Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Beilefeld

We made a good choice in coming to Stachel's place last night. Even if we'd only slept for six hours, it was a sound sleep. After catching up on things over breakfast in the kitchen with Stachel and Mika, we took a walk around Bremen for an hour or so. Apparently it's snowing back home but here the sun is shining. We only have a few days left of this tour, I hope the snow has left by the time we get back. I'm ready for spring now.

The drive to Bielefeld was a short one and we arrived at the venue around five pm. The venue tonight is one of the classic punk venues in Germany, the AJZ. Tonight this institution is celebrating it's thirty ninth birthday, so it's going to be a big night.

When we pulled up the Black Breath boys were already here. They all looked pretty fucking tired, Jamie and Ace in particular. Apparently they'd been up until seven this morning, riding bikes around piss drunk. Ace is sporting a cut on his hand from where he took a face dive. We load in the gear, taking things nice and slow.

As with most punk venues in Germany, this place has a band dormitory which means there is a good chance we'll be partying tonight. As well as Stachel coming along with us in the van, a really close friend of ours, Ronny, is playing here tonight with his doom band, Pyramido. Ronny has driven Victims on tour in the past, and if he wasn't out touring with Pyramido now then it would have been great to have him with us this time. It's a real bonus that they're playing with us tonight.

Jon and a few others went off in search of a bowling alley as usual whilst the rest of hung out in the dressing room, drinking a couple of beers and noshing on the grub the venue had provided. I'm so fucking tired right now that it's hard not to think about going home. It's always like this for me when the end of the tour is in sight. At the start of the tour, with so many shows ahead and so many miles to travel, you can't even process home. Now, with just a few days left it's starting to feel too easy to allow myself to feel tired. The tiredness has been here since the first morning, but now it's hooks are really starting to sink in. I'm glad I've booked a day off at home when we get back...

The Pyramido guys show up and we hang out for a while. It's great to see Ronny and his friendly face. They've been out for just over a week, their tenth and final show is tomorrow in Hannover. Ronny said it's been a bit up and down, some good shows mixed with some shit. He said the biggest problem, apart from the fact they're going to lose money on the tour, is that it's been fucking cold everywhere. Stachel had seen their first show in Bremen a week ago which had been really good, and Ronny tells me that the Switzerland show was great. But then they had a show in Metz where they played on a freezing cold boat to a handful of people, where they were given a baguette for dinner! And then they slept on the boat and almost froze to death during the night. Another night in Karlsruhe, they played a show at a practice space to four paying people and got paid thirty Euros for their trouble. They had it good though, the band playing with them that night had travelled from Greece and got paid fuck all. They were this rock n' roll band, all dressed up in matching suits and shit, totally weird gig.. The pleasures of DIY touring...

Their show tonight was great though. They're always brilliant live, but the place was pretty packed when they were on. Apart from Ronny's mic cutting out during one song, the set was spot on. They played a couple of new songs that sounded really great too. Ronny got into the crowd for the last song and trudged around screaming in people's faces. Robban joined me in front of the stage towards the end of their set and seemed really taken aback by them. “They've got such a great drive for being such a slow band!” He says this a few times making me suspect that he's been on the pop...

Patsy O'Hara, a pretty cool screamo/d-beat band from near by were on second. They played with us last summer and I had a good time watching them, but tonight I could barely get into the gig room to see them, such was the amount of people inside. What struck me was that there was still a shit load of people hanging out in the courtyard area of the venue, as well as there being people in the bar area. One of the guys from the club tells me a while later that it's sold out tonight...

Patsy play for what seems like quite a while and by the time Tormented get to play their set it's getting late. For the first time this tour, I miss most of the set since I'm watching the merch in the bar room. I pop my head in and see that there are a shit load of people watching them and it seems like everyone is having a good time. The sound coming off stage is booming anyway..

We do our best to make a quick changeover after the Tormented set. The boys are dripping with sweat as they pack down their gear. Fuck, I'm sweating like a priest in a brothel before we even start! One of the club people asks me if we can encourage the crowd to look after each other during our set since the moshing has been getting out of hand at times already tonight. I relay the message on to Johan. I look down at the monitor in front of me and there are huge shards of glass from a broken beer bottle right beside it, with apparently nobody interested in cleaning it up. It's just waiting there to slash someone's arm open. I do my best to remove most of it. I get the feeling this is going to be an insane gig.

I'm pretty far removed from Andy on stage and for the first three or four songs I literally can't hear anything coming from the drum kit. I can see him hitting them but it's not orally translating to me ears. It fucks me off for a while since I can see the crowd are going nuts, and the other guys in the band seem to be loving it, but I'm struggling. I decide to turn my amp way down in the hope that the sound guy out front will catch it and compensate for it in the PA. At least now I can hear the drums. From Lifetaker onwards the gig becomes as much fun for me as it seems to be for everyone else. There is a big pillar in the middle of the floor in front of the stage and people are circle pitting around it for most of the gig. As we finish with Scars I notice Ronny stood in front of me, screaming along. I grab him during the chorus and we scream it together. The show comes to an end and we're all fucked, but satisfied. It's been one of those great shows.

There is no room to go anywhere, we need to pack our gear down so Black Breath can get on stage since it's already late, so leaving the room through the packed crowd just to come back would be a huge waste of time. Andy, Jon and Johan walk behind my amp and hide there waiting for the sound guy to put some record on, but with no space left for me I just sit on the stage in front of my amp, gasping for air. The crowd is chanting for one more song and I'm willing the fucking sound guy to just put the fucking music on. There are some punks stood in front of the stage that are starting to get pissed off with us, one of them shouting “One more song! One more song!” and then “Fuck you and your band! You suck!” I walk over to him and tell him I love him. He's still angry. “Why don't you play any more fucking songs you asshole?” I'm on the verge of getting pissed off with him but back down and decide to explain to him that there is still another band to play and it's not cool of us to take up any more time since it's already late. I tell him again that I love him and a smile finally cracks across his face. He grabs my hand and kisses it and tells me that he loves me too. As I'm walking away a young kid jumps up on stage and tells me we're his favourite band ever and they're coming to the Hamburg show tomorrow. He seems like a really sweet kid.

Once packed down we take refuge in the dressing room. We celebrate a good gig with a shot of the rather disgusting bottle of whisky that is hanging around like a bad smell. Robban enters the room looking a bit sauced. He says he's drank a few cocktails and is in the mood for a party.. I consider grabbing a shower but decide to leave it. There will be time in the morning..

We hang out at the merch for a while with the Tormented and Pyramido guys. I've had a couple of beers but it feels like one of those nights where it's not going to happen. The beer is going down heavy. Viktor, the Pyramido drummer is passing round a bottle of filthy looking booze. It finds it's way into my hands. I regret it as soon as it hits my throat. Fucking disgusting piss. I grab Jon's beer in a panic and try to wash away the sick appley moonshine from my tongue. Jon seems to be into the shite though, but then again, that fucker will drink anything.

I go to check out the second half of the Black Breath set. Johan, Jocke and Robban are there already, side stage, looking a bit boozed up. The sound from the stage sounds great and like they've been all night, the crowd are going mad. It's then that Robban decides he's going to do a stage dive. He runs across the stage, arms aloft and then before he even takes off, fucks his knee up and the big bastard just kind of flops into the crowd. He's gone for the rest of the set and just when we're wondering what happened to him we hear his voice from somewhere in the crush of the crowd, “Play some more!” This tour has officially become the Play Some More Tour 2012...

It's late by the time Black Breath are finished. Elijah tells me afterwards that some punk guy puked on the stage, right in front of where he was stood. The guy just wiped his mouth, gave him the metal horns and carried on banging his head.. Jesus Christ..

We hang out in the merch room for the next couple of hours. Even though I look at the clock around two am and think to myself that I'll go to bed soon, tired as I am, it's still four by the time I eventually make it up to bed. In that time, Jon has become totally wankered, stumbling about like Ozzy again. At one point he grabs a hold of Mark, looks him in the eye and tells him, “I am the tenth planet.” He then proceeds to bear hug Mark, squeezing the air out of him. Mark jokes, “Fuck man, you're killing me!” Jon, eyes closed, replies, “Squeeze it out bitch.” Fucking mad man.

Unbelievable enough, Jon is NOT the most drunk person in the building. The Pyramido bass player seems to have drunk himself blind! It's been a long time since I've seen someone so fucked. He's just kind of bouncing about the room, eyes rolled upwards into his brow, barely able to emit and audible word from his mouth. Ronny is just shaking his head, smiling. He must have seen it all before.

When I eventually check out and head upstairs, sober and very tired, most of the other guys are still going strong. Johan and Eric playing fussball, Jon hugging Mark, Elijah talking to some punk guy at the bar. The dance floor is still going strong and the punk classics are still hammering out of the speakers.

It's nice and warm in my sleeping bag. I can't help wishing I'd gone to bed when I'd first considered it a couple of hours ago. It would have been nice with a full eight hours sleep...

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