Two Stockholm shows in a row. This is starting to become something of a habit. We weren’t really looking for another gig for DB this year, in fact only a couple of weeks ago Kev had been in touch asking if we were going to be playing any more this year since he had to sort his work schedule out at the café. I’d answered him with a resounding “No”, thinking we’d spend the next little while writing the next record and getting it recorded. And then I went to the Brainbombs show with Viktor and Lucas and our friend Geraldine who was putting that show on asked us if we wanted to play with Una Bestia Incontrolable…I texted Kev immediately and asked if he was up for up and he replied the next day saying he’d booked a flight. So it can go. The Brainbombs show was outstanding by the way…
I really wasn’t arsed about playing Stockholm right now and it’s not something we put a lot of energy into making happen, but the strange thing is that since the band formed in 2012 we’ve happened to play an annual November gig. It’s purely coincidental but now we’ll probably have to continue the tradition. Anyway, we were all really chuffed to be playing a show with UBI, one of the best bands to come out of the scene in recent times, for me their LP was one of the albums of last year. Adrian Fy Fan had actually asked us if we wanted to play a show with them in Umeå the day after Stockholm but unfortunately it had too much going against it, Kev’s return flight for one thing. Shame, would have been great. Anyway, Vik and Luk had raved about the UBI show at K-Town Fest this year so tonight came with a lot of expectation. At least, their set did. I had a bad feeling how the turnout was going to be. I hadn’t seen a poster for the show anywhere.
I was pretty fucking stressed getting to the show tonight. I took the train home from school, picked Polly up from nursery, went into town with her to meet Jen who was taking her out to her Gran’s. After I dropped her off at Södra Station I got back on the bus to Skanstull, only to realise that I still had Polly’s bag on my back, jumped off the bus, tried to call Jen to stop her getting on the suburb train, phone battery dying a limp and pathetic death as always, make it back to the station, drop bag off, back on bus and then tube home, pick up car and head back to town with the gear. Kev had flown in with Vik’s girlfriend Bea from London, I felt bad when I got out of the car and Kev gave me a hug asking how I was, obviously looking forward to the gig tonight, and all I could come back with was a pissed off, “Stressed.” Still, I had to take the car back home again and then return on the fucking train, again, and whilst I’m lugging the gear about the others are all getting ready to tuck into a pint. One of those classic martyr moments when you insist it’s ok, don’t worry about it, stay and have your pint, and then you drive off murmuring how they’re all a bunch of wankers under your breath. That’s band life. And to be fair, Luk got an attack of conscience and asked if I wanted company, and of course I said it’s ok, don’t worry about it. This time a little more sincerely.
By the time I get back to the the venue in Gamla Stan the stress has dispersed and all I really give a fuck about is getting my lips on a cold beer. Mood reset to normal again. I meet G and she gives me the heads up on the gig tonight. It’s a bit of a mess. Per, who booked the show is on tour with Sex Dwarf in the States and G’s hand is fucked so her correspondence has been somewhat hindered of late. Her boyfriend Jocke is on his way to the airport to pick up the Spaniards but there is a lot of confusion over where the money is coming from for the bands. The venue is run by the club Pussy A Go Go who G and Per hire from once a month but apparently they’ve gotten pretty tight on the money and won’t let them even handle the door, instead placing one of their own there. Upshot of it is that we probably won’t be getting paid tonight. To be honest, I don’t really care too much. Kev’s flight was cheap and he’s not arsed, he never is, and we’re just happy to play the show. It’s different if you’re on tour and relying on getting some petty money. At the very least..
After a pint we set up the merch and then tuck into some food provided by the venue, spring rolls and French fries with hamburger dressing. Pretty fucking cack if the truth’s told. We end up soundchecking afterwards on the insistence of the sound engineer who has nothing to do whilst he waits for UBI. Someone has to do it I guess. Soundcheck is always a pain in the ass, at least we always treat it that way, but it kind of hits me that maybe we should give ourselves a shake and actually attempt a good sound for once. Act like professionals and all that carry on. It sounds really fucking great on stage during the check too! Feels totally worthwhile doing if for nothing else than giving you that buzz before the show. Nice to go on stage knowing you’re going to hear everything really well, unless the mystical sound shifter appears between soundcheck and gig time of course.
The UBI guys turn up shortly afterwards and we get talking to them. They seem like a good bunch of guys. Vik has met them before out on the road with Nitad. They’re in the hunt for some equipment since some stuff got left at the airport, of course we’re only too happy to help out. I notice Vik is a little cautious about his cymbals though, nervously laughing, explaining to G that his cymbals are crap but if the UBI drummer wants to lend them he can. G thanks us and rushes back off. Vik turns to me, “The drummer is a fucking beast!” Mattis, Poffen and the other Makabert Fynd guys are here too, they’re playing in the middle of the bill, and they end up lending the drum gear whilst we sort out the amps and leads.
It’s pretty chilled now. We’re just sat around supping on a couple of plastic bottled beers provided by the venue and chatting. The stress of earlier now completely washed away. Jen is coming with Vera in a while, as are some other friends including a couple of girls from school, so I don’t want to go on before they, or at least somebody, gets here. It’s the usual Stockholm bullshit, you tell everyone you start at nine, they turn up at ten. The show gets pushed back. Everyone knows how it works in this fucking city. Stockholm is famous for it. Gets on my fucking tits. Andy Victims was supposed to be playing records tonight too but both of his kids have turned in sick so he had to cancel, although he’s still hoping to make it for the show. My friends from school, Maya and Madde turn up just before nine, grinning, wide eyed and excited to see this world I’m part of. It’s great to see them here. They ask if we’re still on at nine. Nine thirty I tell them…
It’s time to go on and play. Just starting the feedback up on the amp feels good. The sound is still there. Imagine if every show was this way, good sound on stage, sober, or not hungover at least. There aren’t that many in the place but those who are have enough decency to come up to the stage. We start with Hypnotic Eye, the slow song, and I find myself in amongst them, down on the floor. We get to the end of the first block and the energy is good. I feel fit and ready to blast this out for the next fifteen minutes. Quick tune up, into the next couple of songs. Before we get to the end of Good Strong Hand though, I feel a plastic beer bottle smack me in the chest. I look up and my eyes are immediately drawn to a grinning Paddan, a head shaking Erik stood beside him. Paddan.. He does this now and again. It was the same when Erik’s other band, Mary’s Kids, played one time at Southside. Paddan got fucked up and flew about the floor, annoying people, trying to get a mosh going and shouting about how punk he was and how everyone else in the building were wankers. I can tell he’s on that trip now. I hear later that at one point he grabs some big, leather jacketed guy by the arm semi-aggressively and tries to throw him into the non-existent mosh pit. The guy politely tells him he’ll kick the fuck out of him if he doesn’t piss off. Paddan apologises and slides back a step. No more bottles from the tit, the rest of the show goes by without incident and by the end of the set there are a couple of punks starting to move, although Paddan is stood tentatively behind them.
The show felt great though, felt tight as fuck on stage, maybe the tightest we’ve ever played. I’m pretty buzzed about it. The amount of people in attendance often has little bearing on how much I enjoy the show. I’ve played gigs in front of thousands going mad and had a subdued time on stage and I’ve played in front of ten and loved every second of it. First and foremost it’s about my own release, my own escape. If anyone else gets the same from it then that’s a bonus. Maya and Madde come up to me as soon as we’re done, they’re both chuffed as fuck. “My eyes have been opened! I had no idea this kind of thing existed!” enthuses Maya. “It was like some kind of art performance! I loved it!” exclaims Madde. I had a feeling they’d be a little shocked. The me on stage is a pretty different entity to the quiet, reserved guy in class. I was really glad they came down to hang out.
“It’s supposed to be a fucking punk show!” moans Paddan. “What’s with everybody?” We’ve been here before. Paddan is pretty boats. Erik is still shaking his head, although a sneaky grin is showing the first signs of cracking, calling Paddan a tosser. I can tell Olle’s had a few too since he’s raving about the gig and going into detail over our set, pointing out the dynamics of the songs and the different elements we explore. I laugh, “It was just a punk gig mate.” Dynamic isn’t something DB often gets accused of.
Andy turned up just as we were playing the last riff of course, but to be honest, I’m just happy he’s made it out to see UBI. We’re not important tonight. I want Andy to see what should be one of the gigs of the year. Andy and I are the two from Victims that still enthusiastically buy records and search out new bands in the punk scene and I wouldn’t want him to miss this. It’s a shame Johan couldn’t make it though, I think he would have had a good time but it’s not as simple as just heading out to a show when you have a four month old at home. He texted earlier on apologising for not being able to make it. I know if anything that Johan would want to come out to support us, but it’s no big deal. There will be other times and his baby boy is his priority. There will be plenty of times for punk and beers later on. I didn’t even bother asking Jon if he was coming, knowing he’d most likely be bowling.
As is so often the case when the sound on stage is great, I’m told, on this occasion by Jen, that the sound out front wasn’t the best. Apparently the guitar was missing a lot. It’s kind of a bummer for a minute, you want everyone else in the place to enjoy the same sound you have enjoyed yourself on stage, but I realise it doesn’t really matter. It’s a small venue and those who were stood in front of the band probably got enough of the sound from the stage. We had a good gig so fuck it. Vik is chuffed anyway, he tells me the Avskum drummer came up to him after the show and was raving about it, saying we reminded him of Heresy in the eighties. I’ll gladly take that. Time for some more of the plastic bottled beer.
I don’t see much of Makabert, or “Mackaburt” as Kev pronounces it in his thick East Midlands accent. I’m at the back talking to Andy and hanging out by the merch. It’s true what Jen said though, from back here at least, the sound is a bit pants. Not much at all in the way of guitar. Still, they seem chuffed with the gig afterwards. They always do. I like the Makarbert guys. Mattis puts a lot in to the scene, both through his label and his studio. For someone who likes the booze as much as he does he’s a productive bloke. All respect to him, he’s a genuine guy. He’s got his distro here tonight and I pick up a Straight Jacket Nation album from him, but short on cash I ask him if he can save it for me. He just tells me to take it and send him the money when I can. No hassle.
So, it’s time for Una Bestia Incontrolable. I haven’t been this buzzed about seeing a band since Brainbombs. But before that it was quite a while… It hits you straight away. These three regular looking chaps at the front of the stage and then this man mountain sat behind them. He and the singer start the show off by attacking the kit whilst the guitarist and bassist kick into a monotonic, driving riff. The singer on the floor tom, the Mountain blasting the rest of the kit. I played with Gordon in Speedhorn for ten years and I didn’t think I’d see anyone hit the drums so hard again but I’ve never seen anything like this. Every time the guy hit the cymbals I thought they were going to disintegrate. It was quite a sight. Vik looks over at me with an all knowing smile. And from the first song they play, the forty or so people in the venue are down the front dancing away, a gaggle of raised fists and broad smiles. Punk at it’s best. I’m stood in the middle of it all, next to Andy, pumping my arm in the air to the continuous, almost tribal like thump of the drum kit when I feel a strain in a muscle somewhere. Fuck sakes. Feel like I’ve cricked my neck whilst dancing, if dancing is what you’d actually call it. Ridiculous.
UBI play their set and before they even leave the stage everyone is shouting for more. They come back on and play the Nou Mon from their latest seven inch, despite the fact they’re already played it once. The singer bashfully explains that they don’t have any other songs. Nobody cares. We’re all happy just to keep them playing. I look over at G, stood dancing whilst nursing a glass of red wine, at Vik and Luk down front pumping fists and singing along in an attempt at Catalan, at Andy beside me rocking back and forth on his heels. It’s so fucking ace. When they’re finally done, Andy turns round to me, “That was stupidly good!” It’s not often he gets that psyched about bands these days. It was stupidly good though, that’s a great way of putting it.
We hang out a little more by the merch after the show, but the party is dying slowly. I think they want us out of here as soon as possible. Bea is a bit sauced up and she seems to want to party, as does Vik’s mate Kalle. Kalle is always smiling though so it’s hard to tell. Saying that, he’s always wanting to party. He’d seen our set earlier and said to Vik afterwards, “I don’t know what the fuck you guys are doing up there but it’s always a blast to watch!” The lights in the venue gradually intensify and most of the small crowd have left before long. G tells us that they’re going for drinks at a bar nearby and asks us to come. She wants to show the UBI guys some Swedish hospitality and plus, she’s an old friend of Kev’s through the Bristol punk scene and wants to catch up. Jen is heading home but being that Polly is at her Gran’s for the night, I’m up for it.
We grab one pint of something nice upstairs in the tacky Irish pub full of even tackier Brits and then we head along to Medusa, the rock bar on the edge of Gamla Stan where G has taken the guys. This place really takes some beating. You first walk into a tiny little bar which is all neon lights and horrible rock music like Rob Zombie, Machine Head et fucking al, but then beyond that is a labyrinth of dungeon like rooms with various bars, the music getting louder, but not any better, the further in you go. The tap beer is poison, but it’s cheap. Vik and Bea are stood over at the side by the door, already on the beer before I’ve realised what’s going on, Bea buzzing with that contagious smile of hers, Vik beside her, equally as chuffed. G and the Una Bestia guys have found some weird little room which is basically a tiny balcony above some stairs with a couple of tables. We all squeeze in, Andy’s long, spider like legs somehow finding space.
I don’t really remember much of what we’re talking about, just the usual I guess. I’m sat next to the singer telling him the show was great but the humdrum of the bad metal seeping up from downstairs and the numbing effect of the beer makes it all a bit hazy. Numbing. It’s that effect rather than anything else the beer is giving me. I don’t know what Kev has done to offend the girl sitting beside him and opposite me but she starts ripping into him, calling him silly, or boring, or something to that effect. She’s pretty nasty with it, giving it large with the condescending tone. I feel bad for Kev, he looks a little put out by it, although I can’t really make out what’s going on. We sit there for another hour or so, another couple of trips down to the bar for a round of poison and then it’s time to head home. I thank the guys for a great show and tell them I hope to see them around again at some point and make my way home.
Kev heads back to my place with me. It’s around three thirty. We get back and I make a pot of pasta, nothing but olive oil, sea salt and chili flakes to top it with. At this hour it does the job though. Kev had looked very doubtful as I was serving it up but he’s raving about it by the time he’s half way through. “How does this taste so good?” I guess at three thirty in the morning on a stomach full of beer most things pass as eatable. We attempt a bit of TV but we’re both nodding off within minutes. Time for bed. I head to our bed where Jen has been sleeping for a few hours, Kev heads to Polly’s vacated room. We’re up in the morning for practice, got to take advantage whilst Kev is in town. We had agreed to meet at mid day. I think maybe we’ll make it one. Stockholm style.