Tuesday, April 3, 2012
Felt rough this morning, although probably not as rough as I should have. If I was at home right now then I'd probably lie on the sofa all day feeling sorry for myself. That not being an option I pulled myself out of bed, packed my bag and slurked downstairs to the hotel restaurant for breakfast.
It was more than worth the hassle. In keeping with last night's hospitality the breakfast was top notch. Most of the other guys were there, tucking in. Jon was nowhere to be seen, but that's hardly shocking. He looked pretty boats by the time I went to bed last night. Andy and I sit down next to an extremely chuffed looking Drette. “They have a guy who is frying eggs to order!”, a smile of delight spread across his face.
With a journey to Nottingham ahead of us, which included the hassle of getting a ferry from Calais across the channel, we had to get going. We'd decided last night on ten am, since the van was packed and ready to go and with us gaining an hour back upon arrival in England, that should just about be ample. It was a beautiful morning and in the sunshine, Kortrijk seemed to be contently humming to the lull of a Sunday morning. Still no sign of Jon.. Johan had called him from reception when ten am had been and gone and awoken him from his slumber. “What are you doing?” “Just stretching my legs..what time are we leaving? Twelve?”..
He finally appeared, looking a little puffy around the eyes, and we got going. The drive to Calais only took an hour or so but we had a bit of fucking around at the ferry port which put us back a bit. We drove through passport control, then had to get out of the van and walk through another passport control, only to then be told the ticket office was outside the ferry port area. We had to drive back out, buy tickets and then repeat the whole process. One of the passport officers joked with Jocke, “It's not too late to turn back you know!” Cue more piss taking at the expense of myself and the motherland.
The rest of the journey was long and uneventful. The ferry took longer than I thought and when we made land fall I knew we'd be struggling to make the get-in time of six pm. Tonight's show is a small DIY floor show though so hopefully it will be cool. I love playing these shows. After three nights of playing stages that separate the band from the crowd, I was buzzing in anticipation of tonight. This was a day that Vincent, Black Breath's booker, had struggled to pin anything down, in other words struggled to get a guaranteed fee. That being the case we all agree it's better to play a DIY show on a door deal than have a day off, and of course, the DIY show is infinitely more fun.
I have some mates coming to the show tonight, as well as a bunch of people I know from the Nottingham scene I'm looking forward to catching up with, people like Gords and Andy from Endless Grinning Skulls and Jeremie from Robots. so it should be a fun night. Wolfbeast Destroyer are opening up too, looking forward to seeing them again. The last time we played with those guys was an amazing show we had at the late, great Indian Queen in Boston. Another venue that has no sadly bitten the dust.
We pulled up at almost exactly the same time as Black Breath, who had made the same ferry as us. Boulty, who was putting the show on, was running around trying to get stuff sorted. I felt bad since we were about an hour late, but he was cool. He understood that we'd had a journey from Belgium to contend with today. The venue was a recording studio/rehearsal space situated on the second floor of a run down building somewhere on the outskirts of the city centre. There were already a lot of people milling around when we got there. Wolfbeast were in the middle of setting up due to the uncertainty of our arrival. The first thing I noticed was the steepness of the iron staircase leading to the venue. The thought of loading in up that gave me a knot in my stomach. Thankfully there was an elevator though and we hurriedly unloaded the vans and filled it.
I got inside and tried to take the lift up only to find it was dead. And then I couldn't open the door and found myself stuck inside this lift packed with gear. Fuck. Do not need this. Boulty came and got me out soon enough though but the lift was well and truly fucked. That knot reappeared in my stomach but once again Boulty countered with good news. There is another lift. We loaded out and loaded in again, this time taking it in fewer, lighter loads.
By the time we had dumped the gear in a corridor behind the room where the gig would be held, Wolfbeast were about ready to go. Considerably stressed from rushing around, the cold beer in my hand Kimmins gave me when I finally got to catch up with them was a God send. Wolfbeast blasted through their set and the place was pretty packed. I guess there must have been over a hundred people in this tiny room. After a long day travelling, the boredom, the tiredness, it was all suddenly worth it again. I was buzzing by now.
Ben from the now defunct Jealous came along tonight, he'd been promising me copies of their two 7”s since the last time we played Nottingham. He showed up just as we were loading in. Really chuffed to finally get my hands on those records! I felt bad since I didn't really have that much time to talk but the stress of the load-in demanded my attention. I'm sure he understands. He knows how it is..
Another childhood friend of mine who now lives in Nottingham, James, also came along. Was great to see him as always. He's just been in the States for the first time, playing with his band Fists who were touring with Obits. Was really fun hearing about that. After Wolfbeast's set we quickly set up the rest of the gear that the three touring bands were using and then I managed to get away for a swift jar with my mates. In typical James fashion, he was apprehensive about going to the pub right next door, “It's the fucking wild west in there!”. If I know James, then he's probably never even been in there. We went off in search of another pub, but being pressed for time I insisted we try the Wild West out.
We walk in and it's like somebody has transported The Rock to Nottingham. Tiny little place, full of old drunks. To make matters all the more entertaining, they had a karaoke night on. Total fucking Cuckoo's Nest stuff. This friendly old boy at the bar pestered me the whole time I was waiting to be served about getting on the mic and a belting a tune out. Could only understand about half of what he was saying but I got away with humouring him with the odd vague reply. It didn't really matter, he barely registered anything I said anyway since he was totally fucking steamboats.
We got a round of Guinness in and retired to the darts room which was small, seperate room off to the sidea and completely empty, the humdrum of the karaoke now just a distant noise. It was good catching up with the guys and by the time the Guinness had gone down I found myself wishing I could stay longer. That's just the way it is though. We headed back to the venue in time to see the second half of Tormented's set. The place was packed and they sounded great. They were having a blinding show and the crowd were loving it. Best of all, I was delighted to see Claes, albeit a little sedated, still on stage. Fucking hero! He made the whole set and there was a collective feeling of elation for him shared between the lot of us. We had to form a cue to give the fucker a hug after their show was done.
I loved every last second of our set tonight. There is nothing quite like playing a packed out floor show. It didn't even matter that I broke a string first song, or indeed another later on during the gig. I love when you're one with the crowd, just a big communal feeling, no band, no audience, we're all just doing this together.
We blast through the set and for the first time this tour I feel like everything is landing, the auto-pilot has kicked in. Of course it could be as much to do with the fact that it's all so fucking loud the walls are shaking and nobody can tell the difference anyway! I have some big punk guy stood in front of me the whole show who I make a connection with. He's totally loving it and he spends most of the set grabbing a hold of me and shouting in my ear in what I guess is an effort to convey his approval. It was fucking great! And then there's always an extra buzz when you have a few old friends dotted about the crowd. It was a sweaty gig but despite the long day, the adrenalin outweighs any tiredness I'd been feeling earlier and it was for me, without doubt, the most fun show of the tour so far.
I pack down immediately after the set, sweat pissing out of me. I dry off as quick as I can and head back out to hang out with the guys. I'm a little gutted when Snitch tells me he has to leave early, and him being my lift to Corby I have to cut short what is a buzzing night. At the same time I know I'll be glad to get back to my parents at an early hour. We leave after the first couple of Black Breath songs. I feel bad about missing the load-out too but Johan assures me it's fine. It always feels strange to leave the guys you're with on tour in the middle of everything, to leave the pack for a night. Feels almost like you're deserting. Jon gave me a big hug before I left and told me he's going to miss me. Silly sod has probably been on the pop. The fucker warms my heart all the same though.
The drive back to Corby is fucking terrifying for the most part. Kimmins and another friend Tom, are in the back, a bit sauced up, demanding Snitch cranks the volume up on the car stereo. They're playing some bluegrass band doing Guns n' Roses covers. The version of Mr Brownstone is actually fucking awesome to be fair though.. Anyway, I'm sat up front with Snitch who is driving fast as fuck along the dark country roads that lead the back way to Corby. I enquire a couple of times as to why he's driving so fast to which he replies he's only doing the speed limit. Not sure that doing eighty on a sixty road qualifies as keeping to the speed limit but what the fuck do I know? I love the cunt but he scares the fuck out of me when I'm sat beside him in a car and he's the one behind the wheel.
I get back to my parents house, the house I still call home even though I haven't lived there for eleven years, around midnight. Glad to be home and relieved to be alive. Even though it's late, when I walk through the door my dad appears in the dark at the top of the stairs wearing nothing but his kecks. He comes down to join for a late night cup of tea and a chat.
It's good to be home, even if only for a few hours.
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