Tuesday, April 10, 2012
What a difference a night in a hotel bed makes. For the first time in a few days I felt like I'd had a real sleep.
The journey to Barcelona would take around five hours. The scenery on route was like something from a Spaghetti Western movie. I sat up front with Johan for the trip, listening to Tom Petty and the new Lee Ranaldo record whilst looking out for huge birds of prey in the sky. There seemed to be a lot of buzzards gliding around.
The tolls in Spain are less frequent and nowhere near as expensive as those in France. Funny thing is though, whenever you do stumble across one, the other drivers on the road seem to get really wound up. As we're stood still, waiting in line for our turn to pay the man in the booth there is a fucking orchestra of car horns tooting at seemingly nothing at all. Fuck knows what they think honking the horn is going to achieve? It's as if they want the person in front of them to ram through the barrier or something.. Crazy bastards.
We pull into the outskirts of Barcelona. There is a huge cemetery literally built into the side of a mountain, cross after cross scattered about it like confetti, other graves simply marked by plaques that are buried into the wall of the mountainside. It's quite a sight. There are quite a few sights to behold in this city and as we're driving around it's streets looking for the venue, the presence of La Familia Sagrada looming down from the top of one the avenues we pass, I can't helping wishing I was here on holiday instead.
The venue is a big place, although unlike last night, there are a few different rooms of varying sizes. Thankfully we're playing in the smallest of them. I have a really good feeling about tonight. Even if only the seventy five people who have bought tickets show up, the show will look good. Plus, my friends Karl and Camissa are coming down and I'm looking forward to seeing them. Karl used to play bass with Regimes and toured with us when they did a Scandinavian tour with Victims. Karl, originally from Boston, Lincolnshire, has been living here since he moved back from Canada a while ago. He moved to Canada when he was denied access back into England after being on a short holiday in France with his then five month pregnant Canadian girlfriend, who herself had been living in London for years. The port authorities literally turned them around at the border with nowhere to go because his girlfriend had apparently been back and forth from the UK a little too regularly for their liking. It was a very fucked up situation at the time. Karl seems to be loving Barcelona now though and has no intention of moving back to his homeland.
The venue is situated right in the middle of the city and is pretty flash, certainly for the likes of us anyway. We each have our own dressing room, which seems a little ridiculous. I'm glad that the three bands on tour are such good friends and we share and share alike. There's no bullshit like, “This is our fridge with our beer in it..” I've been on plenty of tours like that and it's horrible...
Whereas yesterday's show in Madrid could just as well have been in Birmingham, there was no mistaking today that we were in Barcelona. Unfortunately it was Easter Monday today, meaning that pretty much everything was closed. We asked the promoter whether he thought that the record shops over on Tallers would be closed to which he unequivocally answered with a yes. Fucking bummer! I had really been hoping to find some time to walk around Barca and do some fun stuff, like go record shopping...
To my delight the promoter then hit us with some great news. We were again supposed to be staying at a hotel way out of the city, just like last night, but that had now been changed to a hostel close by, right next to La Rambla. With Toulouse only being a four hour drive tomorrow this meant that we'd have plenty of time in the morning to do Barca stuff, and with the venue being close to the hotel we might even be able to hit a bar after tonight's show, if there was anything open on this holiest of holidays...I was now in a great mood.
The venue opened at eight and Tormented were supposed to be playing at eight fifteen with a strict curfew set in place for eleven pm. Even so, it still felt ridiculously early for Tormented to go on stage. We managed to get it pushed back until eight thirty, since as usual Victims were given a hugely overestimated set time of forty minutes. We play at the very most thirty minutes, allowing for gaps between song blocks...
It was still pretty empty by the time Tormented were about to go on although there did seem to be a load of punks and metallers at the bar across the street. I had a bad feeling for a second... But then just as they took to the stage people starting trickling in. And by the time their first song was done the trickle had become a pour and the place was pretty much full by the time they hit their second song. There must have easily been two hundred people in here. Tormented had, for me at least, easily their best show of the tour so far. You would have been forgiven for thinking it was their own headlining gig. The crowd down front were going crazy, there were people chanting the lyrics to Rotting Death when Drette abstained from the mic. It was a hugely fun show. I admit that I did start to think this might be a difficult gig for Victims with such a metal contingent in the crowd, but even if that was to be the case I was still chuffed for our friends Tormented. They ended their set tonight with Motorhead's Iron Fist which was awesome and kind of set our set up just nicely. I realised then that if the crowd were down with Motorhead then surely Victims wouldn't offend them.
Just as they were giving Motorhead the Tormented treatment that the crowd were lapping up, Karl and Camissa walked in. It was great to see them. We hung out for a short while before it was time to get on stage. The crowd was packed in, Karl and Camissa were right at the front looking ready to kick off and I was buzzing.
This had to be without doubt the best show of the tour so far. For once it seemed everyone had a good sound on stage and we were blasting through the songs, tight as fuck, all of us going hell-bent at them, even Jon who by had by now contracted the tour cold that I was just about shifting. It felt good to have the old energy back on stage. Even when my pedal died on me before we went into Death Do Us Part, it didn't ruin the mood. Claes came to my rescue with an emergency battery and after a little bit of fucking around we were up and running again, as if it hadn't even happened. The set then flew by and seeing Karl down front screaming along to This Is The End really gave me an extra buzz. I even ran at him in the chant-along chorus and grabbed him, the pair of us screaming at each other. It's amazing what this music can do to you when it hits the mark.
I had that wonderful buzz after the show, when you're chuffed with a great gig and you're hanging out with people you either know or are just getting to know and you're in the mood for a drink. Besides, we have a monster drive after the show tomorrow in Toulouse. One thousand fucking kilometres, right up on the Swiss/German border which will require us to drive some hours at night as soon as we're packed down. So with that in mind, coupled with the fact we're in Barcelona, one of the most beautiful cities in the world, tonight we're getting drunk.
I hang out with Karl and Camissa with the rest of the Victims and Tormented guys over at the merch table, and chat away whilst keeping an eye on the Black Breath set. It seems they're having a great night too. And any previous conceptions about the crowd tonight being too metal orientated for our band have been completely dispelled. We're selling a shit load of merch! At one point, two guys had come to the stall together and each bought every vinyl we had, every record. I love Barcelona!
We were given drink tickets by the promoter earlier that we were told were good for booze only. I fetch a rum and coke to myself and Johan. It always amazes me just how much booze they pour into drinks in the south. The rum and cokes are literally about two thirds rum to one third coke...and they fucking hit the spot.
Black Breath finish their set around eleven and as somewhat of a buzz-kill we're told we have to start packing down and loading out within the next thirty minutes. The venue empties very quickly, Karl and Camissa forced to leave along with everyone else. Karl has work in the morning anyway and besides, he has a baby at home now so he has to get going anyway, but it still sucks balls that the night is brought to such an abrupt end. We load out the gear and grab our bags from the dressing room area. By the time we're done it's around midnight, so there should still be plenty of time to get over to the hostel, check in and hit a bar somewhere.
We're given an address for a safe place to park the vans since leaving them around the La Rambla area is neither logistically sound or safe. We're told the parking place is only five minutes from the hostel. Unfortunately those five minutes turn out to be five Spanish minutes...
We leave the vans where instructed, high up in one of Barcelona's many old parks, this particular one overlooking the harbour, and walk back down the hill pulling our bags, following Peter who is walking along with the GPS in his hand. We walk for what must be thirty minutes and long before we reach our final destination we're all rightly fucked off. We eventually find the hostel, somehow losing Jamie on the way, leaving Neil and Elijah to look for him, and dump our bags in the dormitory we've had booked for us. We ask the guy in the reception about the chances of finding an open bar at this late hour. He shakes his head somewhat disparagingly. On any other weekend this would not be a problem but this is Easter, even the bars on the tourist hell that is La Rambla are most likely closed according to the reception man. Undeterred, we set of in search anyway.
We walk around the narrow streets, veering clear of La Rambla for as long as we can, but find nothing. Even when we eventually give in and head back to the strip we find fuck all open. There are plenty of people about but it's becoming quite clear that they've all recently spilled out of whatever establishment they've been getting pissed up in. We finally find a place. There is some young guy stood in a doorway telling us that his bar is open, free entry and la de da... We start to head for the entrance when he makes the mistake of adding to his pitch, “Beautiful ladies, boobs...”. We turn away, bitterly disappointed. The guy looks shocked, like he can't believe we're not interested. Prick.
As we're heading back in the direction of the hostel, head's beginning to bow under the disappointment of what has been a huge anti-climax to a great night, we notice an open off-license. Andy and Claes say they're up for buying some beer and sitting on a bench somewhere down by the water and making our own party. For a split second it seems like a viable idea but nobody else is up for it and I have to admit that it feels a little like clutching at straws.
We end up in fucking McDonalds of all places, pigging out on french fries, before finally admitting defeat and heading back to the hostel. It's close to three am and I sobered up a long time ago. Johan and I conclude that you should never makes grand plans for a party whilst on tour because it always goes to shit. It's always the spontaneous nights that are the best ones. Maybe that's life in general though? One thing is for fucking sure, you're a fool to let yourself believe the you can make a holiday of being tour, not when you tour like we do at least, playing every night. Any extra time you get along the way, any chance of sightseeing or hanging out with friends must be seen as a bonus. It certainly isn't something you should pin your hopes on. Holidays are what you do with your loved ones, touring with your band is a whole other ball game...
We'll have to make the best of Barcelona in the morning...