Monday, September 7, 2009

05.27.09: Amsterdam @ Melkweg

It’s the 3 in the morning. There’s crust in our eyes and whiskey in our blood. We stumble out of the van towards the service station paninis. Merch and backline are sprawled out over the parking lot, and I'm not sure if we should perk up, or continue in our half-dazed states.

Up until this point, we'd been anticipating this very moment: the tour bus. Mouths drop like white gifts from a seagull-filled sky. The shuttle door opens and shit, it’s Mr. Steve (along with our new Sound Guy Dominic). Mr. Steve keeps a tight ship, and for two weeks, we’re going to be his sailor bitches. He’s been doing this 17+ years, although that’s just some number I made up. We spend an hour arranging, and rearranging the gear. Somewhere in there Jared realizes it's cold, and realizes he can't find his jacket. The theory: it went missing at The Great Escape. Unfortunately, in addition to an almost-empty pack of cigs, and maybe a wallet, he also left his passport in his blazer. Hopefully it's not an omen.

We have to truck on. After checking out our spacious tour-mobile, we pass out in our individual bunks. I made sure I had a top bunk. I’m a topper.

It's bright out and there's a mist in our lungs. We wake up in Amsterdam and a parked cop car is blocking the bus. Cursing, spitting, none of these happen as we make it to the front of the venue. Laundry. We need to do laundry. Caféshop. Me and Jared need to do caféshop.

Our search for hashy mind expansion finds us in a bar, complete with laughing sycophants. There are numerous vaporizers there; 8 of them in fact. So we read the instructions, which are just pictures that explain why we can’t work the vaporizers. Ten minutes later and we realize we need a pipe from the bar. The bartender calls us dumb American motherfuckers under her breath. But coming from a Dutch-Jamaican woman, it sounds arousingly charming.

Screw it. We roll a spliff downstairs and walk back. All Jared wants to do is not puke. All I want to do is shrooms, which are impossible to obtain these days. What the hell am I doing walking around Amsterdam then?

While my threads soak in the venue's laundry room, Cole and Jared leave to chill with Deerhunter. The venue Paradiso is just up the road, so me and Martin take off not long after. Moses and Lockett greet us at the cathedral entrance, and we follow a red line on the floor towards the backstage. Bradford and Josh are smoking mid-grade Euro cigs, while laughs and half-filled glasses of Maker’s Mark light up the room. We leave Deerhunter to their vocal exercises, which always end in a big group hug.

About an hour later, Bradford comes by our venue to enjoy some entrecote, merlot, and a much-deserved helping of merch. That’s when I hear the first band play Dead Moon/The Lollipop Shoppe’s ‘You Must Be a Witch’, which is now part of the BL’s setlist. And of course, the Black Lips had to play it. Again, I couldn't check out the show since merch was outside. At least I had cups of Jameson lined up.

With handfuls of burning hash and cigs, we head to Paradiso to meet back up with Deerhunter. It takes us twenty minutes to check out the discotheque; it was covered in suck. And of course, they split early.

Back on the bus, we enjoy competitive Tetris when I need a toke break. I stumble through a gauntlet of Caucasian-American legs, and stumble out of the bus. Outside, I run into the band that played on the other side of the venue; it’s New Found Glory. New Found Fucking Glory. Yea, I knew they were playing. I could even hear them playing from merch. But to actually see these dudes at 4AM, outside our bus, asking me if I wanna smoke? No way could I say no.

And I gotta say, they’re pretty nice guys.

05.26.09: London @ Electric Ballroom

It’s like the end of summer camp. You say goodbye to the bunkmates that you puked and did drugs with. It gets sentimental. Your heart swells to the size of a basketball, and you lose feeling in your left side. It’s our last day with Mika Miko, Gringo Star, and Sound Guy Martin Smitty. The guys go for some Vietnamese up the road, as a gaggle of girls dressed in denim arrive. Nat and Taka are at the forefront, of course. Not one to be leftout of uniformed endeavors, I find an over-sized denim shirt in our pile of free shwag, and I'm in.

During the show, the stage tech can't get the lights working properly; it takes about half the set to get it right. In retaliation, the crowd throws shoes towards the stage and fists towards each other. Ian can't stop breaking strings. It's before the encore and Joe goes missing. Arms and legs are flailing backstage.

It’s sweaty denim chaos outside when we load up, so we take a gang picture. All of the Americans are looking for trouble, so we head over to this former horse stable of a bar. It’s massive and 8 rooms long. Someone sneaks in the Jameson, and I play my best game of 8 ball. Cole goes missing. Liam Gallagher shows up, but I was blinded by the lack of lighting. The tunes were choice. Smitty’s girl picks up our sound man, while Nick GS kisses me goodbye. Mika Miko dog pile us, and I can't recall how the hell we got back to the van.

Probably drunk.

05.25.09: UK Day Off

Seriously, we need to do some laundry. Cole’s been goin commando (sans underwear), and Jared’s shirts are covered in a thick grimy layer. Arwen and Natsumi meet us at the City Hotel. Everyone is waiting in the car for me, and I can’t seem to get back into my room to put away my groceries/beer. No matter how many times I visit reception for a key, they can't get it right. We're damn late, they're damn pissed, and I finally get the right damn key. Twenty minutes later, I get downstairs and hop into a car full of volatile people. I cower my head in the leather car interior.

We get to Diesel Radio, where Cole and Jared have a DJ session. After climbing to the grueling 6th floor, we find the Montreal outfit Dutchess Says live in front of a studio audience. In a sporadic moment of noisy fury, the singer hands me the mic and I do my best banshee wail. We get fitted for jeans, which are two sizes too big and 5 sizes too long. I'm still waiting for mine to arrive in the mail.

Cole and Jared takeover the airwaves, playing the best unknown Brazilian punk and Gospel hits around. Meanwhile, the front lounge/showroom is an entire wreck. Bits of wine bottles and crisps mash into confetti pulp on the floor. Wine puddles are everywhere. Natsumi and Taka start smoking cigarettes inside, and everyone follows suit. We order massive quantities of rectangular pizza. I can’t even describe what they resemble. Still, not half bad.

Later, someone orders sambuca at some random bar, which pretty much knocks us all out. Me and Nat share a moment with a random stranger on our way back to the hotel. Inside, many components of our gang congregate in our room. Smoke rolls out the 3rd story window as we watch BBC, nodding our head in repulsive disgust. The refrigerator Strongbow flows like water, and spliffs sound like a great idea.

Spliffs: it's what's for dinner.

05.24.09: Academy 3 @ Manchester

We load in to Academy 3, which is a 3-tiered venue inside of an elementary school. MM’s TM Matt uses the boys' room piss trough, and a cockroach crawls out from the drain. Everyone herds into the vinyl conference room where various members eat, sleep, steal wi-fi, or dream about any of the aforementioned. I get jealous of MM’s Chinese food, and I begrudgingly hack at the mountain of crisps in the corner.

With no room inside the venue, merch is setup outside. If only there was a newspaper, a game of Scrabble, ANYTHING to look at besides an empty flight of stairs to a lonely landscape. Me and TM Matt discuss our post-tour exercise regime, and in writing this, I realize I did not follow through. Regret.

We finish packing up. And of course, Cole’s guitar goes missing. It was right up on stage, and someone snagged it. He flips out. I do a triple check backstage, and snag some beers along the way. Ok, so one of those guitars was Bradford’s from Deerhunter. The other is his baby, a 1983 Squier Bullet outfitted with pickup from an Epiphone strat. Shit.

In the van ride back, someone starts singing TV party, and for some reason we absolutely MUST figure it out. Passing around the guitar like a lit spliff, the guitar ends up in my hands. Everyone shouts out the chords, and we were all wrong. Meanwhile, we look for the after party bar with the 2 bands. No dice. They left us by ourselves to party. Fortunately, the beers hold up.

05.23.09: Glasgow @ Classic Grand

We haul our equipment up 15 flights of stairs to the spacious venue. Gringo Star makes van burritos as we celebrate Nick Firguele’s birthday. There’s confusion over what band gets which whiskey. I hit the Jack Daniels way too hard, and skulk the streets in search of camera equipment; everything shuts down at 6. I get back in time to watch Nick Gringo Star get hassled by security. It's a big turnout, but not a big merch night. Perhaps the Scots aren't into my minty fresh breath?

It’s backstage, and my laptop goes missing. My connection to online observation is diminished. Upstairs. Downstairs. Back upstairs; there’s no trace. TM Martin tells me to kiss my bag adios. I thought I saw Miko Miko sift through its contents. I swore that Gringo Star mistook it for one of theirs. This goes on for an hour.

Fortunately, J Brad backhands me and presents my laptop. Technology has a way of becoming your electronic leash.

The crew of GS, MM, and BL's hits Glasgow’s neon bar scene. We stand at the cluttered mess of a line around this club. Nick’s abilities of persuasion get us all in, ahead of the line, without a cover; he’s a mysteriously charming man.

If you call the lost of art of moshing dancing, then yes, we danced. They play Elvis and Dead Kennedys, as Jessie and Cole jump me in a beer-soaked mess. Nick starts dancing, and for whatever reason, some girl slaps him and tosses a full cup of Scotch in his face. We head outside, gasping for air and clarity. The noodle shop beckons us across the street.

The scene inside resembles a 90's soCal hardcore punk show. Chinese cooks scream numbers into a battery-sized microphone, and the crowd crawls over each for duck in black bean sauce. At least that’s what I got. Outside, we aimlessly try to hail down taxis until I get right into the middle of the street, forcing one to suddenly halt. But being gentlemen of a Southern persuasion, we give it to Mika Miko. An hour laterthe streets are still packed, and our arms are lifeless and dangling in the air, waiting for our yellow beam of automobile sunshine.

At 6 am I open the door to my room, and with darkened flaps under my eyes, I behold our domicile. On\ the desk lies one half-eaten burrito-sized haggis. I had to try some, braving E.coli in the process. Instead of the usual Tv set, our room is fitted with a Macs blaring the likes of soft core porn. Jared is passed out with a remote in one hand, and cigs in the other.

It was pretty pimp.


Saturday, May 30, 2009

05.22.09: Dublin @ Crawdaddy

Before the show me, Cole, and Ian get chewed out by a French-looking Polish waitress. Ian orders a concoction that tastes like Berries and Crème Lifesavers. Why Ian, why?

Two fights break out during the show. Two dudes throw punches like windmills. The gargantuan bodyguard tries to eject one of them, but the 5 foot terror had a lot of fight in him. It takes 3 guys to escort him out. The other guy goes more peaceably. Tons of people take over the stage during Bad Kids. Fortunately, security eased up, and the crowd can't stop cheering.

After the show Ian and Cole try to find Deerhunter. Some of the aforementioned mob take us for a walk, which was more like a hike. After a drunken eternity, me and Joe hit up this party where the tenants were getting evicted. I repeatedly kick a hole in the wall. People were pissed, but later became unpissed. They sang us The Pogues' 'Dirty Old Town' in drunken unison. We instantly score some hash.

The taxi takes us to the wrong O' Callaghan Hotel, of which there are 5. I think it's a deal O' Callaghan makes with the taxis, so tourists will spend twice as much fare to get to the right hotel. Either way we're low on Euros and high on life.

Because you can't live the high life without feelin high.

05.21.09: Liverpool @ Sound City Festival

Jared departs at 8 in the morning to meet up with Dan. Best of luck in court buddy.

Atypically-dressed punks scatter the streets of Liverpool. We coast by The Cavern, famous for Beatles’ recognition. It's a festival of sorts, but for whatever reason, Gringo Star is playing a different stage. Instead, Crystal Antlers fills the American void with their bongo-filled psych rock. I sound check on bass. Jared’s bass is like a pair pants that is pulled up way too high.

Hondo and Dan ATC storm into the club in victorious clamor. With charges dropped, Jared gleefully gulps the hidden Jameson at merch. Rebecca also arrives to shove cider in my face. She was way too drunk. The choice of backstage beer was Tsing Tsao, complete with the peel-back tabs. Strange, but highly downable.

Upon load out the nightlife picks up. We all congregate at Bumper. While the pseudo-metropolitan crowd tries to propagate their species, the Americans take over the right side of the bar. I start smashing the hard plastic cups on the floor, stomping them like light bulbs. They ask me to stop. We start smoking inside. They ask us to stop. Jessie Mika Miko picks me off the floor, only to drop me back down, face first. They ask her to stop. We should have been kicked out at least 5 separate times. Dan and Martin have long since departed.

Me, Cole, and Jared search for hash on the way to the hotel. One driver almost hits Cole; he kicks the driver side with his clunky boots. I meet a Swedish girl who was totally into me. Cole and Jared abruptly drag me away. I guess her boyfriends are the jealous type.