Monday, July 19, 2010


I'm woken by the sound of the hotel phone ringing. It's reception informing us we have ten minutes to pack up and get out. It's eleven am. I'm now really disappointed with myself. I was so looking forward to a good night's sleep and relaxing shower in the morning. That is now fucked. I tell the reception lady that I need to shower and she tells me fifteen minutes. Deal.

We gather down in the foyer at eleven thirty. The drive today isn't that long apparently, so we decide to get some breakfast somewhere on the way out from Trutnov, before embarking on the journey to Leipzig. Andy has come down, looking surprisingly fresh again. When he left for his room last night, he was looking pretty drunk. So we're just waiting for Jon...

He finally comes down. He's looking rougher each morning. He's in pain, he's on medication and yet he's been drinking heavily and sleeping sparsely since we left. Andy said he had looked at the clock at six this morning and Jon's bed was empty. The boy needs a proper night's sleep. He comes down to the foyer looking as happy as always however. We get in to the van.

We're picking up our friend Anton, who is travelling with us to Leipzig. He played in Acursed with Jon and is now playing in Martyrdöd. He and Jon are close friends. He's a great guy and it's always fun having other friends along on the trip. The more the merrier as far as I'm concerned.

We head out of Trutnov after picking up Anton from his hotel, looking for a restaurant and a motorway. We drive up the forest road out of Trutnov and after a short while find a restaurant. It's a nice looking place with a view of the valley. We walk in. It's a fancy looking joint and looks pretty full. It feels like every diner in the place turns and looks at us as we walk through the door. Luckily, there is a table for seven free, so we sit down and everyone orders the classic Czech dish. Fried cheese and potato pancakes. I'm starving...

Jon and Anton are already on the beer. They get through three each during the meal. The rest of us stick to coke. I'm starting to worry about Jon. He needs to chill out. It seems like he's drinking to dull the pain in his shoulders. He's desperate to play. It would destroy him if, to what in his eyes, would be letting the band down, he had to sit out a show. But his health and comfort is obviously more important to us.

We wash the greasy food down with some coffee and get back into the van. Next stop Leipzig.

It becomes apparent after about an hour of driving, that a certain new motorway we were hoping to take, is not happening. It's the usual winding, country lane. All the way to the German border. I can't understand how that is possible. I mean, it's the main road out of the country and it's not much wider than the road between fucking Corby and Cottingham. The van is swinging all over the road and the fried cheese is dancing around in my stomach. We put a film on in the back of the van, but I'm concentrating as much on the film as on trying to keep the sick down. Fucking rubbish. The road never seems to end.

We were talking about a four hour journey, but it's already been that long when we finally get to the German border. I've been sitting silently in the back of the van, praying for the sight of the flat autobahn. I'm temporarily dismayed when as soon as we cross the border, Stachel turns the van around and drives back into the Czech Republic. But it's only so Andy can buy some cheap cigarettes from the border shop. I'm happy to put my shaky legs on to firm ground and breath some fresh air. There is nothing worse than feeling sick, I simply can't handle it.

I feel better after about five minutes. We hang out in the car park for a while, eating ice cream and enjoying a breather. Andy has bought a carton of cigs, Jon has bought a bottle of single malt whisky.

We arrive at the venue in Leipzig around seven pm. The four hour journey we'd predicted had actually taken closer to seven. Been a lot of driving time in the space of a few days. We jump out of the van, happy to be at this particular journey's end. By now, Jon is in extreme pain with his shoulder and he's having a really hard time. He's been drinking in the van all afternoon but everything is catching up with him now. We're worried he might not make the show tonight. We send him off for a walk whilst we load in.

The venue tonight looks perfect for our needs. It's big enough for about one hundred people, it's ran by some friendly Leipzig punks and we're sleeping in apartments right above. We load in, get the stuff set up on stage. No sound check tonight. Happy about that. The venue has food waiting for us and we sit out in the street and eat it. Once again, the food is great. We've been well treated at these shows. The hospitality and sense of community that greets you at every show is the crust scene is something that fills me with a great feeling of belonging. You feel part of something. It was never that way with Speedhorn, we were always outside of every scene. Victims belongs to something and for the first time in my touring life, so it seems, do I.

Jon comes back after a walk and is feeling a little better. He has been suffering from a stiff neck and shoulders, like his muscles are seizing up. The doctor told him that basically, he needs to take pain killers, which will allow him to keep active, which will in turn loosen up the muscles. Sitting in a van for eight hours a day is not exactly what the doctor had in mind. It's good to see him in a little less pain when he comes back. We convince him to go the van and get some sleep, which he does.

A few of us go for a walk to stretch our legs, since we're also feeling pretty fucking stiff after the day in the van. Leipzig still looks like an “east European” city in many ways.  Although it's obviously been westernised somewhat over the twenty years odd years since the Wall came down, there are still some scars left. The canal we find ourselves walking along was described to us by a girl at the venue, as beautiful. Well it's not exactly the Stockholm archipelago, but it is charming in a downtrodden, sort of way. The murky water weaves through an area of boarded up buildings, which are covered in graffiti, but in contrast there are beautiful willow trees draping tiredly over the canal edge and into the water. It's a fine contrast of nature and desolation.

After some much needed exercise, we hang out on the street corner outside the venue. There are a lot of punk kids hanging out on the pavement, drinking beer and chatting. It's a warm summer's night with a breeze that is just cool enough to keep the humidity at bay. This feels like a perfect show for a Sunday night.

A friend of ours, Janne, who sings in the great band, Herätys, is here tonight. He moved to Leipzig earlier this year. We'd played with them at Punk Illegal a month ago and we'd forgotten he'd moved here. It's good to see him again.

I wake Jon up as the first band are starting. It takes him a while to come around but he looks better for the little sleep he's had. He says he's good to play. His spirits seem considerably better than they were a few hours ago. I tell him Helene, our friend who organised the Berlin show on Friday, is here. He's happy to hear that. They're pretty close. He gets his stuff together and we all hang out, listening to the first band but not bothering to fight our way into the now packed venue.

The show tonight is great as far as atmosphere goes. The place is wall to wall with about one hundred and fifty people, great for a Sunday night show, far more than we were expecting. Although the place is buzzing, the show doesn't go that smoothly. Jon breaks a string first song, which causes a gap a little too lengthy for it to stay comfortable. Then towards the end of the set I break the same fucking string on my red SG, again...and then break the same string on Jen's white SG during the penultimate song. So even though the gig is buzzing and the crowd are kicking off, it's not one hundred percent relaxed on the stage. At the start of the show, the stage felt relatively cool, but by about half way through it has heated up to boiling point. The sound on stage is also a bit hard too work with, especially for Andy, who is sat behind the amps as opposed to level with them. But all in all it's a good show. They've all been to a high standard on this mini-tour, and tonight is certainly no exception to that rule.

People after the show tell us it sounded great out front anyway, which is the main thing, so we're happy with our night's work. After cooling down outside, we pack up the gear and hang out with friends and drink a couple of quality Czech beers. But it's obvious before long that we're all feeling tired.

We say goodbye to everyone. Anton is travelling up to Berlin with Helene tomorrow, who is going to tattoo his whole back over the course of two days. We wish him good luck and tell him we'll see him at home.

Frank, the guy who booked the show, kindly takes us to his apartment which is in the same house, just the door beside the venue.

My eyes are already closing as I fall into bed.

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