Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Jesus Christ.

Tour Blog - Mighty Sounds and Onwards


When you find yourself going 130 kph in an extremely shitty old van, and the back tire has exploded, and the van is careening all over the autobahn, and the noise inside the van is like ten thousand members of Satan's Unholy Demon Choir screaming liturgies of death into your ears, one thought invariably goes through your mind:

Shouldn't have left the lucky Punjabi dangling van ornament in the Ukraine.

But, oh, this theme was set long before, on Day 2. A big punk festival, a couple of thousand people waiting for our set, I pull my very expensive guitar out of its case and discover that a tiny piece has come loose and is nowhwere to be seen. The guitar won't work without it. We later discover that, because my very expensive guitar was made in America and we are in Europe, it is actually impossible to find a replacement. The reason? The metric and imperial systems of measurement. Day 2, no guitar. Awesome.

We pulled it out though, crashing through an awesome set and ending the show in a new and interesting way. There was this little kid, a pure German stereotype (chubby, blond, loud) dancing in the front row, and as we started to play "Elizabeth", I motioned for him to get up on stage. His eyes sparkled and he ran up to the security guard minding the stage. The security guard shook his head, firmly indicating that no-one was allowed to approach the stage. All we could see through the noise and smoke was this enraged little ball of fire begin to thump his chest and scream at the guard. The guard shrugged and let the kid through. Wow. Soon, he was up on stage, leaping around, screaming into microphones and generally displaying ten times the stage presence of most lead singers I'm aware of.

After the song, we all laughed and hugged the kid, messed his hair and told him to start a band when he got older. A strange, cooing noise arose from the crowd, and we later learned that it was actually the sound of 2,000 ovaries sighing.

No, really, we looked it up on wikipedia.

WHAT NEXT? Mighty Sounds Festival in the Czech Republic! Pretty much the greatest festival we've ever been a part of. Probably our most powerful set of all time, as well, the climax being when the SSB went crowd-surfng 30 feet from the stage and Seamus--displaying an admirable disregard for endangering others--actually threw a huge tom-drum at him. Here's what happened:



We met and drank with Smokey Bastard, a simply fantastic folkpunk band from Reading, England. The highlight of our meeting was bringing about 39 pints of beer into a quiet, hippie-ish hookah bar on the festival grounds and singing English and Canadian sea shanties to all the hippies. The Smokeys ended the session with a rendition of their fantastic song, "Steve The Twat". In general, it was just nice to speak with people who understand both our language and the concept of comic irony.

By far the best part of the festival was when one of our van keys broke in the lock and the other key was with an unbelievably drunk and completely missing Seamus. We could not get into the van. We sent massive search parties out into the night, scowering the festival for the tent of the saucy young wench he'd certainly gone off with. Two hours later, no luck. We somehow managed to score a ride back to our hotel, and came back the next morning to the festival grounds.

Ten points to the first commenter who can guess where he was.

A few days later, we found ourselves in Kiel, northern Germany. We arrived backstage to find an opening band putting eyeliner on each other backstage. Um. After finishing a set in a basement room which literally rose to an eyeliner-melting 46C during the show, I jumped off stage and immediately began complaining loudly to the locals about how all the buildings were so new, shiny and uninteresting, like the town had no history. One of them quietly informed me that Kiel had been a major centre of U-Boat construction during the war, and had thus been utterly demolished by the Allies.

"Oh," I said. "Um... gotta go!"

The next day, Rupert the Bear found himself back in Hamburg, the place where on year ago he had literally lost his head. After the show, he agreed to come out with us for "a beer". We rambled over to Hamburg's legendary Reeperbahn and entered the official pub of FC St. Pauli, the world-famous soccer/football club. We approached the bar, ordered some beers, and suddenly realized that the bartender was wearing a Dreadnoughts' shirt. He informed us that he was also the owner and that he was going to bring free beers over to our table until we were stinking drunk. "A beer" indeed. We laughed, smiled and sang all into the night, like children, fully unaware of the horrors that the following day would bring us.

Now, I don't know the names of the people who manufactured and installed the rear right tire on our van. All I know is that they had better take particular care to never encounter me.

A few hours after the "incident", we were driving like mad in a newly rented van to a festival in southern germany. We were supposed to arrive at 6 PM, and our ETA was 10:30. The festival organizers were nice enough to move the music plans around to accommodate us, and another band offered to let us use their gear (since most of our gear was lying in several pieces in what was left of a van). We arrived, caught some of the other acts, and heroically pulled out a headlning set at one in the morning in the pouring rain and suffocating mud. We finished, thanked the previous band for their gear, and learned from the organizers shortly thereafter that they had decided to charge us 100 Euro ($130 CDN) to use the gear for 30 minutes. This was deducted from our pay for the night.

If a band, any band--even Nickelback--had been through what we had just gone through and we had something they needed, we would give it to them to use, no questions asked.

We take consolation in the fact that we will never, ever be:

(1) The worst folk-rock band in the entire world, complete with terrible songwriting, computerized fiddle/accordion noises and the worst vocal performances since Bob Dylan accidentally swallowed a frog during his live rendition of "Ave Maria", and
(2) The kind of horrible human beings who can charge a group of people who just narrowly escaped death money for basically no reason.


The following evening we played a festival headlined by some extremely famous german "hip-hop" band. I don't even remember what they were called, but I do know that putting our merchandise table next to theirs was a massive mistake. They were repeatedly swarmed, and I mean swarmed, by huge gangs of 12-to-14 year-old girls, each wanting a poster, shirt or body part signed.

Now, the Dreadnoughts are no enemies of real Hip Hop, in fact, ten points to the first commenter who can name the Dreadnoughts song with A Tribe Called Quest line in it. However, we were forced to watch in disbelief as the group repeatedly passed drinks out to the crowd of teenaged girls, and gasped in horror as many of the same girls made it absolutely clear that they wanted to be taken back to the hotel later that night. One or two of us stuck around for the "set" of "music", and concluded that the majority of 12-to-14 year-old girls should probably be put in manacles every day at 4 PM for their own good.

Despite The Incident, we have currently made and played every show on this tour. This is largely because of Clemens Schlink, our german friend and roadie, a man who is kind, loyal, generous, and willing to take insane trips across the European wasteland in order to secure another van for us. Also, he is the world cup-stacking champion. You think I'm making that up? Nope.

Today, we are finally equipped with a brand new, huge, pimp-ass tour van on the way back to the Czech Republic. We just visited a small Swiss town to deposit some money, and we stopped at a red light outside the bank. We all lurched forward violently as a huge "BANG" echoed from the rear of the vehicle. Someone had rear-ended us. Hard. Three hours with the cops, a million forms, injury reports, and a few nervous phone calls to the rental company later, we are now back on the road. What. The. Fuck.

Rest assured that the next time we see something, anything Punjabi, we are buying it and hanging it from the rear view mirror. Since the old one went missing, things have been slightly... off.

4 comments:

  1. was he in the van?

    ReplyDelete
  2. he flew away to neverland?:D

    ReplyDelete
  3. Can I get a hint on the ATCQ line?
    What song?

    ReplyDelete
  4. Group riding can bring out our competitive streaks.
    grand canyon tours

    ReplyDelete