the civic chronicle #3

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1/6/2010: This-morning we received an email from our manager full of threats and abuse. One of the main points raised was our dismal failure to update our tour diary, and yes, we have "dropped the ball" on that front. But Damnit, we are busy! We are Touring Performers! Not just a pair of ordinary drunks driving a giant armoured car around northern Europe for no good reason.

Well, you want blog? We got a whole mess-o-blog for you now, you pushy creeps. Strap in.

Me and Aaron with the ATV after arriving at Hafenklang.

Bright and early last Wednesday morning we picked up our armoured tour vehicle (ATV) and drove it at top speed out of London, blasting Napalm Deaths' classic "Scum" album and hurling half empty cans of budget energy drink at terrified commuters. It's not the way we usually behave on the road, but we felt it was an important part of aclimatising our nervous systems to International Touring Standard.
As a result we made Dover in excellent time and proceeded through check in to the line of cars waiting to board the ferry.

It was at this point that I noticed Aarons antique Remmington revolver lying in plain view on the back seat of the cabin. I had pleaded with him before leaving not to bring a loaded firearm on tour, but he
was convinced there would be ugly scenes in Oslo because of the editorial he wrote for the Washington Post describing the Norweigan royal family as a degenerate mob of drunks and child molesters who should be dragged to the I.C.C. in a giant heshan bag full of spiders.

Anyway, I quickly slashed the upholstery with my Leatherman and stuffed the old six-shooter in as deep as it would go. In the end we boarded without incident and hit the bar for a round of Navy Grogs and some salted snacks. The crossing was unusualy rough, and an evil flock of greasy grey sea-birds circled the boat throughout the entire passage, which gave me an ominous feeling.
Despite my misgivings we made shore and blasted down the French, Belgian, Dutch and German highways without atracting the attention of the fuzz of any nation.

We drove as far as Essen on the first day and set up shop in a greasy suburban bierhaus for some currywurst and dunkelweissen. We were alone in the bar, and within minutes the haggard 40 something ladlady was learing at us and trying to make sleazy conversation. My German is very bad, but what little I did understand completely unhinged me.
I leaned over to Aaron and hissed in his ear..
"This woman is out of her mind. She's saying she's going to drug our beer and let her boyfriend sodomise us while she takes pictures. We have to leave NOW!"
Aaron gave me a pitying look and shoved me away.
"Bullshit" he said. "Your German is useless, and anyway, this hideous bitch can't possibly have a boyfriend".
He laughed at me and drained the rest of his Paulaner while the landlady ran her yellowed fingertips over his forearm. Then suddenly he leaned forward and slapped her ear hard with a cupped hand.
She shrieked and fell back against a rack of bottom shelf spirits, so I seized the moment and barged Aaron off his stool, through the door and out into the street.
We fled in the ATV and parked in a truckstop to catch some sleep before continuing on to Hamburg. We were not pursued.

We drove the rest of the way at an easy pace, playng I Spy and talking gayly, and rolled into Hamburg around 5pm. We located the venue in a ritzy waterfront neighborhood full of nightmarish yuppie furniture showrooms and upscale restraunts, where  it stood like a righteous pillar of honest sleaze among the temples of greed and stupidity. Hafenklang is a stalwart punk/anarchist institution and the staff treated us with all due courtesy. Plenty of drinks and snacks for the weary itinerant musician, and thousands of punk stickers on the walls to look at.

Welcome to Hafenklang.

The opening act was what they call a "curveball". It was an idiosynchratic trio called The High Quality Girls, who played a heavily psychadelic, improvised soundtrack to an Argentinian film called "La Antena" which was projected onto a giant screen in front of the stage and blew my mind right out of my left ear. It was a wierd/hard act to follow, and I was nervous about the crowd, who seemed older and more downscale-arty than we are used to. But in the end we pummeled them with our childish noise and they clapped and hooted and heckled us good-humoredly in Deutsche. All in all, a fine experience.

Check the line-ups! With little us nestled inbetween all the radness.

The venue, amazingly, had a sort of inbuilt youth hostel around the back, in which we were the only guests, so we slept like stones for 3 hours and rose at daybreak in order to make the drive up through Denmark. If we missed the ferry, we would miss our next gig, in Kristiansand, Norway.

Clear, concise rules and instructions. We NEED them. Thanks.

But that is another story, for another post. In the meantime, ponder this fine piece of graffiti from the side of my bunkbed in the hostel and spare a thought for the poor, dumb punk who enscribed it.


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