The Foreign Exchange In Europe: Day 3 – Amsterdam

Still on a high from the the first London show, I was damn near about to stay up all night until we were to meet up in the lobby and get ready to hit the train from London to our next stop… Amsterdam. I did actually end up falling asleep, but only for a couple of hours. Woke back up, threw my things in the suitcase and prepared myself for a train ride. I wasn’t aware that we were to catch a second train in Brussels, which was no problem, but the connection was made interesting because there was about a ten minute window between trains. We were given fair warning while we traveled on the first train, so as soon as the ride was complete, we knew we needed to hop up, unload luggage for nine and hurry up to that second train. And this is exactly what happened… We were all by the luggage racks before the train even came to a complete stop. Once it halted, we opened that door, two people stepped outside to receive bags as a few of us stayed inside to pass them down. After making sure everyone’s bag was accounted for, the pace went from leisurely walk to swiftwalk/powerjog. As we walked up, the train was about 2 minutes away from it’s equivalent to “All Aboard!” call. Thank GOD our first train arrived approximately 7 minutes early, or else we would have been a bit short. But we made it and all was good… well, kinda. We got our seats and because of my lack of sleep the night before, I was knocked OUT. When I woke up, everyone who was sitting near me was gone. I saw no Phonte, I saw no Ab… and my heart skipped about three beats and lack of sleep turned into the absence of logic, “These kats LEFT me in Europe!” But then I looked up and happened to see Nicolay and figured that I was still good to go… but I was still kind of curious as to why kats just got up and left their seats like that. Fatigue overtook my curiosity at the time, and I fell right back to sleep. I woke up again and found that we weren’t in Amsterdam yet, but I do remember smelling something a little funny. I looked around a little bit, didn’t notice anything out of the ordinary and laid my head back for more sleep. Finally, upon making it to our destination, the only thing I wanted to do was put something in my stomach. So I grabbed a quick sandwich, chips, and Vitamin Water at the station before we caught a couple of cabs to the venue, Paradiso. While waiting for the two cabs, Phonte and Ab started telling me why they changed their seats so abruptly.

“Maaaan, you were OUT on that train so you didn’t even see what happened!”

I’m standing there in suspense, like… “Can y’all please tell me what the hell happened on that train ride?”

“Man, this girl hurled on the train! She threw up on herself AND her friend!”

Oh damn… I KNEW something smelled like vomit, but I was so tired that as long as none was touching me I was good in my seat with my sleep. Needless to say, I didn’t feel too far out of the loop by missing someone throwing up on the train… So thank goodness for catching up on sleep.

I heard before the show that Paradiso was a large venue, and kats weren’t lying. We had a TON of space on that stage to maneuver and I’m not exactly sure how many people the place holds, but I could tell that it was significantly bigger than Cargo. It actually kind of reminded me somewhat of NYC’s Highline Ballroom.

Photo by Sarah Jane Van Beek

Once the show began, I wasn’t sure what to expect from the Amsterdam crowd. They were definitely there in numbers, but it took them a second to warm up. But once they did, I saw a ton of people dancing around and having a great time. It’s always interesting to me when I see kats who speak a different language able to recite lyrics to a song WORD FOR WORD. I LOVE that. I was checking for it all night long because up until then I had never seen it happen first hand – further proof that music is the universal language. Holland partied with us, sang with us, and even laughed with us when we improvised on stage (i.e. the Gospel-influenced “Pay My Bills” joint). And the people were friendly as hell when I came back out to greet – including a kat who approached me and said that he traveled from Italy to see the show. Dude was all smiles and so excited. The fact that he didn’t speak or understand too much English made it even more of an experience for me. Our music and performance had just made his night and what a helluva thing to be able to do. To bring that much joy to someone that you can barely communicate with?! Music is POWERFUL. I also had the pleasure of meeting Nicolay’s family who came out there about 20 deep, including his mother, father, siblings and cousins… very good people. I was also able to get up with a good friend of mine who I used to teach with in D.C. who now lives in Amsterdam. Now that was a good feeling to be able to meet up six time zones away from home. Bottom line: The Amsterdam show was a WIN.

Of course the “Post-Game Meal” was in order after the show. So our homegirl Pay pointed us in the right direction through the square where there was a spot called Wok To Walk. Maaaaan, you talk about a damn food victory?! Phonte, Ab, and myself picked that menu up and ordered with enthusiasm in our voices (Ab had already visited the spot already, so kats were thoroughly excited about the place already). When dude called our first names individually to come up and get our plates, kats hit the George Jefferson speedwalk while waving one hand behind us to get this food. Wok To Walk officially provided me with my first satisfying meal of the European Tour.

From there we retreated back to our hotel… The Backstage Hotel. With a name like that, it was pretty obvious that they catered to bands, artists, etc. The place was dope design-wise. It had a ton of different old show promotion posters up, guitars on the walls… Even the rooms were furnished with road-ready travel case material. It was kinda crazy. And free wi-fi too?! This has is too good to be true!! Well, it was… Once again, I was in a bed that didn’t fit my body. Matter of fact, it was smaller than the London hotel bed. I was so afraid that I would fall off of the damn bed and get stuck in BETWEEN the two beds. Luckily that didn’t happen though… Up late again until we’re off to the next city.

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