Monday, May 31, 2010

Euro tour update #20, Budapest Hungary

THIS POST WAS ACCIDENTALLY SAVED IN "DRAFTS"! A bit late (ok, really late) but enjoy...

I woke up as we were parking. "Laundry is there, cafe with wireless is there." Yesssssssss! What a great way to start a day. This was the first time we'd been able to wash our clothes all tour. Socks were on their 3rd, 4th, 5th... 6th? wear, underwear had been turned inside-out then right-side in again, and really our lives at this point had become pretty disgusting to discuss. Fresh and clean (though still unshowered after an overnight drive), we crossed Budapest to Jaki's house.

Jaki (said Yah-kee) runs Dream Long Dead Booking who booked our first European tour (with Anchor) and this tour. For our last tour (with Bishop) we went with a different booking agency (because Jaki was too busy booking other tours), so we brought him along as our "tour manager". Jaki is a usually-stressed out but always hilarious dude that every band in America that has toured Europe knows and loves, due to his bitter, raging wit, Hungarian cursing, explosive temper, choice use of English slang ("Broseph"), and occasional slim grasp of the English language ("Where the fuck you doing going?")

As we approached his door, a very hyper dude with big, curly hair rushed at it, yelling "JAKI LET US INNNN!", then turned grinning at us, asked if we'd been to Europe before, and while we were saying "yes", told us that he hadn't and that we were witnessing his first 15 minutes in Hungary. I literally have never seen a grown person so excited. His smile was contagious. Everyone started giggling. But we had no idea who he was, and before we found out he had disappeared.

Inside, Jaki and his girlfriend Yvette had made a feast for us. Fried eggplant, sauteed soy meat, bread and spreads, cake, pasta salad, rice. We ate until everyone was stumbling around whimpering "I aaaaaaaaaaate too much....." Very little food remained. I sat outside chatting with everyone when a familiar, glowing face reappeared. It was the excited guy! And he was with a bunch of other guys. And they seemed like they were a band. And then I found out they were. They were RECONCILE from Buenos Aires, Argentina. And that food we just gorged ourselves on was also meant for them. Shit. Without complaint they ate what was left over, and we all hung out until show oclock.

At the venue, I was met by another familiar face- my friend Mate. Last time we'd been in Budapest, Mate- a history major in school as well as a total history buff- had given us a historical tour of Budapest. He told us the story behind everything we saw- names, dates, hows, and whys. Unfortunately this time we didn't have time for another tour, but we did have time to shoot the shit for the hours before the show. We talked about the hardcore scene in Europe being in a decline, how less people are coming to shows, how foreign bands are making less money, and how, as far as I'm concerned, that's just fine. It sucks that some American bands see Europe as little more than an over-ripe orchard, and go in just for the harvest. Guarantees can be quite high out here, merch sales astronomical, and due to that bands suddenly stop caring about anything else. So let it shrink. American bands could use a little reality check.

The venue was run by middle aged gangsters (think Sopranos rather than 50 cent) who were at the show, milling around the bar and standing outside in a physically intimidating group of 6 foot 4 inch 200+ lb men with comically dyed (but still scary) facial hair. After some hours of eyeing me from a distance, two of them came over to where I was sitting. One spoke in fast Hungarian at me, and I held up my hands in a defensive "I don't know what you're saying!" and told him I spoke only English. He nodded that he understood. Then he slowly pointed to my legs and gave me a look I couldn't decipher. I shrugged in question. Then he reached down, tugged at my leg hair, mimicked me shrugging, yelled "STUPID!", and walked off laughing at me.

The show itself was alright. Lots of familiar faces, lots of people knowing the words... but it was one of those kind of awkward shows where no one really dances, and people sing along but from wherever they're standing rather than into the mic. Regardless, it was fun.

After the show I felt wiped. I waited until everyone had gone to bed and decided to take a bath. Once I hit the water it was over, I could barely keep my eyes open. But I was more than tired, I had no energy at all. I could hardly wash. My neck felt like it was made of rubber, or that my head had gained 75 pounds. I struggled to keep it up. Out of the tub I noticed, as I talked to Dave, that I was slurring. I fell fast asleep, and drifted back into consciousness hours later when everyone was getting up for breakfast. I laid on the mattress listening to them for awhile before I decided it was time to open my eyes. Ok eyes, we're gonna do this now. Time to see the day. My eyelids pulled apart like two pieces of saran wrap with corn syrup smeared between them. I peered out through slits. I felt like someone had pumped my head full of salt water. I felt sloshy, clouded, puffy. What the fuck? I stumbled over to a mirror. My eyes were almost swollen shut. I pushed my finger against the skin and it felt like touching gak. Um... this is weird... But whatever concern I should have had for my eyes was replaced by a desire to eat pizza.

We had time before the next show to hit up a vegan pizza joint that makes its own cheese (including bacon cheese!), so we piled in the van, some of us with big weird puffy heads (ok, just me), and drove on toward delicious. And my, was it delicious....

(Epilogue: Throughout the day my swelling went down, and by the time we got to Slovakia I was back to normal. I have no idea what caused it.)