2016 was a manic year packed with some 150 shows on four continents. I played classic music venues and weird makeshift DIY spots, to big old theaters with 1000 people and living room shows with 12 people. 2016 was the strangest year yet. Below are the places where we bent the rules the most as to what constitutes a music venue.
1. Attic in Brussels, Belgium
Kicking off a 62-date world tour, I found myself in Brussels, Belgium for a mini festival called Indie Keeping Secrets Fest. The rad promoters set up four shows in bizarre venues around the city including an old 200-year-old attic, a vacant Olympic swimming pool and a rooftop in city center.
2. Toolshed in South Germany
This was the second annual show at the legendary Jan’s Toolshed, a makeshift venue created by my friend Jan in Tubingen, Germany. The sound was awesome, the crowd was rowdy, and there were chickens and goats running around everywhere. Jan serves the purest, healthiest, cleanest beer I’ve ever tasted.
3. Kitchen in Hamburg, Germany
Hamburger Kuchensessions is a live series where songwriters play mini sets right in a tiny, 12-capacity kitchen. The sessions are organized by my friend Jens, an underground legend and perhaps the mascot of Hamburg, Germany. Check out his mixtapes of the sessions.
4. Kindergarten in Prague
While homeless in Czech Republic, a friend back home hooked us up with her sister in Prague. Turns out she runs a Kindergarten out of her house packed with with legos, blocks and toys of all colors of the rainbow. For three nights we slept on kids play mats on the floor. Day two began with a mega showcase rock show for the wee tots.
5. A Vagina Museum Exhibit in Tasmania
Easily the most bizarre festival I’ve ever played, MONA FOMA Festival sits on the floating cloud that is Hobart, Tasmania. Hobart is a small outpost of artists floating in the middle of the ocean. I played for a few hundred people in the MONA museum next to a wall of hundreds of plaster cast vaginas.
6. Top of a Mountain in Switzerland
My 1000th show ever took place on top of a mountain in Appenzell, Switzerland. The well-established Clanx Festival went smashingly, though driving up and down the mountain was mighty scary due to the intense vertical angle.
7. Garages in Wisconsin, USA
The first annual “One Man Garage Band Tour” went pretty well, featuring BYOB and live music under the setting sun. Friends came and brought lawn chairs and rocked how Wisconsin people rock best, DRINKIN’ PBR!
8. Edge of the Earth in Norway
Flekkejford, Norway is a wee arts town nestled on the western edge of the country. All you see is crystal clear skies, mountains, and mighty blue waters. This was a sold out show in a bakery and everyone seemed to know the words to “DIY”, even though I’d never even been to this part of the world before. The promoter “Smooth Erik K” did a great job.
9. Vintage Furniture Store in Cedar Rapids, Iowa
After massive flooding just the week before, Mad Modern in Cedar Rapids barely opened in time to throw their first-ever show. Owner “Sky Dave” rallied a butt load of people for a packed out event that got almost too rowdy as patrons demolished cooler upon cooler of Busch Light. A victory nonetheless.
10. Under the train tracks in Vienna, Austria
While this was perhaps the worst show of the year, it may have been the coolest venue. RHIZ sits under one of the main train lines just outside the city center. The tiny bohemian venue fits only about 60 people and rattles like hell when the trains pass above. This is going to sound mega stupid but I gotta say it … it literally rocks.