Tuesday, October 2, 2012

San Francisco

San Francisco is one of those places I always dreamed of seeing one day. The Golden Gate Bridge, Alcatraz, Haight Street, the original Amoeba Records etc.. I couldn't wait to arrive in the city and see some of those famous sights. I was chuffed that Dutch was driving through the night from Los Angeles so that we'd have some time to check the city out.

My dad was an adolescent of the sixties when San Fran had been the centre of the Flower Power movement and the shining beacon of the Swinging Sixties. When Flower Power was happening, my dad was working in the Steel Works in Corby, dreaming of what life must be like on the other side of the world, over there in California. Now I felt like I was living his dreams for him, although the culture I was now involved in was pretty different to his back then. I knew my dad would want a postcard from Frisco, so besides the sights, that was top of my to-do-list when I arrived.

Of course, I've long since learned that if you want guaranteed sight seeing then book a fucking holiday, because most of the time when you go to these fantastic places all over the world with a band, you end up seeing fuck all. As would be the case on this occasion...

We stumbled out of the bus sometime in the early afternoon, the lot of us hungover to piss. The first thing I noticed is that it was a lot colder here than in LA. I guess it was January and we'd travelled eight hours north, so it wasn't so strange really. The bus was parked outside of the club which was a nondescript building with a large parking lot out back, which was actually were the show was going to be. On a stage, in the car park. The show tonight was a coalescence of two tours. There would be the six bands on our package plus Anthrax, God Forbid and Sworn Enemy. We were all pretty chuffed to be playing with Anthrax, who were back as the original line up with Belladonna on vocals. Kev, in particular, was really buzzing. He loves early Anthrax. It had all the tell tale signs of a big party night. Except for Jay, who had come down with some illness. We'd originally assumed it was either a hangover or jet lag, or both, but he really wasn't looking too good and he spent the entire afternoon in bed in the van. It was touch and go whether he was going to be able to make the show..

The point I was getting to though, is that Jay didn't miss much. The venue we were playing could just as well have been on the Earlstree's industrial estate in Corby. There was nothing but warehouses and units to see around there. We were actually on the other side of the bay from where the real San Francisco was. I took a walk with a couple of the guys down to the outskirts of the industrial estate we were on, which eventually led us down to the water. From there we could just about see the silhouette of the Golden Gate bridge, although it was so grey and foggy a good deal of imagination was needed to confirm what we were looking at. So this is Frisco eh? Great!

We trudged back to the venue a little dejected and loaded the gear into the venue's compound. We soon cheered up though when Dutch told assured me that he'd take us into the city in the morning, since the next drive was only a couple of hours. Nice one Dutchy! Considerably happier, we started on the beer. Although the stage was out back in the large car park, the bar and the merch area was inside the club house, or whatever it was. Jay was still looking really pale and I was starting to worry about him. I told him that he should just stay in bed and forget the gig tonight, we'd be ok with just me on guitar, but he told me he wanted to play. I was proud of him. With the way the shows had been going on this tour I wouldn't have blamed him for taking the easy option and fucking the gig off, but he wouldn't have it.

It must have been around six pm when we took to the stage. It was still fairly light out and there was a good size crowd already in through the gates. It seemed like word had been spreading around the internet about us though, I can only imagine the hordes of death metal nerds on message boards slagging us off, as before we even started the set, in fact, before we even strapped on our guitars, some young guy who looked like he was straight out of Heavy Metal Parking Lot, shouted, “Fuck off back to England you wankers!” H.M.P.L. looked chuffed as punch with his witty remark. I looked over at a very pale Jay, hoodie tightly wrapped around his face. The two of us just smirked at each other. “Fuck me, we haven't even started yet!” laughed John as he got in to anger mode.

We kicked the living shit out of that stage. Tore the fucker apart. And apart from a couple of hardcore kids down the front, no one gave a cack. This was the first show on the tour where the boos started to come between songs, so to combat the cunts we just left the amps to feedback loudly when we weren't playing, Kev and John looking for a fight with anyone who wanted to come near us. Good show...

The night did get considerably better from there on in though. Kev was on top form. He was really chuffed about seeing Anthrax with Belladonna and to enhance his mood further he was throwing beer down his throat like it was going out fashion. Apart from Jay, who went straight back to bed after the show, the rest of us got on board with Kev. We hung out by the merch area for most of the night, with Chrissy who was selling Decapitated and Hypocrisy's merch, as well as the Soilent guys. It was just one of those spontaneous nights that ended up being a lot of fun. It was the first night that we'd properly hung out with a lot of the other guys on tour. You could feel the ice melting, aided by the flowing stream of beer and we were all in very high spirits, despite yet another shit gig.

By the time Anthrax came on, we were all pretty pissed up. Kev in particular. We were stood on this porch at the back of the club house that overlooked the by now packed parking lot, watching the first few songs of the Anthrax set. They played a few classics and they were sounding good. As they went into Keep it in the Family, a large mosh pit erupted in front of the stage. I turned towards Kev to comment on it, but before I knew it he was off. He'd hopped of the porch and was now running full pelt into the mosh pit. I watched him all the way in. He ran straight up to this big metaller and clocked him right in the fucking chops! The metaller barely had time to gather himself before Kev disappeared into the sea of mosh. Fuck me you old bastard! I could barely believe what I'd just seen. I stood there, watching the next couple of songs, wondering when Kev would return and in what shape. He eventually arrived back at the porch, with this really sad look on his face. “Some cunt stole my cap...” he muttered to me. “Ha ha, serves you right you wanker!” I laughed. Kev looked truly gutted...

The partying continued after the show, long into the night. We all ended up back at the merch stalls, Lasse and Chrissy having now become friends. It seemed like everyone except for the Nile guys were on the piss. Before long we were all chatting merrily to each other, drinking shots and dancing.. At one point we were sat by Chrissy's table, looking at some photos on her laptop. The Decapitated singer thought it would be funny to draw a Hitler tash on a face on one of the images. We all laughed our tits off when Chrissy went to wipe it off only to find that he'd drawn it on with permanent marker. I don't think he'd really meant it since he looked pretty guilty as Chrissy went berserk at him.

The night rolled on and on. By about three am Kev was absolutely steam boats. You can always tell when he's fucked because he gets this stupid grin on his face and his eyes are half closed, like he could fall asleep at any moment. He wasn't falling asleep right now though. He had his sights set on these two young, good looking girls. We watched him hobble over to them and attempt to strike up a conversation. They looked less than impressed. Kev was not to be discouraged though and persisted with his line of approach. It turned out that the two girls were actually a couple. We heard them tell Kev that they weren't interested, that they were in fact lesbians. “That's alright, I don't mind”, he reasoned. “Well we do!” they replied sharply. As this truly classic conversation was in motion, Gords had gone behind Kev and pulled his jeans down, leaving Kev stood there in his boxer shorts with his jeans around his ankles, stupid grin in tact. The girls just walked away shaking their heads.

It must have been four am by the time we rolled back into the bus, and we were all pretty fucked. There was beer in the fridge though, so we carried on drinking. Once again we had the old disco bus theme going. Fuck knows how Dutch managed to sleep at all, if he in fact did..

And then, the funniest thing I have EVER seen happened...

Gordon was by now off his tits and had the crazy look in his eye, the one he gets when he's gone over the border. He got in to a daft argument with an equally drunk Darren over something trivial and before long the two of them were wrestling. Nothing serious. It went on for a while and eventually Gords had Daz cornered in the bunk area. Daz was recoiling into his bed, trying to escape the depraved clutches of Gords, but to no avail. We were filming the whole thing as we crowded round to see what was happening.

Daz had crawled head first into his bunk, but Gords had pulled him back by the belt and then ripped his jeans down. He then pulled Daz's boxer shorts down and started slapping his bare arse, the whole while shouting in mock American wrestling commentary, “Oh yeah! Here comes the big slap down! Now he's gonna get it!” and the like. And the like. This went on for a while, the lot of us pissing ourselves. And then Lasse turned to me with an evil grin on his face, “Watch this.” I filmed Lasse as he approached an oblivious Gordon from behind.

None of expected what happened next, least of all Gordon, the poor bastard. Lasse pulls his cock out and starts slapping Gordon on his left shoulder with it. Gordon is still bent over Daz, slapping his arse when he feels something from behind. In a blurry instant, Gords turns around, mouth wide open as he continues with his American commentary. Lasse's cock goes straight in to Gordon's gaping pie hole! All the fucking way in! And it's all caught perfectly on film.

Gordon's face turns white as a ghost and his eyes roll in horror. Lasse, who can't believe what just happened, falls back pissing himself laughing. And then the laughter erupts in the bus like a volcano. We're all laughing so hard that a few of us are crawling around on all fours, crying and choking. Gordon is fucking horrified! Lasse comes trundling back to me, crying with laughter, “Fuck me, I wasn't expecting that!”

My first thought is to show Jay the film. The poor bastard is lying in his bed, trying to sleep off the illness, unaware of what's happened. I wake him and tell him he has to see this film. He begs me to leave him alone, that he'll see it in the morning. I promise him it will be worth his effort though, “Mate, if I only ever beg of you one thing, then it's this, you must see this film right now!” He reluctantly crawls out of his hard bed and wipes the dust from his eyes. Within seconds Jay is rolling around on the floor with the rest of us, sick with laughter. I've never seen him so happy.

Gordon, absolutely gutted, decides he has to call his girlfriend Katy and confess what he's done. Fuck knows why but we don't hinder him. I guess Katy is at work or something since it's the middle of the day back home and is not expecting to hear from her lad. “Katy, I think I'm a gay!”. Holy shit, we all puke up laughing again.

Unfortunately the film has now been erased. In it's place is just a blacked out bit of film, where you can hear Gordon in the background exasperatedly asking us, “Why is it always me?”. We begged him to let us keep the film but it was not to be. Although the image is branded into my memory anyway.

Gordon was able to see the funny side of it shortly afterwards. We have him on film a little while later, singing Phil Collins, his head rolling insanely about his shoulders. Every now and again he looks in to the camera and says, “I'm sorry dad. I'm sorry big man!”

My stomach was in agony when I finally went to bed, sometime around six am. Dutch was going to drive us into the city around nine so we'd have a couple of hours to do some sightseeing. Have to get that postcard...

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