Rock & Roll Italy is a four-part series where Seattle musician and occasional NadaMucho.com contributor Mike Spine shares stories of his most recent international DIY tour, this one through Italy with his band At the Spine.
On April 5, more than 250 people filled a studio/rehearsal room/venue in Milan to watch a tribute to 1990’s Seattle icons Curt Cobain from Nirvana and Layne Staley from Alice in Chains. The venue had an smaller acoustic stage where Italian bands La Tensione di Violet, Randy Watson and Polarbeers sang their favorite Seattle songs mixed with originals to a packed room and a larger main stage where we opened up to a full house of enthusiastic music lovers.
My band At the Spine kicked off things on the main stage around 10:30 p.m. to a full room and our high-energy stage performance somehow managed to knock over a beer on the side of the stage into a power strip in the middle of an intense rock portion of our fifth song, “The Ointment,” blowing all the power in the room and leaving everyone in complete darkness and confusion. A sea of mobile phones quickly arose to light the room and try to discover the problem. The event only heightened the excitement, anticipation and friendship in the room with the crowd, and when the source of the outage was discovered and rectified 10 minute later, we tore through the rest of the set making many new friends and fans. The crowd was enthusiastic, attentive and ate up our brand of rock.
Following our set our friends and fans, the Milan based Nirvana tribute Poottana enthralled the audience with 15 classic, spot-on (with a slight Italian accent at times) Nirvana covers. In Seattle, folks are generally too cool/jaded/worn out to enjoy these songs (myself generally included), but for this crowd, this era of Seattle music changed their lives the same way Beattlemania or the British Invasion did in 60s… and they are not afraid to show it. So I decided “When in Rome (or Milan)” and jumped on stage to scream out some backing vocals.
Bologna based Alice in the Box hammered out a powerful set of Alice in Chains tunes to close out the night. Both Curt and Layne are tough voices to emulate, but these folks knocked out great versions song after song.
Arriving home at my cousin’s home in suburban Gaggiano at 5 a.m. for the second night in a row, we fortunately had the next day off to recuperate from many sleepless and late nights and the ever-challenging jet lag. Unfortunately sleep is still not much in the cards for me these days.
Monday we played a quiet but fun show in an out of the way venue (often the case in Italy in my experience) on the edge of Parco Nord in Milan to a small crowd and celebrated second guitar player Colin Bradford’s birthday. More shows offers and connections keep happening each day, so very soon I’ll update you on what transpires next. Salute!