Ever been somewhere where people ignore you so completely that you start to wonder if you might be a ghost? This was our experience loading in at the show in Örebro. The running theory (my theory anyway) is that we had actually died the day before this show and our spirits had continued on, pushing forward into Sweden's cold-as-the-grave north completely unaware that when our lives end, so does our tour. That's literally the only logical explanation I can think of for a bunch of people refusing to move even an inch for people carrying heavy equipment, completely ignoring pleas to step aside, or standing directly in front of the merch counter while members of the bands they went to see acrobatically maneuver around them in a desperate attempt to set up. And why else would someone set their soda down on shirts AS they're being laid out if not that nothing we were doing could be seen by the living eye? Ghost bands, ghost gear, ghost merch. Makes total sense. Coffin closed.
We were fed in a freezing back room of couches and inflatable mattresses, all coated in a thick layer of crust and dust. It was the kind of place that makes one think of scabies. We slurped thin lentil soup and bread* ("Ah, prison food!"), shoulders up to our ears and jackets zipped. Then we got news that this room was where we were sleeping that night. Everyone's eyes scanned the tiny filthy space, everyone's jaws hardened, and I... I just wanted to cry. No shower. No heat. No clean spot to sit. No room to even lay down with fully extended legs once everyone was packed inside. These tour times are straight misery, the moments where you promise yourself you will never tour again. Then we got more news: Some of us could stay with the promoter, but not all. Others would stay in the little room. Eyes darted around. Who would stay? Who would go? Without a second thought, I knew that I was willing to turn on each one of my tour mates in order to secure my place at the promoter's.
After the news sunk in, depression settled in some camps and alliances formed in others. Justin and I both agreed that we were going to be among those who went to the promoter's, then, to ease the guilt, Justin added that he was sure everyone would get picked up in the morning and brought to the apartment to shower... so it wasn't really THAT bad. But we both knew otherwise.
Back in the venue, a blond scruffy-faced dude gave me more news: A guy who had booked us/Anchor in '08 and split the show with the door money WAS THERE, AT OUR SHOW, RIGHT THEN. The scruffy dude went on to tell me how surprised he was that the guy had dared to show his face, but perhaps the guy had thought we'd forgotten. Now, I forget just about everything (boyfriend's birthdays, my social security number).. but one thing I always remember are the times I've been fucked over. I looked around the room for the guy and smiled. Dumb motherfucker.
I'd been given a description of the guy by the scruffy dude and I walked around the venue checking faces. Seeing someone that looked vaguely familiar and fitting the description I approached, grabbed him by the arm, and leaned into his ear. I asked if he'd booked us and Anchor a few years back in the area. He shook his head no and laughed. "Are you sure? You look reaaaaallly familiar...." He shook his head NO emphatically, kept laughing, and said, "It wasn't me! It wasn't me!" I apologized for mixing him up and watched the rest of Elapse's set. After, scruffy dude asked if I found the guy. I relayed the story of my mix up and he said, "No! That was him!! He denied it?!!! Wowwwwww...." We looked around... and the guy was gone. I ran outside to try to find him, but it was like chasing a ghost. Disappeared without trace.
Another newsbreak hit the venue floor: ALL of us were staying with the promoter! Eelief and guilt. I felt like Boromir attacking Frodo- sure, everything was ok and my loyalty was back in the right place, but I had to live with the shame of what I'd done (or in my case, thought.)
Each band was resurrected on the stage and the oblivious crowd that had frustrated us all night was awesome and appreciative. The show was so much fun.
After, we went to a place called Max Burger (which Wrong Answer is infatuated with) where I can perfectly illustrate to all the Americans reading this the difference between Europeans and us. Curious if any of the sauces were vegan (to dip fries into), Vini, the promoter, asked the girl at the counter. Let me tell you how this would have played out in Philadelphia:
"You wanna know what? Pshhhhh... I dunno. You wanna see what? The ingredients? For real? Pshhhh. We don' have none. You wan' me to get the what? Package? Fuuuuck I aint' doing all that...."
This is how it played out in Sweden:
The girl behind the counter listened to Vini intently. Her face showed honest concern. She grabbed a list of laminated nutritional info, read for a moment, then told us she didn't believe any sauces were vegan. Then she told us she was going to double check (and we did not ask her to or make a big show of disappointment, we honestly didn't really care that much) and read the ingredients on the box of every sauce they offered, came back solemnly and said, "They all have egg but 1, the sweet mustard. I am sorry."
This is Europe: even at a fast food restaurant people care. Caring about a stranger's desire for fry sauce. Wrap your mind around THAT.
We parked outside of Vini's apartment complex and walked in the excruciating sub-arctic temperature through the maze of entrances and into his place. Inside, we got to know Vini better. What a cool dude he is. Originally from Brazil where he once lived with my/Dave's friend Leo (who now lives in NYC... talk about a small fucking world), he moved to Sweden and felt like he was meant to stay. He became a father, gained sole custody of his little dude, who as we were learning this was running around beating up Pames and Ivan. He works in a women's prison as a... crap... counselor? And he plays in a band called Chain Reaction. Sometimes you meet people on the road you feel really lucky to meet, and he is one of them. Also, for breakfast the next morning he got us.... are you ready for this?....
VEGAN CAVIAR. In 2 varieties.
I didn't try it, but the general opinion was "salty."
Thank you to everyone in Örebro. You were interesting, nice, fun, unexpected, and Vini, let us know when you come visit!
*The soup was delicious and the bread was excellent. A note on talking about accommodations and food: There are times here where I may sound ungrateful, like above where I called the soup thin. Do not misunderstand me, I/we are ALWAYS, always grateful to be fed and given a place to stay. But just because we are grateful does not mean that we don't notice when soup is thin, and even when that soup is delicious, I'm not going to leave its lack of substance out of my description. JOURNALIST HONESTY.