As we slept in the van, sweat from the night before dried in our salt-stained clothes. Oh, tour. We headed to a girl's "flat" (that's what they call apartments in Europe), where we were told that we could sleep there for a few hours, take showers (what a luxury!), and get fed (what a luxury!) We pulled into a huge apartment complex on the outskirts of St Pete, and the girl led us up a graffiti-covered cement staircase littered with empty beer bottles. Her flat was small and cute, like a hobbit home. A tiny table set for two. A small couch and a single chair. There was hardly enough room for all of us to stand, forget lay out sleeping bags, so some of the dudes went to sleep in the van.
Something felt vaguely off about her place. The drab, brown wall paper. The oiled wooden furniture. The "tick... tick... tick" echoing eerily through the rooms. It reminded me of something. I noticed the maroon crushed velvet pillow on the couch. Ahhh. Yes. Grandparents. This had to be her grandparent's hobbit hole, not hers. I figured they either had died and left it to her and she was too sentimental to get rid of their things (as we've stayed at many places like that), or maybe were just on vacation.
I fell asleep to the sound and smell of falafel being fried, and awoke to the dudes yelling "We'll wake her up! Stop! Stop! STOP!" at a young Russian girl with braces who was shaking me violently. "FUCK!! I'M UP!" God fucking damn it. Who the hell was she waking me up in some flat that was probably hers? I rolled off her couch, groggy, hungry, and annoyed. A small group of girls were moving in circle 8s around the tiny home, telling us to "Hurry!" I wet my hair in the sink and before I pulled the towel off one of the girls was coming at me with a hair dryer. "We have not much time. Maybe you need a hair dryer." Man, fuck off. What is this mad rush? I haven't even eaten yet! I was so tired. I deeply resented these girls who were kind enough to let us crash at their place and considerate enough to make us food, because they had woken and rushed me. In my own personal hell, someone is following me around telling me to be quick. I'm also in wet socks, forever. So glad hell isn't real.
I wove through the girls and the dudes all rushing for unknown reasons- the guys stuffing falafel into their mouths and downing juice, me trying to get my things ready to "hurry!" to the van, the girls chattering in broken english for us to pick up the pace. Dave (my Mother Hen, always) had saved me a small plate of food but I couldn't stomach anything after waking up in a panic. I pushed my way to the kitchen for a sip of anything to ease my dry throat (tap water was not safe for us to drink there so I was terribly dehydrated), and then I heard it.
It started far away. A deep rumble, rising in the staircase outside the front door. As it grew closer everyone in the hobbit hole fell silent. The rumble became a roar, a devil's voice from the bowels of the apartment complex. It was the man behind the hurry, the owner of the crushed velvet pillow, the Grandfather.
The door burst open so hard sparks probably flew. I hid in the kitchen, terrified, clutching my glass of juice. Grandpa was on fire. He stormed through the tiny house shouting short, harsh, consonant-filled words, gesturing furiously at everything, Obviously, we weren't supposed to be there. A girl came over to me. "Uhh... we go now." Fuck yes we go now. We bolted out into the rain, the Ukrainian friend of the girl we stayed with huddled under the overhang with us. "I have never met her Grandfather, and I hope to never meet him again." We all agreed, and headed to the club, leaving the lion to his den and bringing his poor, flustered Granddaughter with us.
We walked around St Petersburg. It was beautiful, and very metropolitan.
As we approached the club, something stranger than the previous night's recognition happened. It became quickly obvious that in St Petersburg, Russia- in and around Orlandia Club- I am a bonafide celebrity. Dave and I walked by kids milling around outside the venue on our way to the back door. "Dah-vin!"
"DAH-VIN! I make one photo with you, ok?" A small group of dudes grinned at me, one with camera in hand. Surreal. I put my arm around the dude and we snapped a couple photos. "You are badass. You are goddess." Dave and I awkwardly made our way inside.
This was to only be the start of my Eastern European fame. My 15 minutes would continue for 3 solid, strange days. Throughout the night, I took photo after photo. I'd say I literally posed for 150 pictures. I signed autographs. I did a private portrait shoot in a dark bathroom. My name was called constantly. "Dah-vin!" I'd introduce myself to people and they'd giggle and say "I know." It was BIZARRE.
In America, there is no bigger faux pas than asking for an autograph from someone in a hardcore band. That's the whole thing with hardcore- it's accessible. You can like a band, meet the band, and become friends with the band. It's a scene without stars, just people we think are really, really sweet. If you want, you can even talk to Ian McKaye. That's one of the things that's unique and rad about what we do. But these concepts have not made it to a lot of Europe. And you can't fault the kids there. So in the interest of staying accessible, you take photos and sign scraps of paper. You would seem like an asshole if you didn't. ("No. I will not take a photo with you.") It was weird place to be. To uphold the ideals I have about hardcore, I had to go against them.
The club was huge. There was a barrier between the crowd and the stage, which was another WTF, but was easily solved by kids jumping it and me jumping off the stage. The crowd went nuts when we played. At one point I saw someone being passed around while sitting in a chair. After the set was done I was enveloped by hugs. A kid asked for Pierce's pick and said that after seeing us, he wanted to learn how to play bass for a hardcore band. I was so fucking happy. Kids asked to take their photos with me and I grabbed my camera and asked to take photos with them.
Dave and I hugged behind the merch table, so happy to have shared the night, to be in this band, to meet these people, to play our music all over the world. Who ever though we'd have a night like this in fucking RUSSIA? It probably sounds corny now, but I was so completely moved by the appreciation of these kids. I asked one to take a photo of me and Dave. He took my camera, pointed it at himself, looked at us (we were yelling, "No! The other way! Turn it around!"), and said, "Ok!" and snapped the photo.
Then he turned the camera around and tried again:
The night fizzled out like a sparkler in July and left us outside, just 9 dirty kids in the cold, drenched in sweat, packing in the van for another overnight drive.