We all slept well, at least. The room at the punk house was warm and cosy and the bed comfortable enough to make me want to stay in it all morning. I was determined to make something of today, though, since the last two days we’d basically spent in the van and we’d be doing the same tomorrow. Since the drive to Eindhoven was short we decided we’d stop off in Köln on the way and do something human again. First we took breakfast with the house crew and the local band from last night. It was of an equally high standard as the dinner the guys made last night. Nice start to the day. After thanking Timo for everything again, we loaded the van and made our way out of little Wermelskirchen. Timo said they were having a big anniversary festival here next year for the house’s 20th. anniversary or something, which sounded good, although Timo’s estimation of being able to fit two and a half thousand in the place and it’s surrounding grounds seemed a little optimistic, to say the least.
Köln is on the opposite scale to Vienna, in that, I’ve also been there loads but only ever played one show. It used to be a regular day-off-spot on the Speedhorn tours in the era of the nightliner. We always used to park up by the river and then walk around the cathedral for a bit before hitting some bar. I remember one time waking up here and finding Roddy our guitar tech sat on the bottom lounge of the bus, looking distraught. He’d hooked up with some girl but then cacked his pants when he got to her place and had to make a sharp exit. And then when he got back to the bus he was caught throwing his dirty skidders in the bushes by some old couple walking their dog by the river. I think about that every time I think of Köln.
The couple of hours we spent in the city were much needed. The cathedral is an incredible building. I’ve seen its magnificence from the outside many times, but today was the first time I’d been inside, if my memory holds. Johan abstained and waited for us outside among the masses of tourists. Something about the inside of church buildings freaks him out a bit. It was of course, mind blowingly grandiose inside. I know what Johan means, though. There is something quite fucking heavy about being inside a gigantic church. Upon leaving we checked out a photo display depicting the devastation the bombs of the Second World War had left on the city. It seems like the cathedral was the only place left standing. It’s hard to imagine living through that, seeing Europe in the throes of war, but it really wasn’t that long ago. It’s easy to live in the now when both the past and the future are terrifying.
There wasn’t much happening around the area, it looked like one of those places that is halfway between industrial estate being fazed out and culture moving in. The centre was about twenty minutes walk away, although we didn’t know that at the time, we just got lucky and stumbled across the correct direction. We only made it to the outskirts of the centre, though, since the first street we walked into that had any signs of life provided me with my target. A chip shop selling chips and peanut sauce. And fuck me, they were absolutely magnificent! Well worth the walk.
After that we made our way back along the same boring road we came along. I’ve been to Eindhoven a few times this last few years, and there isn’t that much to see. All I needed was the chips, and the walk there and back. When we get back to the venue Johan and I sit in the shared dressing room and watch the end of the Liverpool game.
Even the smallest stage that we’re playing is still in a big room that would normally constitute a massive gig. It is, of course, empty bar a couple of punks, one wearing a Tragedy t-shirt, whilst we line check. I wonder how this is going to go down, but Jon tells me he met some guy at the merch that had flown in from Greece to see us. Andy says he hopes he hasn’t just come to see us here. Doubtful. That would be silly indeed.
To my surprise the show goes pretty well. I guess the thing with Victims is that we end up somewhere between the crust, punk and hardcore crowds, which means that when we play these heavily niched shows we sometimes act as a welcome break. We probably still play to one of the smallest crowds of the festival, but there must be five or six hundred in by the midway part of the set and there are some mohawks flying around the empty semi circle in front of the stage. The sound on stage is a bit chaotic which makes it a little bit hard to totally commit to, but the crowd reaction is way better than I thought it would be. Johan took the merch afterwards and he says there was a long queue waiting for him when he got there. Sometimes you never know. I head over to see how he’s doing and en up watching most of the old New York HC band, Outburst, set. It’s pretty naff if I’m honest. The guitar sound is as dull as dishwater and after every song the old boy vocals bangs on about how punk rock they are. I don’t know, seems a bit lame. Of course, there are about fifteen hundred people watching them going mental, so what the fuck do I know?
It’s now officially over. We want to get going as soon as possible and the merch seems to be done. We’re driving three and a half hours tonight and then doing the rest tomorrow. There is nothing to do but suck it up. We grab a quick bit of dinner from catering before we go, as well as packing a bin bag full of Red Bulls, water and other snacks.
I drive the first two and a half hours, leaving is nervously close to emptying the tank of diesel before finally finding a twenty four hour place. I could not imagine the horror of being stranded in the middle of nowhere at this point. I saw the tank was getting low but then all of a sudden all the petty stations just seemed to disappear. It’s a relief to get into the hotel bed around two am. I just wish I’d be able to sleep in a bit longer than five and a half hours before continuing on the long road home tomorrow...