The venue, Obluda, was perfect. We arrived mid-day and waddled in, still full of pizza, to two merch tables covered in food for us. Everyone but me was able to pack some more in.
I loved this place. It was the ideal venue for everywhere. We should all have this place. It would be amazing. It was a room that any hardcore or punk band could play... some band of 15 year olds could play their first show here and it would be cool, or Bane could play a record release show and it would be sweet. The room was the perfect size, the benches along the wall were ideal for short people who wanted to be able to see over tall people's heads or headwalkers, the stage was the right size and height, the lighting was flawless, the bar had lots of soda for the straight edge kids, band graffiti covered the walls. I walked slowly around the room, reading notes from my friend's bands.
Dave and I sat outside and made this, and went back in when it was about time to play:
Our set was a lot of fun. A few people knew us, and those that didn't watched us anyway, heads nodding along. After we were done people hung around the merch tables talking to us, saying nice things, telling us about themselves. My friend Martijne from Belgium was very randomly there and I was so excited to see him, since I thought I hadn't seen him since our Bishop tour over the winter.
"Dude what have you been up to in the last 6 months?!?!" He stared at me. "Davin, I saw you a few weeks ago at Pressure Fest. We talked for 10 minutes." What? I scanned my memory. Nope. No way. Didn't happen. "You kept saying how tired you were." I remembered being tired. (See our first entry on this tour to read about our jetlag and how sleepy we were at Pressure Fest.) I apologized, asked him to forgive me, and to start over again since I was now awake and very curious about him, even though, apparently, he had already brought me up to date once. We talked for awhile, joked about Kingdom being zombies at Pressure (practically falling asleep between songs), and then he confessed that a friend of his had gone just to see us that day and said they were "disappointed" and "had expected more" from us. "Aw mannnn tell her to come see us again!"
I noticed that a lot of the kids at the show tucked their shirts into their pants. Bands shirts, wife beaters, boys, and girls. They reminded me of old men in public parks. I also noticed that the men in Slovakia were some of the most old-school traditionally handsome I had ever seen in my life. First, I caught sight of one Clark Kent by a record distro, then saw another by the bar, then I took a slow inventory of all the men in room and realized that I was at a show attended by absolute super-men- young and old, thin and thick. These guys were chiseled, square-jawed, stern eyebrowed, blue-eyed, dimpled-chin super heroes. It was almost eery. (I write this as an observation rather than a way to inter-flirt with an entire country- I am quite in love with my very own handsome American dude.)
After the show we split up with Dead Vows and stayed with a very nice kid at his Grandma's house. He, his Mom, and his Grandma all lived together, but to accommodate us staying there his Mom and Grandma were staying the night with friends. His Grandma had stayed up waiting for us to see if we needed anything- water, tea, extra towels, vegan snacks. She didn't speak a lick of English and mostly motioned and smiled at us. It was so cute. She whipped up some curried squash before she left, even though we had said we weren't hungry. Just goes to show that Grandmas are Grandmas no matter where you go. :)
We stayed up late swapping stories with the dude we stayed with and his friend (really I mean that I told Dave's stories about working as a mover in Philly- being ordered by his boss to stay in someone's house while they were screaming at him to leave, taking people's stuff hostage and driving off with it to get them to pay, getting chased down the road by said people, etc, etc, etc...) and slept deeply in nice, comfy beds.
Day 2- Slovakia
We arrived at the bar to be met by a huge pot of seitan stew that tasted like an all-in-one Thanksgiving. After catching sight of the people congregating in and around the bar we realized we were in for an interesting night. It looked as if a Slovakian Hot Topic had gone from being a store in a mall to being a store attending a show.
As soon as we set up merch, two thin, tall, long-haired metal dudes toddled over each bought one XL black shirt (these were the only shirts we sold all night.) Next to us a Jukebox offered a wide variety of "extreme" music. Dave pumped in some change and out flowed the sweet songs of Biohazard, Deicide, Cannibal Corpse, and Fear Factory .... that is, until the hour-long song check started. Got to love the hour-long sound check....
...and love of course I mean hate. There are two things that drive me absolutely insane: sound guys at tiny clubs that take their jobs way too seriously and run around adjusting and readjusting mics for hours, and drummers of opening bands that play blastbeats for 45 minutes before their set. You probably agree that both of these types are annoying, but would argue that it's generally a forgivable offense as these people mean no harm. But imagine encountering these people on a nightly basis for a month and a half straight. While you're being fed dinner. While you're trying to catch up with your friends in your very limited time with them. While you're enjoying a few moments alone in a corner with a book. These people's intentions stop mattering. They are no longer eligible for understanding, acceptance, or forgiveness. You want to snatch all the cables and drumsticks out of their hands and hit them over the head with them. You want to scream, "YOU DON'T HAVE TO SAY 'CHECK' INTO EVERY MIC 50 FUCKING TIMES... THEY'RE ON! PUT THEM DOWN!" or, "YOUR DRUMS WORK! STOP PLAYING!" But as much as you'd like to do that, you don't. Nope. You sit behind your merch table and you frown. You exchange tired looks with your bandmates. If you're Dave on this night in Slovakia, you furiously strain your ears, in vain, and eventually give in to the sound check and slump down in your chair, defeated.
While Dave and I grumbled about sound check, Pierce went walking around town. He decided to climb the fire escape of a building (don't ask me why, Pierce is a strange guy.) As he was on his way back down a man stood at the base of the ladder, yelling at him in Slovakian. He was a regular looking dude in normal clothes. Pierce apologized and started to walk back to the venue, when the dude grabbed him and slammed him against a wall. He then, still yelling in Slovakian, dragged Pierce to a room in an indiscreet building where 4 other plain-clothed guys were playing cards. The guy dangled handcuffs in Pierce's face, and flipped him back and forth against the wall, yelling in Slovakian all the while. The dudes sitting down all had guns and handcuffs. Pierce, with no fucking clue what was happening, who these people were, what they were saying, or where he was, gave up his, "I'm sorry, I shouldn't have climbed that ladder!" to, "Does anyone speak English?", and when that was a no all around, to, "Um, ok... welll uh... I'm gonna go now..." The guy pointed to the door, and Pierce left.
W. T. F.
Our set was as strange as expected. Push mosh, twirling, and the two blackmetal dudes with one foot on the stage, one arm raised in the "metal" sign, heads twirling in time with our songs. People seemed genuinely into us and we had a ton of fun playing. Like I said before, it ain't home, so I've come to accept whatever is there to greet us when we get on stage. I pumped my fist to the bass drum, Dave added extra squeals, and as I looked out at the sweaty black-clad crowd, I felt like we were Guns N Roses before they got famous.
After the show girls tried to get Pierce to "go for a walk" with them. They also asked for his number. He had to explain over and over that he had a girlfriend and that he lived in America, his phone didn't work in Europe, and they couldn't really call him. In response, they asked him to sign their stomachs.
Back in the van we all laughed about Pierce's bizarre day, shared our final overnight drive with Dead Vows, to our last show with them, and a show we'd been eagerly awaiting- FLUFF FEST!!