Friday, May 13, 2011


“We'll go there for one drink and then we'll head back and get some sleep.” Famous last words that have been said many a time. You think we'd learn...

I woke up in bed next to Stachel with my head pounding.

We flew in to Hamburg last night where Stachel had picked us up in the van with all of the gear we're renting for this weekend trip. We couldn't find any affordable flights into Amsterdam for the first show tomorrow, so we opted to fly into Germany the night before and hang out with our good friend Stachel for one extra night. We just can't get enough of the little man. And besides, it's nice starting with a day off.

We landed around ten pm. and by the time we got to Bremen it was just before midnight. The roadworks on the Hamburg to Bremen autobahn still no nearer completion it seems. They must have been restoring that road for the last decade. By the time we get to Stachel's place we're all starving. I've never been in Bremen before, it must be the only big town in Germany that I've not played in, although that will be accomplished on Saturday.

We take a walk into town and it's pretty quiet. It's a nice looking place though. Stachel had promised us Bremen's best falafel and I was dying to check it out. The place is a nice little no frills- hole in the wall kebab shop called Torno. The falafel hits the spot perfectly and when Jon cracks open a large bottle of Becks, the temptation for a beer is too much for both myself and Johan. It feels good to have warm food inside me after a dinner of airport and air-plane sandwiches. The beer doesn't feel too bad either...

Stachel has been telling me for a long time now about a friend of his called Daniel that is a great cocktail bartender. He's also played in a few hardcore bands, one of which was Mörser. Anyway, he works at this really nice little place called 1st. Class Suicide on Wednesday evenings, and with all we've been hearing about the place, the man and the drinks, and this being Wednesday night, we feel obliged to check it out, even if it's just for one drink before we go to sleep at Stachel's place...

I opt for a drink that is made up of gin, melon, cucumber and chilli. It might sound a bit strange but it was absolutely tremendous.  Johan goes for a Ginger Cosmopolitan.  I know as soon as the cocktail menu comes out that this won't be the last drink. And then when the Jagermeister shots arrive courtesy of Daniel I know I'm going to have a headache the next day. I really don't like doing shots anymore but you don't want to appear ungrateful. Jon starts getting stuck in to some other crazy booze that smells like cloves but I make sure I stay clear of that fucker... A few more drinks and a beer, as well as some good chat with Daniel about old shows and new bands, and we head back to Stachel's. I can feel the headache even before I go to sleep. So much for only one drink.

A couple of paracetamol and a shower later and I feel better, although my head was killing when I first woke. By the time I'm done with the breakfast Stachel has made us I'm feeling good for the day ahead. The drive to Amsterdam takes around five hours. Another friend of ours, Micha, who runs the wonderful Punk Distro label, is coming out to the shows helping with the driving. He's bringing a few boxes of records to sell at the shows too, so I guess I'll be coming home broke as per usual. The drive to Amsterdam goes by pretty fast since I spend most of it studying. The college term ends next week and I still have a bit to do, so I don't have much choice. I'm trying not to get stressed about it, but next week I have a big essay to write on Selma Lagerlöf's Kejsaren av Portugallien, which has to be handed in by Friday. So for the first time in my life, I actually sat in the band van doing school work. I'm not planning on making a habit of it...

We get to Amsterdam around seven pm. Perfect timing. The doors to the show open at nine and we're on around eleven so the night should fly by nice and smoothly. Nothing worse than hanging around at a venue doing nothing but waiting around.

We get done with soundcheck, it sounds good. The gear Stachel has gathered together for us seems to be concrete. During soundcheck tonight I can tell that we're all a lot more relaxed on stage than we were at the first show in Gothenburg, when even in soundcheck the songs were flying along at an uncontrollable pace. It feels now like that show helped shake the cobwebs off. We play through a few songs and everything feels really good. After we're done we tuck into some delicious risotto that the venue has made for us up in the room above the venue. I'm not that hungry but it's so good that I'm forced to take seconds. Can't let good food go to waste on tour.

We don't have any spare guitars with us on these shows, which for me can be a fucking problem. After dinner I put new strings on my guitar, which is without doubt, the most boring chore known to man. I hate it. I'm hoping that this new set will get me through the three shows at least, otherwise there is going to be some uncomfortable pauses onstage. When we're done with dinner and strings, Jon and I take a walk around the park opposite the venue. Good to stretch the legs for a bit. It's a beautiful night and the park provides some welcome fresh air.

It's nice to be back in Amsterdam. It would have been fun to get into town a bit earlier today and hang out with some friends, but at the same time, getting to hang out at Stachel's this morning without any stress was too good to pass up. After hanging out in the park for a while, listening to Jon tell me about some French film he's been in to recently, we head back to the venue to meet my friend Lotje. Outside the venue is one of Amsterdam's many heavily trafficked cycle lanes and as we approach the venue Jon gets belled at by some old lady on her bike, who comes cycling up behind him. Jon almost jumps out of his skin whilst grabbing on to my arm and shouting some expletives in Swedish at her. I crack up laughing as does the old lady and a few other people who witness the spectacle.

Lotje comes down and meets me at the show and we go to a bar on the corner and catch up over a beer. It's always good to see her. It seems like things are going really well for her at the moment. She and a friend of hers opened up a hostel a few months ago and it's gone amazingly well. As well as that she's doing some work tour managing for the Swedish pop singer Robyn. She's off to the States in a few weeks with that. It's really nice to catch up in this quiet bar just a few doors down from the venue, although our time is too short as always since I have to worry about getting back for the show. Lotje doesn't feel like coming in to hang out a noisy punk show so she heads off home. As I say goodbye to her another friend of mine, Igor, texts me letting me know he's at the venue. We chat for a good fifteen minutes before I head into the venue to catch the end of Hysteria's set.

I like this venue. It reminds me of a slightly larger Kafe 44, but with a bar and a bigger stage. There are by now about eighty people in and it looks pretty good. I'm looking forward to playing. Hysteria sound really good, the girl singer has some pretty brutal vocals. The bass payer is a friend of Jon's who we were talking to earlier and who I only now realise is playing in the band. I'm going to have to pick up their record.

Hysteria finish just after eleven which gives us about fifteen minutes to set up since the venue has a curfew set for midnight, which is mainly due to the fact that the last train away from this part of town departs not long after. We want to get up on stage and get on with it, since there is nothing worse than playing a show to a crowd of people that are forced to leave before the end of the set due to transport restrictions. We get set up quick though, and it still sounds good up on stage, which is credit to the in-house sound guy. Hysteria had their own sound engineer with them and I don't know who's fuck up it was, but the settings we had on the desk from soundcheck got wiped.

Since we played the show in Gothenburg a couple of weeks ago we've rearranged the set. That night at Truckstop felt like we were just playing a bunch of songs in no particular order. We've since been back in the rehearsal room and sorted it out. We've cut a couple of new songs away and everything feels a lot more structured now. We start off with Victims in Blood #5 and when we're done with the first block, three songs and two minutes later, I know it's going to be a good gig. Even if I did snap one of those new strings before we'd even started...

I didn't bother mentioning it to the guys since it's only the High E string and I don't need it. With time getting on, I decide to just play the set without it and hope that it's not a bad omen for the rest of the show. It isn't. Although it's in the back of my mind, I don't really hold back from playing since you can't really do that and enjoy the show properly, so I decide to just go for it whilst making sure that I have a spare pack of strings within reaching distance.

The crowd is really enthusiastic tonight. They tepidly creep forward from the back of the dance-floor to the front of the stage on Johan's demand, but once we start, they kick off. Amazing how one gig can make a difference. After about six songs in Gothenburg I thought I was going to pass out, but tonight the energy is flowing. I can sense that the other guys are feeling it too. Everybody seems to be enjoying the gig and in no time the set flies by. We finish up by playing Circles and Scars as a couple of extra songs and then we're done. We stand there discussing the fact that somebody had requested For We Are Dead but I want to stick with the plan.  The guys are keen to play the guys request.  I joke with them asking them if we're a cabaret act.  I get my way.

The show felt like a really good start to the weekend. I make my way through the crowd to get a gasp of fresh air and enjoy the rest of my bottle of water. It was by no means the hottest show I've ever played tonight but I'm nonetheless dripping in sweat by the time I make it out in to the cool night breeze.

I meet a couple of people out there who really seemed to enjoy the show. One is a guy from South Korea who is in Amsterdam studying for a year. He tells me his name is Moonsick. I don't know how you spell his name but he explains it to me by first pointing at the moon and then holding his stomach and making a puking action. Really nice kid. We talk for a while about South Korea and the punk scene there. He tells me it's small but there are a few bands trying to do something. He tells me he's collecting a load of new records whilst he's here to take back and introduce to people at home since there isn't a lot of access to punk rock over there.

Another kid comes out of the venue who I recognise from being at the front and dancing throughout the entire show. He's covered in sweat and gasping for air by the time he gets to the street. He tells me that he travelled two hundred kilometres to come to the show tonight, which absolutely blows my mind. He keeps thanking me over and over for the show. I tell him that is I who is thankful to him. I chat for a little while longer with my new friends before heading back into the venue to claim a well earned bottle of Budvar. It tastes superb flowing down my throat.

We hang out for a while longer, chatting to our friends in the band Vitamin X who are from Amsterdam. We talk mostly about touring in the States and our friend Scotty, who has put out our records on his label Tankcrimes. As much as playing shows is what it's all about, hanging out with friends and catching up in different cities all over the world is what holds your heart dear to touring like we do.

We load out around one am. The bike lane is still really busy and as I'm in the middle of throwing gear into the back of the van I'm almost hit by a lady on a Paralympic style wheel chair. She's moving fast as fuck and I barely see her as she whizzes past me irritably ringing her bell. When we're packed we drive out to our friend Ronald's place, who was promoting the show tonight. Even though he's straight-edge, he's filled his fridge with beer for us and bought us a load of food for breakfast. Great guy. We sit up drinking beer and listening to records by Infest, Jerry's Kids and Herätys, all on a suitable low volume. Perfect.

By the time four am. comes around, we all start flaking and making plans for how we're going to sleep. The guys spread themselves around the sofas and the floor of Ronald's living room. I make a bee-line for the back room upstairs where Micha has already crashed out.

I feel another headache coming as I crash out on one of the mattresses Ronald has laid out for us.

1 comment:

  1. Sad i missed it, but i had to work :(
    enjoy the rest of the tour!
    hugs :)