Kingdom European tour update #1
Jan 25th, 2009
We are driving through German countryside right now, somewhere between where our ferry from Sweden docked and Hamburg, where we play tonight. Next to me Dave is reading an interview with Bitter End in a zine he picked up at Fire and Ice Fest yesterday, everyone else (Dustin, Pierce, and all of Bishop) are dozing or gazing sleepily out the windows at the passing farmland. The two Hungarians of tour, Bloodbath (our driver) and Jaki (our friend/tour manager), are sitting up front blasting Subzero and farting incessantly. Make them stop?
We've been out for one week with Bishop, but here for a total of 9 days (we came two days earlier than them and hung/played with The Carrier).
Our flight was uneventful other than Dave's overhead light turning off and on at random, waking us up and annoying the people around us. We arrived in Paris under the assumption that we'd be waiting hours for our driver and The Carrier to arrive, but as soon as we got off the plane, there they were. We excitedly hopped inside of the van and traded stories and inside jokes until we got to....
DAY ONE- Jan 16th, Bordeaux, France. Heretic Club.
So far this is the most beautiful city we've been to. Tiny winding cobblestone streets, gorgeous old churches, lights set into the ground made the city glow day and night. Kebab stands and restaurants every third step. The city smelled of oily meat (blargggh) and fries (mmmmmmm!). We ordered fries after the show and out of habit I asked for "French fries" and immediately felt like a moron.
We couldn't have asked for a better first show. Lots of singalongs and moooooshing, it was a pretty fun 25 minutes.
Europeans have a distinct sort of honesty that in America would come as rude and tactless. After the show, a kid who had seen us last time we were in Europe came over to me. "Good set. You sound more metal this time. The Carrier was good also, but I do not like them. Of their style of music, I hate them the most."
That night both us and The Carrier stayed in a freezing cold room full of bunk beds above the venue. I could see my breath inside. I tried to take a bath to warm up but since I was the last in the bathroom the water was room temperature (a normal room, not the ice box I was staying in) instead of hot. Because even that was warmer than the frosty slumber that awaited me, I debated staying in or getting out for a shivering, half-submerged 45 minutes. Misery.
The Carrier, by the way, is awesome. I had been told more than once that I would not get along with them, that they were shitty with girls, and that they would definitely try to sleep with me. None of that was true, even a little. We were all bff within minutes of meeting, all but 2 have girlfriends (who they talked constantly about missing... it was pretty cute), and none tried to sleep with me. Freddy did show Dave his dick though.
DAY TWO- Toulouse, France.
Us the the Carrier played a squat venue. This place was sprawling, 3 or more buildings covered in graffiti and murals with dark overgrown pathways connecting them all (this became truly terrifying at night when creepy middle aged squatters were lurking the shadows and I was stumbling blinding through the brush looking for the bathroom.) The building we played had a smaller vanue in the basement, a bar/lounge/computer room upstairs, and singularly the strangest person I've ever met, who was lurking from the time we arrived to well after we left. This guy was like 40 or so, tall and thin with a gnarly pubic beard and a red cloth tied on his head- as first in an almost middle eastern style, but as the night went on it devolved into a tu-pac-esque crimson knot. He wandered around babbling in French and broken english, suddenly and randomly breaking into scat-like song. So it was like this: "Are there.... vegan.... congregations in the.... woods? Brraappt doolooo bop bop brrrrrrrrrip!" He swayed his head from side to side, and approached groups of people hanging out, scatting and brippping, making half-coherant sentences over and over all night like a crazy moth bumping against a light.
The show was packed. It spilled from inside the venue up the stairs and all the way into the lounge. Our set was out of hand, the wildest show of tour so far. Everyone was moving- stage diving, crowd crawling, dancing where there was no room to dance. We were having the best time ever until the middle of "33/45", when our set and this entire tour took one serious, painful, and inconvenient turn.
The stage was a mine field of bumps, dips, and holes- all of which I had made a mental note of before we started playing, and all of which I immediately forgot about as soon as the first chord was struck. During "33/45" my foot stood half on a lump, and half hovered over a dip, right as a kid to my right fell forward onto the stage and a kid to my left pushed off of me to stage dive. I stumbled back- or tried to rather, but my foot went crashing into the to dip and my leg was braced by the fallen dude behind me, so my body twisted and spun down but my leg- ankle specifically, stayed still and tall.
You know how sometimes when you get hurt you aren't really sure if you're just hurt, or you're like, reaaaaally hurt? Adrenaline masks the pain then fear creates pains that aren't there and there's those few moment of breathless self evaluation where you cringe and wait for the truth? I fell hard, and immediately grabbed my ankle and stared in paniced anticipation- I was pretty sure I has heard at LEAST 12 snaps as I fell and was convinced that every bone in below my knee has been reduced to a splintered match stick, but, I also knew there was a slight chance I was over reacting. The dudes played on- but when I tried to get up and went topling back to stage, finding myself unable to even breath; the drums rolled out, the solos faded, and I was swarmed by people. My shoes were taken off. The pain was setting in. My ankle and foot were already swelling. A punk kid came out of nowhere with tiger balm. Who carries travel size tiger balm in their pockets at shows? Thankful, I gingerly rubbed it on with shaking hands. People wanted to carry me upstairs, but I wanted to finish the set. We didn't come all the way from America just to play for 20 minutes then eat shit. We came from America to play for 25 non-shit eating minutes. So I got up, bare foot, and we played our last song, "The Rage That Guides". The room exploded, and I hopped around like squaking one-legged pigeon.
After the set I was carried to car and taken to the ER. Adrian, who had come to the show with a treat bag for us (full of vegan cookies, cakes, candy, and spreads!) drove, Remy (who booked our Bordeaux show) came as my translator, and Pierce came to keep me company. It was a long night at the hospital. It was a Saturday night, and the bars had just let out. An endless stream of losing-side fighters poured in, their gelled hair all rumpled, their nice clothes all bloodied. And all their stupid little surgeries took up all the damn doctors and we stayed at the hospital for 6 hours.
Here's the short version of what happened:
Adrian's english was alright, but not enough for us to talk much. Remy's english was good, and we joked all night. He told us about Life Ruiner playing in Toulouse. The kids of Toulouse collectively decided it would be hilarious to get stupid hair cuts and wear dresses and pajamas to the show. The danced like, Remy hit his hand against his chest in the worldwide 2nd grade sign for... mentally handicapped people.
(Remy later sent us this... that's him in the red!)
My foot had a huge egg on the top of it. It had started as two small bumps, then grew into one, then increased in size as the night wore on. I asked the French kids if they had even seen Space Balls. They laughed a yes. "That alien that pops of out the dude's stomach and starts tap dancing? That is definitely in my foot."
I got X rayed, and 5 hours later, I was seen by a nurse and a doctor. They spoke fast, and didn't slow down for my translation. Remy did the best he could.
"It does not look like your foot in broken, but they cannot see past your alien. Your alien is very dangerous. They need to give you a cast and injections.... blood thinners, I think. You will need to give yourself injections in your stomach for 5 days, and if you do not do this, you will die."
I asked what my alien actually was and got no answer.
A cast and injections seem an awfuly severe treatment for a little stage diving collision. And I'm terrified of needles, almost as much as I'm terrified of death, so with a wuss's knee-jerk reaction I put my one good foot down and said no to injections, and no to a cast.
I was re examined by an exhausted and frustrated doctor, who then told me that the blood standing still (heyooo!!!) in my foot was very bad, and that they were going to give me medicine, crutches, and an aircast which I could use for 2 days. If in 2 days I was not walking almost normally, I needed to rush to an ER because my condition- the alien- could be fatal.
It was 7 am when we left. Adrian and Remy drove us to the Pharmacy, went in, and came out with meds and instructions for me.
"This is pain medicine, which you don't use, right? Ok. Then this medicine is for your alien. You must take this. You need to shrink the alien because it is VERY dangerous. Take this twice a day."
When we got back to squat and the sun was up. So were a very worried Dave and Dustin, who had stayed up all night in the lounge waiting for us to come back. They had company.... the scat man. "Your.... foot.... is..... brrrrrrreppppp blop blop klack klack wooooooOOOO!" He reached out to try to touch it.
It was cold. Half eaten bagettes and open containers of tartex (a disgusting european spread that tastes like catfood) layed around in the aftermath of a frenzied night. Dave paced back and forth as I told him about my potentially fatal alien. I tried to learn to use my crutches. My foot was a cantalope. No one had slept (save for Pierce in the hospital room- while snoring and farting). It was time to drive to Belgium, to our first show with Bishop, to our last show with The Carrier, so we brushed our teeth, grabbed some ice packs, and got in the van.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: In Belgium, we picked up Jaki. Since then, all "w"s and "v"s have been subject to change. For example, from here on out, the "van" will be known as the "wan", as this is what it's most commonly called.
Bloodbath (our Driver) and Dave.
Day 3, Gent, Belgium.
Bye the Carrier. Hi Jaki, hi Bishop, hi Falafel with curry ketchup. War X Child opened, it was their 3rd show, and they were so good. Also set out their stickers in an X. The band Daggers blew everyone away. Their CD is circulating the wan. Drank espresso at a bar. Almost fell with my crutches a hundred times. Got pulled under a pile on and Pierce had to stop playing to drag me out so I didn't hurt my alien.
So, in Europe all touring bands are fed both dinner and breakfast. It's an amazing custom that Americans should adopt. At breakfast the morning after the show, we were given the most delicious breakfast spread ever imagined. I don't know what it's called, but I was told it was created on a TV show. They took a traditional spiced Belgian cookie and made it spreadable, like creamy peanut butter. It's literally cookie paste. COOKIE PASTE! We went so nuts for it the kid we stayed with said he was getting in touch with promoters at our last show to make sure there were a few jars for us (this delight is available only in Belgium.) I will let you all know what it is when I find out, it's seriously worth ordering.