Sunday, October 5, 2014

London (Dalston)

I hope Polly never sleeps in a room like this... That was the first thought that entered my foggy head when I awoke this morning.  The thought came and went, quickly followed by the realisation that my lungs felt like a thousand cigarettes had been stubbed out on them.

Daylight has invaded the room and the rest of the guys are still asleep, contorted in various positions about the ragged furniture.  Vik on the couch, the cushions of which Luk is strewn over on the floor beneath him, Kev and Lee each to their own armchair.  Lee...  The poor fucker doesn't even drink.  Although I don't know what's worse, trying to sleep sober on an armchair or waking up feeling like cack on the floor amongst the fag buts.  When I see Lee sleeping there in the most uncomfortable of positions it takes me back to the days of touring in Betty.  We'd been talking about him coming out on tour with us next year in Europe for a couple of weeks but I wonder if he's still up for that...

I lay there a while, my chest wheezing, wondering what the fuck I'm doing.  Is this really how I choose to spend my “holidays”?  I wonder how many people in my position have asked themselves the same question.  Of course, the question is all the more pertinent when you've had a fuck load to drink the night before.  An hour or so later we've all arisen, like a band of ghosts, and in near silence gone about the business of getting our shit together.  The silence is eventually broken by Kev, face enclosed in his hands, collapsing onto Luk's make shift mattress, “Oh God...”  As always, seeing one of my comrades suffering always makes me feel better.

I manage a quick shower, it's actually quite welcoming, and then get packed up.  I'm ready to get out of here.  Steve, the bartender who lives in the flat, comes into the room and lights up a spliff, offering me some.  I can't imagine anything I'd rather do less.  Dip my balls in hydrochloric acid maybe... Still, Steve seems like a nice enough guy and we get chatting about music a little whilst the others shake themselves to life.  He tells me he's been struggling to get a band together, can't find a drummer good enough.  Strikes me as a little odd.  Maybe it's not a punk band he's getting together.

Lee heads off to put some more money in the parking meter and the rest of us shuffle downstairs to the bar.  Sean is sat there with one of the barmaids, both have a half pint on the go, ready for the coming day.  Sean tells us it's the big derby game between Forest and Derby County, he's expecting a busy Sunday.  We chat for a while at the doorway before exiting back into reality and the bright sunshine that lights it up.  Sean closes the heavy door and like that, the domain behind it has gone.  Kev tells me there's a rumour going around that Sean recently went eight weeks without leaving the pub, he'd been sending his bar staff out for take away food.  What a job.

We head off in search of breakfast, hunger having invaded the group.  Kev declares that he has no idea about any places to eat around this area.  We walk around the corner from the Angel and count six cafés within a fifty meter radius.  Kev mutters something about this being a hipster area... We park ourselves at some tables outside one of the cafés and order breakfast.  I go for a veggie sausage cob which turns out to be rank.  No butter, just a dry Quorn sausage in a bun made of air.  Not even HP can save the fucker.  I only make it about half way through before giving up.  The old woman working here is really friendly though so I feel bad for not eating the food but my hungover taste buds just can't hack it.

We say our goodbye's to Lee, can't really believe he drove all the way down here just for last night, probably the worst of the four shows we'll play this weekend.   Still, it's always great to see him.  We head to the bus station, the gear feeling heavier today.  I'm not looking forward to this fucking bus journey... What I wouldn't do just to lie down in the back of a Transit van right now.

As expected the bus journey is a real pain in the balls.  Fuck knows why we always choose to sit next to the toilet. It's pretty chilly where I'm sat, and it's not the kind of chill that eases the hangover, a few times I consider moving to where the other guys are parked, which is right at the back opposite the bog, I'm sat in front of the bog.. but where they're at it's roasting hot and smells like shite.  Rubbish choice.  After a couple of hours of rumbling my guts can no longer hold on and I enter the sweat box and add my own brand to the cocktail of turd.  When I exit, by now feeling truly shite, I find the other three sat there with their tops pulled up over their noses, Lucas' face looks particularly horrified.

We finally arrive at Victoria around four thirty, the last hour of the journey having being spent weaving in and out of London traffic.  Viktor and Luk have been discussing where they're sleeping tonight since they're on the six am flight in the morning, the very same flight I was supposed to be on.  I had been dreading the all nighter which lay ahead tonight, leaving London at four am to head to the airport and then going straight from Arlanda to school tomorrow.  Fucking irony is that right now I'd do anything to be on that flight in the morning.  I hate not knowing when I'll be flying home.  I haven't felt like this since the very early days of mine and Jen's relationship where we'd say goodbye to each other in Stockholm, not knowing when the next time would be.  It feels so utterly fucking worthless to be away from Polly unnecessarily.  It's one thing leaving your kid at home to go play shows but to be stuck here on this fucking island like a prisoner... I've never missed Polly so much.  Anyway fuck it, still another show to play before I have to start dealing with that crap.

Luk has decided to stay with Vik at Bea's house but since he's left some of his gear at Kev's the two of them head back to Deptford whilst Vik and I head over to Dalston to check out what's going on at the venue.  We take the tube over to Highbury and Islington and then change there for the overground to Dalston Junction.  As we're making the switch between lines, somewhere in the tunnels of Highbury and Islington station we hear some radge fucker shouting, the echoes accentuating the aggression in his words.  When we turn the corner into the main walkway leading to the escalators we discover the source of the rage.  The guy is built like a brick shithouse and obviously fucking mental.  He's stood on the concrete stairs between the two escalators shouting “Fuck off!” and other such Shakespeare at random passers by, just willing someone to look at him.  He has HATE practically etched into his eyes.  We study the advertising posters on the wall thoroughly as we make our way up to the station exit.  The overground train takes a fucking age to get moving and for a minute I imagine the chaos of Mr. Radge boarding our train and terrorizing every fucker on it.  We both keep an eye on the platform, willing the train to move.  My hangover simply could not have dealt with that today.

We arrive in Dalston and make our way down the high street to the venue, Power Lunches.  It's a pretty cool little café/bar with a basement room downstairs where the bands play.  Very small set up, perfect.  There is a matinee show on when we arrive, our new friends Kylma Sota are currently playing.   They're last on though and there isn't long left so we decide we'll just leave the gear up by the merch tables and head off in search of food.

Whilst browsing possible spots to eat we notice almost all of the people sat outside the cafés are bars have their eyes trained on the road.  Two cars are stood still, blocking both lanes whilst the queue behind beeps in annoyance.  One of the cars has obviously pranged the other and the two driver's are now engaged in some sort of stand off.  The skirmish heats up when one pushes the other who is on his phone, presumably calling the authorities.  The whole thing gets a bit embarrassing when the one guy pulls his fists up to his face, heavyweight boxer style and starts dancing around.  Cries from a gathering of onlookers call out, “Don't fight!  There are cameras!”  This scene continues for a while but ultimately ends in a big nothing, leaving the traffic behind rightfully pissed off.  I don't get these people.  How can you make such a scene of yourself in front of so many strangers.  Fucking pathetic.  Vik and I discuss this a while, concluding that it basically boils down to a lack of intelligence.  They're not alone in this world...

We walk a little further along the main road and check out a few of the places serving grub.  It's a really hip little area this, I'm sure Kev hates it.  Most places are in the process of closing though and as determined as I've been all day that I won't be drinking any beer tonight we're left with little choice but to head into one of the trendy pubs. We sit outside, sharing a pizza and I order a Guinness to wash it down with.  Fuck it, one won't hurt, in fact, it might actually help.  Right?

As is usually the case, the first poured into the hungover system takes a while to digest.  The first couple of sips taste pretty good but I soon realise that the pint is a mistake.  Bea arrives after a while and the three of us sit there chatting but the temperature soon starts to sink and we decide to head back to the venue.  We bump into Pablo and Rachel who are heading home.  Pablo's band were supporting Kylma Sota.  He tells us it was pretty naff, only about five people watching them.  He says it was a little better by the time the Finns went on.  There are a few punks hanging outside the venue, sitting around on the pavement drinking cans, Marko and the Kylma guys amongst them, Marko smiling as always.  It's good to see them again.

We're first of four bands tonight.  I'm more than happy with playing early.  Being a Sunday night the show will be over by ten thirty and I'll be more than chuffed to head back to Kev's and chill out after the gig.  Kev and Luk turn up around seven, just as I'm starting to wonder where they are.  The nuclear bunker that is the London Underground blocks any mobile signal so there's been no contact with them and they don't know when we're on.  Some of the other Deptford gang have come along too, Alec, Christie, Jamie, Miles, Sean and of course Misa.  I say Sean, he's technically a city inhabitant but he's always with the Deptford gang.

Misa has a smile beaming across her face as always.  Kev reminds her that they are now engaged and they need to plan their wedding.  Misa laughs, telling Kev that she can't really imagine the two of them together...that way.  “You don't have to do me, just make me dinner” Kev explains.  Inside we meet Kiwi Chris, everyone's favourite antagonist.  He plays in the same band as Pablo.  He's pissed up and moaning about East London.  Fucking hipsters this and that.  Maybe as an outsider I just don't get it.  This place seems okay to me.  Chris goes on to tell me that last time he saw Victims we were crap.  Always good catching up with him...

We take to the very, very small stage at eight.  Everyone is still hanging outside and for a while we're on our own down in the room, just us, the soundguy and Marko who is sat there looking chuffed.  “Play every song you know.”

“Any requests?” asks Luk.


Eventually, led by Sean, a few other people straggle into the room as we go about making as much feedback as possible.  I really can't be arsed breaking a string tonight, want a hassle free gig.  There are actually a good few people in by the time we go into the first song.  Kev spends most of the gig on the floor.  I feel like joining him as there is barely room to stand in front of Vik's kit but I stay put most of the time, despite the punishing heat of the blue stage lights.  It sounds good up there though and this is the first time this weekend it's felt really tight and controlled.  Chaos is of course part of the deal with this band but it's about controlling it, and we've reached that tonight, fourth show in.  It's now you wish you were out for another couple of weeks, now that we're in sync.

The gig is flowing along nicely and then, just as I'm really getting into things, I stamp down a foot into nothingness.  The stage floor simply isn't there.  I fall from the shallow stage edge and the momentum is too great to stop.  In a split second I realise that this could be bad.  I'm flying at quite a speed into the crowd and the trajectory is taking me rapidly towards the floor, guitar first.  In my periphery I spot Kev, screaming into the crowd and I manage to change course, right into his back.  It saves me but Kev has taken quite a hit.  Somehow I'm able to keep playing, barely missing a note, and make my way back up to stage.  Just as I'm wondering if anyone else has noticed I look up at Vik, who, still playing, is pissing himself laughing.  Balls.

The gig comes to it's end without further incident and all in all it's been a good show.  A bit Sunday night but I feel it's the best we've played for a while.  Funny thing is, when we play tight like that we sound a lot more like a hardcore band.  I'm not sure if that's good or not.. We pack down and head up to the cooling night air.  I buy myself a bottle of Budvar from the bar, this tastes infinitely better than the Guinness from earlier on.  Nothing like playing a show to cure a hangover.

The Detergents play after us, which is Bri from Skiplickers and another couple of guys from Dry Heaves I think.  They play 77 UK punk, playing simple straight up songs with titles like Don't Work Saturday.  I've never been a massive fan of this style but these guys have a charm about them.  Bri tells me later on that they literally just started the band, just for fun since none of them have really played their instruments before and they fancied giving it a crack.  It shows now and again.  At one point in their set the drummer fucks up and the song comes to a stop.  The three of them look at each other smiling and Bri motions to the drummer to start again, which he does, but he starts the song from the beginning which throws the other two because they thought they would be taking off from where the song had collapsed.  “Start from the chorus!” chortles Bri.  Total practice room stuff.  If that's not punk I don't know what is.  I smile to myself, imagining Johan's face if he was here right now watching.  I get talking to Bri afterwards, he's putting on a Victims/Skiplickers show in Sheffield when we come over for a weekend in January.  Looking forward to that.

Up next are Pregnancy Scares from Canada, who are touring around the UK with the Detergents.  Tom Ellis, one of the main men in the scene here and who is putting this show on tonight has been driving about the country with them.  I thought he'd been looking a bit pasty earlier and then Bri mentioned something about him puking in the van earlier.  Guess they've been having a good time.  Anyway, Pregnancy Scares have a member from the band Crusades within their ranks, a band whose first album I really loved.  Dark and melodic pop/punk with a stark Anti-Christian theme in their lyrics.  Not normally my bag but good songs are good songs.  Unfortunately their second album was a big let down, for me anyway, way to polished and commercial sounding compared to the dark desperation of the first.  Anyway, Pregnancy Scares play really chaotic punk/hardcore with trebly guitar and angular riffs.  I really like it, the singer is really energetic and the guys in the band can play the shit out of their instruments.  The whole thing is insanely loud though and in somewhat of a rarity I find myself shying away from the volume of it all.  I don't have any ear plugs with me; I rarely do, so have to stand there like a tit, hiding at the back with my fingers over my ears.  It gets quite awkward at one point when the heat starts getting to me and before I know it I have sweat dripping over my brow and it's so fucking loud that I'm stood there trying to wipe the sweat away without removing my hands from my ears.  Ridiculous.  Towards the end of their set they play a cover of the Wipers classic Over the Edge, one of Luk's all time favourites, and just as I'm wondering if he's watching I spot him fist pumping the air and moshing around in front of the singer, grabbing the mic to chant along to the chorus.  Luk really loves The Wipers.

The singer from the headlining band, Piss, really looks like the singer in a band called Piss.  I've never seen them before but I clocked straight away that the guy walking around with the white t-shirt and jeans, black braces, crucifix ear ring, perm and moustache was in a band.  The band is from Germany although the singer and drummer of the three piece are from Sweden.  You can tell.  They look like they hang out in Sofo a lot.  They're pretty good though.  Very fuzzed up guitars banging out an almost garagey, punk, hardcore.  Kev and Jamie really seem to be digging them but for me it drags on a little too long.  Again it's ear bleedingly loud and again I'm stood hiding at the back with my hands over my ears like an old cunt.

When the gig is over I'm ready to get on the train back to Deptford.  I'd be more than happy with a cuppa and some toast in front of the box but Kev really seems to want a pint.  We thank Ellis for the show, he gives us twenty five quid for our troubles, which is actually pretty sound of him considering he's lost eighty on the show.  I thought it was a pretty ok crowd but I guess with three foreign bands, one who's flown from Canada, he's got some overheads.  We say bye to Luk, Vik and Bea, and even though they're leaving at a horridly early hour I once again find myself wishing I was going with them.  I tell them I'll see them home at some point and we head off to get the overground train to Deptford.

To the gang's dismay the info screen says the train is arriving in fifteen minutes.  Kev and Alec are raging.  We work out we should make it to New Cross for half twelve which should give us enough time for one pint at The Albert at least.  I'm actually now quite in the mood for sitting in the pub and having a relaxing pint and a chat.  Kev sits there moaning for pretty much the entire fifteen minutes, picking on Miles for being young and being a student, accusing him of doing nothing but sitting at home with his spotty mates, smoking spliffs and listening to Nirvana.  It's all good entertainment.

We make it to The Albert for about twenty to twelve and as I'm sat there enjoying a fine pint of IPA I realise it's the best I've felt all day.  I laugh at Kev moaning about the hipster pub, as usual, and point out the fact that he seems to spend a lot of time in this joint considering he apparently hates the place.  “I only come because I fancy all the barmaids...”

The bell rings come far too quickly for our liking and there is talk of going to another pub and as enticing as that sounds both me and Kev know it will be a mistake.  We head back to his for some tea and Marmite on toast instead, which hits the spot beautifully.  Kev heads to bed and I turn the light out around one thirty.  Tomorrow is going to be a busy, anxiety filled day.  I just pray I can get my new passport at some point this week.  With no shows and nothing to do but wait at my dad's house in Corby I know missing home is going to be pretty brutal.  I spend most of the night awake, pondering over the possible various routes the following day will take.

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