I get up for a shower. There is no door and a huge cobweb hanging from the roof of it. Apart from that it’s a nice, warm shower. I don’t have a towel either but find a little polishing rag that is in a cleaning bucket in the hall and use that. We all begin to stir and ready ourselves to go downstairs for breakfast. I ask Johan how the sleeping bag he took from the pile on the floor was, “I tried not to think about it”, was his reply.
When we go downstairs Crust Frog is tidying up cables in the gig room and breakfast is waiting for us on the table. The coffee and rolls with assorted vegan pastes is most welcome. Feeling good today despite the sparse amount of sleep and my shoe which reeks of beer after getting drenched last night. We go pick up the car and then we make a trip over to the Buchenwald memorial museum which is the forest just outside of town. Froggy comes with us, he tells me he’s brought a lot of bands here.
I’ve never been to any of the concentration camp sites before, to say the feeling is heavy as we drive down the “Blood Road” leading through the forest up to the camp is an understatement. It’s hard to get your head around the sheer scale of the place, and the horror that has taken place here. The camp itself looks out over a huge valley, you can see for miles and miles, there is no possibility that the surrounding villages were blind to what happened here. We don’t talk much as we walk around the place, and Jon is holding back the tears as we look at the various reminders of horrifying murder. And to think Nazi’s are heiling on the streets again. Humankind certainly can get it horribly wrong, again and again it seems. As hard as it was to come here, I’m glad we did. It’s important that these places stand as a reminder of what happens when power turns the powerless against each other. Sad that that is relevant as much now as ever.
The Ekranoplan guys were here when we got here, even if it’s only the second show of two we’re playing with them it’s still nice to be hang out with a familiar bunch of friendly faces. After dinner, which is not quite to the high standard of yesterday, a kind of soy meat mushroom soup with a shit load of marjoram in it, Andy, Johan and I go for walk to stretch the old legs. Jon hangs with Eleanor outside the venue where there are a few other people hanging out. We don’t really walk far, a few blocks down Karl Marx Allee and then turn back. With the venue being bigger tonight I don’t to miss Ekranoplan, not being sure how many people will come I feel it’s important to support them, plus I didn’t really get to see much of them last night.
The gig room is pretty big and wide and then the stage is tucked into the corner in a sort of deep alcove with the drum riser set way back. It’s like playing inside a box within the room and when Ekranoplan start playing I can’t see Adrian because I’m stood to the side. There are maybe fifty or so people in the room, it looks okay but not great. Quite a difference to last night. They play one song and then there is a big pause after it. The drummer, who seems like a right joker is walking about the stage pissing about and I can’t figure out if they were just soundchecking or what. Only after about three or four minutes do I realise that Adrian must have broken a string and by the time I’ve ran around to the side stage he’s already done fixing his guitar. I feel like a right wanker since he lent me his guitar yesterday and asked me if it would be okay to lend mine as backup tonight and I’ve just been stood there dreaming. Sorry boss.
It seems like there are a lot of people hanging outside in the beer garden as we set up and a good mix of people too. We turn the guitar cabs to face the front, assuring the sound guy it will be ok, and lower the volume considerably. It’s a big system so should be ok. Andy is way back in the box of a stage though, I can just make out his grin through the haze of the big assed backlights. I’m a little surprised, as well as a little relieved that the place is pretty full by the time we start the show. Not that it’s the end of the world but it would have been a shame to play a duffer in Berlin on a Friday night when it’s always really good here for Victims when we book it ourselves. This is the first run of shows we’ve had our good friend Luc booking for us and I must admit I was a little worried that we’d get caught in the trap of going for guarantee fee in a bigger venue instead of guarantee good gig in a squat. But it seems to have turned out alright.
The show itself is a lot of fun. And no broken strings tonight. The stage is a lot bigger and there’s a lot more room for me to throw myself around like a tit on. That being said, I still manage to get tangled up in Johan’s bass at one point during the set. But it’s all good. The crowd really go for it during the show and there are a lot of happy faces when we’re done. This one guy comes up to me and tells me he’s really thankful to us for the show. We’d signed a t-shirt for him earlier, well it was for his girlfriend who he told us was a really big fan of the band but was in hospital and that it would mean a lot to her. I said to him that I hoped she was going to be okay but he shook his head and said, “I don’t know”. Fucking downer. But I’m glad we could do something at least, even if it’s something that little.
There is an early curfew on the venue and by the time we’re packed down and cooled down the house lights are already on. We chat with Eleanor over by the merch table where Jon has been stood selling since the end of the gig. She tells us that she was holding herself to the back of the crowd during the gig since she’s still a bit shaken up after landing with a concussion after some asshole hardcore dickhead clashed heads with her at a show a while back, but said she couldn’t hold it when we played This is the End and flew to the front. Back in the side stage room we find the Ekranoplan drummer in full on ADHD mode. He’s extremely happy and talking a lot and loudly. He’s nice but a little much for our old heads. Cracks me up though, he tells us how much he respects us and how much he appreciates how friendly we are despite being a “big band”. Again, I think they have the wrong impression of us. Then he starts saying how he saw Disfear for the first time a while back and how it was amazing, that despite being really old guys and they were obviously suffering on stage they still played really hard. We’re all pissing ourselves by this point. The next thing he gets out his iphone and starts playing us a song that he and his friend have made on the Garage Band music programme, some spoof glam rock band called Burning Lips. All the music on it is synthetic, proper glam rock shit. Then the vocals come in, kinda Axl style, and it’s he himself who is the vocalist. He starts singing along really loudly to it. It goes on for ages and we’re trying our best to politely laugh but then I notice Christian the bass player stood shaking his head, embarrassed as fuck, “It’s not good, it’s not good” he mutters.
We hang around chatting with the guys a while longer, Gunnar tells me how he saw Speedhorn in Rudolstadt years back and how he can’t believe I played in that band, that he some friends who are huge fans. Funny little world. We make vague plans about meeting up at some bar once we’ve checked into our hostel, and I’m pretty up for it since I’ve only had the one beer all day and could do with a quiet bar and some chat but I can sense that there’s not a realistic chance of it happening.
We take a cab over to the hostel which is about ten minutes away, a fucking jobbie inducing death ride which can’t be over quick enough. The hostel is just by the East Side Gallery, right next to the bridge. It looks pretty cool, it’s some old industrial warehouse that’s been reformed into a six storey hostel. We approach the door and find it locked. I peek inside and get a shock as I see some monster skinhead approaching us from the other side. He must be almost seven foot with arms like fucking tree trunks. Looks like a right fucking mongo. Jon whispers in my ear, “Check out the tat on his arm”. I steal a look and there it is, a bulldog and a Union Jack. Fucking great… Mongo opens the door, and without saying a word ushers us into the foyer. It’s quite the surprise to be then met by a really friendly young woman working on the check in. And amazingly check in takes all of ten seconds. I’ve never experienced that at an after gig hostel before, there is normally always fifteen minutes of pissing around as they try to find our name on the list.
Chuffed we leave the gear in the room and head back out in search of a bar. We don’t get far though. We sit at a falafel place right next door to the hostel. They have beer there of course, it’s Germany. I order a halloumi box which is halloumi, french fries and an shit load of salad and sauce. It’s disgusting really, but kind of good at the same time. As I expected though, by the time the food is done everyone is slowly fading. It is one thirty am I guess, pretty late for a bunch of old farts like ourselves. I text Adrian and tell him we’re not going to make it. He writes back sounding kind of disappointed but there’s no way I can do a party now. I only really wanted a quiet bar. Still, we take the remainder of our beer and walk over to the East Side Gallery and check it out for a bit. The city is still buzzing, loads of people everywhere, all of them drinking beer as they go. I contemplate over the fact it’s been a pretty strange day. Started with Buchenwald, ended with the Berlin Wall.
We head back to the hostel and decide on one more beer in the bar there. It’s calm anyway, just us here. Nice way to end the night though, although the beer is in reality completely unnecessary, all it does is weigh my eyes down. It’s nice sitting there chatting with the guys though. I love the fact that when we’re abroad we can use Swedish as a code language. Jon is talking about the scary as fuck security skinhead, he calls him Thule Kompis, which for those who get the reference is funny as fuck. We just happened to be talking about Nyköping and the whole Nazi skinhead scene there when the guys were younger. I never realised Nyköping was such a dirty scene. It seems the guys lost a lot of their punk friends to heroin or related suicides. They go through a list and tote it up to six or seven drug related deaths from their old scene. Fucking tragic.
I can barely finish the bottle of beer, tiredness has taken me over now. We head upstairs to the fourth floor where our dormitory is and fuck me, we bump into Thule Kompis, slowly trudging along the corridor in the dark. Jon almost has a fucking heart attack. He doesn’t see us though, he’s just slowly walking ahead of us and then fucks off into a room. If there was ever a fucker you wouldn’t want to meet in a dark alley it’s him.