Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Stockholm - Dead Rhythm Fest

It was like the old days last night. Kev, Wee Lee and I sat around watching tv the evening before heading off to a gig. Kind of anyway. The three of us used to crash at my parents house in Corby the night before heading off on tour somewhere with Speedhorn. We used to watch the cheesy show UK’s Most Haunted as if part of some religious ritual that needed to be administered as part of the tour routine. Lee texted me before he got in asking if there was any chance they showed it on the box in Sweden. Would have been nice. Either way, it was still great to sit and drink tea on the sofa, in our sweatpants, with two of my best friends and just watch whatever was on whilst reminiscing. It must be three or four years since the three of us were together.

Lee has been in Sweden for a week with work, he’s a set designer or something at IKEA and being a lover of Sweden the job suits him perfectly. He was gleefully telling me about his week so I thought it callous to make any cracks about their tax scandals or the fact they’ve recently bought Lucas apartment block in Hagsätra as part of their occupation offensive. Something that has left Luc in the depths of despair. Of course I’m chuffed for Lee, he’s got a great job and as an employer they have a superb reputation, but, I thought to myself slyly, he probably doesn’t want to talk to loudly about it at Cyklopen tomorrow. The anarchist crowd wouldn’t be all that impressed.  Not that Lee would give a fuck...

Home shows as always, are strange. Had a bit of a mixed day today, starting with taking Polly to this kids dance group thing in Bagarmossen. She seems to enjoy it for the most part, but it’s one of those things where they want you as the parent to partake in the dancing too. Makes you feel like a right prick. But Polly enjoying herself is the main thing. After that we went to Love, her friend from nursery’s birthday party. They live just across the road from us and we were hanging outside eating hot dogs and drinking coffee whilst the kids ran around playing, doing their thing. Whilst we were doing this Kev and Lee went for a walk in the woods. Lee texted me asking how they should lock the door, I wrote back saying they didn’t need to. “Crazy Swedes!” he wrote back. I guess you don’t leave your door unlocked in Glasgow. Or anywhere in the UK for that matter. Kev choked in amazement yesterday when I left Polly’s pram unlocked outside the house. “Fuck me, you did that at home and some fucker would nick the wheels off it!” Horrible people, as Luc would say.

All the kid stuff done with, we take the bus to the practice room. Polly and Jen are coming by later to the show, will be the first time Poll has seen me play a gig. Looking forward to seeing her there in her big cute ear protectors. Whilst on the way Luc texts asking if anyone can bring headache tablets to practice, saying his head is banging. I ask him if he’s hungover, knowing that his uncle is in town visiting. He vehemently denies this is the case though. “No, not at all. It’s just I was up at fucking seven am this morning to meet my uncle at Skansen at nine. And I didn’t get home until midnight last night!” Jesus Christ… He’s the oldest young person I know. He has a strict sleep routine in the week, where he’s tucked in bed by ten thirty. He cherishes a bit of shut eye. What he’s telling us now is that last night’s lack of sleep, just shy of seven hours, has caused this headache. Love him.

Luc turns up and we hang outside for a while, catching up with Lee whilst we wait for Stix, who is late. The fucker was at the Madness gig at Gröna Lund last night, where incidentally we’d been with Kev and Polly, but left before all the numpties started turning up for the show. We had good fun pissing around on the cups and saucers and the fun house etc. Poll seems to have inherited her mother’s love of carousels and roller coasters. Kev wasn’t so in to it, we got him on the ladybug mini coaster and he sat there cursing at it as we zipped about, Polly laughing her head off. Anyway, Vik turns up hungover to piss, clutching a can of ready made Gin and Tonic, saying Madness were shit. Kev just shakes his head and tuts, “Fucking Madness...daft”.

Practice goes pretty well anyway, Kev singing the songs pretty tight and Vik raucously clearing his throat between each block of songs. We pack up and take the bus with all our gear over to Cyklopen. Last time we did this it was packed and the old bag driving the bus showed no mercy, made us all alight at the front and struggle down the aisle with all the big cases. Thankfully this time the bus was empty. We get to Cyklopen a little while before it opens and hang out doing not a lot of anything until doors open and people start filling the place up. Ronny has organised the show nicely though, he’s cordoned off the room on the third floor as a band bar and hang out room. Perfect, we sit up there munching on crisps whilst Luc, Lee and Kev head off to Luc’s to pick up a box of merch. Stix is straight on the free beer, although he’s brought a couple of his own, actually went and bought a fucking cooler bag to bring them in, he’s been moaning about the lack of quality brew that normally accompanies these gigs. Unbelievable.

By the time Luc and the guys get back, Polly and Jen are already here. The weather isn’t too bad, so we’re hung outside for the most part, although we take a bit of a peak at Utanförskapet. The sound is a bit muffled. Even though you’re allowed to use your own gear here now, they’ve finally done away with that nonsense in-house combos rule, the place just isn’t really made for punk rock gigs. It’s a great house, I really love it, but the sound is always a downside. It does sound better than last time I was here though, I have to say. Utanförskapet are pretty good. Never been a big fan but they get people going, especially when they burn off a Svart Parad cover. Whenever I see the old boy on vocals with the silly hat doing the hand moves though I think of Jon, the two of them get on pretty well. Me and Luc met them outside a gig here once, both of them fucked. Jon introduced us, but the old boy totally blanked us. Cracked us up.

Next up is Strul and fuck me do they blow me away. It’s a bit emotional too, since their drummer, Granath, passed away a few months ago. Really strong of them to go on with the gig. Andreas starts by dedicating the gig to him and after that they just don’t let up. Great energy the whole show. Polly loves it too, bouncing up and down by the merch table with Jen, those big ear protectors cupping her adorable round cheeks. Makes your heart melt. The place is packed watching them, and still early, you know it’s going to to be a good night. Last nights hangovers reset to square one for a lot of the punks here.

I have one beer before we play, being early and having had no grub I need to take it easy. I’m looking forward to playing a set of songs primarily from the new album, first time for most of them, so I want it to be good. There’s a bit of a delay with the punks coming back at the start of our set, but they gradually filter in, although there aren’t as many people as there were for Strul. I’m not really sure we fit in with the crust crowd to be honest. I don’t know where we fit it, maybe a bit in-between scenes, I seem to have a habit of playing in bands like that. Anyway, the set feels pretty good, and a showing of mates are down the front. The Axe Rash guys, as always are dancing away smiling as we play. I have the feeling the sound gets a bit better as the set goes on too. More than anything, it’s great fun watching Cornelia get up and sing Magick Hour with us. It’s been awhile since she’s been on stage and she gets a great reception. Think she had a great time too.

Pretty satisfied with the gig I head outside to find Jen and Poll. I noticed Jen taking her out near the start of our set. Guess Poll digged Strul more than us. Jen said as soon as we started playing Poll asked her, “What’s pappa doing with his head?” and then after the first song said she was hungry and they went out to get food. Brilliant. To be fair, the vegan food truck outside was serving a mean kebab! Something I ravished a while later. Once packed up I take my guitars to the car over in the parking lot by the skate park. There is some punk there who is loitering about and he tries to start a conversation with me, but Poll has other ideas, she wants to show me something up on the hill. I apologise and leave him with Jen whilst Poll points to the skaters flying around the park. When I get back the punk, who is wearing a Victims shirt, is still there, obviously waiting for me. I say bye to the girls and then walk back with him. He asks me what band I play in. I tell him as well as the band he has emblazoned across his chest that I play in Diagnosis? Bastard! He tells me he’s never heard DB and doesn’t like the new Victims album. Good talk. He then tells me In Blood is his favourite Victims record and he’s tried to book us in Göteborg a few times but it hasn’t worked out for some reason. It has the slightest undertone of something, but I can’t put my finger on it. God knows… I need a beer.

I get back just as Sikas band Swordwielder is starting up. The place is fucking packed now. They seem to have a good buzz going on around them, chuffed for Sikas. They sound great as well, playing a lot slower, kind of Bolt Thrower meets Amebix. The only thing for me is that it goes on a bit too long, but then anything over twenty minutes I deem too long, but in general I enjoy the gig. Good band to drink beer to.  And it's great to see Sikas play, he's owning it up there, totally in his element.  The crowd are into it big time too. Kev reckons it's daft though. I look at Lee and he’s well into it, keeps smiling and saying to me, “This is more my pace!” I crack up, I didn’t really take into account that this show isn’t really his thing as far as music goes, but Lee is never one for letting that get in the way of things. He just loves hanging out. Fuck sakes, he’s straight edge and toured with Speedhorn for years, says a lot about his social skills.

After they’re done we hang out upstairs for a while, sitting down at a long table with Sikas and a few others and drinking away. There is a box of red wine which everybody seems to be ignoring but me. I enjoy a couple of glasses. It’s a good crack, Sikas is in good form. Always, always with that cheeky grin on his face. At some point he gets up from around the back of the table, squeezing himself out of the tight space to grab another beer and when he gets back instead of going through the hassle of squeezing back around the table to his spot on the bench sofa he simply vaults himself over the table WWF style, no hands, barely spilling a drop.

We catch Kev on the way down, he’s been watching Ursut. Afterwards he tells the guys that he much prefers their album on 45 rpm, saying it’s way better than when played on the intended 33. Kev has no truth filter when he’s had a few. The guys seemed to take it well though. Kev has a knack of talking shit to people without offending them. Fuck knows how he does it. Kev repeats, with the slightests of slurs, this information to us a few times, “I told em, they were alright about it.” He’s obviously more sauced up than I realised.

Anyway, we’re on our way down to watch Meanwhile. I was really looking forward to seeing them again since the last time we played with them, and they really don’t play very often, was with Forward and the sound was awful. Well, the sound was miniscule combo amps. It was going to be great to see them playing on their own, full gear again, even if the decibel limit intruded somewhat on the fun. The place was of course packed out by the time they start the set. I took a higher vantage point on the tables behind the merch stand, along with the Strul guys. The atmosphere in the place was great, everyone chuffed to see one of Sweden’s most legendary punk bands in many people’s, including own, opinion. Just as they’re about to start I catch a glimpse of Viktor down in the crowd, motioning over to Sikas on the other side of the room who I guess is heading to the bar, to get a beer. Sikas throws an open can of beer across the heads in the crowd, the width of the fucking room, and amazingly Vik raises both hands and plucks it out of the air without spilling a drop! I then see Luc a few rows of bodies behind him looking at me, who has also seen this, and we both stand there in jaw gaping amazement as Vik is chugging away on the beer. Cheeky fucking bastard!

The Meanwhile set is absolutely brilliant. So much better than last time. You can see Kenko is really into it this time around too.  They just flatten the place. So much so that I can no longer stand hanging back here, and when I see Luc rolling about on top of the crowd for the second time I jump down and get stuck in. It’s not often I get into the old mosh pit these days, I am thirty-eight after all, but sometimes you just can’t help it. And the rest of the DB guys are there too, as well as a bunch of other friends who are probably a bit too old for this crack too. Good times. Afterwards, when the crowd is filtering away for fresh air, Kev mumbles in my ear, “If we had daft hair like their singer we’d be legends too”. Doubt it, buddy. Doubt it.

I head outside with Vik and Bea and tuck into one of those vegan kebabs, the three of us demolishing the fuckers and waxing lyrical about how good they are. They are fucking good. I catch up with my old friend Danne Söderberg, one of my oldest friends in Stockholm, one of those that due to life I rarely get the chance to see anymore. It’s a bummer but that’s the way it is. We’re constantly saying we should catch up over a coffee but then six months disappears in a whirlwind of kids, jobs, school, the rest... Until you’re back to messaging on social media about how we should catch up over a coffee. Funny thing is, we bumped into Danne, Jenina and their kids at Gröna Lund yesterday, totally random. He said he was coming tonight so it’s good to see he made it. Another funny thing is that Jenina mentioned to Kev how they’d been in a van together on tour way back when Kev was in Dead Inside. Jenina was friends with Symsey and Kay and worked in the same circles. Funny little punk rock world we live in.

Anyway, Danne is standing with Luc and Ragnar and some others and we get talking about various matters. I owe him a mix tape, me and Jen are doing a side each, and he’s asking where that is. I reassure him it’s on the way. Danne says he liked the gig, and then he makes my fucking day. He says he hears a lot of screamo in DB, which causes me to jump up and down with joy, since me and Kev are big screamo fans, proper screamo mind, and Luc and Vik hate it. Luc, rolling his eyes, jokes and says, “You obviously didn’t see the gig then?”, to which Danne replies, “You obviously haven’t heard screamo”. Fucking dancer!

The beers are flowing and for the most part we’re sat upstairs chirping like sparrows. I already know my head is going to hurt tomorrow but fuck it. The only other band I see are the headliners, Raw Power, the legendary Italian hardcore band from the 80’s. There is a split opinion about them, but I have a good time, and once again I’m down in the mosh pit, along with Christoffer DS13 who is a dedicated fan, as well as a bunch of others. Sure, the singer is a little stiff, but he’s old as fuck and credit to him for still attempting the odd hardcore jump now and again. More than anything, it’s just really good fun. There are so many friends here tonight who have travelled from all over, having a great time, that you just can’t help get carried away with the wave.

The place empties out pretty quickly after Raw Power, the curfew on Cyklopen is pretty tight due to sensitive neighbours and there is no chance of a late bar here. Ronny kindly directs everyone to the karaoke bar over in Högdalen and we all head there. The DB guys, Kev lagging behind pissed, Bea, Lee, Ragnar, Andreas from Strul, Andy Victims… Real good gang. The place is shady as fuck though. We turn up carrying cases of gear, merch etc. and the bouncers just look at us unimpressed, making sure they direct us upstairs to the bar with the karaoke, determined to keep us out of the lower floor where all the casual kids are hanging out. Fuck that. The upper floor has pretty much been invaded by punks from the gig. We grab some beers and find a booth, sit down and carry on gabbing. Andy and Bea are over by the bar, chatting to someone else, Luc is on the karaoke with this guy we met earlier who used to live in England and play drums in Beast As God, random. The two of them are singing Fight For Your Right by the Beasties, Luc headbanging between every line, waving his beer in the air. Right next to him, sat at the bar, is what must be the only non-punk in the place, some old guy looking bored as fuck. Luc is totally oblivious to him as he wafts his pint glass around. We crack up at the sight of it. Lee has seen it all a thousand times though, and being the routined straight-edger that he is, he’s up there filming it all for the sake of documentation.

I’m starting to get pretty pissed myself now, something that becomes quite apparent when I get up to go for a piss and when I come back Ragnar is holding my wallet in his hand. Bad deal. Thank fuck for Ragnar, I don’t need that anxiety in the morning, the hangover is going to be bad enough. We sit and have a bit more of the crack, the anxiety of nearly pissing my wallet away soon subsiding when I spot Kev sat sleeping in the booth next to ours. Lee whips his camera out again. The house lights come on at one am, and everyone shuffles out. There’s talk of more after party, our friend Julia is doing her best to round up the troops, but I know it’s time to go home.

We head over to the tube station from where Luc decides to take a cab home with the gear. Fuck knows what happens, but as he’s lugging his gear into the cab, a previously unseen quartet of local gangster youths are on our back, or more accurately, in our faces. It takes me a second to work out what the fuck is going on, especially as they are all talking English in ridiculous fake London accents. They must only be about sixteen. I say “only”, they would probably wipe the floor with us old farts. They seem upset, accusing Kev of having told them to “do one”. I guess they were in the way as Luc was trying to make his way to the cab or something. I’m obviously drunk because I get into it with them, taking the piss out of them, as Kev steadfastly inquires into where in London they’re from. They’ve apparently said they are, as a matter of fact, from London. Although they are quite obviously not. Kev is up close to one of them, asking over and over where they’re from, although he’s doing it in the friendliest voice he can muster, feigning interest, telling them he too lives in London. The kid is obviously wishing he hadn’t bothered, and is now sheepishly telling Kev to back up. This other kid, the apparent ringleader, keeps telling me to step back, get out of his face, but not actually threatening anything. I’m not threatening anything either, I’m not actually anywhere near his face. It’s all getting quite pathetic. Lee is with us, and he’s loving it. This is right up the Glaswegian’s street. He’s saying fuck all but out of the three of us, he’d be the first one into the swedge. I can sense he’s hoping it happens. There are two security guards stood around chatting right next to the whole scene, but they’re doing their best to ignore it. Luc is just getting on with sorting the cab out, pissed and uninterested.  I challenge Ringleader as to where I should back up to, taking a step back at a time and asking, “Is here okay? Is here okay?” The booze filling me with adrenaline and giving me a buzz.

Ringleader actually utters the line, “Do you kna where you are?”. I just look at him, genuinely confused, “Er, I thought I was in Högdalen..” The mouth on these lads though you could swear you were in Lewisham. They obviously think Högdalen should be treated with respect. Pathetic. Kev is still in the smaller kids face asking where he’s from. This is starting to get a little boring by this point. Ringleader chirps in, “My dad is from Hayes”. Kev quaffs, “Hayes?! Hayes?! That’s in Kent!” looking like he’s about to piss himself laughing. The heat rescinds to a tepid simmer just as Vik and a mob of mates are seen entering the tube station boisterously, totally oblivious to us, a few feet away. The kid defeatedly shakes Kev’s hand and Ringleader skulks off, probably muttering something about Högdalen and Hayes. Total cock.

Luc is long gone and we head down to the train. Me and Lee ask Kev what that was all about really, confused as to how it all started. They seemed really upset by the fact Kev had allegedly told them to do one, something I’m sure was a misunderstanding. “Nah, I did tell em to do one” Kev says, totally unfazed. Fuck sakes, can’t believe we nearly all got into a scrap because of that old pillock. How would I explain that one to Polly in the morning, big fucking black eye on the go, stinking of beer. Shame immediately overcomes me. What the fuck was I playing at? I’m not a fighter. My ass would have been handed to me by those kids. The danger filter had been destroyed by the booze but now it’s back and I’m quickly sinking into the depths of parental guilt. It’s gone by the time we get down to the platform and begin to recount the story to a bemused, amused Vik. I can see he’s wishing he’d been up there with us since he likes a bit of a chat when he’s had drink.

Lee, Kev and I end up walking the twenty minutes from Skärmarbrink station since the 17 train to Kärrtorp is half hour away and Kev is dying for a piss. I don’t mind the walk anyway, always take walking over waiting around. We walk across Nytorpsgärde, a big recreation field that separates Kärrtorp and Skärmarbrink. It’s two am and the field is covered in a low lying dark mist. We walk through it, our feet getting wet in the grass, shivering slightly in the haunting cold. I’m fucking knackered by now. It really is time for bed. Just after a cup of tea and a bit of tv.

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