2008 - Germany + Fluff Fest
We were asked to play the Fluff Fest in the Czech Republic for the umpteenth time, and we finally made it happen. We booked a few shows in Germany, to able to get to play one of the biggest DIY-hardcore fests in Europe. Here's the story.
Su July 20th - Leaving Helsinki
I arrived at our practice space a few minutes early. I was supposed to meet Jussi, our drummer, so he and I could sort the tour merch, which I was supposed to take with me since I was traveling by land. They in turn were supposed to bring my bass guitar by plane. With these cheap "no-frills" airlines like Ryanair, you have to improvise. Oh, and he had the keys.
I had got up unusually early to get myself ready to leave Helsinki to tour with Hero Dishonest again,
for the first time in more than a year. The time between had been our most relaxed in years. Just a couple dozen shows, slowly writing new stuff for the next record, Mikko and Vellu both becoming parents and maybe some stuff with other bands. If we were a real band, you could say we had a year off. On top of that, Jussi had been sick for the last four months, and we hadn't as much as practiced together in that time. As for myself, my other band was taking a break too, and I don't work, so I'd just been riding my bike around Helsinki and watching movies for about half a year. Needless to say it was fun to get out to play again!
So there I was hanging outside our practice space with my bass guitar, talking with some old man, about 70-80 years old, about the history of the building. He had worked there during and after the second world war, and had some interesting stories to tell. That shit fascinates me. After half an hour of talking to the man, still no sign of Jussi, and he wouldn't answer his phone either. I had to go on at that point, I only had a few hours until my train left.
Got train tickets, got travel insurance, went back home, where my girlfriend wondered why I still have my bass with me. I started packing, finally Jussi calls back. In a low, possibly hungover voice:
-"Hi, you called."
- "Yeah, weren't we supposed to meet at the practice space?"
- "Uh, yeah. Just say when."
- "Two hours ago. I don't have the time anymore."
- "Shit, I'm sorry... Why were we supposed to meet there again?"
Jussi had got home from a show with his other band I WALK THE LINE early in the morning, and had just been lying on the couch all day with his phone on mute. We decided that I'd take the bass with me despite the discomfort, and they'd get as much merch as they could on the plane. I packed, and had two hours to spare until the train. Then Mikko called. He was on his way back to Helsinki from Lappeenranta, and was arriving pretty shortly. I explained him the situation, and luckily he was able to pick me up pretty soon, and get to the practice space with me to pack the merch and drive me to the train station. Phew.
I took the train from Helsinki to Turku harbour, and proceeded to the terminal with all my luggage. The place was packed with tourists. The ship was obviously going to be full of passengers, and I only had a basic one way ticket, without a cabin place. I almost lost my nerve getting in with the rest of the herd of tourists from many ages and nationalities. I mean, getting on a ferry from Finland to Sweden is a fairly simple task. Look at your ticket, see cabin #, follow the signs and bam, you're where you need to be! Not for some of these people. They'd rather spend their time looking confused and standing in front of the escalators blocking the masses path, not knowing where to go. Gee, how 'bout SOMEWHERE IN THE
GENERAL DIRECTION OF THE 200-METER LONG, 30-METER HIGH, ENORMOUS RED SHIP MADE OUT OF STEEL, SEEN THROUGH THE ALL-GLASS WALL TO YOUR RIGHT??? HUH?! YA THINK? It didn't get much better on the ship itself, but eventually the cheery retard masses found their assigned places, and could proceed getting drunk, laid, and way too loud while I sat by the window and watched the archipelago slowly roll by.
As the ship was pretty much sold to capacity, finding a sleeping place was hard. These places are all-night party liners, so for most parts of the ship sleeping is impossible. There was a designated area for travelers without cabins, but that was ridiculously full. I went to ask from the info desk, where a strikingly beautiful Naomi Watts-lookalike was sitting behind the counter. She told me that there's a bar upstairs that's closed, and people are allowed to sleep there. I found a place by the window, and could finally relax. I had to wonder for a while what goes through the mind of people who are able to yell at the top of their voice at each other, laugh loudly and yap into their cellphones in a room where everyone else is trying to sleep. And more importantly, what goes through the collective mind of a society that doesn't allow the extermination of such individuals on sight? Well, luckily they left before anything resulting in me spending the next twelve years in prison happened, and I managed
to sleep for a few hours.
Mo July 21st, From Stockholm to Bremen
I had about one and a half hours to make it to the train station to get my ticket and board the train. It went smoothly. Train travel in Sweden is a pleasure. I paid 30€ for a ticket from Stockholm to Copenhagen, first class. That meant a free table of coffee, tea, pastries and fruit, as well as wireless internet connection for the whole trip. And the first class conductor/waitress was naturally a blonde girl, very easy on the eyes. The best sight of the whole trip was crossing the bridge from Sweden to Denmark, there was a windmill park built on water.
Switched to a Eurolines bus in Copenhagen. That had to be the crappiest international bus station I have ever seen. Just one bench, and a small Eurolines sign on a fence by the side of the street. No traffic information whatsoever, no platform numbers, not even visible signs on the buses themselves about their destination. Lots of annoyed people on the pavement wondering which bus goes where. The drivers seemed stressed about the situation, but the bus left on time. Nothing special happened during the ride. I saw a power station called DONG POWER, and a field that spelt out the word SEX in huge letters. Those aliens must have a sense of humor then. As we were arriving in Bremen a couple started arguing loudly, pissing off the rest of the bus, but apparently being totally oblivious to the hostile stares and loud coughing of their fellow passengers. Some people just baffle me, that's all I can say. Got to my hotel and slept well.
Tu July 22nd, Bremen
A pretour relaxation day in Bremen. I mostly walked around the city for the day, trying to absorb as much as I could in the space of one day. Bremen seemed like a lively smallish city, with an active cultural life and good possibilities for outdoor activities. Veggie food was good and plentiful. The area west of the central railway station was particularly interesting. But I didn't go out for drinks or anything, I just had a cursory overview of the city, and went to sleep pretty early.
We July 23rd, Hannover
Checked out of the hotel and took the tram to the airport. Jussi, Mikko and our driver Tapsa were flying to Bremen, Vellu was already in Berlin. He was getting to Hannover by train. The guys arrived, and we met up with Stachel and Franz, our German labels bosses. Franz brought the van, which had a ski compartment on top of it. It looked fucking hilarious, but we could actually store our guitars in it. We hung out at their record store for a good part of the day, occasionally stuffing ourselves with vegan hot dogs from the stand across the street. I found the book Our Band Could Be Your Life by Michael Azerrad, which I'd been wanting to read forever. We finally left for Hannover at about six.
Vellu was already sitting in front of the venue, with a bunch of kids who were waiting for the place to open. The organizer came with the backline we were renting for the tour. We set up, ate and started drinking. Luke from England arrived, he's a guy who's been our roadie on several tours, and was joining us again.
We were the only band playing, but got a pretty good crowd. The show started out ok, we had fun rocking out while the crowd seemed reserved, but still enjoying themselves. Then, a little after halfway through the p.a broke down. There was an annoying pause as the sound guy repaired it, but we got back on track after a while. We had a few more songs left when it happened again. At that point we decided to skip two songs, and play one without the microphone, so Vellu would just yell as loud as he could. It was ok, and I thought the show was over at that point and got a beer. Then I noticed they were still putting the p.a together, which they succeeded with, and we played three more songs. What a fucking mess, but at least we got through the set and managed to keep most of the crowd interested enough to stay and watch. I went outside to drink with the others, we hung out for about an hour.
The venue seemed truly awesome. Located right next to a little park where you could just hang out and drink all day, and then catch punk bands in a nice basement venue. Eventually we moved to the remarkably clean and well organized squat where we were sleeping at. We didn't have the keys, so if someone left they'd be locked out. We had to make beer runs in small groups then. Stayed up very late in front of the squat catching up with Luke and Tapsa. It was cool to notice Tapsa adapting to our inbred
brand of tour humour very quickly. It is a product of four guys traveling to hundreds of shows across the globe together, and slowly forgetting completely about the boundaries of decency or common good taste. Something you should avoid in the presence of outsiders, since most people in their right mind would find it stupid and offensive. Anyway, in this group it was all good. The last thing I remember was Jussi trying to run Vellus penis over with a bicycle. Vellu was in on the plan. I went to sleep shortly after.
Th July 24th, Leipzig
Woke up at about breakfast time. Oh how much I'd missed those German tour breakfasts! My impending heart attack got a few minutes closer again, thanks! Leipzig was just a 100 kilometers away, we got there quickly. We were playing with Discarga from Brazil, and a few local bands.
We parked our van in front of the entrance, broke out the fucking music and started to drink. The first band from Austria started, and there was no one there. I was starting to worry about the attendance, but apparently this is one of those places where the crowd shows up late. We gradually got to talk with the guys from Discarga and their distrogirl, they were all totally nice. We tried to get them to drink and disco with us, but they politely declined. I later noticed their bass player had a huge vegan-sXe tattoo on his leg. Well, at least I didn't offer them burgers.
I missed the bands from Austria and Sweden, but did watch Discarga. And holy shit what a tornado that was! They just fucking went off, one of the most energetic bands I've seen! While waiting for our show we ran into a lot of familiar faces from all over Germany, all relocated to Leipzig. Always nice. When we played the place was packed, and it went down well. Aside from Vellu making a comment about Turkish people in Finland being there for the purpose of making us pizza, which apparently offended a few people. Ok, there's two options here: either Vellu is a shameless racist, always jumping at the chance to put down subhuman races to express his white superiority. Or: he was trying to make a point, however obliquely, through means of irony. Which one do you think is the right answer? But the show was really fucking good after all, we had a great time.
After the show we wanted to disco, but pretty much no one else did, so we put up our own disco in the yard. It lasted until the morning hours, until someone from the neighboring buildings told us to stop. Sleep.
Fr July 25th, Berlin
I woke up in the large sleeping room of the squat. I climbed down from my bunk and took a shower in the flooded shower room, which had no door. Little did I know at that point that a certain drummer of ours had masturbated there, and I was ankle-deep in his seed. The nerve of some people! Jerking off in a room with no door, with 15 people sleeping in the one next to it. Everyone else was having breakfast. We said goodbye to Discarga, until the Fluff fest that is. They were going to play there as well. After loading the van we headed for Berlin.
It was very hot in the van, Jussi was driving. A German-American guy named David was with us, and we had a little talk about open relationships vs. steady ones. About 50 kilometres from Berlin we noticed the heat levels in the engine were up, and stopped for a water refill. Pretty soon it happened again, and we knew the leaking radiator had just got worse. David's German skills really came in handy here, since he could find us an open repair center with the right parts to fix the problem. Too bad the van died in the middle of a freeway exit about 200 metres from the place. Everyone knew the engine was completely fucked, and we needed a new van to make it to Fluff the next day. Again, David saved the day by calling the insurance company and making the necessary arrangements to tow the van to a service station, and get us a new van at the insurance companys expense. We split in two groups. The non-band members took the broken van, while the rest of us loaded the equipment into taxicabs, and took them to the venue. So we, the band, ate well and relaxed before the show, while the guys who were just getting a lift from us worked hard. Eventually they showed up with a 2008 model Mercedes van. Not bad!
We were originally supposed to be playing by ourselves at a different place, but the organizers decided it was smarter to make us jump on a show with the Swedish and Austrian bands from last night, who were playing at a venue called the Lokal. So we were playing first. The club seemed to specialize in emo/screamo-stuff, but a good bunch of people showed up to see us as well. The show was really good and funny, atmosphere was relaxed. We hung out at the venue for a while before going to sleep, except Vellu who opted to stay out with a bunch of friends.
Sa July 26th, Fluff Fest, Czech Republic
We went to eat in the morning to a place where we were supposed to meet up with Vellu. He turned up, looking wrecked. Turns out he had been drinking all night, getting less than an hour of sleep. Now that's not a professional thing to do. We ate pizzas and started driving out of the city with our new shiny van.
It was a beautiful day and the drive was easy, except finding the festival area itself, which took some time. We arrived a few bands before our showtime. I enjoyed Discarga again, although I liked them even more on the smaller stage in Leipzig. Dean Dirg played before us, they were a good, energetic liveband. We would not be this night. We played with the setting sun in our eyes, and the stage was hot as fuck. The sound was atrocious, and Vellu lost his voice immediately. We had long awkward pauses between blocks of songs, and just couldn't get into it at all. I for one definitely felt aware that I was "performing", and to top things off, I was attacked by a wasp in the middle of our set! I was beating my bass there, sweating my ass off and rocking out like usual when I noticed the little fucker trying to land on my chest, buzzing around very aggressively. I tried to back off a little but it seems I know had its undivided attention and it would not let me go easily. Since we usually play our songs in one big block, without breaks, I didn't need any of this. After a song or two of cat and mouse I tried running to the other side of the stage, making it look spontaneous and being generally in the good spirit of rocknroll, but the fucking thing followed me even there! After like five songs I somehow managed to lose it, and could concentrate on playing again, hoping no one noticed. No such luck. While fuming backstage about the shitty show, a Belarusian kid came over and said, kinda laughing, "Were you running away from a wasp?". Bummer.
Lukes honest estimation about the show was "somewhere between average and shit". And he's a fan, plus has seen more than a hundred shows from us. It's safe to say we didn't make too many new friends here, although I wonder if that would have been the case even without us sucking. The crowd was mostly a metalcore crowd, and our music is pretty far from that. Anyway, all of us were immensely
pissed off after the show, having basically come here for this festival, only to suck. Time to get loaded.
I mostly did not like the bands who were on for the rest of the night, I find metalcore totally boring. Not my punk. And all the hyper straight edge vegan posturing seemed a bit funny to me.
I met some nice people though, and witnessed the most agressive disco I've ever seen. I had kind of been looking forward to the disco party, but couldn't really get into it after all. It was just an overcrowded tent with people, instead of dancing, yelling out the lyrics to 80's disco songs in unison! At some point I made the walk to a gas station to get more beer, and ended up getting lost and walking by the side of a freeway in pitch black darkness, against oncoming traffic. It was kinda scary, luckily I was very, very, very drunk. I stayed up till very late, and slept in one of the merch tents.
Photos stolen from Face The Show
Su July 27th, Prague
With the tour over, Jussi, Mikko and Tapsa headed back to Bremen. They had to drive via Berlin and Hannover to drop all the equipment we'd borrowed. The dude from Yellow dog joined them, as did his girlfriend. Vellu and I took a train to Prague, while Luke stayed at the fest for one more night. Vellus girlfriend and son were in Prague, we met up with them at Vaclavski Namesti, the big pedestrian area in the centrum. It was hot as hell, and dragging all my stuff around while trying to find a hostel was painful. Eventually I found one, but stayed there only for one night. You see, I had noisy neighbors, and there was a railing outside the windows, where people would go for cigarettes, and walk from room to room. It was pretty annoying to notice someone peeking through the window in the middle of the night, while trying to sleep naked. Anyway, my trip would go on for weeks, taking me to see a punk show in Belgrade, a museum with shot down American fighter jets in the same city, and Iron Maiden in Budapest. But that's another story.