Sunday, April 1, 2012

Antwerp

I only slept for about five hours, but felt pretty good anyway. I wasn't that drunk when my head finally hit the pillow. I lay in bed for a second and considered just sleeping through breakfast, but decided it would be a bad idea to miss a free hotel breakfast. Passing up free food on tour is a big no no.

The breakfast was pretty good too. Your typical continental fare but appreciated all the same. Most of the guys in the three bands had made it down. Only Jon and Drette were missing which kinda made sense, since they were both pretty boats last night.

I got another hour's rest after breakfast, followed by a pretty rubbish shower before we all gathered down in the reception to check out. Drette and Jon have now appeared, both grinning through their hangovers. Jon had apparently ended walking around the hostel looking for his room for about half an hour after he'd disappeared last night. Drette had ended up in another room all together! In his drunken haze he'd simply found an open door in one of the corridors and walked through it. He'd found his way back to his room eventually but he's not quite sure how..

We drove back to the venue, (ten minute drive my ass! Promoters always tell you ten minutes..) and loaded the van, before grabbing a quick cup of coffee with the promoter. The drive was really quick and for once we pulled up outside the venue a couple of hours early. I wish every drive was like this..unfortunately we have far worse coming up.

We're playing a show with Napalm Death tonight which should be a lot of fun. Haven't seen those guys for a while. Last time I saw Barney was in New York a couple of years ago when he came to a show. I got to know him from the Speedhorn days during a period when he lived in Kettering. Absolute gentleman. The venue was big, bigger than anything else we'll be playing on this tour otherwise. I guess the capacity is around six hundred or so. In typical European style, the place is clinically clean and efficient.

We decided we'd take advantage of the free time and take a walk around the city for a while. I'm sure I've been to Antwerp before although the memory is a bit blurred. I'm sure I remember sitting outside a bar in a square by a river and the sun was shining. It was pretty grey out today but it was still nice with the walk. Pretty much all of the guys in the bands came along. Elijah had pinball withdrawals so he was in search of a fix somewhere and he soon disappeared. A few others stopped in an Irish pub for an afternoon pint. Not really what I'd hoped for, but there wasn't much else on offer. We'd walked about an hour through a pretty rough area, following the tram lines, and then suddenly arrived at the main Central Station. The station itself was really grand, looked more like a castle than a train station.

We arrived back at the venue around five pm and after loading in just hung out in the large communal dressing room, snacking on crisps and pop. It was good to see Barney again. We hung for a while, catching up on things back home and what's been going on with the bands. It's always good to see him. I couldn't help but notice how many of the posters on the walls of this dressing room, advertising other shows coming up at the venue, were these “so and so plays this record” type events. One that caught my eye in particular was Helmet playing Meantime. Although it's actually Page Hamilton with a bunch of other guys I've never seen. Fucking sad really, I loved that band when I was a kid. Even more amazing than that though was that Andrew W.K. was at it as well, although fuck knows what record he's self honouring himself with! Jesus..

As well as the three bands on our tour and obviously Napalm, there is another band on the bill tonight. I'm not really sure who they are but apparently they're called Kadaverik. The details are a little bit hazy but apparently they're going to be doing a few shows with ND. Anyway, we're sitting around in the backstage room shooting the breeze when this young long, blond haired metal kid turns up and asks after a drummer. Jamie introduces himself politely as he always does..Metal Kid, who I can't really tell is either shy or just very serious, then asks Jamie when he's setting the drum kit up, since they're playing it tonight and they are a bit stressed for time since the doors are opening soon and they're practically on as soon as doors open. This obviously leads to a great deal of confusion since nobody has mentioned this to us. Unfortunately this kind of crap happens all the time. Metal Kid quickly realises the deal and humbly apologies to us, feeling bad that nobody has taken the courtesy of telling us we're lending our gear out. They had thought they were going to be using Napalm's kit but had only just found out they're not.. I guess they haven't played many shows... What are we going to say? Fuck off? I guess some people would but we just grumble under our breath and go help them set up our kit.

It just gets better though. They soon tell us that they require five cymbal stands for the kit. Five? Er, what the fuck do think we're doing with five cymbals? I think Andy has like two.. They just look at us blankly, not understanding anything. We get them set up, even lending out our cabs and cables, although they have actually brought their own amps which is nice of them. The best crack is, Elijah happens to find a copy of Kadavrik's rider which is lying around in the dressing room and it's absolutely insane! It's three sides of A4! These kids are ridiculous!

On the rider, besides all the usual diet requirements, it states amongst other things that they must have five crew on stage whilst they play, and that they require such and such amount of space paying mind to the fact that they have a keyboard. Who the fuck are these kids? These poor bastards will have to learn quick. I almost felt sorry for them in the end.

There were a lot of people in the place by the time Tormented took to the stage. I spent most of the time at the back by our merch table and watched them from there. They seemed to have a really good show but worryingly once again Claes seemed to have some weird turn and was forced to leave the stage with a couple of songs to go. Drette ended up going to the hospital with him and someone else from the venue. He was back later on but it seems like he's having some strange nerve/stress induced attacks. Feel really bad for him but I think he'll be ok. He's been giving some pills to take which should sort him out, although he can't drink or drive whilst taking them. Jon, our very own chemist, has since been giving him an encyclopedic run down on the medication he's on, which I guess is his own little way of making Claes feel better about things.

Our show was pretty good. The stage was pretty fucking big but it sounded good. We had a shorter set tonight due to the fact there were five bands on the bill, something I never have a problem with. Twenty five minutes is a perfect amount of time for a punk show. The crowd were into to. Pretty cool playing with Napalm since they have fans pretty much across the board and certainly no shortage of punks. Would be a fun tour to do I think, something me and Barney talked about earlier which would be great if it came to fruition some day.

After we played I hung out at the merch table and drank a couple of beers whilst keeping an ear on Black Breath's set. It seemed like it was going well for them too. Our friends in Reproach were at the show, always great to see them. Stijn told me they're hooking up a Japan tour with Crucial Unit. So jealous! That will be an amazing tour.

I noticed the Kadavrik guys sitting down at the end of the long merch table, looking sad. They were selling their merch at a higher price than everyone else, although selling is probably not the term to use since Jocke said he hasn't seen anyone all night buy anything from them all night. They'd even gone to the trouble of buying miniature wooden stands, the kind you would put a little painting canvas on in a parallel mini universe, to advertise their cd's.. Poor bastards..

There was this amazing metal guy at the venue tonight. He looked like a mini Danzig and walked around the whole night with his top off. Not like he was sweating or in the mosh pit or anything, he was just walking around bare chested all night. On one arm he had a list of tattoos. And I mean a list. At the top was the Slayer logo, underneath that Obituary and underneath that Entombed. They were pretty shabby tats as well Topping that he had another Slayer logo tattooed across his back from should blade to shoulder blade. Brilliant.

It was a lot of fun watching the Napalm set. It's been a while since I saw them play, think last time was at Debaser a few years ago when I was working in the bar. Barney is a great front man and it's always entertaining listening to him talk between songs in his Brum accent. “This song goes out to Victims, Black Breath and Tormented. Lovely stuff!”.

It's a lot of fun hanging out at the merch tonight. There is a half decent distro at the show too, I think it's the guys from Reflections. I'm close to buying a Government Warning lp but my wallet is way back in the dressing room and I can't be arsed going to get it. There will be further opportunities I'm sure. Our merch tables are set up on a long podium which is about a foot in height I guess. At one point Robban Tormented crouches beside me whilst I'm stood by our table, and pretends he's a dwarf with the goal of freaking Jon out. Jon is afraid of little people..

After the show we pack down and load the gear into a back room ready to be picked up tomorrow. We're staying at another roadside motel way out of town again. Eric and the Black Breath guys have some friends who have travelled from Germany and feel obliged to hang out in town with them. Eric asks me if I want to come and for a moment I consider it but reconsider when I see it's already getting on to two am. By the time we've sorted to hostel out it's going to be at least three and I can't be arsed with that.

I'm greatly disturbed when we get back to the hostel, which is in the standard industrial milieu, to find a Jeep parked in the car park with two beautiful German Shepard’s, confused and barking and left there presumably for the night by some fucking retard staying at the hostel. What is wrong with people really. There are a gaggle of drunk east European old timers sat at some tables outside the hostel, sharing what looks like a bottle of moonshine and making a lot of noise. Weird scene. I hope those dogs aren't going to be there all night...

We get the standard nonsense upon check in. Apparently only three of the five rooms are paid for in advance by the promoter. After some fucking around though, and to be fair the guy in the reception is cool enough to ring the promoter for us, everything gets sorted out and we head up to the rooms. The Black Breath guys are being driven back into town by Peter, we're all going to bed though. I go back downstairs to see if there is any chance of a night cap, but find only Drette and Robban sitting outside having a cig next to the old drunks. They've obviously brought their own booze because there is no sign of a bar or even a vending machine selling beer.

Elijah seems like he's in the mood to stay at the hotel, dropping hints now and again that he could deal with just hanging out at the hostel. He reasons with himself though that if he gets a couple of shots in him at the bar he'll wake up. They head off. Fuck knows what they're going to find open at this time. I head upstairs with Drette and Robban who are kipping in the room besides Andy, Peter and myself.

As we approach our rooms a very drunk, beer bellied Englishman appears from one of the other rooms holding a phone and wearing nothing but a large pair of green boxer shorts. He's completely fucked up. He seems to be locked out of his room, and although appearing to talk into phone is actually trying to converse with us. I can barely make out what he's saying since he's barely dribbling out words, but he seems to be asking if we have booze and something else about being lost. Fucking amazing. I'm pissing myself laughing as I walk into the room. Robban and Drette look chuffed.

Looking forward to a good night's sleep. After a long disco shower, which is possibly the best shower I've ever had, the shower head has a lamp in it and a revolving display of colours as I wash my balls, I crawl into bed beside Andy and lie watching the BBC World News Service. It seems like it's getting pretty fucking tense between Iran and the west...Scary shit.

Peter comes back about an hour later having dropped the American off in town. I'm glad I chose the bed option tonight, I guess those guys won't be getting much sleep tonight..

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