Saturday, November 14, 2015

Nurse the Hate: Euro Tour Diary 2016 Day 5 Frankfurt

I get up early after a late night talking to Oliver back at the apartment.  We talked until the wee hours about politics, business, culture, and Husker Du.  I try to creep around the apartment quietly.  It isn’t until after my shower that I realize that both Oliver and Krissi have left for work.  The Serbian cleaning woman arrives and eyes me suspiciously as I head into the city to kill a couple of hours.  I head into the market which has individual stalls with regional specialties.  I buy a horrible asskicking local liquor for a work colleague.  It is the perfect thing to have on hand when you need to teach guests a little lesson.  “Here… You should try this little something I picked up in Southern Germany.  It translates to “cherry water”.  I’m sure you will find it interesting.”

I head to a small bakerei and order an espresso and small pastry.  Other patrons linger over newspapers stretching out their coffees for hours.  I stop back at Feinherb to get a single malt scotch for my hosts.  I walk down a small backstreet and hear a deep voice. “Hey man.”  Leo and Sugar are standing there, and even though I know them it is a shock to my senses.  Leo looks Leo enough, but it is Sugar that throws me.  She is wearing a silver skirt, a skeleton hoodie, silver sparkly slip-ons and has her arm in a sling.  She sort of looks like a 1950s TV show version of what they thought people would dress like in the year 2000, or maybe some kind of crazy performance artist that keeps monkeys and Siamese cats in her apartment.  The stiff lipped housewives that slip past pretend not to notice these two crazy looking people in their midst.  It’s time to leave Stuttgart.

We arrive at our launch site at Goldmarks to see the van is completely hemmed into an impossible predicament.  It takes three of us working as a team to negotiate razor thin spaces to get the van out of the jam.  We really could have used a can opener or maybe a crane to have done the job right.  Wedging us in is a delivery van driven by a man that is a local promoter of hardcore punk shows.  I had learned earlier that this man is very upset at the moment as he fears a show he is putting on later in the week will be overrun by “nationalist skinheads from The Alps”.  Why does he think that you ask?  Well, it turns out Christoph had anonymously asked online what time the show started, and then one of his friends noticed his online name and joked about them being thugs.  It is a comic misunderstanding that has the promoter very uptight.  Despite having this perfect opportunity to simply walk over, ease this poor man’s mind  and clear the situation up, Christoph instead loves the situation he has created.  Christoph ignores the deliveryman and lets him worry about the non-existent gang of incoming goons.

We finally get loose and go pick up Gary at his hotel.  Our last contact with him had the crazy Chinese woman from the front desk screaming at him in the background to checkout.  As we have been wedged in, we are running late and this woman is not exactly someone that negotiates.  It’s some sort of German Chinese mashup of “You go now!”.  I have no idea how that scene must have fallen apart over there.  Everyone local that hears about the hotel quickly says "That woman is crazy".  I'm actually happy to have been dealing with the stuck van instead.  We scoop Gary up and start the drive to Frankfurt.

It’s a quick drive to Frankfurt and the Dreikönigskeller, a club we have played numerous times.  The club is a tiny cellar with multiple staircases crisscrossing the space creating a perfect scenario to fall down some stairs.  We pull up to the hidden alley and find the weather cold.  This time of year a gray haze hangs over the city as the combination of the valley and humidity trap the cold moist air in the city.  It has that cold clammy feel of Seattle.  I'm cold even under my layers.  Alexander, the friendly owner greets us.  He gives us directions to a local specialty restaurant nearby.  When we travel, we always like to eat local.  What’s the point of traveling across an ocean to go eat at a Hard Rock Café, you know?

The local food of Frankfurt is served in these well lit rooms with minimalist long picnic type tables.  Jugs of apple wine are seen on many of the tables.  Plates are almost all regional specialties.  Sugar has been dying to get a dish called “hand cheese with music”, which is a round of cheese topped by raw onions and olive oil.  Both she and Christoph go completely local with some wacky ass entrée of hard boiled eggs, boiled potatoes, and “green sauce”.  Frankfurt puts this sauce on everything.  It’s a multi herb sauce that tastes vaguely of dill.  Their eggs and potatoes sit in a pool of it.  I get a ladle of it next to my schnitzel.  Gary orders what is called a “boiled trout” from the English menu.  We all figure that must be a typo and really mean “broiled”.  When the plate arrives with an actual full trout staring up at Gary that has obviously been just boiled, it catches us all by surprise.  He said it was good though.  I knock back some Alsacian Riesling and we head back to the club.

Both Leo and I are struggling after dinner with our heavy meals.  The bartender quickly comes to our aid with a “special” liquor to “help bring it down”.  I don’t know what it is over here, but any medical issue that you might have is always solved by a shot of some horrible liquor someone’s grandfather cooked up in a shed up in the mountains.  It is always herbal and burns like hell all the way down.  This is no exception.  It is something called “five herb gin” that has the same basic flavor profile as “the green sauce”.  I do not see myself enjoying a glass of this on ice anytime soon.  I think I saw Jesus when it first hit my stomach.

I decide to fill the set with relatively obscure songs we haven’t played yet.  It’s a Tuesday.  Let’s get wild.  I think I have nine songs on there we haven’t played yet on the trip.  This is a gamble.  Either the band gets excited to play new material and we all sink our teeth into it, or we all approach it tentatively.  In this case we are tentative.  We kind of suck for the first 30 minutes of the set.  We rebound in the second half of the show and win approval.  I get a typically direct German “instant review” afterwards.  “For the first six and one half songs the band was not anything but mediocre.  Then after that point it began to become very special.  This is the second best I have seen you.”  The German people love to run up to you and offer criticism. This is not to bust balls though.  They really think they are helping you out.  It’s hard to get used to when you first come here. 

I talk to some nice people.  Someone gives me a giant glass of apple wine.  One woman wants to try my shirt on, which seems like a horrible idea as it is completely soaked through with sweat.  We swap shirts anyway.  Hers is a bit snug on me.  A guy standing there watching us refers to my ample chest hair as my “body wig”.  I meet some people that have seen Leo and I do shows there across 15 years.  It’s really cool to have that type of support.  I recognize a woman from the last time we played there in clunky glasses.  She could not be any more stereotypical.  I cordially ask her how she has been since the last time we played there.  She responds in a flat voice.  “I have done nothing worth talking about.  I do not want to talk about me.  There is nothing I find interesting.”  She stares at me expressionlessly.  It’s great.

Alexander approaches.  He mentions how he and his friends had purchased a ghost town in Southwest Texas called Lobo. I can’t figure out exactly what is going on there.  It’s very confusing.  They are either being dodgy about it or don’t have the language to explain what they are up to out in the dust.  The humorless German woman won’t give anything up either.  I feel like shaking everyone by their collars Schimanski style and screaming “Out with it!  Out with it!”.  I think it is some sort of doomed artist retreat where a communal type collective puts on performances for each other that become increasingly marginal as time passes without other human contact.  It must be some type of scene of existentialist plays and then afterwards everyone fucks each other.  I just can’t seem to get them to lay it out for me.  I give up and go upstairs.
We had learned that the club will close in the next two months, which genuinely saddens the locals.  The building, in a total slap in the face, will turn into a French restaurant targeting yuppies from the banking sector.  It has been a good run here.  I like this place.  Sure, it’s small and cramped and stairs are everywhere, but it’s got character.  I will be sorry to see it go.  The sound of crickets from Sugar’s phone mixed with Leo’s snoring lull me to sleep.   



At November 14, 2015 at 10:08:00 AM EST , Blogger Martin Schwoerer said...

Now, now. Here's some more unrequested German criticism. You weren't mediocre, you ROCKED in Frankfurt. What a great concert. This year's best, as far as I am concerned, next to Johnny Dowd, who also played the 3KK venue. Thank you for a great evening, and please come again.

Oh, and the blog... comic gold!

At November 14, 2015 at 12:36:00 PM EST , Blogger Greg Miller said...

Thanks Martin. I thought we kinda sucked at first and then kicked in. That was my fault though. I threw too many under rehearsed songs into the mix. Thanks for coming!

At November 23, 2015 at 7:03:00 PM EST , Blogger ChefDave said...

Been following your writing and sharing your wisdom for a couple years, Greg, thanks to Michael James and your contributions to surviving Cleveland sports, aside from this hidden gem of a blog. This is the first time I've felt compelled enough to sign in and comment as my grandfather was from Frankfurt, and my grandmother from Karlsruhe. Just kinda cool that your tour hits a small town like Karlsruhe, period. Obviously it's bigger (and a college town!!?) than what was recounted from my Oma, who got out in the late 1930s, ahead of WWII. I've never seen any mention of it anywhere, so thanks for providing me with some sort of interesting connection to both of my grandparents' home towns.

At December 20, 2015 at 12:26:00 PM EST , Blogger Greg Miller said...

Thanks! I tend to like smaller towns when traveling like this as we meet great people that aren't as jaded as large cities populations.


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