Liverpool are at home to Man Utd. today and typically enough we're flying during the fucking game. I'm nervous as I await the plinging sound of a text message coming in. Within a minute Jen has texted me back. Half time, 0-0. I'm hoping Stachel is late so Johan and I can at least catch the end of the game.
Schiphol is an absolutely huge airport but unbelievably enough, there isn't a bar anywhere that is showing the game. There are a couple of places with television's showing tennis, but no football. Only one of the biggest games in club football anywhere in the world... Tennis for fuck sakes?
Resigned to the fact that we're not going to see any of the game, we retire to the toilets. Just as I'm zipping up I get another text through. “Gerrard! 1-0 Liverpool!” I almost catch my knob in my zipper as I'm half pulling up my jeans, half dancing with joy. I shout to Johan who is sat in the adjacent cubicle. “Yes get in!” he says, followed by the sound of turd splashing down in to the water below.
Stachel texts and tells us he's twenty minutes away. By the time he arrives the Scum have equalised and the game ends 1-1. Can't help being a little disappointed, but the main feeling, as is always the case when we play that shower of shite, is relief that we didn't let them beat us.
The drive to Eindhoven is a short one. We're playing a slot on a festival called Bloodshed Fest, which is at the renowned Dynamo Club. It being a predominantly grindcore festival, Jon has obviously played it before. He's psyched about the show, promising us it's going to be good. There are a few other punk bands playing, like Doom and Vogue, the latter of which I'm particularly looking forward to seeing since they are splitting up and this is one of their last shows. We're playing second to last on the smaller stage in the basement which should be a great slot. To top things off, there will be a contingent from the UK in attendance, led by Bloody Kev and Goy. I'm looking forward to hanging out with them tonight. It's far too seldom an occurrence these days..
We arrive at the festival about five hours before our stage time. We meet Luc, the promoter of the show, outside. He tells us that yesterday went really well but today has already done over a hundred more tickets and it's still early. He is of the consensus that our show tonight is going to be wild. It seems that tonight has a lot to live up to. I head inside the venue and find Kev and Goy almost immediately, hanging out in the foyer area of the club where the distros, bar and kitchen are situated. Everything I need. It's great to see the guys. These two were the reason I wanted two lead singers in Raging Speedhorn, their band Hard To Swallow being one of my all time favourite hardcore bands. Funny really that Kev would become one of the Speedhorn singers years later.
They're both looking a bit worse for wear, although Kev is looking particularly pale. Goy tells me the old fucker hasn't slept for three days. Apparently it all started when he hooked up with a feisty Italian girl at the Bird's Nest. He shows me the top of his left arm, which is covered in bruises after a rough night with this girl, who beat the shit out of him in the sack. Kev is like Benjamin fucking Button, he just seems to get younger as the years go by. Whereas I of course seem to be ageing like a dog.
I hang out with the pair of them for a while, the two of them ensuring me that by what they witnessed yesterday in the basement room, our show tonight is going to be mental. This is shaping up to be a good night. Goy tells me that Dennis Doom has been on at him, asking when the Swedes are getting here. He's on the look out for some snus. Dennis lives in Göteborg these days and has become an avid fan apparently.
I see Dennis later on downstairs, he looks the worse for wear. Apparently they'd been at the 1 in 12 Festival at the club in Bradford last night, which was quite a heavy night obviously. The rest of the Doom lads had refused to get on the same plane as Dennis this morning, instead sending him ahead on an earlier flight. Not quite sure that was such a good idea. He's made it here though, barely. He's stood there, hunched over like Ozzy, with a sad look on his face. When he sees Andy, he comes over to our merch table and in his broad northern accent, asks Andy if he has any snus, a hint of desperation in his voice.
We'd set up the merch in the room downstairs, opposite the gig room where we're playing. The gig room is just the right size. Decent enough size stage, low to the ground, the room itself capable of holding around two hundred and fifty people. The room upstairs, where the main stage is, is more akin to a school assembly hall with a capacity of around six hundred. I'm glad we're playing downstairs. We spend the next few hours flitting around between the stages, watching various bands. The Vogue show is great, shame they're splitting up. I watch their set with Kev, who had put them on in London earlier this year. I ask him why they're splitting up to which he replies, “Ahh, they've been together five years!” I laugh at the thought. What an unusually long existence Victims have had it seems. Credit to them.
It hits me as we're watching Vogue that my guitar, which has been in Germany since we played Ieper Fest a couple of months ago, is missing a strap. Or, missing a strap that isn't gaffa taped together in the middle. I'd totally forgot that I snapped the fucking thing in half during our set at Ieper. Kev rescues the day and kindly asks the Vogue bass player after their show if I can borrow his strap, who is only happy to help me out. I'm very grateful and very relieved.
At one point during the evening I happen to go for a piss just as Jon is himself going to the Gents. I need to relieve myself of the two beers I've consumed. Jon is blowing the cold he's had for the last couple of days out of his nose. I'm standing there pissing and just happen to catch Jon out of the corner of my eye. As he blows his nose one of the lenses in his glasses falls out on to the dirty floor below. He bends down with a big sigh and picks up the lens, wiping it with some tissue paper. I laugh and say to him “Time for some new glasses maybe?”, to which he grunts, “Time for some new gaffa tape...” and then goes on to inform me how much glasses cost. In all fairness, the cost of spectacles is indeed a scandal. Jon puts the lens back in place and heads off to our merch table in search of some new gaffa tape to replace the current-past it's-sell-by-date tape that currently holds his glasses together.
The tokens Luc gave us are good for a small glass of a beer. He's kindly given us more than enough to get us through the night. Although it's actually a very good idea drinking small beers as opposed to pints, after four or five I realise that I should get some food in my stomach and then take it easy until after our show.
If there is one thing the Dutch do quite brilliantly, actually there are a few things the Dutch are good at to be fair... but fuck me do they make good peanut sauce! Earlier this summer our friend Jos changed my life by introducing me to chips and peanut sauce. I'm delighted to see one of the options from the vegan kitchen at the festival is Fried Rice Satay. I shovel it down sat by our merchandise table. The snot-thick peanut sauce is absolutely stunning.
From Vogue onwards the line up starts to really get interesting. We're sandwiched between the sets of Doom and Bastard Noise. The system they have here is that the shows on the main and basement stages overlap seamlessly so knowing that we have to get our gear on stage sorted out, I can only stick around for the beginning of the Doom set. They manage a couple of songs before something happens with Bri's guitar. It just cuts out. After a few seconds of silence Stick starts up with some sort of of hip hop beat and lo and fucking behold, Dennis starts rapping over the top of it. This goes on for about two minutes. Dennis is actually banging out verse for a while, the chorus following it consisting of “Fuck da police!”, all in a quite terrible American accent. I stand there with my face cusped in my hands barely able to watch whilst Andy is stood beside me with his phone in the air filming the scene, “This is going straight on Youtube!” After a while Dennis's vocabulary fails him and all that's left is the randomly spaced “Fuck da police!” chant. Thankfully Bri eventually gets his guitar sound back and they break into some good old Doom. The place erupts again and normality is restored. We check out one more song before heading downstairs to start setting up.
The backline gear is all rented and it takes a while for us to locate everything, but there doesn't seem to be any stress with stage times. When everything is set up and we're on stage tuning our guitars, the small basement room starts to fill up. It's already as hot as the devil in here. This is going to be a real test of endurance.
By the time we're ready to go, the place is packed, with members of the crowd already spilling on to the stage. We blast into V5 and the place goes nuts. By the time we get to the end of the second block of songs I'm gasping for water. The energy in the place is amazing though, the crowd going crazy and singing along with the songs. During This Is The End I almost get sucked in to them as if by force of vacuum. I'm up on the monitor singing along with crowd, pumping one fist in the air as I play the chorus with the other hand. It's a great feeling as I see friends like Kev and Goy, Loffe and Luc, dotted around the crowd. In fact Loffe and Kev are down the front going for it, Kev having wisely taken his glasses off. Another couple of friends of ours, Nathalie and her sister Esther, who run the Crowbar in Groningen, are also packed in near the front of the crowd. I think it's Esther I hear shouting between songs, “Why the fuck is this not on the main stage?”. I'm glad it isn't.
During Nowhere In Time Jon gets pulled into the crowd and lofted on to a sea of hands, whilst somehow managing to keep up with the rest of us on stage. This has to be the best show we've played this year, a great way to cap off 2011. By the time we get to the last block of three songs, I feel like I'm about to puke up, such is the heat on stage. I can see we're all struggling. I'm relieved to hear Johan say that we're scratching Broken Bones and going straight to Circles/Scars. Two short, fast songs and then we're done...
I put my guitar down, turn the amp off and slumber behind the drum set and into a tiny squared room behind the stage that is full of equipment. It's offers only a slither of fresh air but I happily take it. I feel sick. The rest of the guys gradually join me in the small room. The crowd is boisterously chanting for more, but we all agree we've had enough.
A couple of minutes later the crowd is still chanting, and just as enthusiastically. Some punk kid appears in the doorway and tells us we have to go back on stage. We collectively shake our heads. Jon says to the kid, “Tell the dj to put the music on.” The kid quick-fires back at him, “You put the music on!”. That seems to win the argument because at that the four of us trudge back on stage. Broken Bones. Fuck am I happy that it's only a minute long! We blast through it, the crowd kicks off for one last time and then that really is us. If they want to hear more they can fucking play the songs themselves!
There seems to be some confusion as to what is going on with the sleeping arrangements tonight. Stachel had gone and checked out the hostel with Luc but is now back saying that there wasn't enough beds reserved. Actually, there are three bands, Doom included, that are each supposed to have a room. What in fact appears to be the case is there are only three beds reserved. That's one bed per band. Luc seems a bit stressed by the situation. He tells us he's going to look for another hotel and that he'll be back. We tell him it's no stress. It's two am. and I'm hungry. I'm thinking chips and peanut sauce...