Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Aalborg, Denmark- Euro tour '12, day 5

Squatting behind the dumpster with my pants at my knees and ass out in the freezing air, I thought of all the times I'd attempted this (only somewhat successfully) and widened my stance. Above me a Swedish flag billowed in slow motion like a gigantic blue bat wing. The hollow clanging of a flag hoist against a pole struck out into the night, dampened by the silence of the snow. The van was parked in front of the empty gas station about 40 feet away. It was just me, my travel toilet paper, and 0 degrees on the side of a desolate and bathroomless Swedish highway. 30 Days Of Night on my mind and a little spooked, I got down to it.

Carefully watching to ensure that my stream didn't do anything wild, I started to go. Instantly a mushroom cloud of steam flew up between my legs. Blind to lower happenings, I started to panic. If I wasn't keeping an eye on things, anything could happen. The stream could break into 2 and go down my thigh or I could just start spraying like a hose, the ways in which I could urinate on myself were literally endless! Cursing, I crab-walked in the snow, whizzing as I went, bent over with my face toward my crotch, trying desperately to monitor my flow. When it was over, I checked my ankles with my one gloveless hand. They felt dry, but then again it was cold I probably wouldn't be able to tell anyway. I jogged back to the van buckling my belt as I went, got under my sleeping bag, and drifted off.

"...where's Justin?"

We sat in the van in the belly of a Danish ferry that was about to debark at any second. When they'd announced 10 minutes to docking, we'd all gone down to the auto level and stood around the van because as we all knew, the second the gate opened the hundreds of cars around us would all start driving off, and we had to drive with them. But Justin was missing. We waited, and waited, and waited- and he never appeared. The gate opened and we were forced to leave and Kuba asked the guard where to go when you lose someone on the boat. After an extensive search and about 30 minutes later, we found him clutching his baggage with a lost look on his face. But rather than tell you what happened, I'll let him do it:


We got to the venue, Fryd-1000, early. It was a graffiti covered punk bar, a familiar sight in Europe but never one you get tired of. Inside we met Peter who was perhaps one of the most accommodating promoters I've ever encountered. Within a second of walking in he offered us coffee and tea, told us where the bathrooms were, gave us the internet password, and informed us that our band quarters would be ready shortly- he just needed to finish cleaning them up. There would be showers and laundry, and dinner later in the evening. He then provided us with directions to falafel and cheerily walked away to prepare.

Back at the venue, Peter led us up to the band quarters. This venue- again like so many in Europe- was a magical place where you play and when you're done you walk upstairs to a super-clean room that resembles a summer camp cabin or a really big slumberparty. Bunk beds, mattresses on floors, stacks of towels neatly folded, pillows... it's insane. At least for an American. Peter showed us the level for the other bands first (as well as the beverage fridge which he had been thoughtful enough to arrange by band so that we had a straight edge shelf, since, he explained, we couldn't read the labels and he didn't want us accidentally drinking beer.) It was so dope I was instantly jealous... theeeeen he led us up a second staircase to our room. All jaws fell.

The room was bathed in golden sunshine, glowing like the dream it was. The entire ceiling was a window held in place by huge wooden beams. Anti-fascist murals lined the walls. 2 heavy bags and a speed bag hung, and between two beams there were... are you ready for this? MONKEY BARS. A weight bench and weight set were tucked in the corner, and up the wall there was a ladder to nowhere. I dropped my stufff, kicked off my boots, and jumped up and down from mattress to mattress for like... 5 minutes. Maybe 10. Dave and Anton kickboxed on the heavy bags. Other people flopped down for naps. Kuba sat online on the couch. Life was fucking good.

"Did you hear that the first band crashed their van on the way over??!" I was trying to strike up a conversation with a Danish guy in one of the other bands. His look hearkened back to the Sid Vicious style of yore- leather jacket, tousled hair. Behind us dinner was laid out on a long wooden table in a clutter of steaming plates and bowls. Everyone stood in line clutching empty plates eyeing the fixins. Thick vegan chili, guacamole, onions, tomatoes, cucumbers, corn, tortillas. This to a band is like pizza day to a 2nd grader. People milled around,  trying to roll their overstuffed tortillas and failing. Forks clinked on plates. Beers and euro-colas went table to lips, lips to table. The Danish punk's face showed no sign of emotion- not for my interest in speaking with him, not for the burritos, not for the band that crashed. He shrugged, said "More food for us.", and walked past me to get his portion.

Something we noticed about the Danes we met was their tendency to ask you questions they had literally no interest in the answers to. Here's an example:

A guy from the Danish band interrupted a few of us chatting to ask about our tour.

"You're going to Russia?"
"Yes! For twelve days!"
"Where in Russia?"
"Um... 12 different places?"

...and he looked away.

Downstairs Wrong Answer was being filmed for a spot on Danish news. I sat in the dining room on my computer chatting with someone from back home, telling him about the incredible hospitality we'd been shown in Aalborg. "Wow, they really love you there!"  This was favorite band treatment for sure. This show was going to RULE. And it was time for it to begin...

I made my way downstairs full of burrito and coffee, relaxed and clean, feeling more like a bar resident than a band member. Wrong Answer was on stage sound checking. Dave stood behind the merch table. I looked around. Giant green mowhawk. Dread mullet. Spiked leather jacket. A beer in every hand. Every hand on or near the bar.... across the room from the stage. Justin called for everyone to move forward. From the bar everyone looked over with the passive interest of cows watching a passing car, then went back to their beers and conversations. After a couple of minutes, a couple of people wandered toward the stage.

"We're Wrong Answer from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania... thank you... two... for checking us out"

As their set went on people came over and got into it. A line of people locked arms and headbanged against the stage. The mohawk guy ran into the crowd wearing a mask. From where I was standing it looked like Nixon. He took it off and Justin pulled it on and attempted to sing with it on for a song. When it was over, he took it off and looked at what it was. My eyes had been a little off. It wasn't Nixon... it was Hitler.

"Oh jesus I should have looked at this before I pulled it on...." Justin laughed awkwardly on stage. Pames, Ivan, and I stood on the sidelines laughing hysterically. I went over to Dave to get his opinion on doing our One King Down cover.

"I don't think these people know what a 'One King Down' is."

Our set was very similar to Wrong Answer's. Headbanging. Head nodding. Beer sipping. The only thing we sold was a tape, and I think it was more because of the benefit aspect than for our music. After our set I sat on a bench by our table cooling off and a bearded hippy-crust punk came over and offered to smoke me out. I politely declined. He offered again. Again I declined. He offered again, and this time I explained that I was straight edge, and when that didn't seem to register I explained what straight edge means. He stared at me for moment and slurred, "If everyone gives what they have, everyone will have what they need. I have weed..." and I said, "but I don't need weed, so now there's more for you!" He leaned toward me, made some strange movements with his hands, and stumbled off.

So. Here's the deal. We are no one's favorite band in Aalborg, Denmark. In fact they don't even know who we are. Peter is just a really, really nice guy. Before he left for the night he gave me a bag of sandwiches to take with us the next day and told us that any time we wanted to come back to just let him know.

Up in our band wonderland we were met with some other harsh realities. For one, there was no heat in that room. It was around 10 degrees outside. Anton had climbed the ladder to nowhere and saw that it lead to a little storage space where there were the following instructions written:


On the level below us the other bands stayed up getting drunk and screaming until 5 am. I sat down there online for awhile and a guy tried to take my computer from me ("I need to check something, it's ok?" "Uh, no dude.") and a few others, while grabbing beers from the fridge spoke in Danish, then in a mocking tone switched to English to say something about not drinking and looked over at me, then as they walked by they all broke into a drinking song (in English) and laughed.

Too cold to shower, I crawled into my sleeping bag dirty and shivering and caught my usual 3 hours of sleep before it was off to Essen, Germany.

1 comment:

  1. That was an interesting reading. So funny and interesting to read what people and bands think of our place. Glad you liked 1000fryd and the hospitality. :) Just wanted to say that i fucking loved the show! That was absolutely the best show I have seen in a long time..! Your drummer fucking own! Too bad you guys think no one did like it.

    Have a nice tour and I hope you guys will come back sometime!

    Peter (not the promoter) :)