Saturday, May 13
12 am: We figured out set lists and had some energy drinks and tried to wake up. The naps had left us all feeling pretty out-of-it. I tried to check out some of the opening band, but by the time I made it down there, they had just finished. There was a rather big crowd assembled, though. It was pretty cool.
12:30 am: We took the stage and did our thing. I'd had no idea what to expect from these shows. Really none. It could have been the awesome-est thing ever, or we could have been playing to 12 people in some crappy basement. Touring has that element of the unknown to it (and we've definitely had both kinds of shows) and then add the fact that you're halfway around the world, and there you go. Luckily, this show was solidly on the "awesome" side of the spectrum. There was a big crowd, lots of folks were singing along and dancing. It was pretty much like a great show would be anywhere else in the world.
The one big difference is that Firat had told us we were expected to play for about 90 minutes. Which I think we've done maybe once or twice just randomly, but never with Seth. We ended up playing a few Karacter songs too, a) because Seth knew them and b) because it would make for super dance party awesomeness. Anyway, 90 minutes is pretty long when you're not used to playing that long, so I think our energy flagged a little bit there in the middle, but we had a big ending.
Another weird cultural difference is that when you play covers, you don't always know how they're going to go over in different places. I mean, playing "Photographic" in Europe is pretty much a no-brainer, and they loved it here, of course. We also did a cover of "The Final Countdown," which in America is seen as awesome in a cheesy sort of way, and I don't know if the Turkish folks were appreciating it ironically or for real, but whatever, they totally went crazy for it. Our mistake was putting "Don't Stop Believin'" at the end of our set. I mean, I still stand by my claim that it is one of the greatest songs EVER, but apparently the Turkish were unfamiliar with its full-on amazingness and just seemed kind of puzzled.
2:00 am: We collapsed backstage.
2:15 am: I went downstairs hoping to dance and have fun, expecting it to be a club sorta thing happening, but apparently not, everyone had left already. I was somewhat dismayed about this, but then figured wow, all those people were there just to see us, so that felt sorta cool.
3:00 am: Firat's posse had packed up all our gear, and they carried it back to our hotel rooms. That's another thing that made us feel like rokkstars. After the show, we were pretty wired and restless, so the three of us decided to go for a walk. We went on the street where we'd had dinner. Most places were closed, but there were some bars open, and a decent amount of people still wandering around. There were lots of street vendors selling roses, as well as mussels, which really seems like a one-way ticket to food poisoning. Call me a skeptic, but shellfish is sketchy enough even from a reputable establishment. We did not have any. We did however stop at a convenience store, and got lots of candy bars and Doritos (special Turkish ones with poppyseeds).
4:00 am: We went back to our hotel room and ate the snacks and watched "entertaining" Turkish television and went to sleep.
12:00 pm: Wake-up time. I was not quite ready for that.
1:00 pm: We went down to the lobby to check out and meet Firat. He was apparently stuck in traffic, but his posse was down there. Tuncay and the other Firat took us out for some food. We went to some fast foody kind of place that was also a Dunkin Donuts (and readers of my previous tour diaries know how I hold Dunkin Donuts in such high regard) although they unfortunately only had donuts and not the stuff that actually makes Dunkin Donuts good, i.e. the egg and cheese bagel. I ended up getting a veggie pizza, which meant they put corn and peas on it. Which would have been OK in concept, except the pizza was basically microwave pizza, so it was pretty mediocre. Sean's pizza was basically the same as mine, only with a thick layer of shredded chicken on top. And Seth fared pretty well with the "tost," which was basically a grilled cheese.
Afterwards, we went back to the hotel, and Firat had shown up by then. He was wearing a Ghostbusters shirt today. I don't know if he wears an 80's movie t-shirt everyday. We loaded up the cars and left. Firat and the boys and I were in one car, and the posse (Tuncay, other Firat, and Namik) were in another. There was a lot of traffic getting out of Istanbul. It was cool to see a bit more of the city. Some of it was really amazing-looking.
Then we drove over a bridge and saw this:
So yeah, we were totally in Asia now. Wow! Soon we had reached the outskirts of Istanbul, and were on the highway. They really don't seem to care so much about keeping people/livestock/etc. away from the highway. Not that there are like cows crossing the road or anything, but it did seem entirely possible. It seemed like a bad idea. Soon we stopped at a rest stop, and got a lot of fun snacks. Mostly candy bars with funny names.
So there was much more driving, and the weather changed back and forth from sunny to rainy a few times. Another rest stop, more exciting snacks. The highlights were:
1) More Turkish Doritos, these ones were feta cheese and sesame seed flavor, really yummy! And, Tytz.
Things got less and less populated as we drove along. Then about halfway there, there was a section of highway that was closed (they were rebuilding it after the earthquakes there some years ago), so we got onto the local road, which was pretty cool to see. There were lots of roadside stands selling lawn ornaments, baskets, wooden furniture, etc. Then the road got really twisty and mountainous, and it kind of reminded me of California, the drive to Muir Woods specifically, where it's kinda scary but really pretty, and you're basically driving along a cliff. It was quite far down, and in the distance it was full of trees and very dramatic clouds.
Dramatic cloud pictures.
Not long after that, we made it back onto the highway. And not long after that, I took a nap.
7:00-ish pm: I woke up about a half hour outside of Ankara. It was gorgeous. Huge plains, mountains and little towns off in the distance, everything was really green. It was amazing.
Eventually things started to get more populated, and then it took us a while to get into the center of town.
8:00-ish pm: We reached the club, which was a lot smaller than the previous night's place, but really cool-looking. It was very red, with a restaurant upstairs, the stage and a bar downstairs, and patios, and a nifty light-up sign with a picture of us outside.
The owner brought us some dinner and then we soundchecked, and then we did a little interview for Turkish TV, which felt kinda rockstarry, I guess. Seth impressed us all with his new arsenal of Turkish phrases (mostly "yes"). After that, we were brought to the owner's apartment down the street so we could relax a bit, get fancied up, etc. We sat around and listened to disco music and the boys looked at a Star Wars book and I looked at a graphic design book. How completely unpredictable.
11:30 pm: Sean and I wanted to wander around a bit and see more stuff, which I think confused the posse because they had apparently received orders to babysit us. I didn't know if it was because it was a sketchy neighborhood (which it didn't seem like) but I think they were just worried about us getting lost. Which is really not an unreasonable concern, I guess. The other Firat was going to come with us, but we ran into the first Firat downstairs, so he accompanied us instead. Part of the neighborhood was pretty busy and the other part I guess is busy during the day because it was mostly stores. The sidewalks were not the best and I had to be very careful not to sprain my ankle because I was not wearing the most practical shoes.