Wednesday, July 21, 2010


I wake up this morning, feeling rested after a night's sleep for the first time since we left home last week. Even though we only slept for six and a half hours, they were six and a half hours of sober sleep. What a difference that makes.

The bed at Frank's place was really comfortable and hard to get out of, but after a shower and a coffee, I'm feeling healthy. Or at least, normal...

Jon is looking like a different person this morning. Last night was the first night that he slept for longer than four hours, and he looks a lot better for it. He comes into the kitchen to join us for coffee, in new jeans and a shirt, Stachel asks him if he's going to a wedding. He replies, “Please, don't hurt a broken man”. I love how dramatic he is. It's good to see him looking better.

So tonight is the last show of this little run. Even though we've only played four nights, my body feels like it's done thirty. If this was a longer tour then I guess today would be one of those when I'd be promising myself a day off the booze, whether that would happen or not is another matter. The show tonight should be a lot of fun, since we're playing with our friends Kylesa. It's a big show, with Converge headlining. I'm looking forward to seeing them too, it's been a few years. Jake, their singer, put the last Victims record out in the States. It will be fun to meet him.

The drive to Hamburg from Leipzig is a piece of piss compared to yesterday, clocking in at about four hours. We stop by a punk distro place in Hanover on the way, since Stachel is picking up some records for the Kylesa guys to sell on tour. I haven't actually bought that many records on these dates, so my fingers start itching when we're at the distro hanging out, surrounded by punk and hardcore vinyl. I pick up the re-issues of the two latest Baroness records, The Blue Record being the topic of Andy and Jon's boozy debate the other night. Jon is happy that I've listened to him and purchased it. I'm gutted though when Andy spots a Rorschach re-press and it's the only one there. Bastard!

Anyway, we hang out and chat for a while with Michael, the main man at Punk, sell him some Victims records and then get going to Hamburg. The sun is blazing when we pull up outside the Markthalle an hour later.

It's been a long time since I was at this venue. I remember it as being pretty large. We'd played here with Speedhorn on what was a terrible tour with an awful band called Ill Nino. It was a tour that was doomed to fail from the start. The actual shows were good but the two bands were so different, in every aspect, that it just didn't work as a tour. It was tense from the first day to the last. You just can't be friends with everyone I guess...

The first person I see when I walk into the venue is a friend though. Tom, who used to play with the band Bossk. They played a show with Speedhorn a few years ago and we've been friends ever since. They were supposed to be the main support on Speedhorn's final UK tour, but then they went and split up before we did. Tom and a few of the other Bossk guys were really big Speedhorn fans back in the day. He once told me that two of the guys from the band, long before they'd formed Bossk, when they were just pimple faced teenagers, had won a competition in Kerrang magazine, the prize being Christmas dinner with Speedhorn. I remember it being a typical “ply Speedhorn with free booze and shoot it” press gig. I fucking pissed myself when years later, Tom informed me who those two shy teenagers were.

Anyway, Tom is out with Kylesa selling merch for them on tour. It's a small world. Or, it's a small scene, spread worldwide. Wherever you pull the van up, there's normally a friend or acquaintance there to greet you. Tom points me in the direction of the backstage room I'm looking for.

Even though we're playing with friends tonight, I can't help feeling we're crashing the party a bit. There is a tour package of four bands and we've just kind of intruded for one show. We're made to feel more than welcome by the other bands though, who are all really friendly people. I feel guilty when I look at the schedule and see that we're playing in the middle of the bill, right before Kylesa. We assumed we'd be playing first. We're not getting paid for tonight since the tour was budgeted long before we arrived on the scene. We would have been on our way home and driving past Hamburg, so for us it was just fun to play with our friends and sell some merch. Thankfully, no egos involved and like I said, the other bands are super friendly.

Jon is really psyched about seeing the first band, Kvelertak. They are a bunch of young guys from Norway who are out doing their first European tour. Jon loves the band's first record and he's been looking forward to seeing them play live. We hang out with them for a while, talking about all the usual stuff. Nice guys.

We're all taking it very easy tonight. Nobody is in the mood to drink since after the show we're driving home. Well, we're driving to the Puttgarden ferry port and then sleeping in the van for a few hours before driving the rest of the way tomorrow. We're hoping to get home for around nine in the evening. So we chill out with the Kylesa guys and wait for Kvelertak to play.

They are really fun to watch. They sound like a weird blend of two of Norway's finest exports. Namely, black metal and Turbonegro. They're full of energy and put a lot in to their show. I can't work out if they're really fucking good or just, well, fun. For most of their set, I have a hard time taking my eyes off one of the three guitarists in the band, since he's playing his guitar without using a pick. He just plays with his fingers. And he's not exactly picking like Knopfler, he's smashing the shit of it. How his fingers aren't pulp is beyond me.  I'm in the mood to play after watching these guys.

It is a big venue. Of course, it's fun to play with Converge, I love the band, but a support slot in a big venue like this is a whole different ball game for us. We're in our element playing small venues where the stage and the crowd are one and the same. So playing a show like this is something you have to adapt to, and whether we do or not is up for debate.

I'm not sure, but I think it's a good show. The crowd, although not moving a lot, are certainly noisy enough, and seem to at least understand what we're about. I would expect the Converge crowd to be open minded, since it's something the band themselves sternly promote. Anyway, apart from Andy's monitor fucking up before we play Breaking Out, which takes a couple of minutes for the in-house people to fix, and Johan seemingly forgetting his start to Ett Svart År, the gig goes smoothly.

My main issue is the stage lights. They are as hot as the fucking Devil himself! By the halfway point of the set I'm completely fucked, gasping for water, sweat pissing out of me. I look desperately at the set list. Eight songs left! Fuck me!

By the time we get to the end, I pack up as quick as I can, and get off stage, worried I'm going to puke up all over it. Happily I don't, but I'm shaky as fuck. I wasn't expecting that big, open stage to be that hot. I throw some cold water down my throat and start coming around.

Gig done. Happy enough. Completely fucked.

We get the gear out and pack the van immediately. I'm more than happy to volunteer since I need the fresh air. The problem is, to get out down to the street, I have to make my way through the foyer area, which is packed with people. I'm still feeling weak when I bump into Stachel who has the keys to the van. As usual Stachel is titting around, taking the piss. The little strength I have is in no way able to resist his grappling little arms and I just have to wait it out. Eventually he let's go of me, but then I stumble into to some half drunk hardcore kid who happens to be walking past me. The kid looks at me, and for a split second there is trouble in his eyes. I apologise to him but Stachel immediately informs the kid that I'm not sorry. He never, ever, stops taking the piss. The kid laughs though and walks away, Stachel follows me out of the venue, continuing to take the piss out of me. I put my arm around him and we walk to the van.

Kylesa have started by the time we've loaded and by then I'm feeling back to feeling normal. Me and Jen catch most of their set from side stage. They sound great as usual. I'm looking forward to seeing them properly in Stockholm on Wednesday. It's a lot of fun watching Converge tonight. I almost forgot how great they are on stage. It's maximum energy. Fucking unbelievable. I watch their entire set, loving every minute, thinking about getting home and spending a day chilling out, listening through some of their records.

After the show, we hang out with everyone for a while, but the journey home is at the forefront of everyone's thoughts. After a round of hugs, we leave for the van. Nate from Converge follows us down, since he wants a t-shirt.  We chat on the way down.  He says that he thinks the crowd was a bit stiff tonight and doesn't seem overly pleased with the show.  If he thought that show wasn't that good, then I can't wait to see them at a packed out Debaser on Wednesday night.  Nate is asking me about the white SG I was playing, saying he's been looking for one just like it for years.  I tell him it's actually Jen's guitar and that I too with I owned one!  My wife has good taste in guitars at least.  We hang out on the street a little while longer, talking with Corey from Kylesa and then we're off.

Stachel has left for home now, so it's back to the five of us. I sit up front with Johan, who's driving the first part of the journey tonight. The plan is to sleep at the ferry port, so tomorrow we only have Denmark and Sweden to drive. Two countries instead of three is a big psychological difference. It's only a two hour drive to Puttgarden, but it feels like a lot longer, since we don't get away from the venue until just before one am.

A half hour away from Puttgarden and my eyelids feel like they're weighted down. By now, I'm longing for the fucking van floor!

We arrive at the ferry port and we sort ourselves out in the van. Jon and I are on the slithers of floor between the bench seats. Johan, Andy and Jen take the benches. It's a fair deal, we're down in the dark on the hard floor, they're on the soft seats in the light. I'm just happy to stretch out. At that point, the hard floor feels so comfortable that I don't even care if I fall asleep...although before long I do just that.

I wake every time I turn over, but only briefly. The only occasion it takes a little longer to drift off again, is when I wake from a dream and head butt a screw beneath one of the seats. It hurts but it doesn't deter sleep from reclaiming me.

Tomorrow is going to be a long, boring day.  I'm looking forward to a bath and my own bed at the end of it.  I'm happy that for once, I've got a couple of days off at home before going back to work...

1 comment:

  1. I remember seeing Agnostic Front in Hamburg two years ago and it was probably the tamest crowd I had ever seen. It felt really weird.