Around The World With A-Trak: The Fool’s Gold European Vacation Tour

By A-Trak
January 07, 2010

The Fool's Gold European Vacation tour was the first official FG tour outside of American shores. The line-up was various combinations of: myself, Jokers of the Scene, Congorock and Greenmoney. For two weeks we traveled across the Old Continent, spreading the gospel of Mr Goldbar, leaving a trail of stickers and sweaty club kids. We slalomed between language barriers and customs officers, all in the name of the logo, as Lyor would say. Even when we hit cities that I've played by myself, it was a completely different experience to show up with a posse and make that statement, throwing merch into the crowd and playing snippets of upcoming 2010 releases. Representation in the European parliament shouldn't be very far off.

The first weekend was in Germany. We started off in Hamburg, my first time there. I remember my dinner very well. I went to a sailor-themed traditional restaurant and ate the best schnitzel of my life. This was a life-defining schnitzel. That veal was tenderized into submission and cooked to tasty perfection. I like to start my tours on a good foot, and by foot I mean meal. The venue we played in was an old WW2 bunker! Honestly I never knew what a bunker looked like. If you gave me a pencil (or some gouache) and asked me to draw you a bunker, I'd be stumped. This building was a huge apocalyptic cement fortress, and they couldn't tear it down after the war so they did the only sensible thing: brought in some tasteful interior decor and a few plants and had some techno parties! The club was packed with an enthusiastic, mixed crowd. As a general rule Germany is known to have very particular crowds: you often find a purist separation of genres and people are accustomed to long, minimal sets that focus more on subtle builds than on flashy impact. Fortunately we had a more open-minded bunch who got open to our style of party rocking, so we didn't have that problem. A successful first night! The team was in good spirits.

We took the train to Berlin, and the city was plastered in Fool's Gold posters. Both German shows were with JOTS and Congorock and both nights the set times were so late that I essentially stayed on New York time the whole weekend. But for local standards our sets weren't that late: elsewhere in town Panorama Bar was hosting a Made To Play party where Jesse Rose spun at 10am. Now that's late. By pure happenstance the homie Bronques from lastnightsparty was also in town and paid us a visit at our show. The club was dark and industrial with a great sound system. Accordingly, our sets were a bit deeper and more sinister that night. When we got those crowds to loosen up it really felt like an accomplishment! Locals were telling us they'd never seen a Berlin crowd get that rowdy. At the end of the night I tried to satisfy a kebab craving but ended up roaming the rainy streets to no avail, which probably fueled my snacking habits during most of the week to come: a taste for revenge.

Our next show was in Glasgow, which required some air travel. Rule of thumb for touring in Europe: the train is not that tiring. Airplanes, on the other hand, are always exhausting. We had a new line-up in Scotland: Congorock went home to Italy and was replaced by Greenmoney, one of our new signings from London. They met the Jokers, new friendships were made, food was consumed, laughs were shared, all in the name of the logo. We played a big venue in Glasgow, and most notable was the fact that it houses the biggest disco ball in all of Europe. Greenmoney warmed up the crowd with their upbeat Funky stylings. Jokers of the Scene took them to the rave cave, and then I jumped on for the home stretch. I had to run to the bathroom for an emergency pee halfway through my set, which was handled with flair I must say. Certain DJs can do the pee break without a hitch if they're playing from a booth away from people's attention. In my case I was on a huge stage with everyone looking at me, so when I ran off everyone in that room knew what it was for. To celebrate the end of the show, we finally indulged in some late-night kebabs. It seemed like a good idea at the time, until the next morning's guilt-ridden heavy gut.

From there we headed to Leeds, in the rainy Midlands. Most of these tour days follow this schedule: travel during the afternoon, check into the hotel around 5pm, 2 or 3 hours of laptop time to run my label and catch up with the outside world, then dinner around 8, if I'm lucky I get an hour to rest and/or update my playlists before the club, then DJ, get back to the hotel at 5am, sleep till 10:30, check out at noon and start the whole thing again. When dinnertime came around, we went looking for a restaurant based on a good review that we read. We were surprised to find a lounge-y spot with couches and an impressive wine list. And olives. Then we saw the menu with a prix fixe dinner at roughly $150 per head so we finished our glasses of wine, waltzed out of that spot and headed to Nandos instead. If you've ever toured England you will know Nandos as the always dependable Portuguese chicken franchise. I had heard good things about this party, Bigger Than Barry. The club was called Mint and looked quite different in daytime and nighttime conditions. We saw it lit up during sound check and all we noticed was the cheesy mint-green color of the walls and Certs shaped barstool seats. But at night it was packed to the brim with raucous kids, the Funktion One sound system was blaring and the ceiling was lined with an undulating light array that made you feel like you were inside a boombox. This was one of the best shows of the tour, we packed over 700 kids in a 450 capacity room and the energy was unreal. The night ended with kebabs again. Woke up with tummy regrets again. That was the last time we indulged.

I had a brief day off in London that went by in a flash, I linked up with Cassette PlayaCarri for an adventurous Turkish dinner in a Dalston restaurant decorated like the inside of an Aladdin cave, and then we met up with Diplo and friends for a sippy sippy. I went to Lisbon for a solo show for my homies from Discotexas, it was their party's 1st anniversary. Lisbon is such a pretty city. We had some good food there too—I recall a mushroom risotto of some sort. The club that I played was co-owned by John Malkovich. I like these little factoids. Boys Noize DJ'ed in another room, I watched the end of his set after mine. Can't wait till New Year's. The line-up outside the club was so big that fights broke out in the parking lot and cops sent some of the people home. But it was a fun night nonetheless.

Over the weekend I had a couple of shows lined up in the UK for Mixmag without the Fool's Gold posse. I did a double-header first: London and Brighton the same night. My London show was at Matter, which is Fabric's sister club that opened a little over a year ago in the old Millennium Dome. I played a one hour set, although a lot of times I don't like playing one hour. I have too much to say! I've really grown accustomed to playing at least 90 minutes, if not two hours or more. But that night somehow it worked out, I was happy with my set. This blog has pics from the show. Annie Mac got on right after me, and there were a bunch of other acts on the bill that I would have loved to see like Fatboy Slim and Jack Beats, but I had to jump in the car and head to Brighton for show #2. It was raining really hard again. The roads were dangerous. I remember thinking "if I die tonight just because my driver is trying to get me to Brighton in time for my set, that would stink." Thankfully I made it in one piece and arrived just as Laidback Luke was finishing up. The set up at the club was all wrong, the turntables were super wide apart and under these elevated CDJ's. However, despite their inability to respect my technical rider, the promoters did fulfill the hospitality and brought me hummus and pita in the DJ booth. So it was hard to be mad at these guys as I snacked 'n mixed. I don't think the crowd could tell the difference and we had a good time regardless.

I got back to London very late and slept as long as I could, and then we headed out to Birmingham for another Mixmag show. At this stage in my career it's rare that I get put up in a hotel that's truly inadequate. Not all of them are unique enough for me to review them for the blog but they're usually very satisfactory. In Birmingham, however, there was a convention in town and everything was booked up so they put us up in some sort of housing building for lecturers that felt like the Springfield Retirement Castle. My tour manager texted me and said "don't use the shower," that's how bad it was. When something like that happens, all you can do is laugh it off. I played the show and was surprised to meet so many dedicated fans in a city that I never went to, and we headed back to Foggy London Town. Upon our arrival we stopped by the Royal Academy Of Arts to check out the Anish Kapoor exhibit, a real marvel.

At this point I had been on the road for 10 days with a flight or a train every single day. I had a couple of days "off" in London now so I was excited at the simple thought of not having to repack the next morning. I say "off" because this wasn't a break at all, I had some studio time booked. I spent two days in the studio with Paul Epworth, he's got a great spot in West London full of character with plenty of knick-knacks in every corner. We worked from noon to midnight both days, trying to maximize our time within both of our busy schedules. The tea kettle was brewing continuously. After that, when you combine the dense touring zigzag with the sharp turn into creative studio mind-space, I was beat. I spent the next day gathering up my strength again, did a bit of shopping in town and was ready for the home stretch of the tour. On my last night in London I played Yo Yo, which has consistently stayed one of my favorite parties in the world after all these years. Lady Chann grabbed the mic halfway during my set and emcee'd the rest of the night! It was a sweaty one, as per tradition. It was also cool to play some hip-hop for a change during this tour.

From there we headed out to Manchester to play the much fabled Warehouse Project, which is in a venue underneath a train station. I shared the stage with Crookers and Count & Sinden. As much as I've toured the UK I actually haven't played that many times in Manchester, and apparently this is the party to play there. It certainly didn't disappoint, the spot was packed to the brim and the crowd was eating it up. I perspired profusely that night. Many a clothing item was shed. Even on a night like this where I wasn't playing with the Fool's Gold team, I can safely say that Fool's Gold tracks got the biggest reactions in my set, whether it be Laidback Luke & Lee Mortimer's "Blau," Congorock's upcoming "Babylon," my own Yeah Yeah Yeahs remix or Duck Sauce productions.

The final hurrah of the tour was our big Paris party. We took over two adjoining clubs that night. At the Nouveau Casino we had what you could call an electro bill with myself, Jokers of the Scene, Congorock and extended fam Surkin. And next door at the Charbon (normally a restaurant—the two are connected) we had a hip-hop night with Nick Catchdubs, So Me flexing his DJ skills, special guest Arthur King and another set by myself. The turnout was honestly bigger than we even expected, over 1,000 kids came out to celebrate and it was truly one of the top five Fool's Gold parties that we've ever thrown in any continent. Every DJ played a great set, everyone shined, we all had big smiles plastered on our faces throughout the night and it was the best possible way to end a tour that was ultimately pretty laborious for all of us. Our local homies came out to support and I was proud to share that night with the whole family. Our boy Luca took a few portraits that night, check them out on his blog.

We all stayed in Paris one more day after that. It was Nick's first time in town so we did a bit of tourism. I also bought a murse. At the end of the night, Nick, myself and the JOTS boys went to meet Teki for a night of karaoke accompanied by cabaret-style piano. Our FG team sang "When Doves Cry" followed by Justin Timberlake's "My Love" during which Nick wowed us all with his combination of J.T. falsetto and T.I. rap stylings. The only thing you can do after that is go home satisfied and start plotting the next move.

From The Collection:

Around The World With A-Trak
Around The World With A-Trak: The Fool’s Gold European Vacation Tour