Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Europe Part Two: Pain to Show You're Alive...

Could not wake up early enough to get the hell out of Birmingham. Rockdentist and I made way to King Bee Records in Manchester, a delightful shop one can always count on for enticing sundries. RD laid a stack of UK punk on me, but I haven't been feeling that of late. Instead I bought a CD copy of the new Spiritualized Songs in A&E album and a 7" copy of Belle and Sebastian's "Dog on Wheels" that has been running through my head ever since I heard it spun after our show in Perth two months ago.

From there on to the shops on Oldham Street. A 12" copy of the Amps "Tipp City" hereby completes my collection to include everything that band ever released. Then to Picadilly Records where I filled some major blanks in my current UK 7" collection…the new jam from David Viner, the Black Acid single on Fitzrovian Phonographic, the latest Breeders single and the Black Lips "Bad Kids" release. Apparently I passed up some weird comp 7" with a Wolf People track on it and that's been frustrating me.

More walking around, Richard Goodall Gallery and their overpriced silk-screened posters, some vintage clothing shops without anything terribly intriguing. Hit another store and bought the A-Square Records compilation on Big Beat. The Prime Movers' version of "I'm a Man" complete with a pre-Stooge Jim Osterberg on snarling lead vocals makes this disc worth the price of purchase.

From there to the Ruby Lounge and I finally figure out one of my main problems with the UK. Because the country is just so damned old and they have some custodial laws about whether or not you can tear a building down once it hits a certain age, it seems that too few, if any, buildings in the country are actually purpose-built.

In most cases I don't view this as a bad thing and certainly my hometown has given good examples of how to turn old banks into Domino's Pizza, a bowling alley into a rock club or just about anything you could imagine into a storefront church. But in England, it never seems like anywhere we play was meant to have bands performing there…when a building has been around for two-hundred years and has been rehabbed and retrofit beyond recognition in that span, it begins to almost feel like a futile effort. Your backstage, if you're lucky enough to even get one, offers only the most basic of amenities like, uh, cubic space, the stage fronts on pillars that would make even the most vain Greek god blush and the ceiling is always approximately 5 feet above the floor.

So, in three words…fuck that shit.

We goofed around at soundcheck with "Fox Box" a song that this band hasn't played in ages. Felt good enough to lead me to believe we'll probably bring it back into the set sometime on this trip.

Four-band bill in Manchester was arduous…as the headliners we were certain to get screwed out of our complete set time. The Vipers and Bone-Box opened up and I stayed backstage. Hell, I ignored Stoltz too.

Our set was decent, the crowd reactive enough, but as soon as we'd finished the club started blasting exit music as they tried to shoo our patrons out the door to clear the way for metal burlesque night.

Now I question how apropos the term "metal burlesque" is, because as it seemed to me, it was just "ugly girls with too much self-esteem walk around in their underwear and making dudes feel awkward by trying to give them lap-dances" night. Luckily we were chilling in a corner that kept us naturally removed from the grossness and got out of there before things got too unbearable.

Woke up early next morn and drove down to Brighton with RockDentist and spent approximately 30 seconds in the examination chair at his office where here gingerly sanded down the rough bottoms of both of my incisors. Whereas his music knowledge is unparalleled, it's the fact that he can straighten out your grill on a Sunday morning that really makes him aces in my book.

Chillaxed on the Brighton boardwalk, ate some basic chicken bullshit, then to Ocean Rooms, a club more resembling someone's living room as opposed to the cavernous arenas we're used to rocking.

Upstairs was furnished with a 2001 Kubrickian flair and I found myself passed out on a platform cushioned spot that wasn't quite really a bed and not really a chair either.

Set cooked pretty damn well. Was able to stir up the crowd during the encore too. The fact that the small space was packed helped too.

Off early again to catch our Dover-to-Calais ferry. We've made this trip so many times in the past that what used to be foreign and exciting is now merely rote and a nuisance.

Oostende is a city we'd never played before, the club right on the water was clearly intended for more regal purposes on inception, but this day would garner nothing more than rock and roll.

Carved out a space on the floor of the sound equipment closet to catch a snooze during Stoltz. Our set started flat, but upon Mick's second guitar change, the volume solidified and so did the crowd response. During encore of "Need You Tonight" I pulled my drums from the stage and put them in the middle of the crowd, drumming up some fervor and excitement with a headstand and all-out radical drumming on my behalf.

Upon the conclusion of "I Can't Stop Thinking About It" I climbed atop my bass drum as is customary with Pantano and I after completing a show. The bracing legs on the drum had kicked inward, turning the cylindrical beast into a veritable rolling log. I never had a chance to stay on there and instead fell HARD onto the floor.

It seems that my training as a soccer goalie in 6th grade had stayed with me as it seems I took the brunt of the fall on my right hip, with subsequent force spread equally between my arm and the top of my foot. (when making diving saves in soccer, the presumed best way to do so is to land mostly on your hip with the rest of your upper body following in a motion resembling a 120-degree angle tilting/falling, completed with your hands on the ball slamming into the ground for emphasis.)

I'd managed to knock the wind out of myself and instantly felt like I was going to vomit. It also seemed possible that I had cracked a rib, but the instant shock of it all most clearly had clouded my nerve endings. I immediately made a b-line for backstage where I painfully absorbed the excruciating agony I had put myself in.

Of course, the crowd was going nuts and we came back for an encore. Dean from Stoltz's band had so kindly put my drums back onstage and we rolled through "Kung Fu" where I felt in a daze and during the breakdown stumbled into the Bob Seger System's "2+2=?" and after that and urging the audience to dance like no one was watching them, I collapsed on stage in feigned death.

At this point more theater than rock and roll, Mick and Troy performed mock CPR on my motionless body. They made a plea for mouth-to-mouth from the microphone and while the thought of either of those two attempting it seemed fine to me, I was repulsed at the idea of a lager-breathed Belgian trying the same.

The entire time I'm prostrate on the stage with my eyes closed. Mick grabs a girl from the crowd who then tries to Heimlich me back to health. At this point, I really just want to lay down on the stage and relax. She kneels over my head and as I hear the crowd roar loudly, I open my eyes to see her lifting her shirt to expose her breasts. Certainly not what I was expecting, to which I immediately ended the death ruse and returned back to my drum stool.

Post-show meal with both bands was quality bonding time. Walking through the streets of Oostende lost trying to find the hotel was also some appreciated time to connect with Whitmore especially. Once at the hotel I reveled in the slow, nagging pain in my foot, hip and arm…the sensation a gentle reminder that I was still alive.

1 comment:

Christopher said...

I drove all the way from germany to Oostende, to see you playing. (btw, why there were no gigs in germany?)
Unfortuneately I arrived after half of the set was over. But it was definitely worth. I danced the hell out of me and woke up the next day with much sand in my sleeping bag on the beach.
hope to see you soon again in europe!

Bensonmum