Being in a place like Sweden really doesn't carry the far-from-home shock value of a lot of other European countries. Sure, the immaculate streets and people make you feel vaguely like you're walking through the filming of a movie where the star hasn't yet arrived and everyone is acting "natural", and yes everyone you speak with has an accent (but they're speaking English... which they somehow just KNOW to use with you), but it's no Poland.
I stood there then in the thick of it right then, in Malmo, Sweden, worlds away from my life in Philly yet completely unphased. While I spoke of sleeping arrangements matter-of-factly with our host for the night, Tomas, in his store Justine and Juliet I thought, "Man, I really am 'Euro jaded'." I'd lost the magic in a visit to Europe. Feeling a little worn and a little old, I took in the little shop. It was small and elegant. Across from me a glass case held big, shiny, rhinestoned... somethings. It was a jewelry store, I decided. But wait, what kind of jewelry store was it with so few pieces? I looked again and thought, "Wait, are those...???... nooooo ..." Right then Tomas's small and adorable girlfriend/business partner walked in and started to dress a mannequin... in a strap-on harness.
"We open Wednesday... we're a sex shop! A vegan sex shop!"
In the glass case across from me the rhinestoned butt plugs sparkled under the soft lights of the store. Tomas, pale and blond, smiled broadly and talked to me about Earth Crisis. I was so, so far from home.
Shock and awe.
KINGDOM/WRONG ANSWER EUROPEAN TOUR BLOG, DAY 1. Lund, Sweden.
This is what I wrote in my journal at the venue: "ONIONS."
A pot of stew was already bubbling away when we arrived. Marinating in the familiar scent of European Tour, we organized merch and sound checked, ate and hung out. Kids started to show up. Ahhh, Euro Crowd. Hardcore and punk, girls and boys, oversized crew necks and dread mullets. It had begun.
"We're Wrong Answer from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania..."
I had the pre-set jitters. I wormed my way anxiously through the crowd to the bathroom at least 6 times. I warmed my voice up for far longer than necessary. I drank so much water it sloshed around in my stomach like a self-contained sea. We set up and got on stage, red stage lights blinding us, fog machine kicking in. "I feel like I'm in Slayer." The crowd giggled. Our set was, well, a set (I never know what to say about this), and when it was over these things happened.
1. We were presented with a vegan chocolate coconut cake, which we devoured.
2. A girl came over to me holding a curved piece of metal and told me that she felt she should tell me she broke her bra dancing during our set. I had literally no idea what to say to that and while stumbling around for an appropriate response she said, "I'm going to go find someone to give this to!" and walked away.
3. A dude came over to me and, in heavily accented English, said, "This is my first hardcore show. I liked it.", and I found myself again trying to figure out an appropriate response, ending up with something kind of halting and lame like, "Good! Uh... hardcore is... awesome!"
After the show we went back to Tomas's and made another trip to Jalla Jalla (a vegan-friendly falafel spot in Malmo) where we met a drunken local who, with hummus smeared across his cheeks, told us he used to live in Alabama (which he pronounced with a southern accent) and where he had been known as "The Redneck Swede", and the next morning we got into our little loftless van with Kuba, our metal-loving Polish driver, headed to Stockholm.
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