We're now in the van, driving from Amsterdam airport where Nico has just picked us up, towards the small town of Ieper in Belgium. We're playing on the tented stage at the Ieper Fest tonight at seven forty-five. The journey should take around three and a half hours. This morning was the first time I'd ever flown with KLM, I have to say I was impressed with both the levels of comfort and service. It's amazing how you don't fear for your life on a real airline, the way you do on Ryanair. It's worth paying the extra money just to avoid the crash landing Ryanair always seem to perform upon arrival. All in keeping in line with their ridiculously false flight time schedules. I heard that they have no end of fines for speeding upon landing...anyway, the flight with KLM was just fine. Pleasant even.
Sleep this first weekend is not going to be something any of us are going to experience much of. I forgot to put in my order with Jon for his strong, prescription only sleeping pills. It would have been good to have them for the flight to New York tomorrow. Fuck. I asked him this morning at Arlanda if he had any extra, but he didn't. He told me I should have notified him beforehand... honestly, the man is a walking chemist! Well well, I'm sure I'll get through it.
The first weekend's schedule looks like this:
After Ieper Fest we drive back to Amsterdam airport, although not until we've watched Sheer Terror who play later on on the main stage. Jon simply won't allow it. So we'll leave the festival site around midnight, get to the airport at some time around four am. where we'll look for some floor space to sleep on. The flight to New York is at eleven am. We land at two pm. the same day. I'm sure getting through customs will take a couple of hours since they're so paranoid over there, as are we actually. We're not taking a fucking thing with us, not even picks. All our gear is at our friend, Aaron from the band Defeatist's place. We pick the stuff up at Aaron's and make our way to the club in Brooklyn and play a show with Ringworm and Killing Time. After the show we then drive to Philly to sleep at our friends, Greg and Megan's house. We have to be at the site of the This Is Hardcore Fest in Philly sometime around eleven am. Sunday morning for a slot in the early afternoon. We're then playing later that night at the festival's after-party with our good friends From Ashes Rise. This first weekend is going to be a real test of strength and willpower, if not a lot of fun of course.
I'm going to try and get my head down in the van for a while now, take advantage of this nice, comfortable van. We've just hit our first stau....
In the van again now, it's just before one am. and we're heading back to Amsterdam airport. I didn't manage to get any sleep in the van earlier, although I did manage to get some pretty good vegetable soup from a service station at the Dutch/Belgian border. The only thing of note we saw on the road to Belgium was a white dove being hit by a bus on the motorway. We all just kind of caught it out of the corner of our eyes, a cloud of white feathers. Poor dove.
We arrived at the festival site a couple of hours before our stage slot. It immediately hit me that, as has been the norm this summer, we didn't have any extra strings or guitars..and what's more, the strings on my Telecaster still have crusty blood on them from the Fluff Fest show. Luckily I got hooked up with one of the guys from Touche Amore and he gave me a pack of strings. It's normally always the case that if you have backup then nothing goes wrong...but having some sort of back up plan helps me relax and enjoy the show a lot more all the same.
The time before we played was mostly spent trying to find an internet connection backstage so we could check in our flights tomorrow. If Johan has been overly worried about getting through US customs, then I've been overly worried about getting on the plane in the first place. A couple of years ago Jenny had a nightmare journey home from the States with Delta Air, since they overbooked the flight and wouldn't let her on board, even though she'd checked in at the airport, she never did get a confirmed seat on board. And our flights, although booked through KLM, are of course on Delta Air. I won't be able to relax until I see that seat number on a boarding pass. Still haven't managed to check in online yet though, something about there being a problem with the website or something. Nervous as shit about that...
Anyway, the show tonight was one of those typical first gigs on tour. We played the tent stage and there was a good amount of people in attendance, but the sound was king of weird on stage, I could only hear myself and Andy's drums and had to wing it the whole set. And of course, I didn't break a string but I did manage to snap my guitar strap in half! And a lead when on the blink as well, so there were a couple of pauses to deal with technical issues, such as when one of the stage hands was kindly helping me gaffer tape my broken strap to my guitar... It happened mid-song too of course, so I spent almost the entire rendition of Lies, Lies, Lies on my knees. I guess that's why God gave me them though. That's just the way the fucking cookie crumbles sometimes.
Despite this, I still really enjoyed the show. There were people up on-stage and diving off at high velocity, there were a couple of circle pits, and I think we played pretty tight. The other guys in the band didn't seem to enjoy it so much though, claiming it was a bit of a hard slog. I had a good time anyway, I've had far worse tour opening shows...
Since we'd had some difficulties during the set, we decided to cut a song since the schedule was already tight as it was. One crust punk down the front, one of a very small minority at this festival, took exception to this and stayed around after the tent had emptied out since everybody had to rush off to watch Strife, to let us know that it sucked that we played so short. He was genuinely let down by the look of it. As we packed away in front of a now empty tent, he stood in front of the stage, drunkenly babbling on about how we were arseholes for playing such a short set. I don't know why he expects any more than half an hour from a Victims show. He's obviously never seen us before. Thirty minutes is the absolute maximum for fuck's sake! The cunt should be happy. He wasn't though. He was also displeased that Johan had gave his set list to some kid who asked for it at the end of the show, claiming we were sell outs or something. I just cracked up laughing at him. It was quite a funny sight, as we stood there packing up to a now, large, empty tent and this one drunken crusty having a go at us.
With a day's long travel ahead of us tomorrow and a four hour journey in the van tonight, it would have been nice to have had a shower after the show. Typically enough the water storage for the showers has ran out so we were fucked. Johan and I decided to get all Bear Grylls and make the best of what we had, which in this case was a bottle of stage water and my shower gel. We stripped down to our pants and socks beside the van backstage and squirted ourselves with the water bottles between soaping ourselves clean. It was without doubt the shitest shower I've ever experienced but at least I felt a little cleaner afterwards. The band parked in the van beside us looked at us like we were a pair of homosexuals, not that that bothered us.
We bumped into Ben and the Drop Dead guys after the show. They're playing here tomorrow. Sucks that they weren't playing tonight, although Andy and I made a date with Ben to visit his new record shop in Boston on Tuesday. We also ran into the Reproach guys, which was a really nice surprise. We hung out and watched the Sheer Terror show, whose singer, Paul Bearer, was in superb form. He came on-stage and introduced the band by announcing, “We're Sheer Terror, go fuck yourselves!” to a crowd of around eight hundred PC hardcore types. He then spent the rest of the set taking the utter piss out of the crowd. Jon was laughing so hard at points, he was screaming and close to tears. Bearer ended the show with, “Yeah yeah we're going after this song, I get it, the Comeback Kids are coming, the Kids are coming back or something. I don't know them.” The guy was great, looked like a character from The Sopranos.
It was great watching them and hanging out with our friends in Reproach. We were talking about hooking up some shows together next year in the Lowlands region of Europe. I hope that works out.
All in all, a fun night, a decent first show and we bumped into some old friends. Plus the vegan burgers with pepper sauce were absolutely stunning.
It's now one thirty am. and we're still a couple of hours away from Amsterdam airport. A couple of hours sleep at the airport awaits us, and then hopefully some more on the flight tomorrow. I'm usually bad with sleeping on planes, but I have the feeling after tonight it's not going to be a problem.
Unfuckingbelievable! We just hit another fucking stau! At one thirty am! What's wrong with the motorways in this part of the world? I'm going to try to get some sleep. It's going to be a long weekend...