Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Nurse the Hate: Wilhelmshaven

I will attempt to enter these when I can.  Just remember that I am probably stuck in a van or in a drafty dressing room without wifi, so I won´t be able to be as punctual as I like.  I will do my best though.

Day One Feb 22, 2013  The Kling Klang, Wilhelmshaven Germany

The flight over is typical.  Screaming babies compete in volume.  Harried Turks cram belongings into overheads.  Calm collected Germans look on in private quiet disbelief at the others lack of organization.  Each German on the plane has probably planned out to the nth degree the most efficient way to pack, and has brought nothing more than they absolutely need.  Each tastefully designed compact bag was placed by them with little fanfare into the overhead compartment and then they sat calmly in their seat waiting for the others to finish their fumbling.  If it bothers me how much people don’t have their shit together on planes, I can only imagine the inner turmoil it causes a typical German business flier.

I am travelling alone as the others flew out a little earlier in the day.  The relative quiet allows me to read all of Chuck Palahniuk´s “Damned” and actually get some limited naps on the flight, a rarity for me.  Upon landing I collect all four bags in Frankfurt including a now opened box of hoodies which I nonchalantly push past customs officials in the “Nothing To Declare” line.  I may yet have a career as a drug mule.

I had my last real sleep on Wednesday at 11:30 pm.  It is now Friday at Noon.  Christoph, our usual partner in crime on these European suicide missions, is punctual as always.  He is a combination driver/tour manager/reveller in our misfortune.  Nothing makes him happier than when we are faced with terrible accommodations with bizarre outcast hosts.  He is a man that embraces schadenfreude unlike any other in Germany.  Our collective misfortune is always a great source of amusement.  When you are sleeping in a scuzzy band apartment in Hamburg with a whore throwing up in the alley outside, there is only one thing to do… laugh and speculate on how it could get worse.

I get grabbed from behind.  Sugar is jumping up and down screaming out “I found you! I found you! You’re here!”  This may look like an overreaction but allow me to point out that she just made a border crossing with Leo.  We gather everyone up and toss all the crap into the Sprinter van, once again rented from our friends at LSD Trips van rentals.  As an aside I do wonder why someone would paint “LSD Trips” on the side of a van and then go into the business of renting these vans to rock bands.  I think we can agree that rock bands as a whole are not interested in being pulled over and asked a lot of questions from police, so it would seem the extra effort to paint “LSD Trips” on these vans may be not in the interest of their key customer base.  Maybe it is a European Thing I just don´t understand.

After 11 hours of flying our reward is to get into a van and drive five hours to Wilhelmshaven Germany.  Wilhelmshaven is on the North Sea, about the least desirable destination one would travel to in February.  It is cold and gray.  A wind blows steadily from the ocean.  Stray seagulls prowl overhead.  This reminds me of someplace.  Oh yeah.  Cleveland.

We have a show tonight as an opener for a band called Mardi Gras BB.  The deal with the show is a theatre company booked Mardi Gras BB into the venue and we were added as an opener.  This is nice to only have to play 50 minutes or so, but who knows what kind of people will show up.  The guys in that band are finishing their meal when we arrive.  They stare at us as we walk in.  There is also a guy in a blow up strongman suit in women’s makeup singing the chorus of Bon Jovi’s “You Give Love A Bad Name” while five delighted friends look on.  They are snapping pictures with their phones as he bellows off key in a thick accent “Shot to de heart ahnd you to blame! Joo give luv a bat name!” over and over.  It is a weird scene to walk into as jetlagged as I am.  Leo and I sit and eat the pre show meal of chicken and vegetables.  It takes no time for him to fall into his time tested European small talk banter.  Doc, the singer of the band, is sitting next to Leo.  He is a real extroverted guy and very friendly.  Leo hits him with Old Reliable.  “So… What do you do in the band?  The singer?  Very good.  Very good.”  It is always two “very goods” as if he is providing extra assurance that he is pleased with the answer.

Sugar and Gary are gone for what seems like seven hours in an attempt to get a cellphone.  Jens, the promoter, is getting uptight about how late we are running behind schedule.  It should be noted that German scientist and German streetperson alike expect punctuality.  Showing up 17 minutes late somewhere is much much worse than urinating on the floor.  We are committing a cardinal sin, but no one wants to just come out and say “What the fuck are you assholes doing?  Just fucking soundcheck and get back on schedule!”  They finally return and it seems that a massive stroke for Jens has been avoided.

Gary, Sugar, and Leo try to make sense of their rented gear.  It can´t be easy to be jetlagged and tinkering around with strange equipment to try and sound “normal”.  We reach some kind of détente after trying to sound OK.  I heft my enormous suitcase up to the band apartment.  When we play shows that give us a band apartment, the expectation is of bunk beds, scary shower, functional toilet, and some crazy variable you couldn´t dream up if you tried.  In this case the X factor is a bowflex crammed into the small space.  It is good to know that we can blast our pecs at a moments notice.  I write up a 45 minute set list, knock back a Fernet Branca, and grab a couple of Jever beers.  Jever is the beer of the region, an extremely bitter pilsner.  I like it but Christoph hates it.  “If I go to a party and they have this or Becks, I take nothing.”

The show has filled in nicely and a large crowd is crammed into the small box room.  We get going and I realize I made a mistake with the list.  Gary forgot his slide, so Wichita Buzzcut will be a problem.  Gary goes into it and makes the surprising rock move of grabbing one of my Jever bottles to play slide.  Unfortunately it is still full.  I grab the beer from him and chug it as fast as I can so he can use it.  I wasn´t really hoping for this outcome, and it is not easy.  The last of the beer splashes down my chest.  This may have looked “rock n roll” or it may have looked “pathetic”.  I am not sure either way.

We win the crowd over and I stand by the merch table afterwards.  We do a brisk business and sign lots of CDs.  There are some shockingly drunk people in the bar as the evening winds down.  I have to tell a guy 15 times that his lost jacket is not in our merch bag.  He just cannot seem to remember that he has already looked there (see photo above of that guy).  We pose for a lot of pictures.  People are nice.  Really nice.  So nice that a man wants to be extra nice for Sugar.  When she tells him she appreciates his interest but that she is married, he says “That is OK.  I am too.  You should always have a secret garden, things that you keep from your mate, things which are beautiful.”  While a hell of a pitch, she is not sold.  I slink out of the room and head upstairs to sleep leaving the chaos downstairs.      



At February 26, 2013 at 12:20:00 PM EST , Blogger Frank said...

Truly breathtaking is all of this.

At February 26, 2013 at 1:35:00 PM EST , Blogger chris price said...

i always experience schadenfraud reading your posts.

At February 27, 2013 at 10:22:00 AM EST , Blogger Walter Zoomie said...

Now THIS is what you were MEANT to do.

Break a leg.

At February 27, 2013 at 2:09:00 PM EST , Blogger ScottyJ said...

Is it sad that I REALLY look forward to your European Tour Diary? I think not.....

At March 7, 2013 at 1:01:00 PM EST , Blogger Cannon said...

And we are off and running! These posts are comic gold. Gold,I tells ya!


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