Thursday, October 31, 2019


Choices, choices… Are we going to join Svalbard at the thermal bath or head to Vienna for a look around there? I certainly could have done with a soothing bath after sacrificing a decent night’s sleep for a couple of beers, but I really wanted to see Vienna. I’ve played there four or five times and never seen anything more than the inside of a venue or squat. We met up with Zoli for a farewell breakfast and Liam mentioned that they had room in their van for anyone who wanted to join. It was a little tempting… But no, Vienna it would be.

Felt a little sad saying bye to Zoli, it’s been great hanging out with him again. But there will be other times ahead, I’m sure. Still, felt it a little bit, him waving to us as we jumped in a cab to take us back to the venue. The drive wasn’t too bad, and we got to see a little bit of Budapest on the way out. There is this really cool rock face on the other side of the bridge on the Buda side of town, with statues of what I assume are important old men and the like in the cliff face. Rather beautiful. Would be a nice spot to check out if one was here on a romantic weekend with your loved one I imagine, as opposed to having a bunch of grumpy, tired old men in tow.

The drive to Vienna didn’t take too long and we arrived at the Arena venue with a couple of hours to spare before load in. It was a long time ago I was last at this place, we played here a couple of times with Speedhorn in the early 2000’s. I remember being particularly fucked on one of the occasions, over in the little punk cafe on the left side of the compound. I remember something about someone smoking hash out of a dirt pipe in the ground, and maybe something about eskimos. Quite the night. This place is really cool, though. There are four or five stages, one of which is a big open air in the middle of everything. Then there are a few different brick buildings housing different small rooms, bars and stages, as well as a building where they have the band apartment. We’re playing in the smallest room, which is very good news as far as I*m concerned. It looks kinda like the room at Kafe 44 back home, holding about one hundred at a stretch. Saying that, last time Speedhorn played this room and there were only eight paying punters. And that was fucking rubbish. I remember the promoter telling me at the time that as bad as our show was, the week before he’d had Reo Speedealer on and they’d only sold four tickets, and even then only two turned up. What a kick in the tits that is.

We intended to make the most of the time we had and walked over to the metro station for the short trip into Stephansplatz by the big cathedral, right in the middle of the city, Sure beat the fuck out of haging around in the industrial estate the venue is in. The weather was perfect for sightseeing purposes. Cold, crisp and sunny, with the light just beginning to fade, giving it that perfect shimmering, moody blue/black sky as a backdrop to the sensory onslaught of magnificent buildings. It is without a doubt one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever seen. It honestly made me a little emotional. But part of that is to do with the thoughts of what a great time I would have here if I was here on holiday with the family. It kind of made me miss them a little, as much as I loved every second of the two hours Andy and I walked around, having left Johan and Jon at a pizza place. I wanted to try and find something for Jen since it’s her birthday next week, but it was all upper class designer shops or souvenir places. I did find a pair of joke Freud slippers, yes, they were actually called Freudian Slippers. I was so tempted. But at forty euros, even if they were genius, the price was a bit salty. All I ended up buying was a coffee and a delicious piece of apple strudel before we headed back to the venue for soundcheck. Bonus to find that Johan and Jon had already loaded in and set up.

Soundcheck was pretty fun. This punk lady was engineering and she was super sweet and really enthusiastic, buzzing about the place with a huge smile that infected everyone. Really cool person. The stage was tiny, though, so it was hard to get anything more than myself up there, but I’m sure it would be okay, you know, as soon as the room was full of people.

The promoter was this big bomber jacket wearing lad with a crew cut. Real military looking dude, but friendly as anything. He showed me the dressing room and proudly showed me the array of vegan food he’d shopped in, even stretching to vegan chocolate bars. Well chuffed. We had a buyout for dinner so walked over to this mall that was built out of huge old gas tower. There was a noodle restaurant there with very happy staff and good grub, so we sat in and I enjoyed a beer with dinner, just to top off a good afternoon of sightseeing. Dad was coming to the show again tonight, and he’d just texted saying he was sat in a bar across from the venue watching the football. Johan, Andy and I went by and met up with him. It was great to see him again. He bought a round in and although I was a little hesitative about having another beer close to gig time, it felt too nice to turn down. We all agreed and so sat with him and had a blether for a while. He didn’t seem to have enjoyed Vienna as much as Berlin, much to my surprise. But then it turns out he’d once again booked an absolutely shit hotel. Don’t know how many times he has to look at a few extra details beyond the price when books places, but he never learns.

We all head back to the venue with dad in time to see the second half of Svalbard. The room us pretty well filled out, there must be at least ten times as many as that Speedhorn gig here all those years ago. Seems like Svalbard had a good show, Mark tells me he really enjoyed it. Liam still wasn’t one hundred percent satisfied, but he’s admitted that’s kind of his thing. I really enjoy playing our show tonight for some reason. It’s not there was a huge response or anything. There we plenty of people but not much movement, although you could see people were enjoying it. I think it must have been seeing dad in the crowd with a big smile on his face that got me pumped up. And maybe those two beers. Jon dedicated the last song to him, saying we had a special guest in the crowd, “Gaz’s dad, Grandfather Victims, all the way from Corby.” I was a little taken aback when the crowd cheered and applauded loudly and dad’s face lit up as we gave a pumped fist. He looked well chuffed. I gave him a big, sweaty hug afterwards and he laughed, “Fucking hell, you’re minging!”

I took merch duties after the gig and gave dad a free shirt. He said he wanted one as it would be great for “Bullshit value” at the Rock among with his mates. He loves “Bullshit value”. He had to head off shortly after since he was up early for the flight home. I look forward to seeing him at Christmas when he comes to stay with us. It’s times like this when I realise I don’t see enough of him, which is too bad because we’re really close. But we’re both busy as fuck, doing our thing. The reason I’m “doing my thing” is largely down to the huge encouragement he always gave me as a kid. Some punk comes to buy some stuff and tells me how he thought it was awesome that my dad was at the show. I can only agree.

We pack the van, knowing it will be safe within the compound, and then sit down to a beer in the cosy little punk bar beside the gig room. At one point some crusty punk sits next to Andy and starts babbling about “Bookers”, saying that if we hadn’t done a show with a booking agent, our friend Zoli that is, then there would have been a lot more people at the show. I guess what he’s trying to say is that if the entrance on the door had been eight euros instead of fifteen then it would have been better. He doesn’t mean any harm by it, though, he seems like a nice enough guy. Andy is not interested, though, “I don’t care. There are far bigger problems in the world than punk rules.” Conversation over.

I laughed with Andy earlier, saying that when you sleep at the venue it’s usually when you sleep the least, since bed is comfortably close and you can go sleep at “any time”: So there’s always the chance of just one more beer since it’s all cosy and you’re enjoying a chin wag. That’s exactly how I played my hand, too. I only had two beers, but I ended up staying up until two thirty, even though I’d been ready for bed long before. It was nice sitting there with Alex, Mark and Liam though. The other Victims guys had all gone to bed, leaving me directions to the bedroom, since we were staying in a different house than the Svalbard guys and I hadn’t been to our place yet. Those two beers got me tipsy, though, and when I got to the door of the house and found it locked, it left me a bit scoobied. I rang Jon, but then found another door before he answered and hung up. I knew the fucker would be waiting for me to have a go, though. I went to step into the dark doorway and mistook the flat ground for a step and nearly went tits aloft, but saved it barely into a stumble. Not sure if the Svalbard guys saw it. Those beers must have been strong.

When I found my way up the stairs I see Jon has left a Yahtzee score sheet on the floor that he’s drawn a big arrow on, pointing at the door. I’d woken him, though, as predicted. He gives it a moan, as predicted.

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