From the road: Purple Velvet International Female Hip-Hop Tour Diary, Vol. 5

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We’ve also received housing at each stop. Sometimes it’s a hotel or hostel, but quite often, it’s a band apartment situated atop the venue. The flyest of these accommodations was in Munich, at a spot called Feierwerk. The apartment, like most of the band housing, was outfitted with multiple beds in each room, a kitchen (where the snacks greeted us on gallery-type exhibition), and a bathroom outfitted with a shower. There was a sitting room with a view of outside where folks waited before doors opened. There was also a spiraling staircase that spat us out right at the stage. The entire space was clean and cozy. We felt as if our effort at offering a solid performance was paralleled by the curation of a pacific environment where we could prep and chill.
A graffiti-decorated venue entrance in Leipzig, Germany. - COURTESY OF SHIRLETTE AMMONS
  • Courtesy of Shirlette Ammons
  • A graffiti-decorated venue entrance in Leipzig, Germany.

Housing and nourishment seem so basic that I am now wondering why such staples aren’t generally extended by venues in the states. According to Tour Manager Anna, housing is provided for bands in Germany no matter their acclaim. In terms of promoting the health and well-being of individual artists and the music "scene" as a whole, overnight shelter and food seem less of a luxury and more an inalienable right. How often do bands arrive at a venue road-weary and hungry, having to negotiate gas money and fast food? How often do bands over-drink their prescribed delineation of PBR and end up reimbursing the club for a dank-ass beer for which the venue pays pennies on the dollar? How often do bands hit the road after finishing a show at 2am, a few too many drinks consumed, en route to a cheap hotel or rest stop with the least drunk person at the helm? How dope would it be if US venues, in their construction, considered including a band apartment as a non-negotiable part of their blueprints? These ramblings surface as I steer the wheel.

Equally unique to this tour is the eclectic design of the performance spaces. Germany appears to overtly embrace graffiti culture despite its illegality. Beyond that, some of these venues have certainly lived multiple lives and are now revived, repurposed, and reincarnated (with thumping sound systems to boot). There’s an ‘alternative’ house in Greifswald whose frame is transformed into a mosaic replica of a pirate ship and a former train station in Jena completely outfitted with graffiti and street art. There’s an urban "island" in Leipzig where the tagged door of the venue replicates a gaping mouth with a missing front tooth (pictured above). Each club is a unique trough made provocative and perverse by the castaways and ragamuffins who gather there. Seldom have I felt so accommodated and inspired by venues I’ve encountered on the road. 

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