Tuesday, January 06, 2009

ATP Part Three: "We Should've Ended at ATP..."

Rotterdam was fine. Played some Star Wars video pinball with Pat to pass the time. Didn't watch the first opening band, Beyond Lickin', and the second, Dead Letters was one of the more confused, offensive things I've seen of late.

Our set was ordinary and the crowd enjoyed it, but once backstage some uttered the slogan for the rest of our time in Europe, "We should've ended at ATP." It didn't seem like that big a deal when we'd booked the gigs, but now in the middle of it all it was clear. Why would you go to the equivalent of rock and roll summer camp for all kinds of fun and hang out time and then follow that with MORE shows? Ugh.

From Rotterdam to Hamburg, home of the Reeperbahn, where sex shops, prostitutes, gambling and all other naughty possibilities abound. We've reached a level of recognition at the Molotov club where our name is included in the list of "notable" bands that have played there and have their name painted above the front entrance. That's a good sign, right? It feels like we're family, coming home for the holidays.

With time to kill after load-in/soundcheck, I decide to sample the cornucopia of delights the neighborhood had to offer. It only takes a few minutes in a German sex shop for me to realize how milquetoast or vanilla I really am. I mean…this stuff would make Marilyn Manson say "Whoa, hey, why don't you tone it down there a little?"

With no desire for life-sized rubber fists or stud-encrusted ball-gags, I made my way to the outdoor holiday market, festively decorated with Christmas lights and the inviting smell of food being cooked over open fires all the complete opposite of what one would expect in this civic municipality of inequity. So I found myself surprised when I unknowingly walked into the "adult" section of the market only to stumble upon, I shit you not, a stall selling wooden vibrators.

At this point, I call "too far" and order all guilty sex toy manufacturers back to their respective "time-out" corners to sit and think about what their service to society is. Have we come so far that…these things need to be made out of wood? Is this the "greening" of the sex industry or the opposite of it? I hate a world where I am now saddled with the knowledge that such a peculiar object even exists. I want to quit life at this point.

Before we hit the stage we all got individual pizzas to eat after the show. As we sat there waiting for who-in-the-hell remembers what, I got the nerve to munch and minutes later found myself with no pizza left and being prodded to hit the stage. For some inexplicable reason, I find this hilarious.

Molotov was packed and I felt we kinda blew it. There were some tuning issues for a good portion of the set and I just didn't feel that "oomph" that usually permeates the friendly, constricting confines of Molotov. Mick attempted to bring ladies onstage to dance during "Theme" but it didn't work out too well and it just becomes excruciating seeing him struggle with that task.

Upon completion of the main set we were locked out of our own dressing room, left to stand there in the crowd, thumbs-up-our-butts, until we somehow managed to unlock the "Being John Malkovich"-sized door. We reluctantly came back for an encore and "Sherlock Holmes" suffered from Mick's mic shorting out, Zack stopping playing bass to bring HIS mic over to Mick, said mic engaging Mick's synth pedal all resulting in an all-encompassing feeling of embarrassment to wash over me and most likely my bandmates as well.

After a somewhat redeeming "I Can't Stop Thinking About It" complete with a floorshow from the stage-right drummer, we retreated (this time easily) backstage. The roar for more songs was insistent and in our minds uncalled for. Really? We deliver a steaming pile of shit and you still want more? Ok. We ended with "Granny's Little Chicken" and I played the entire song on the floor. From there, the crowd was either satisfied or fed up with our act and we sat backstage in peace.

Until this loud, brash, annoying voice keeps booming through complaining that we didn't play "Pretty Princess Day" to the point where the dude yelling it actually got backstage and I got within seconds of confronting him to say "Who in the FUCK are you?"

Turns out it was Jim Hassler, someone I did not know personally, but a Detroit rock veteran who did time in Cum Dumpster (Finally! a reason to mention them here) and was along for the Gories' entire implosive 1992 European tour as he was Peg's boyfriend at the time. He and Mick talked at length and I merely wished I had another pizza to eat.

Lodging that night was provided at the Molotov's "punk but tidy" apartment a few miles away. The shower was traditional Euro removable nozzle head. These are almost always lacking a hook or attachment to suspend from and instead find the bather trying to awkwardly complete a shower with use of only one hand.

This punk flat would prove to be no exception. But with my MacGyver-like skills, I manage to precariously wedge the nozzle behind some unidentified plastic box structure and I bathe with relative ease. I tell the rest of the band to thank me later.

With everyone tired and Mick's snoring at a fever pitch there was a moment where there were five of us (luggage included) squeezed into one room with six beds, all hoping to escape the EARNOSETHROAT resonance emanating from him. But being so entirely cramped in there, I got out and bunked with Mick, rightfully figuring I wouldn't be able to sleep anyway and more so needing an available power outlet to charge my phone and computer.

So I sat and typed and the with the bar downstairs still open and music blaring I couldn't help but listen along to what was being played. At one point a familiar, lilting melody came through the system and I was racking my brain trying to name the tune. I vaguely discerned the lyrics "and I'll always love you" and fed them through Google and iTunes with no help.

With no recourse, I got fully dressed and marched down to the bar and confronted the DJ. He pointed to a picture disc copy of Thurston Moore's Trees Outside the Academy and the track "Honest James" and I thanked him, told him he was playing good jams and marched back upstairs to go lay in bed and type as Mick snored next to me.

After Hamburg was a much-needed day off. We first made a short drive to the short ferry that took us to Denmark, which is kind of a short country. With approximately a half-hour to kill, we made way to the pseudo-anarchist/hippie/off-the-grid commune of Christiania, located smack dab in the middle of Copenhagen.

Started in the late 1960's and situated around abandoned army barracks, the space is most widely known for Pusher Street, an avenue in the middle of the place where an open drug market at one time flourished. Marijuana, mushrooms, hash (and probably more) were indiscreetly sold in stalls on Pusher Street, supposedly controlled by the Russian mob.

The Dirtbombs played the Loppen club in Christiania in 2002 and since that time there was marked increase in police presence and while every time I've heard anything about the place since then it's always been along the lines of "the Danish government finally shut 'em down." Seriously, I must've heard that at least a half-dozen times in as many years.

So I'm here to report that on the surface, Christiania is alive and well. The only visible difference is that there seems to be no more narcotics dealing on Pusher Street. That feels good to say and apparently the residents there feel the same way, as the drug trade detracted away from the original tenets and purpose behind the inception of the place.

We didn't get much done in our half-hour…there was an indoor holiday market where I contemplated for 5 minutes whether or not to buy a bootleg White Stripes DVD from the Icky Thump tour and ultimately decided against it.

From Copenhagen we'd take an overnight ferry to Oslo on a ship fully equipped with sleeping cabins, several restaurants, bars, dance clubs, a movie theater and a wide-range of other crap to offer. Once inside the state room with Pat (bunk beds!) I immediately konked out.

Pat would pop back in later and say that if I was hungry that he'd be eating at the fancy restaurant on board. I demurred and he came back soon after to say that because said establishment only took reservations that he would be eating in 45 minutes…the soonest available opening they had, while empty tables plentiful.

We ordered on note cards that we had to fill out ourselves. I'm sorry, but if I'm eating at a spensive place I certainly am hoping that I'm not required to write anything down or check a box even. My chicken Caesar salad was almost too filling and my steak (the cheapest one they had) was good enough. Matt had given each of us a stipend in Norwegian Kroner for the ferry and mine was completely eaten up by dinner, probably the equivalent of $50. No, I don't think it was worth it.

From dinner back to our quarters where I tried to stomach the over-indulgencies of the Daydream Nation entry in Continuum's 33 1/3rd series. As a die-hard Sonic Youth fan, I recommend all avoid this book at all costs. I'd sleep a little but would spend most of the night awake either staring at the underside of the bunk suspended over me, listening to the Duchess and the Duke on the iPod, reading the wretched SY book or tweaking the intricacies of my White Blood Cells book proposal for Continuum.

After shifting between those activities for hours I noticed my laptop power running low and grabbed for my power cord to plug in. I frantically searched through my man bag, the only place I ever keep the charger, and cannot find it. I get nervous and a little sweaty, if only because I pride myself on not losing shit on tour. With no more power on the PowerBook I just sit and stare for the next hour or so, trying to remember where in the hell I lost the damn thing.

When time to disembark the ship, Zack knocks on our door and hands me my charger saying "It fell out of your bag and I accidentally though it was mine." Granted, it only fell out of my bag in the van, but I still think I can pride myself on the lack of losing things skills. Hell, I'm continually amazed that I've still managed to maintain possession over that little rubber/plastic protective cover for the pointy computer end of my wall charger.

1 comment:

Lee said...

I hope everything works out with your 33 1/3 proposal!