Saturday, June 29, 2019

Zelebkso, Ultra Chaos Piknik

First day of holiday and you have to set your alarm earlier than you have it set for work. I met Jon on the metro at Gullmarsplan and it was the first thing he said, “For once we have the luxury of flying to a gig at noon, and I still had to set my alarm for five am.” The way it is when you fly low budget from an airport over a hundred kilometers away in Nyköping. Works out nice for Johan, though, since he lives there now. Back in the spiritual home of Victims. Where it all began…

Johan was still last to the airport, though. Classic. Closest arrives last. We were sat by the drop-off zone car park, waiting around in the sun for Johan and our gear, that he’d taken with him after our last practice so we’d skip having to lug it on the airport bus. Looking forward to our first show in almost a year. Fucking crazy. I had a right Benny Hill moment when Johan turned up in the car. Mine and Andy’s bags were sat next to each other on the ground, and when we saw Johan’s car arrive we went to pick up our bags at the same time. Andy lifted his heavy rucksack, and since mine was leaning against his, it fell over and my swing and grab missed the bag. At the same time Andy’s bag came up and knocked my cap off. Andy didn’t notice any of this, it was just me, feeling like a right cunt behind him.

We had time to spare before check in opened, and as we stood waiting in the hall a Polish woman and her young family took interest in us and our cases, cottoning on that we were a band. She was very friendly and thought it was really fun that we were going to Poland to play some shows. After check in we shuffled along to the oversized baggage belt, where the same guy who checked us in shuffled along his end and met us again to check in baggage at the other end of the hall. I cracked up as Jon went to lift Andy’s heavy snare and pedal case, making a really awkward swing with the case to the belt. The thing is just as Jon was dumping the case the belt stopped and Jon almost went arse over tit down the belt, shouting, “Sorry!” as he did so. Classic Jon.

With a couple of hours still to spare we grabbed some coffee and sat in the little seated area outside. There were a bunch of “lads” there, obviously going on a stag party somewhere, drinking beers despite the early hour. One of them was dressed in a full sized bear suit, as the kids TV character Björne. As I was admiring the suit my attention was diverted by a sorry, scraping sound. Some wiry looking guy in sunglasses, dragging a holdall bag along the ground behind him, walked past us and into the airport. We saw him again later on as we were stood in the boarding queue. He was obviously steamboats. He stood there, still wearing sunglasses despite being inside, trying adamantly to open a door which he’d mistakenly taken for the bog. Confused as fuck. We all smirked briefly before realising that the wanker was on our flight. He’d left his holdall on the floor in the queue up ahead in front of the desk, and went stumbling through the crowd, banging into people as he barged back into line, and then stood there swaying back and forth until the airport staff clocked him and pulled him off to the side.

I was sure that he wasn’t going to be allowed on the flight since he was fucking minced. They asked him for his boarding pass and he spent the next ten minutes rummaging through his bag, pulling out a computer keyboard and various other electronic devices before finally finding the document. It was hard not to stare, and to stifle the laugh, but then I’m sure I saw him pull his wallet out and inside there were two pics of children which I assumed were his own, and that dramatically took the shine off things. Now I just felt really sorry for the guy, and his kids. They let him on, anyway, with a “Next time you won’t be allowed”, ticking off. Seemed like he wasn’t alone on this flight, though. There was another guy, real builder looking guy, not walking in an entirely straight line, and then there was this middle aged couple sniggering like schoolkids as they found a left bag of duty free booze and handed it in to the staff. I don’t know why, but they kept making jokes about how it might have been a bomb in the bag, and then looking at each and laughing, chuffed as fuck. Right pair of twats. Thick a shit, obviously. Just as I was looking at them carrying on, I noticed through the window behind them, Björne climbing the steps to a Ryanair plane. Fucking surreal. Then as we walked out on to the tarmac to board the plane, a young girl behind us puked up. Despite all that, the flight was drama free.

We were met at Chopin Airport in Warsaw by our driver for the weekend, Thomas. Our booker Zoli had booked it for us, so we didn’t know what to expect, but chuffed to find a nice grey Sprinter van with air conditioning. There is a pretty insane heatwave flooding Europe at the moment, and although it doesn’t seem to have hit Poland just yet, it’s supposed to be 36 degrees when we play Germany on Sunday.

The drive down to the Ultra Chaos Piknik would take about three and a half hours, mainly though winding country roads, once we’d gotten out of the Warsaw Friday afternoon traffic. I enjoyed the drive, though, despite the rollercoaster like conditions at times, made reading Rules for Radicals by Saul Alinksy a little difficult. We passed lots of small towns and villages, a lot of pretty little places, most of them seemed to have cosy little pubs and bistros, as well as grandiose churches. Even the smallest villages had these dramatic looking churches, a reminder of how prevalent the big bloke in the sky is in this country. Also, it seems like all you have to do to learn Polish is just remember to stick a “Y” on the end of everything. Like my dad’s take on Spanish with the “O” at the end of everything. I noticed a bunch of shops called “Deleketessy” which was where this particular theory took route.

The fest was practically in the middle of nowhere, just a small field off the side of a country lane with a ramshackle wooden stage and a bunch of stalls around the perimeter. There were lots of crust punks swarming around drinking heavy glass bottles of beer as we pulled the van up in front of the entrance. There was a band playing as we pulled up that looked like a right bunch of character. Some big skinhead on vocals in a ruffled shirt, prancing around like a tit. I opened the door and a flood of silly keyboard, chanty vocals and daft guitar entered the van. I pulled the door immediately shut. Andy, pained in the back of the van, “What the fuck was that? Ridiculous mix of ska and Oi!.?”

“SkOi!” I retorted, totally chuffed with myself.

Our old friend Mike Champagne was here today, playing with his band Ohyda. They were travelling with the band Chain Cult from Athens. It was good to see him. I’d been in touch with him the day before, asking if he could lend us a guitar as backup. He was more than happy too. He was already doing the same for Anti-System, the old UK band that were also playing. He even offered to lend us his amp. True gent. We hung out by the entrance, which is where they a little party tent to set up the merch. Mike was drinking some 1% craft beer which tasted pretty damn good. Apparently the micro brewery phenomenon has hit Poland too, although I’m sure it hasn’t hit this festival.

The bands were running a little late, so it was looking more like 11 pm as opposed to our scheduled 10.10 pm. It had been a long day so I was really hoping it wouldn’t be any later. With it only being 7pm now there wasn’t much to do than have a walk around, look at the food and merch stalls, check out the Polish crusty crowd and wait. Another old UK band, Active Minds were playing as we made our way to the stage area. Pretty fun seeing the two of them on stage, blasting out songs at high speed. I stood and reflected over how it must be to have been a band of just two people for over thirty years, and that with your brother, too.

The food at this place was bang on. They had loads of great vegan scran on the go, and they’d given us three meal tickets meaning I could spread out my evening with an array of different cuisines. I ordered a pakora at this small stall behind were we stood that looked the biz. The guy who ran the stall was some guy with a big gut, sat on a deckchair ordering his two young sons around. To my surprise, they gave me three huge pakoras. I was only planning on a snack since the two hour barrier to stage time had just passed, but they were so good I munched the lot of them down. Pretty spicy sauce on them too, maybe not the best for stage.

The sun was starting to sink in the sky, and the temperature with it. Thomas had taken the van off somewhere and wasn’t due back until 9.30 so we went back to the merch tent and hung out there for a while. The Chain Cult guys were set up beside us and we got talking to them for a while, mainly about shows in Greece. They told us that they really wanted us to come down there and play, saying it would be amazing, They book shows, so it would be fun to check that out later. I did a fart, proper pakora must to it, and blamed it on the portaloos opposite us. Andy picked up on it, but seemed to buy my story.

People watching at these places is always an experience. There was some last of the mohicans bloke with this beautiful dog in a big cage muzzle. The dog looked distressed and Last of the Mochicans just looked bored, so don’t really know why they were there. Then there was this other guy, the “festival guy”, walking around in nothing but flip flops and ill fitting sweatpant shorts, his huge gut and tits flopping around everywhere. Jon took a shine to him immediately and baptised him to “Farsan”, which is Swedish for dad. A while later Farsan appeared on stage. There was this pretty fucking lame rock band playing, all pork pie hats and sunglasses, who were apparently quite big in the 90’s. They were called Komety, further strengthening my theory. Sounded like Moneybrother singing in Polish. Farsan was up on stage singing backing vocals into the bass players mic. The guitarist/singer on the other side of the stage rocking along. I assumed that Farsan was a friend of the band since he knew all the words and was up there for fucking ages. But then when he made his way over to the other side of the stage to start singing double with the guitarist bloke, a couple of perplexed looking stage hands turned up and tried to pull him away. There was no budging the big bastard though, and then another couple of other stage hands turned up and tried to remonstrate with him, but just kind of stood there with their hands on their hips as the lead singer/guitarist tried to get on with the show. Eventually they pulled Farsan off the stage, but the fucker was still shout/singing as they pulled him past the bass player’s mic again. Fucking brilliant.

Back at the merch, the Anti-System drummer was hanging out, and when he caught sight of Andy, shouted over to him, “Hey guys, you’re Victims right? We played with you years ago, I always loved your band!”

Andy jumped into conversation with the friendly old boy, “Yeah, that's right, in the UK, like twenty years ago I think”.

Vangelis, the Chain Cult drummer, stood beside me and laughed, “You guys are old!”

Just as Anti-System were starting up, Thomas arrived in the van, driving it slowly through the small field, headlights burning, workers from the fest manically trying to get drunk punx who were lying in the path of the van to move the fuck out of the way. It was nice being able to sit in the van for a while before the show, to warm up. It hadn’t gotten pretty cold out and I hadn’t had a drop to drink so was really feeling it. I watched the end of Anti-System after having gone with Mike to fetch his amp and put it on stage. Love watching these old guys play. Agga, the bass player was thundering the shit out of her bass. I heard we’re playing with both these guys and Active Minds tomorrow in Wroclaw, so it’s a bit of a package tour. I got talking to the singer after they came off as we were waiting for the stage to be cleared. He was a really nice old guy. Told me he was fifty four and had been playing in bands since he was twelve. Fucking inspring.

It was hard to tell how our show was going to be. It was dark by now and hard to see how much of the crowd was interested in us. But being that we were one of the main bands on the bill, I hoped it was going to be okay. Our new album was released today, so this was I guess our release gig for it. We were playing six new songs, of which four we’d never played live, so it would be interesting to see how the punx reacted. I always have the same feeling at these gigs, though. As much as Victims is a known, old band in the crust scene, we’ve never been particularly crusty, and I can only imagine we’re a disappointment to look at for some of the punx. And the new songs are a long way from the old records. There were two guys down the front, grotty as fuck, who obviously didn’t know who we were as we stood on stage setting up, complaining that we should stop fucking around and start playing. He seemed a bit annoyed. I thought it was funny at first but he soon started getting on my tits. It always takes a bit of time, especially for Andy, when you’re playing on totally unfamiliar equipment. I guess the punx didn’t know that, though.

When it was time to start, I really felt buzzed, despite the pinch at the bottom of my back. Old Chiropractor Mike hasn’t cracked the puzzle of my spine just yet it seems. It felt good to be playing again though, and opening in silence, just me playing the long guitar intro to The Horse and Sparrow Theory, felt pretty fucking cool. It was good to be back. The set went pretty well for a first show in just under a year, apart from when one of the other new songs, Fires Below, fell apart at the end and came to a stop with Andy shaking his head. Fuck it, it is punk rock, after all. Right?

We finished the set on This is the End and then went to leave, but despite a large chunk of the crowd thinning off in search of food, the forty or so who were left were robust in their demands for an encore. The monitor guy, who didn’t speak much English, just pointed at his watch when Johan asked him if we had time. I tried to gesture with fingers, asking if we had two minutes, five minutes, or whatever, but he just kept pointing at his watch. I just walked back on a started making noise. I started jamming some rock ass riff, thinking it was funny, but Andy just looked at me annoyed and made the schithing sign across his neck at me, not amused in the slightest. After that we just banged out Circles and Scars and then went off again. Apart from the one almighty balls up, it felt like a good show. Mike asked me how it sounded on stage, he said that it sounded a bit grainy out front, but I assured him it sounded it good on stage.

As I was lobbing the gear in the back of the van in the pitch black behind the stage, some big muscly, friendly faced guy came up to me. “I just want to say to you… Excuse me, I do not speak good English and am influenced by alcohol. I do not like d-beat. But… You guys… Kicked my ass. I am shocked!” Really sweet guy. His name was Thomas. I liked him. I spoke to him for a while after that.

I’d been looking forward to a chill out and an aftershow beer all day, but now that everything had gotten late and tiredness was creeping in on me unresisted, I almost forced myself to go to the bar with one of the beer tickets in my pockets and buy one. More as a symbolic gesture than anything. The beer tent was behind the stage in the dark. It was just a table with small a fridge behind it under a tarpaulin roof. I went up to this young kid who seemed to be working there, but looked bored. I asked him for a beer. He asked me which beer I wanted. There seemed to be two options. “The one on the top shelf, what kind of beer is that? Is it a bit darker?” I enquired.

“It’s just a beer. Same thing, just a different brand”. I laughed and said, “Ok, I’ll go for that then. It looks cold anyway, that’s the main thing”.

“Nah. It’s not that cold, he said. Great.

I managed about half of the heavy brown bottle, tepid malt pilsner, before pouring it away. Waste of time.

We stood at the back of the small field and watched most of Ohyda’s set, eating these large fried perogies from this indian stall, which were absolutely superb. Given that I had two meal tickets left, I had two of the buggers. And then regretted it straight after. Now I wa just extremely full, sober and tired. We’d sold next to fuck all in merch. I don’t think anyone had. It was hidden in the dark at the back of the site by the entrance, and it didn’t really look like a merch crowd. We decided to get Thomas to drive the van out, back through the field, before Chain Cult started, so as not to look like cunts driving through the crowd as they played. We didn’t quite make it, they’d just started as we snaked through crusty punx lying steamboats in the dirt. This one tool was sat, slobbering on a fag and a beer, with Thomas headlights blasting in his coupon from a distance of about a meter. He shuffled forward about two inches and waved at Thomas to continue past him. I literally had to pick him up by the armpits and shuft him off to the side.

We watched a bit of Chain Cult but we were all flaking like fuck. The place we were staying at was only a ten minute drive and the thought of bed was too much to resist. And we have a six and a half hour drive to Wroclaw tomorrow so need to get up around eight, meaning we were already under six hours sleep. On the way out we bumped into our old friend, Milosz, he was a little drunk and telling us that he really liked the show and that he really liked the new songs.

I was very pleased with that. Milosz isn’t the easiest critic to win over. It was really nice to see him anyway, however brief. As we drove off into the dark roads, the voice on Thomas’ GPS had been switched to a Darth Vader voice. Jon was sat in the dark in the back of the van, laughing, “And there kicked that weed in”. Chuffed.

The hotel was some agritourism/sports resort off some dirt road. As I was getting out of the front on the van, Jon was farting around with the side door, which is a bit stiff since there is a big dent in the side. Just as I closed my door Jon stumbled back and I punted the door into his back. I said sorry but the fucker had a bit of a go at me. Not really sure I managed to close the door on him really.

There was some thin, pale guy stood waiting outside for us to show us to our room. The Anti-System guys had just pulled up too. I guess he’d be up for a few more hours yet, since all the bands were staying here. The room was decent enough, six beds in it. There was no curtain on the window, though, so we had to hang a thick bed quilt over it. Thomas went to sleep in the van, saying he’d spare us his snoring. I don’t think it would have disturbed me tonight, though. I was out almost as soon as my head hit the huge pillow, that was about half the size of the bed.

No comments:

Post a Comment