch, it spells trouble. An afterparty at someone’s house, speakers tipping over, raucous breakfast back at the hotel, staff calling the rooms at 7am… The whole enchilada. I remember talking to Wes 2 weeks later and telling him “when I woke up the next day my hand hurt really bad, I have no idea why.” He was like “Yeah you bruised my ribs.” So that was that.
I painfully woke up at noon and got on the train back to London. I was going to play Fabric and I got a text saying they wanted to put me on from 4:30am to 6. I said no way. They moved me up to midnight. I said yes way. I remember getting into London with the sole concern on my mind being to buy some new underwear and socks because I’d been on the road since before Coachella, I was all out and I didn’t have time to do laundry. Except I had some label meetings lined up so it just wasn’t going to happen. So I sent my manager to buy me underwear and he came to meet me at dinner with an unidentified bag. Fabric was dope, they had me play in Room 1 (the big room) in the booth, which is a really different setting from how I’m used to DJing but it was a good exercise. The Institubes guys were in Room 2 and Scratch Perverts and Rusko were in Room 3. Of course I was out super late again. The reason why I keep bringing this up is that I’m not usually a party animal, and the first 2 weeks of this tour had me out till sunrise every night with a drink in hand. That’s just how Europe gets down.
I woke up in a daze after Fabric and as I was dragging my tush out of bed, got a text from MF-ing Steve Angello. I did not see that one coming. You remember in my WMC blog I talked about going to Diddy’s house one night/morning as the sun was rising? Well, Angello and Ingrosso were there and a mutual acquaintance tried to introduce us but I really got they were impression they were wasted and didn’t know who I was. Nothing wrong with that of course. But you can imagine my surprise when homeboy reached out as I was about to fly out to Stockholm for my next gig! My man was a great host, I must say. We went to his studio, traded music, drove around in his fast car, went to dinner and he came to my gig.
After that I was off to Dublin where I was playing with Floss again. Dublin was the hotspot to end all hotspots that night! The club where we were playing also had Cassius. Down the street was Mstrkrft. And earlier in the evening Soulwax played in a castle. All on a Sunday! Go Dublin. The show was super fun too. I stood on a chair a couple times.
Five shows in five cities in a row is tough. I had my first day off after that, but really it was just a travel day. Then I flew to Israel. I had a gig in Tel Aviv in the middle of the week. But it wasn’t just any middle of any week. It was independence day on the 60th anniversary of the country. Not only that but the day I flew in (the day before) was a sort of memorial day and everything was closed. So it was somber at first and then on the evening of my show the whole city turned into a giant party. Everything runs so late out there. They didn’t even bring me to the club I was playing until 2:30am! It was a fun night, we had some good dinner conversations.
Then I flew back to London to play at one of my favorite parties, Yo Yo. They had a crazy surprise lined up for me though… So, referring back to that same WMC blog, I had talked about playing this Yo Yo party in Miami on the night of my birthday (March 30th) and the venue sucked so I didn’t have a good time. It’s not their fault, Miami can be super tacky and this spot had nothing to do with the spirit of their London party. But still, I guess they felt bad that I had a lousy time on my birthday, so they decided to make this London gig a pt.2 birthday party for me. I had no idea though! I walked into the spot and saw all these balloons but didn’t know what to make of it. Then I looked on the wall and it said “A-Trak birthday tear-up pt.2″!!! They really hooked it up, cake and everything. Thanks again guys! I did a killer hip hop set that night.
I did 2 gigs in Belgium. The first one was in Liège with Boy 8-Bit at the Forma-T party and it was off the hook. Just raw energy. The 2nd night in Antwerp was… empty. Ah well. I ate like a king both nights.
From there I went to Paris and played the Social Club with my homie Yuksek. By the way Yuksek made one of the best tracks on the Kid Sister album. Watch it be a single.
After that I had a few days off so I took the train to Amsterdam, not to indulge in vices but to make a song with the one and only Laidback Luke. I’ve never seen anyone work like this dude. I went to his house at 11am and at like 4:30 we had a finished song. We took a lunch break too. A good lunch! Healthy. Anyway the song is called “Shake It Down”, you may have seen the youtube of Luke playing it out. People keep asking me for it but we’re not giving it out just yet.
Then I went back to London and did my 3rd show there in 3 weeks. This one was for a festival called Stag & Dagger and afterwards people kept telling me I looked like I was having fun while I was playing. I’m not sure what that means. I think it’s a good thing. Oh and I did some really expensive laundry that day. Usually I go find a laundromat but I just didn’t have any time so I asked the hotel to do it. They charged me £100 (that’s $200) and my clothes came back shrinkwrapped in a box with waxpaper lining. Check out the pic.
I went to Utrecht and played in a really pretty venue but stayed in a shitty hotel. My driver was listening to Frank Zappa “Dirty Love”. It brought back memories of the days before I got into hip hop and became a DJ. After that came Milan. The venue where I was supposed to play got shut down by the cops so they had to move it at the last second. They moved it to this big industrial space and it turned into a rave basically. James Ford and the Klaxons were in town working on their album so they came through. Another late one. Hung out with Congorock!
Then I was supposed to have a day off but Busy P asked me to come do a surprise set at this secret Ed Banger party on a boat in Paris. The only Milan-Paris flight we could find left super early and I slept through it. So I went through travel hell that day but eventually got to Paris. We went to watch this big Justice concert and then proceeded to the secret boat party. It was real festive on the Seine that night. I did another big hip hop set like at Yo Yo.
My last week in Europe was a bit less intense. I finally had time to go shop a little bit and meet up with some friends. I went to Erol Alkan’s house one night and we ate these really good pistachios, I think they were honey glazed. He showed me his fun studio and gave me an awesome Bill Wyman disco song. I went to do some shows in Germany and Austria in the middle of the week and came back to do some more shopping. My last 2 gigs were part of this festival called Dot 2 Dot. The first night was in Bristol. I had the misfortune of taking the train on a night where Bristol had just lost a big soccer match to London in London and the drunken hooligan fans were returning back to Bristol. Probably the most unpleasant train ride of my life. Once I got there I was playing with Santogold and the Bang Gang Djs so it was fun. We played on this boat, I don’t know what it is with boats and the Upper Crust Tour. This one stayed docked though. And then came Nottingham — a little underwhelming for a last show of this month-long saga but it’s all good. There were so many highlights otherwise. I was ready to go home. I stayed in London one extra day to see my brother who was just getting in town. We hung out with Lifelike and went to see him DJ at this Cazals album launch. Oh and we shopped too. Did I mention that I love London?