Friday, November 13, 2015

Nurse the Hate: Euro Tour Diary Day 4 Villengen-Schwennigen

The game plan is to meet at Goldmark’s at Noon.  Christoph has promised us a trip into The Alps to a special restaurant that serves Swabian specialties.  We drive through twisting and turning roads into small villages.  The little towns set into the hills look like West Virginia, that is if West Virginia was well kept and had a sense of orderly style.  When we stop at a flooring store at an industrial park Christoph announces “Surprise!  The restaurant is the house of my mother!”.  He loves his carefully planned little surprises.  We are excited to eat his mother’s cooking though.

We go into an immaculate apartment.  It is well lit and airy.  It feels very comfortable.  Christoph’s mother is an elderly woman, yet dressed in a youthful style with jeans and trendy belt accented by fashionable sneakers.  Her male companion Heine sits in a chair and greets us cordially.  We learn that he owns the store downstairs and has retired from the flooring business, leaving his sons and grandsons to work it.  Leo is very excited to see a fellow floor man.  “I also do floors.”  Heine stares at him because he doesn’t speak English.  Leo moves into his tried and true method of when someone doesn’t understand what he is saying, he just says it louder.  “I ALSO DO FLOORS!”.  This proves to be ineffective.  Christoph translates.  Heine smiles and shakes Leo’s hand.

Christoph’s mother has the meal prepared.  We start with Fritattensuppe, a chicken tasting broth with thinly sliced pancakes acting as noodles.  It’s really good.  We then move to the main event, Schwäbische Linsen mit Spätzle.  This is allegedly the representative dish of the region.  Spaetzle noodles with lentils spooned over them with sausages.  It’s great.  It is the sort of dish that every kid argues his mother makes best, and in this case Christoph might be right.  Also is a side of pork belly which I am advised to top with Wurze, a kind of German A-1 sauce that people put on everything.  It’s the right call.  A nice crisp Rothhaus pils washes the whole thing down.  Now, where can I take a nap?

We head into the Black Forest.  Villengen-Schwennigen is the destination.  We played here a couple of years ago and it was a blast.  The venue is a place called Café Limba.  It is a tiny room by American standards.  Hell, it’s a tiny room by European standards.  Imagine if you turned your apartment living room into a nightclub.  And had bands.  It defies all logic, but it works.  The owner is Bernhard Zipfel, a big bearded iconoclastic pleasure seeking force of nature. Through his enthusiasm for the music, the whole scene comes together.  He’s happy to have us back and we are happy to be here.

It’s a really weird place to play.  We set up on the floor by the front window.  I notice the bar seems smaller, and then Zipfel explains that to accommodate another show they just took an enormous saw to the bar and cut part of it away.  It’s that kind of place.  Despite being smaller than my living room, the Limba hosted one of Germany’s top charting bands last year right before they broke.  Vibe is everything.  When we start the place is packed full.  I have audience members eight inches away from me.  I wrote the set with the idea of starting slow in speed/volume and increasing the energy as we go.  These Black Forest folks have the reputation of being the hillbillies of Germany, an idea they warmly embrace.  The energy builds.  People start slamming into each other.  I see beer being sprayed around.  People are starting to jump up and down.  We are playing faster and louder material.  I would normally suggest kicking out the rowdiest guy, but he’s the owner of the joint.  Where do you go from there?  This thing is on.  He and his close friends are the ones that are taking this thing to the brink.  One muscular guy starts doing the classic Circle jerks mosh dance.  It’s getting unpredictable.

The key with these punk rock shows is to never show fear.  The crowd must know you are the lion tamer or things will careen off the rails.  I lean in and out of the chaos, careful not to let a flying body knock into my mic stand and knock out a tooth.  A man gets shoved into Gary, by the owner if I’m not mistaken.  Gary looks like he is just about to freak.  Every time he looks down at his guitar, some grown man gets tossed in his area.  It is a bit unsettling.  Christoph starts to play bodyguard and shoves people away from Gary and his pedals when they fly in his direction.  It’s at the brink.  I slow it way the fuck down with a couple of murder ballads.  We encore with “Greasy Box” and I almost fall off Leo’s drum kit while making a grand gesture.  They want more, but Sugar’s arm is only going to take so much.  The show ends.  Afterwards Christoph says, “I saw you did not go into those last three songs on the set list.  If you did, it would have been like an atom bomb.”    

People spill out into the street finishing drinks.  The no smoking sign in the club is barely visible due to all the smoke in the room.  Sugar walks outside holding two hotel keys.  Some guy had slipped them into her pocket in a lurid fashion during the set.  “Why do you think he gave me two keys?”  It is agreed one room is for the massage table and some sort of Black Forest group sex scene and the other for rest afterwards.  I go back inside and talk to a woman that saw the Stones in 1964, and attended the Rock and Roll Circus.  “Keith was so nice.  He let me call my parents from the phone backstage to let them know I was running late.”  She buys one of our LPs.  We load up the van, take the hotel keys, and make the short drive back to Stuttgart listening to old Willie Nelson records.


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