Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Nurse the Hate: Darmstadt Germany

2/27 Darmstadt

I walk by the bunk where Leo and Christoph are sleeping. I whisper to Christoph, “Hey… I am going to go downstairs and get some shots of chain oil to wake Sugar and Leo up.” Leo makes a little snort laugh. “That’s fucking funny… Oh! I feel soooooo much better after throwing up last night! I threw up foreeeeeevvvvvveeeeerrrrr. I had to take a shower afterwards!”

Rock and Roll.

We finally leave the Sonic Ballroom after Leo heroically prepares a breakfast of scrambled eggs and French toast from supplies we have gathered. I make Christoph stop at a gas station so I can get something to drink other than chain oil or Scion kolsch. It seems a good a time as any to get my first sausage of the tour. For those of you unaware, German gas stations at rest stops have actual high quality sandwiches available at all times. While suburbanites in America go out of their way to go to a Panera, these German gas stations make those sandwiches look like the preservative laden industrial pieces of shit they really are and always will be. I take some tongs and pull out a monster hot dog type sausage from a warming tube, and place it on a small paper plate. The routine is that you then get a roll and put it in a separate bag. It is a mystery to me why the 10 inch sausage is served with a four inch roll. You pick up the sausage with your hands, take a bite, and then take a bite of roll. It’s amazing no one has come up with the 10 inch bun. I voice my opinion that it makes no sense, which Christoph counters with, “It is German. Since it is German, it must make sense.” End of discussion.

We run around in the city center of Darmstadt, which for the most part is chain stores and charmless block buildings. We stop for a beer at an old Rathskellar that seems like something built with faux atmosphere like it was part of the Fado chain German division. I continue my culinary descent into German street food by getting a doner kebap. There are a zillion Turks in Germany. These Turks have all opened either doner stands, tobak stands, or call shops. You can’t walk 15 feet in any city without running into a doner stand, which is a glorified gyro cart but better. Sugar orders one despite not being hungry and promptly eats the entire messy sandwich. While these are best at 3 am after 200 beers, this was a pretty good one.

We check into the Hotel Regina, and it is good to be in a civilized space. I take a long shower in an attempt to wash the “rock and roll” off of me. Hell, I even shave. I feel like a new man as I throw my underwear and socks away, the last grim artifacts of the past couple of days. One of the biggest tips I can offer touring bands and even savvy travelers is to buy cheap underwear and socks and throw them away. At $2 per day, it’s much better than carrying around two weeks of sweaty socks/underpants.

We are playing a place called Bessunger Knabenschule which is a weird combination venue, practice spaces, and community center spread out over several buildings in a compound. Jergen is the promoter and has done shows with us in the past. He’s one of Christoph’s guys, so we feel like the show should be pretty good. Jergen and his sideman Armen cook up a terrific vegetarian goulash with spaetzle as we soundcheck in the snug cavern performance space. We keep running into an issue where for Gary to have any tone he has to play as loud as a jet plane taking off. However, if he turns down, the tone becomes so thin and whispy that he disappears. There are literally two choices. Sound like shit loud or sound like shit quiet. We decide to go for tone and hope that some bodies in the room soak up enough sound to make it tolerable.

The gig goes really well. The crowd literally will not let us stop playing. I keep getting feedback when I move my mic, so I am essentially a prisoner in a 3x3x3 area in front of the drums. People don’t seem to care as they bob their heads in unison, big praise for a group that looked really stiff in the beginning. After we stop for the final time, we field a bunch of awkward English compliments. “You make much rock and roll. Thank you. It good.” It is such a heartfelt series of thank yous, I really appreciate the effort to communicate with us in our native language. My favorite guy is an Italian that keeps badgering us for a deal on a CD. I tell him I have something extra for him, a sticker, and he gleefully claps saying “Special surprises! More special surprises!”. Love that guy.

It’s a low key end of the night. We go back to the hotel to use the wifi and get caught up with what is going on at home.


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