Sunday, December 21, 2014

Stockholm (Strand)

We booked this show a few months ago.  The people who run the club have been asking us for a while but to be honest I’m not always that bothered about playing shows in Stockholm.  Not that there’s anything wrong with our hometown but it’s always a pretty stressful affair whenever you play in your own back yard.  The phone never stops for one thing, even when it’s free entry before eight...

Still, it’s been a while since we played here.  The last Stockholm show was at this same venue, supporting Poison Idea a couple of years ago.  Actually, Victims shows have been somewhat sparse of late, there has been a lot of child making going on.  This is only the third show in two years I think, and one of them was Jen’s birthday party.  It’s funny, there was a couple of people I go to school with who were talking about coming tonight, people who come from a completely different scene but are a little intrigued by this thing that I do, this little world of ours.  A week ago they were really psyched about it but in the last couple of days the doubts have crept in, “Thing is I have this party.. I might not make it, when are you guys playing next?  I´ll definitely make it next time”.  It’s hard to explain sometimes... These are nice people I go to school with but it’s okay, they don't have to come see my band play, they wouldn’t like the music anyway.  I like that this thing we do is not something everyone can understand.  When I got involved with this music twenty years ago I understood very well that it’s not to everyone’s liking, which was a big part of the appeal if I’m honest.

Anyway, if Victims shows are sparse then DS-13 shows are like lunar eclipses.  There’s been a bit of excitement about the fact they’re playing tonight, and some nerves around the DS-13 camp too.  Christoffer has been in touch with Andy, debating whether they or we should play last.  Playing second of three is always my preferred position on the bill since you have time to relax with a beer and relax whilst watching the final band instead of having to pack down and get out, or at least deal with whatever needs to be dealt with after the gig.  We’re all in agreement that they should play last since it’s their first gig for a long, long time and people are psyched but Christoffer is nervous they’re going to look crap and unrehearsed compared to us.  Don’t know where he gets that from... This issue is soon put to rest anyway.  As I’m driving over to the venue with Andy in my car and a load of gear in the back his phone starts to ring.  I can tell immediately from Andy’s tone that it’s a: Christoffer and b: something is up.
Fredrik, DS-13’s vocalist is sat on the bog at Umeå airport and won’t be leaving anytime soon.  He’s contracted an acute stomach virus and in a valiant attempt has made his way to the airport in the hope that things will settle down.  But no, he’s just called Christoffer direct from the pan, it’s simply not happening.  Christoffer is broken.  This was to be a one off gig.  That’s it.  No reunion, just this one night.  They’d even printed a bunch of shirts with the date of the gig on the back to commemorate the occasion.  Bummer.  Literally...

Andy tells Christoffer to call the promoter and to wait at the venue but by the time we get there he’s gone, saying he can’t handle the anxiety.  We meet Jonas the guitar player outside the venue who looks a picture of shellshock too.  He tells us he has friends from Germany who have flown in to see the show and even worse he’d received a message from a guy from Indonesia earlier in the afternoon, wondering if they’d have any merch on sale.  You simply couldn’t make it up.

After a while Christoffer comes back, he’s decided that he’ll hang out for the show and that they’ll still sell their merch.  What else are they going to with it really?  I’m glad he’s returned though, would have been shit to just let the thing defeat him and send him into hiding.  What can you do?  It’s just one of those things.  Shit timing.  Literally... We’re talking about the possibility of DS rescheduling their show for another occasion, but Christoffer is doubtful, “That would make it seem like we’re back together and we’re really not.”  I guess once the wound heals they might feel differently though.

Of course, word has spread pretty quickly, Christoffer is addicted to Twitter and has a big following there so it’s not long until the comments start coming in.  There are people travelling to this show so it’s only fair to let them know.  We’re sat around wondering if we can get anyone else to hop in and play last minute, I’m very doubtful anyone will be up for it at this late notice, names like Damaged Head and Neu-Ronz are bandied about but incredibly Johan who plays in the opening band Iron Lamb has sorted it in no time.  Massgrav have stepped up to the plate.  Heroes.  The mood lightens considerably.  I guess that means we’re playing last though...

For once there seems to be little in the way of nerves surrounding the show tonight.  Fatherhood must have chilled Johan out, he’s normally on edge when we’re playing on home turf.  The mood is very relaxed though and soundcheck feels really good.  I can’t really imagine us filling out this big venue but hopefully a lot of the travellers coming for DS have decided to carry on with their journey.  Or maybe we’re underselling ourselves a little..

Johan heads home after soundcheck but the rest of us decide to stay.  Doesn’t feel like there’s much point heading anywhere at this hour.  I understand Johan though, little Billy is only a few months old.  I remember how it was when Polly was that age.  All of fourteen months or so ago.  A lot happens in that time though.  Anyway, whilst sat around waiting for the doors to open we find ourselves in the backstage room, us, the Iron Lamb and Massgrav guys and the guy who’s running the club tonight.  Of course we soon get onto tour stories but it’s slightly darker tone tonight being that the head subject is van crashes.  I’m happy to say that so far I’ve never been involved in anything major, the odd prang here and there but there have been a few near misses, some so close it makes me shudder just thinking about it.

One that always stays with me was a time when we were out on our first UK toilet tours and American George was driving.  We’d stayed at his Uncle Harry’s place in Torquay and we’re driving along the windy roads of Dorset heading to the next gig, Southampton or somewhere I guess.  We’d been stuck behind a slow moving truck for what seemed like forever and Roddy and a couple of others were egging George on to overtake.  With the roads being so snakelike it was no easy task and every time he edged out into the middle of the lane my heart sank a little.  I’d been involved in a car crash that ended with us in a ditch a short while earlier and was a very nervous passenger at the time.  Eventually George decides to go for it when a long stretch of clear road opens up.  But the stretch has a slight incline, enough to slow the heavy van down.  Immediately it feels wrong.  And then a car appears from around the bend at the top of the slope, must be three of four hundred meters ahead.  We’re level with the lorry, blocking both sides of the lane, a steep ditch to the left of us, an articulated lorry to the right.  And this car coming at us doesn’t seem to be slowing down any.  Everyone goes quiet except for Frank, “Come on George” he urges quietly.  The car is getting closer.  Everyone wide eyed and silent now, until George lets out a scream, “Shiiiiiiiitttttt!”  We make it by what feels like the width of a cock hair.  Looking back on it I have no fucking idea what the person in the car was playing at.  Like a scene straight out of the film Duel.  Fucked up.

Jens and the guys have some other tales to share, some ending on a happier note than others.  We of course think about our dear friend Stachel who had a bad smash a few years back where he was thrown from the van and fucked his arm up pretty bad and then there is our friends in Baroness who last year were involved in a crash bad enough it forced two of the guys in the band to quit.  Touring isn’t always fun and games.

It’s free entry tonight before eight, even so I’m surprised by the amount of people streaming through the doors.  I spend most of the evening stood at the merch table where I’m kept pretty busy.  I realise how fun selling merch is, at least when you’re selling, since it’s where you meet most people.  The two hours I’m stood there selling shirts and chatting to various mates and acquaintances turns out to be one of the most fun nights I’ve had out in ages.  Vik, Luk and Anja turn up after having been at a pre party with a gang of our friends.  I get the feeling Stix has had a few since he has a cheeky grin on his face and immediately starts giving me shit about the way I look.  I have my hood pulled up over my head.  Mainly because the merch table is stood next to the door and there’s quite the draft.  “Look at this Sofo gangsta!” and other such nonsense comes my way.  He looks chuffed.  Jen and Jempa arrive a while later, they’ve been on the Hot Shots at our place, Polly is at her Grandma’s house so we have a license to party tonight, although there is always the hangover the next day to think about…

There is a really nice buzz about the place by the time Massgrav step on to that high stage.  The place is pretty full.  Chuffed with the turnout.  I met Johan a while back at a party at Snövit bar through our mutual friend Daniel, or Dödsrunan as our black metal circle used to call him, which consisted of me, Daniel, Tim and Bonden from Sound Pollution, my friend Rasmus and a few others, consistently talking about doing a band called Drep de Kristne.  During the couple of years we spoke about it we practiced twice I think.  Maybe thrice.  Anyway, I met Johan at this party and Daniel said then that he thought it strange we’d never played a gig together.  The thought crossed my mind as I stood and watched Massgrav pummel the audience for twenty minutes, both musically and verbally.  I love the way they take the piss out of everything and everyone.  Johan and Ola the bass player proudly state that they stepped up and took this gig at the very last minute, menacingly punctuating to the crowd that such a thing would never happen in Göteborg or Umeå, that in Stockholm this is how we do things, we have each others back.  I can’t work out exactly who they’re taking the piss out of but it cracks me up all the same.  And then they blast into a song taking the piss out of the DIY punk scene with lyrics as blunt as a butter knife.  Love it.  It worked out great that they could take the show tonight.  And I’m glad we finally got to play together.

Iron Lamb are up next but I miss most of the show since I’m back on merch duty and from where I’m stood you can barely hear or see the band.  It’s a strange venue where the sound doesn’t carry too well, although it has gotten better since Debaser took over the place.  I was here once with Jen at a Sleep show and it was fucking rammed.  They’d sold probably two hundred tickets more than necessary and yes, we turned up just before they went on but we ended up stuck behind a concrete pillar and despite the fact we were stood within ten meters of the stage where one of the “world’s loudest bands” were playing, you could hold a conversation like you were sat at a hotel bar.  Not that we were talking but most of the fucking poseurs around us were.  Infuriating.  And Sleep were boring as shit too.

It’s a nice feeling to walk on to a big stage at a club in your home town, where the room is pretty full and there isn’t an ounce of nerves in the system.  It doesn’t happen very often but tonight I feel confident.  With DB there is always the feeling that anything can happen, there is a lot more chaos involved, which is part of the charm, but Victims is pretty controlled.  I love playing on both bands for varying reasons but there’s been a lot more DB of late and I’m ready for this gig.  The sound on stage is top notch, everything is set.  The only smudge on proceedings is the fact there is one of those daft red curtains across the front of the stage and me and Jon have to grab it from either end and pull it aside.  Feel like a bit of a cunt but that aside it’s all good.

It’s one of those gigs where from the first chord you know you’re safe.  The crowd is up for it, the hands are flowing and you can hear everything on stage perfectly.  I can even tell that I’m not breaking a string tonight.  In the fucking zone!  The crowd has faces of various friends dotted about it and eventually to the left hand side of me I notice Vik, fists pumping the air, singing along.  It’s a great feeling having one of your best mates that you play in another band with supporting you to the tilt, despite the piss taking.  That’s what a scene is all about.  Supporting each other. On that note, Jon dedicates the We're Fucked to Fredrik from DS13, after explaining the situation with his arse.

Afterwards I meet up with Vik, he’s chuffed with the gig.  He’s laughing about the fact he noticed I was a little wilder on stage tonight with Victims than I’ve been with DB of late, but then it hit him just how much faster DB is.  It’s true enough, DB makes playing in Victims a most relaxing experience in comparison.  Which is nice.  Fuck, after the first show I ever did with Victims I was on the verge of collapse.  It felt like the longest twenty five minutes of my life.  I was nervous as fuck which didn’t help but more than that I just wasn’t used to playing that fast.  I was used to the one hour, pissed up ramble that was a Speedhorn show and thought twenty five minutes would be a breeze.  How wrong I was.  Just as I was a few years later about DB’s fifteen minute set.

Anyway, everyone is chuffed with the gig, band members and friends alike, Jen is grinning like a Cheshire cat that got it’s hands on some coffee, whipped cream and Galliano, and Jempa, equally as chuffed is showing me a bunch of pics she took of the gig.  We’ve sold a shit load of merch tonight too, which is fucking wonderful since I’m in dire need of the money this month.  It would be perfect to play one of these shows every month, would keep the student budget topped up just nicely…

After a bout of mingling we take ourselves down to the quieter bar at the bottom end of the club.  Jen has headed home but I’m in desperate need of a quality beer and some peace and quiet away from the dancefloor where Christoffer’s girlfriend is keeping the party going.  The four of us in the band enjoy a pint of Pale Ale and a chat.  Actually, the beer isn’t that enjoyable, weird aftertaste.  Still, it’s the first time I’ve shared a beer at a bar with Johan since they had Billy.  Not that I spend a lot of time in bars in Stockholm these days.  After the one he’s off though, very disciplined.  It is actually one-thirty though.  He asks me if  want to share a cab and although I know I should take advantage and avoid taking the tube back, I know that I won’t regret staying for one more beer.  You only ever regret the last beer if it’s the last in a long line.  But tonight I’m sober, I’m enjoying a chat with Andy and Benke Nitad and Polly is staying at her Gran’s house and I feel like another.  I do only have the one though.  And a shot that my friend Ebba who’s working in the bar gives me which I drink because I’m too polite to decline.  But that’s it.  I take the train home around three, happily  listening to Brainbombs whilst watching the young generation of Stockholm making their way home in a drunken haze and wondering how many pints of regret have been drunk this last hour.