2007 in Baltics - The Informer Granny tour
Th February 15th: Tallinn, Estonia
The (communist) Informer Granny already in action. Keep your heads DOWN!
Helsinki can still get pretty cold in mid-february, after all. Despite the winter being noticably warm, with a black christmas and new year, the winter came after all. This week it was almost -20 outside, which meant we couldn't keep our stuff in the van overnight, and had to wake up at six to load the van before heading for the 8 am. ferry to Estonia. Thank god for sleeping pills.
We got everything done, and got to the harbor well in time. Mikko and I got the buffet breakfast, while Jussi and Vellu sat in the disco, that was unfortunately pretty quiet during the day. We bought some cider and long drinks on the ferry, because they're usually hard to come by abroad.
So why were we here again? Our friends from the ska band Dr.Green in Vilnius were putting on their annual birthday fest, and wanted us to play there. We booked a couple of shows on the way, and gladly agreed to go to Vilnius. We were traveling in a cold crappy van with our whole backline, with three shows to do, in the capitals of each of the Baltic countries. The first one was in Tallinn, Estonia, a country where Hero Dishonest hasn't played since 1999.
The ferry arrived in Tallinn around noon, and as we got through the customs I noticed, to my disappointment, that it was every bit as cold in Estonia as it was in Finland. We did some walking around the old town, but quickly decided it was too freezing for the tourist stuff. We went for coffee instead. After a couple of hours of hanging out we started heading towards the club. We got there before the organizers did, and tried to keep warm by drinking in the van. Luckily they got there pretty soon.
The first one to meet up with us was a girl who did shows together with a guy named Skot. Her name escapes me. The club they put up the shows in seemed like a reggae-oriented place, judging by the decorations and graffitti on the wall. We set up, ate and started waiting for the show. I mostly tried to sleep on tables with all my clothes on, it was very cold inside as well. The other bands started gradually showing up, there were four bands playing. We were surprised that the crowd was pretty big too, especially for a Thursday night. Three guys from St Petersburg had traveled to see all of our shows, wow! The first band to play was from Riga, I liked them a lot. They had a great singer. Forgot the name. I don't remember the next band, I rarely watch the bands that are on right before us. Our turn came third, and it was a very good show. Some guy broke Jussi's cymbal, which cost him 200€ though. But Tallinn really positively surprised us, we had fun.
After the show we even had to sign a bunch of autographs, which is pretty usual in eastern Europe, but really weird for a Finnish punk band. The fourth band playing was actually a surprise for us, but they really were quite good. I forget the name. We met a guy during their set, who promised us a place to stay and a party. Mikko was the only one to stick with the original plan to sleep at Scotts place, the rest of us piled into our van along with about 20 punk kids, and drove to the party. We literally sat under a pile of people. Everyone except Jussi, who was driving, was really drunk, and Jussi did get pissed off at everyone yelling the wrong directions at the same time.
The party was ok, the music sucked though. Spanish industrial ska(!!!! Now who the FUCK came up with THAT, and why on earth did they think it was a good idea??!!!), 90's techno and shit. We still went to sleep relatively early, since the show ended at ten already. What I learned: I'm closed minded and a coward for not doing LSD, as told by a 16-year old girl.
Finally, sleeping well hidden from the sight of The (communist) Informer Granny
Fr February 15th: Riga, Latvia
I woke up at noon with a pounding headache. The kids had drank all our booze during the night, but were making up for that by fixing us a really nice breakfast. I wondered if they'd slept at all. We ate and left to meet Mikko and our hosts in the old town. After a quick stop at some tex-mex place, when we got back to the van, we noticed that we'd left the front door unlocked for the whole time we were gone! Miraculously, nothing had been stolen. The net worth of the equipment we had lying in the van was several thousand euros. Anyway, Jussi took the wheel, and we headed towards Riga. It was freezing again, but I tried to sleep for most of the ride.
We met Ainars, our host at a club called the Depo, which is the place in Riga that we can locate without a map. He showed the way to the art space, called dirty Deal Cafe, at some industrial district on the edge of central Riga. It was a huge cold hall right next to the river, it must be a great place in the summer. It was nice this time too, as soon as they got it heated up. There was a disco party in the hall next door, and we decided to check it out after the show. We also met Julius, a friend of ours from Vilnius.
The first band playing was industrial punk, it seemed most of the crowd had come to see them. The show was actually a last minute thing, as our original show in Riga was canceled due to a double booking at the Depo, so I was glad there was a somewhat popular local band to get the crowd in. I think there was another band playing before us. We mostly sat behind the distro and tried to keep warm by sipping a drink called 999, which we christened 666. It was kinda like Jägermeister, but more bitter.
Our show was pretty good, the crowd was into us and we played a long set, at least for us. It's customary in eastern Europe I guess. After the show most of us were dead tired, and our visit to the disco party turned out to be pretty brief. That was unfortunate, since it was crowded and everyone seemed to be having a lot of fun. But we didn't even have any booze with us so we could get in a party mood after the session the night before, and we had to drive to another town to sleep. I drove. An Italian guy named Leo joined us. The place was in Jurmala, a small town about 30 kilometres from Riga, and the house was awesome. Ate well, had a couple of beers and slept in a really warm room (actually it was almost like a sauna).
Sa February 16th: Vilnius, Lithuania
Julius had told me in the disco, that the Dr Green birthday parties are always huge, and he wouldn't be surprised if a 1000 people showed up. I was a bit sceptical, but curious about the show. I hopped in the drivers seat, and drove our lovely hosts to Riga, after which we proceeded towards Vilnius with Ainars, Leo and Julius aboard. We thought we were in a real hurry, since we had the whole backline, but were wrong. Everything was set up when we arrived, house backline. The show was at a big club located in an even bigger arena of some kind. There was the big hall with the stage, a bar, and a disco room. We soundchecked and started to wait for the show. It got real crazy, 700 people showed up and there was a small riot outside so they could get in from the cold. We couldn't even get our merch from the van, the guards wouldn't let us out.
The first local band played, and the huge crowd just lost it completely. The second band was even better. After they were done we took the stage, the room was hot as hell and packed. One of the best shows ever, eventhough it was so hot and humid that the instruments wouldn't stay in tune. I even got to crowdsurf while playing at one point. The stage was also full of photographers, which was kind of weird but ok.
Photos by unknown, presumably by The (communist) Informer Granny
After the show we relaxed with beers and some 666, while we got offers on what to do for the night. I already had a party figured out when the others brought me the news. We're leaving! The guys had realized that the drive would be very long, and to make it to the ferry we'd have to start driving pretty much right away. It sucked sweaty goat balls, but what can you do.
The van was cold as fuck, and filled with equipment, so sleeping was very uncomfortable. I slept in an L-shaped position with my upper body on one bench, and my feet on the one facing it. With the fucking bass drum on my lap, too! Mikko drove, but he had to pull over and sleep for an hour or two. I didn't notice though. I woke up when we dropped Ainars off near Riga, I drove for a big part of Estonia.
We had some time to kill so we found a restaurant before getting back to Helsinki. It was marginally better than the one we visited on Thursday. The boatride back was extremely tiring. No cabins, so we couldn't sleep. Once we got back we attracted some attention with our van. I had scrawled a few words to the heavy layer of dust covering the side windows. It said "Vittu että on hienoa olla punkkari... JA HOMO!", roughly translated as "Fuck it's great to be a punk rocker... AND GAY!" We watched people pass us by in the line to passport control, and could just read their lips when they tried to read it, and then went like "OH MY GOD!" once they figured out what it said. They appeared seriously offended! Why, what's wrong with being a punk rocker?
So, what can I say to sum it up... Holy shit what a weekend! Thanks to Skot and the Tallinn punks for the good times! Ainars for the show in Riga, as well as fun travel company. Thomas and the Dr Green gang for the awesome show in Vilnius, and the hospitable locals, who we couldn't party with this time. Maybe next time! And of course last but not least, the St.Petersburg kids who came to see all of our shows! See ya again!