The Foreign Exchange in Europe: Day 5 – Köln

I’ll be completely honest, I was mad as hell when my cell phone alarm went off to wake me up in the morning because in true “Zo! on the FE European Tour” fashion, I only got 2 or 3 hours of sleep and fell asleep laughing at random nignorance on YouTube. Why?… Because the wi-fi was free of course! Anyway, I started the day off with a breakfast of repeat champions – A croissant and apple juice (taken from the venue’s backstage area the night before) which looked like what I called a “grown man’s juice box.” For the record, every croissant I had in France was absolutely ridiculous. I was looking to see if there was some jelly or something…Didn’t need it, those joints melted when eaten.

We finally got on the road around noon for the four-hour drive to Köln. Now anyone who knows me understands that I have somewhat of an obsession with all things food, so you may be able to imagine how excited I was to discover the fact that Schweppes made other flavors of pop (<– Midwest shiff) outside of ginger ale. At our first stop, I picked up a salad and a LEMON flavored Schweppes and damn if it didn’t taste delicious!! Little things make my day, so please just bare with me.

Our SECOND stop on the road landed us somewhere in Belgium. When we pulled up, the rest stop didn’t even look like it was open for business. There were a few cars scattered here and there throughout the parking area and more trash than actual trash cans. Once we walked up to the place, the doors slid open automatically and there were a few people already sitting down enjoying a meal. Out of curiosity, I decided to take a look at what was on the menu in the spot… while there wasn’t too much of a menu, they did have a very interesting variety of food choices spread out in the display case… Including grizzly. 

I wasn’t feeling daring enough to take a risk on such a wide variety of mystery meat, so I went over to the vending machine and bought a Kit Kat, which seemed pretty safe to me…. Until I bit into it. I think it had been in the vending machine since the “…Break me offa piece of that Kit Kat bar” commercials… The joint tasted like chocolate covered wood chips. But I ate it anyway… Hell, what can I say I was hungry. We got back on the road and it was amazing to me to cross the border into Germany and see the language on the signs change instantly from French to German in the matter of a few… meters. We don’t get to see things like that crossing from Maryland into Virginia… I mean, the driving may get a little worse, but no primary language change. lol And when I lived in Michigan, we used to have to go through a series of personal questions and show off 28 qualifying credentials before getting to cross the border and seeing something different in Canada. So to simply drive into a different country uninterrupted was a different experience for me.

Pulling up to the venue (Bahnhof Ehrenfeld), we were all looking pretty confused… “Is this it? Is this the place?” It must be… This is where the navigation system directed us to and GPS is always correct and accurate, right?…………….. (no) The GPS was actually correct this time and we were able to walk right into the spot and begin to soundcheck, which took all of about an hour and a half… we were there for a minute. At this point, all I wanted was some food and some wi-fi. I was in luck… Soon after soundchecking, the promoter took us to our green room area, which was across the street from the venue itself… hmmm, now this is different. A green room across the street from the venue? I was told that not only did they have free wi-fi, but they were planning to feed us pretty well for dinner. I’m ON IT!! Kats got into the green room and started plugging in laptops, connecting the net to their phones like some damn fiends… That lasted until they brought that food out – Turkey schnitzel (I was on the net by this time and Googled it so I was completely aware of what I was about to show no mercy on LOL), rice, curry sauce, and potatoes with roasted tomatoes, onions, etc… Maaaaaaan, look. This was the best meal we’ve had on the trip, PERIOD. I would have taken a picture of the food, but I wasn’t even THINKING about it at the time, I wanted to eat immediately. And dammit, Germany came through on the food. I partook in a second……. and a third helping of this wonderful food, I just couldn’t let it go to waste as it looked so lonely in the serving trays. At that point, it was time to turn around and check-in to the hotel where we had about an hour to get ready before having to roll right back to the venue.

We walked into the venue and the entire crowd of people was waiting in the bar area of the place rather than by the stage. I remember thinking, “Damn.. that’s different.” Once we arrived backstage, the people began to file into the main stage area. The one thing that stands out to me about the stage was that it was much higher than normal, but once again when the music started… the height of the stage and the language barrier didn’t really matter too much at all. This was also The Foreign Exchange’s first show in Germany so it didn’t take the crowd long to get into what we were playing. Plus, it was the fourth show on the tour so by this time we were so locked in musically that our comfort levels allowed us to become much more loose on stage. At one time, I thought I was about to pass out laughing as Phonte introduced the crowd to one of the crew’s inside jokes…comedy in its purest form. Germany rocked with us though and there was a group of kats who stood right up front in the middle that knew damn near ALL of the words. They were with us all the way to “Maybe She’ll Dream of Me” when the damn house sound went out COMPLETELY. Not good after a 90-minute soundcheck huh?… It finally kicked back in after about the first verse… :-/ The show concluded with the crowd calling us to come back out for an encore and of course us going into the crowd to greet everyone who came out. Germany showed a ton of love and made it known to me that they were very grateful to have us there performing. And to prove how small this world is – I even ran into a dude who played college baseball at Vanderbilt almost the same time I was in school and we played against each other from 1997 – 2000. We started reminiscing on the WKU vs. Vandy matchup, the stadiums, and I made SURE to bring up the fact that I hit a grand slam off of them to contribute to our victory over them when we played them at home my sophomore year. lol Great times in Germany…

Photo by Jumana Mensah

Now, onto some rest and relaxation in Amsterdam!!

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