Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Nurse the Hate: Berlin

3.8 Berlin

The road to Berlin is long.  Still, we have made sure to save enough time to explore the old city centre and cultural hub of Dresden, which was painstakingly rebuilt after being firebombed by the Allies in WWII.  It’s amazing the effort that must have been required to re-create the massive buildings with bold sculptures.  Dresden had been totally destroyed in February of 1945 in an incendiary attack that supposedly created a fire which engulfed the city that measured 1000 degrees.  Thousands of people died not from the fire, but having the oxygen literally sucked out of their lungs.  Of course, the fire didn’t help much afterwards…

I have targeted the Albertinum on the banks of the Elba River.  It houses a monster collection of 19th and 20th century paintings.  Though we only have an hour to get through this staggering amount of painting and sculpture, I still manage to buzz through the most interesting sections to me.  I am particularly impressed by the Otto Dix and Carl Lohse works.  “War” by Dix would look nice above the mantle.  The museum has a great collection of German painters as well as the requisite Matisse, Monet, Van Gogh and Degas.  The amount of sculpture housed here in incomprehensible.

We make the long walk back to the van after finding Leo who has been outside on the phone the entire time, and continues as we walk.  I get him a pretzel as it looks like the little guy could use a pick me up.  Unfortunately there is no Elephant beer.  He may need to “speak to the Elephant” as Christoph says.  I purchase a punishing bottle of Black Forest schnapps at a shop, and some cookies that may rip out everyone’s teeth on the drive to Berlin.  Is dental care covered here?

We arrive at our hostel in Berlin which is completely overrun with overstimulated Euro teens all buzzed up and looking to have their genitalia touched by strangers tonight.   You can see many of them have already changed into their “party shirts”.  We drop the bags and go to Cortina Bob’s, which is not our usual Berlin club.  For years we have played at the Wild At Heart, which is just down the street.  This time we were not booked there for some reason, which is disappointing as Wild At Heart has always been synonymous with Berlin to me.  Oh well, it’s out of my control and hopefully the new place is cool too…

Cortina Bob’s is a dark cave that smells like spilled beer and stale cigarettes, i.e. like every other real rock club on the planet.  It is so dark inside that during load in we actually lose gear.  “Hey?  Anyone seen my cymbals?”  Mosh, our guy from our European label Knock-Out Records arrives.  We love Mosh.  Leo and I have had some really good times with him, and he has had unwavering support of the Whiskey Daredevils.  That support has allowed us to do many things in Europe, and for that we are grateful.

We get Mosh one of our Astra beers from backstage, and Leo reminds him that the last time we were in Berlin Mosh didn’t drink due to him running in a road race the next day.  Mosh cocks his beer and says in a fake Hollywood German accent, “But that was last time… Zo… We have work to do.  Let’s get to it.” With that he finishes the Astra and heads back for more.  We soundcheck and then I join Mosh back in the band cave.  I will say this.  I must have sat at that table with Mosh for two hours methodically downing those stubby little Astra bottles.  I have no idea how many we had.  Nine maybe?  We discussed all kinds of topics as people drifted in and out of the cave.  It’s really great to see him and hang out.

We go out and play after a surprisingly good set by Der Franz, a German version of Billy Bob Thorton who regaled Mosh and I backstage with great stories about his year in Kingston, Jamaica.  Who doesn’t like to hear good stories about being robbed and getting in gun fights?  They don’t show you that in those Apple Vacation ads for Ocho Rio, do they?  He does a one man band, and my favorite song of his has a chorus that goes something like “Daddy don’t come home for Christmas.  You will only make mother cry.”   

Maybe it was the Club-Mate nonalcoholic drink I had with the smiling witch on it, but despite the insane number of pre-show beers I had with Mosh, I feel pretty together.  As any musician worth his salt can tell you, that can be an illusion which can disappear the second you start to try and play.  However, we play really well (I think) and we definitely have a good time.  During the set on three separate occasions a guy with mutton chop sideburns brings up shots of the bar’s specialty “Mexican Bomb” which tastes like Tomato Juice with Tabasco and well vodka to me.  I am sure there is something horrible in there too like prostitute urine, grain alcohol, or paint thinner, but what are you going to do?  The guy literally walks up on the stage with a tray of these fucking things and there is nowhere to hide.  Meanwhile Mosh keeps running up more and more Astra beers.  This thing can turn into a car wreck if we aren’t careful.

The crowd is really fun, and I especially like a guy that sings back every word to me with the exception of the new album.  When we finally finish the show after playing until the live music curfew, I wind up having a discussion with the guy.  It turns out that he is from Barcelona Spain and saw us play what can only be called a disastrous show there years earlier.  It’s pretty cool to have someone travel from Barcelona to Berlin to sing songs back to you that you wrote on a couch in Ohio.  Suddenly it hits me.  I scan my phone, and find the photo album from the tour.  Bam.  There he is in a group shot after the gig.  No shit.  It does demonstrate that no matter how fucked up a show appears to be, you should always give 100% because someone might actually be listening.   

After the dust starts to clear, I decide to start to get out gear together.  I walk to the backroom to get Leo’s cases.  When I walk in I see chaos in our dressing room as the guy that had bought us all the Mexican Bomb shots had passed out on a couple of wooden chairs, and then woke up in time to barf all over the general area.  In an act that reaffirms my belief in the Lord, my jacket was spared.  The staff apologies profusely and tries to shovel the guy out of the area.  I had assumed he worked for the bar due to how confidently he walked onto the stage with the shots, but he was a fan and that was all out of pocket.  I think he is going to feel a little peaked tomorrow.

We decide to go to the Wild At Heart so Sugar can see the club.  Gary wants nothing more than to escape to the hostel, but he is completely outvoted in that desire.  This is Berlin.  I am surprised he doesn’t grab a cab back to the hostel, as that clearly would be the play at 7 euros tops.  He instead retreats to his Squirrel seat in the freezing cold to wait for us to return.  This is a major strategic error on his part.  Now, we said we’d be back in an hour, but I know there is no fucking way we’ll return punctually.  The Wild At Heart is like a black hole.  It stays open until sunrise.  You never even know what time it is in that joint.  The band minus Gary, Mosh, the Spanish guy, and his silent female companion walk the few blocks to the club.  I buy a beer from the bartender that looks like Lemmy, and Mosh strides up holding a giant beer looking like he is gaining momentum.  Good lord is that guy a machine.  We have to be on the road by 10:45am.  I look at my watch.  It’s 3:45.  Berlin gets you every time.   


At March 20, 2013 at 12:33:00 PM EDT , Blogger Walter Zoomie said...

" should always give 100% because someone might actually be listening."

So true in life, my Buckeye friend.

These stories kick much ass. Thanks for posting them.

Safe travels and break a leg to you and your globe-trotting band mates.

At March 21, 2013 at 8:43:00 AM EDT , Blogger Greg Miller said...

Thanks amigo. We do our best. I never understand bands that look like they don't want to be there. It's a privlege to play songs you wrote to people that are interested in hearing them.


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