Sunday, April 8, 2012

San Sebastian

It was dark in the room when I woke. As far as I could tell everyone else was asleep. It seems everyday starts with the same problem. In dire need of a piss, in just as dire need of energy to deal with it.

The room gradually starts to come to life around ten thirty, bodies start to roll out of beds, bleary eyes being tended to by grubby fingers. With only the shallow promise that the guy with the key to the club would try to make it here for twelve, we're stuck where we are for now. It's shit having your time schedule in the hands of someone else, especially when that someone is a hungover bartender who most likely only went to bed a few hours ago..

I decide to get up, get showered and go off in search of a morning coffee. The shower hose is broken, so I have to sit in the plugless bath tub and wash myself down. The search for coffee is much more of a success. A few of us head to a square not far from the venue where there are cafés a plenty. Most of them are in the process of opening but we find one with some friendly staff, great sandwiches and a superb double espresso. They know how to make coffee in this country. We sit under the tarpaulin marquee outside the café, the rain drizzling down over the square, watching Bordeaux pass us by. By the time we get back to the venue I'm feeling pretty good and Key Man arrives shortly afterwards.

We pack the gear down, load it out up the narrow stone staircase and into the van. The drive to San Sebastian takes around two and half hours. The scenery as we near the mountainous French/Spain border a sight for tired eyes..

The venue tonight is in the docks area of San Sebastian, a bit away from the main city centre. It takes us a while to find the venue itself since it's in the middle of a housing estate and doesn't have any sort of sign advertising it's whereabouts. We drive around the narrow one way street three times, totally scoobied. Typical, I was thinking how nice it was that we'd arrived an hour early but it seems like most of that extra time will be spent looking for the venue. And it's raining too..

We head back out to the main road by the docks when a van behind us flashes us over to the side of the road. Claes says that he thought the van had been following us... The driver's window rolls down, revealing the friendly face of a local asking us if we're trying to find the Mugambo Club. Surprised and grateful, we follow his van back to the exact same spot we'd driven by three or four times and points to a steep stair case at the side of a block of shops. The venue is on the upper level of the house.

The street is too narrow for us to park in though, but then we receive further help from some old boys in a car workshop attached to the same building. They move some cars and guide us up on to the pavement behind, assuring us it's fine for us to leave the van there. As soon as we get parked up the Black Breath van arrives pulling it's trailer. Fucking no chance Peter's manoeuvring that thing in here. Jamie jumps out and tells us he's just spoken to the promoter and he'll be here in five minutes, so we quickly unload the trailer, everyone pulling together to get it done in express time while the rain comes down and an impatient looking motorist waits in his car behind.

We get the equipment in tight against the wall which has the slightest little shelter from the over hanging lip of the roof above. The promoter does indeed turn up, a friendly looking guy who's name is Artur. Artur doesn't have the key to the venue...

He tells us the the guy with the key will be here shortly, he's just preparing the food for us tonight and doesn't have a car, but he's figuring it out and will be here soon. Well we are almost an hour early for load in so we can't really have a gripe with that, although unloading the trailer so hastily is starting to seem like a bad idea.

The roof on the back side of the club provides at least another foot of shelter so we decide to start lugging the gear up the staircase at the side of the house and park it outside the locked club doors, as much to pass the time than anything else. The promoter will be here at six pm according to Artur.

We stand around, hanging out in the drizzling rain for a half hour or so. Artur has offered to watch the gear for us if we want to grab a coffee at one of the local bars. He seems friendly enough but leaving all the gear in the hands of a complete stranger feels fucked up, so we politely pretend we haven't heard his offer and wait it out.

At six the guy with the key rings and says he'll be another thirty this time a few of us start wandering off in different directions, although Jon and Mark stay put. A few us end up in a small bar on the corner of the street, where we sit drinking coffee and watching the football on tv. Real Sociedad, San Sebastian's very own, are playing away to Espanyol from Barcelona. Within a quarter of an hour Sociedad are two up and when the goals go in, the whole estate seems to erupt, shouts and screams of joy coming from the surrounding houses. There are four old boys sat in the corner, playing cards and drinking beer, occasionally looking up at the tv to shout at it when something happens.

We head back across the road to the venue at six thirty to see if the keys have turned up yet. Still nothing. Artur is starting to look stressed by now. It's been quite the fucking day for waiting around. It's times like these when I start to feel the pangs of homesickness, this being no exception.

It's supposed to be “get in” at six, “doors” at nine. The guy who runs the club eventually turns up at eight, jumping out of a car carrying pots of food and saying “Sorry, sorry! Please help!”. The fucker has a big smile across his face and judging by the bottle of beer he's drinking from, probably half pissed. Fuck sakes..

We load in and tuck straight into the food, which is vegan tomato stew and cold spaghetti. There is a microwave in the dressing room but I can't be arsed waiting and just throw it down cold. It's not that great to be honest and I'm not warming it up would have improved things that much. The venue itself is the usual punk hole. It's quite a big place, capable of holding around two hundred I'd guess, but the stage is in a cornered off section of the room so even with only sixty people here, as long as they all choose to stand in front of the stage, it should look pretty good.

There is sawdust and fag butts all over the floor, I guess as alternative to mopping it. There is a small bedroom to the side of the dressing room but it looks like Resident Evil and I'd rather sleep in the van if that place is the only option. Apparently though there is another apartment where we can sleep tonight althoug I'm not sure how much sleep we're going to get since we're leaving for Madrid at ten am and with the way this night is going I'll be amazed if Black Breath are done by two.

There is another band opening up the show tonight, a four piece jazz punk band who are travelling from Portugal and are at the start of an eighty date tour around Europe! They seem like nice guys. They said jazz punk and it's pretty much exactly that, mixed with a bit of grindcore. They are instrumental, a guy playing saxophone taking the lead, with the drummer mixing jazz shuffles with d-beat and blast beat. Fucking insane. The eighty or so punks in the venue seem confused for the most part although Elijah is loving every second of it.

Tormented play a solid set topped off with a great rendidtion of Tormentor by Kreator. Although I feel like I'm severely lacking in energy, in what is a total contrast to last night, watching Tormented gets me a little more in the mood to play. By the time we go on it's near one am.

It's another good show though...even if I snap a string during the very first fucking chord. I don't know where the energy comes from sometimes, especially on night's like these, but I'm grateful for it. We attempt The Answer again tonight and it goes much better, mainly due to the fact that I play the right riffs. Sounded good as well. By the time we're done, barely a half hour later, the crowd are shouting for more. It's about one thirty am and Black Breath still have to play. Artur is in the dressing room looking very enthusiastic, telling us if we want to play more it's totally fine. I tell him it's time for Black Breath but he doesn't understand why we don't want to perform a encore.

When I'm packed down and cooled down I enjoy a cold beer for the first time tonight. By that I mean, I've been drinking beer throughout the night but this is the first one I've enjoyed. We stand around watching the Black Breath set whilst keeping an eye on the clock.. They're great as usual. Jon has somehow managed to get drunk again. I guess he's been drinking beer all night but with him it always seems to creep up very suddenly. He's been drinking cups of calamucho too which hasn't helped. Anyway, I realise he's drunk when I notice him stood at the front of the stage, screaming down Neil's mic during one of their songs...

As I'm standing watching Black Breath wrap up their set I make eye contact with some beefy punk guy, who seems to be pissed off. He looks at me and then points at his watch by which I understand that he wanted us to play a longer set. I smile and shrug my shoulders but this just seems to piss him off more. I'd go as far to say he has a look of disgust on his face. I never understand people who want to see a hardcore band play for any longer than thirty minutes. I mean, I love hardcore but I don't want to see a band play for longer than that... I guess there's a different culture down here.. This again is new territory for Victims, at least as band if not individuals..

It's four am by the time we're packed out and waiting for whoever's flat we're staying at to announce themselves. As we're stood waiting around outside the club, which is still in full flow, some wasted punk guy in a wife-beater vest and bloodied bandages around his wrists comes over to us and starts babbling on incoherently in Basque. I'd seen him earlier in the club, first trying to get into the dressing room after our set and then in the toilet's when he came out of one of the stalls with his kecks around his knees. He's barely able to walk now and though we're doing our best to ignore him he refuses to leave. This whole while the crazy jazz punk band's van has blocked us in, and although we've retrieved a couple of them from their club, their van has also broken down. We help them push the van out of the way in order to get ours out, the whole time Bandages is hassling us. To add to matters, whilst we're pushing their van I notice that Sax Man is sitting inside the van we're pushing eating a fucking sandwich! Cheeky bastard!

We finally, finally get going when the girl who's apartment we're staying it is convinced to leave the club and take us to her place. When we arrive she pleads with us to be quiet since she has neighbours, I assure her that the only thing we want to do is sleep for the next four hours before we have to get up again. We're waiting around, the entire touring party in the lobby of the apartment building, for the lift to take us up to the seventh floor where she lives. The lift is tiny and with our bags we can only fit groups of three inside. As we're waiting there, Jon, by now piss drunk and clutching a bottle of red wine, looks over to an equally pissed Elijah and delivers the first line of what he thinks is a hilarious joke...”Elijah!...Elijah!”

“Yeah dude?”

“What smells worse than a dead baby?”

Silence whilst Elijah, not realising this is a joke, considers his answer..”Marmite?” I'm crying with laughter when I eventually get into the lift.

The flat is huge, which is just as well since there are fourteen of us looking for a space to sleep. I grab one of the five bedrooms and share a bed with Mark. Although, before he can get in Jon appears looking sheepish and Mark offers the bed to him, opting to take the floor instead. It's almost five am and I beg Jon to turn the fucking light off. It goes dark but then Jon fucks off somewhere. Mark stays on the floor anyway.

I fall asleep promising myself I'll cut Jon's balls off if he wakes me before my alarm clock gets the chance to in four hours time.. 

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