So I got lost on my way to pick up the musicians today, and somehow found myself on the other part of town in front of Gelatauro – the ice cream place I’ve been banging on about. Genuine mistake or subconscious desire to start the day with a tub of the city’s best ice cream, it was a good omen regardless.
As it turns out Sam had already left with Alessio, the bassist, who took him on a little tour of the city and a stop at what is apparently the best coffee in town – though I’m sure, much like Gelatauro, it’s one of the 10 bests you can find within the confines of Bologna’s historical city center depending on who you ask.
We’re starting the rehearsals later today as Danilo doesn’t arrive till five due to work commitments and so it made more sense to shift the work by a few hours to allow them to get more work done together by finishing later. We did this a lot last year too as all the musicians involved had various schedules and I must admit it’s easier in a way – on top of that the heat is insane today so at least we’ve missed the worst parts of the morning and lunchtime.
Sam has swapped the Korg keyboard for the patch synth, and the 808 before that, and is having some serious fun filtering the tape echo with it. It’s been really fascinating sitting here for the last few days seeing the guys playing with some serious hardware. On the first day when the sound card died, despite the laptop becoming more or less useless, they were still able to jam away with the hardware and just seeing the level of detail and quality in the sound – even just on a small system like the one we’ve got for rehearsals – is a pleasure and reminder that ultimately it does make a difference. Fabio seems to have hit the perfect balance in terms of how to use the laptop within the entire set up in a way where all the sounds that come from the computer are more minimal and used to avoid having more gear on stage.
Danilo has arrived, bringing some much needed color to the tracks they’re rehearsing today. As Hed put it yesterday he’s a real painter, incredible at just adding the right amount of texture to a track from his arsenal of percussions. The kind of musician that doesn’t overdo but without whom the track just seem to feel a bit flat.
It’s hot today. And there’s still a lot to do.
Yass and Ale have gone to the Arena Orfeonica to start setting up and understand the logistics of the visual show. Meanwhile with the musicians it’s become clear that the tracklist’s order and the length of each track, and the solos within, is gonna be key. Babina has been quite clear that a timeline, even rough, is essential for his vision of the show to unfold as he intends and I think it can also be good for the musicians to have in order to make sure they don’t lose themselves in the music too much, considering quite a few of the tracks have improvisation potential.
This year feels like we, as organisers, have more of a hand on the art for the show. Though in reality we always have been like this I think Babina’s presence and work as director has helped to focus everyone more, not just the artists but ourselves too as organisers because ultimately – even if it’s only in Babina’s head – we are all working towards a unified show that’s already been thought out from start to end unlike other years.
Dinner tonight was unbelievable – truly a thing of beauty considering it’s catering, then again I think I’ve become too used to anglo-saxon food standards and I’ve forgot that you can have catering that is like your gran’s home cooking, or close enough.
With everyone gone to the Arena Orfeonica I was left to look after the musicians until midnight, with our new rehearsal schedule. They managed to run through the remaining tracks for the show and refine most of them. Interestingly the last track has a what can only be described as a brostep segment, with full on obnoxious wobble bass and seeing the guys trying to make Danilo fit on top of that was an interesting process. To me that kind of sound is something that you never really hear done live, it’s always a studio production designed to sound big on huge rigs, so to see and hear the band trying to refine it and then Sam working the desk to ensure that all frequencies can comfortably sit together in that moment was genuinely interesting. In the end Danilo found a perfect little shaker that he uses atop the bass to give more energy to the track. Interested to see how the crowd will react to that one.
By midnight we’re pretty much all cooked and ready to lie down. As we unwind Sam comes out with the quote of the day: ‘bella band!’
Let’s see what tomorrow brings.
Full programme details for the week are here.