On a freezing, wet Monday afternoon we pulled up in a dismal side street in Lilles' inner suburbs and sat like anaemic bridge-trolls amongst the garbage in our Ford Galaxy, eating miniature Mars bars and insulting each-others intelligence with moronic humor and humiliating sexual anecdotes.
This is standard time-killing procedure when we arrive at a venue too early to load in, and time has seldom been killed in a more senseless, degraded way by anyone, anywhere. Even compulsive masturbation and binge-eating are more noble responses to boredom.
Anyway, the grey hours of the day trickled by until finally the door of the venue opened and we lugged our crap inside to survey the scene. The first thing I saw on trudging through the door was what appeared to be the mummified corpse of a clinically depressed young woman screwed to the wall above our heads.
Covered in painfull, oozing boils and really, really bummed. That's how this poor chick went out.
The band room itself was an awesome example of bare-bones, bargain-basement goodness.
The smelly, scallop roofed dungeon as it appeared at first glance. Me likey.
The depressed corpse on the wall and the stark, unvarnished nature of the venue-proper really cheered me up. Here was a place I understood, that reflected my value system, so far removed from the huge, corporate, brushed-aluminium fridge we had played in the night before.
Though the brusque Dutch efficiency of the Eindhoven staff was certainly warranted, given the mega-plex nature of the venue, we were now in motherfucking France, amongst the French!
I have many flattering pre-conceptions about the French race...and true to my dearest hopes, the posse at this joint were a loose bunch of chain-smoking, shoulder-shrugging, joke-cracking lifestyle experts who instantly treated us like valued recruits in some sort of undeclared slacker war against The Great Uptight.
After the ritual nightmare of soundcheck, with all the tantrums and death-threats and wall-punching I've come to accept from Baaron Von Cuddles, the promoter (a fine young human named Dorothy) ushered us upstairs into a nicely outfitted kitchen/dinning room and fed the living bejeesus out of us.
Dorothy slaves over our dinner while we enjoy fine local beer and make fun of her heavily accented English.
Dining in communal style with the venue staff and worthy local support act "The Kitchen Tool Set".
The late Chubby Checker knew a thing or two about eating big and rocking out, and I believe it was he who coined the phrase "Full gut, good gig". Priceless wisdom.
So with belts notched down a hole or two we returned downstairs to do the bizzzzzz.
The Kitchen Tool Set fuzz-prog the crap out of the gathering locals.
We let the box bathe in silent, solitary glory for a full 15 minutes before we ripped into our shit, just to get people focused. It drove the crowd nuts. They were screaming threats at us and shaking their fists before we'd even played a note.
When you arrive at a groovy but downbeat venue on a scummy side-street in a town you've never played before, to perform a headline show on a rainy, freezing Monday night, generally speaking your expectations tend to be pretty low. So when nearly a hundred soggy French misfits pile in, booze heavily and then dance and howl like gin-soaked mental patients there's only one way to respond. Play like retarded wolverines and grin and spit and bite peoples hands as they try to rip the hair out of your head and scream at you for "un autre morceau, tu baises fuckers!"
The Baaron, captured going green at the gills, in black and white. Courtesy of janicks.blogspot.com/ .
Our terrifying momentum was derailed about half-way through the set when, after a powerfull rendition of "Run Overdrive", Aaron wandered listlessly to the back of the stage, leaned over his nasty little amplifier and started throwing up the mountain of vegetarian lasagna he had shovelled into himself about an hour earlier.
The crowd seemed completely unperturbed by this disgusting spectacle and simply waited with folded arms for the noise action to resume. I tried to tell some bawdy jokes in pidgin French, but several people in the front row irritably told me to shut-up, so I just fidgeted and smiled lamely until the Baaron had finished regurgitating.
During the lull in the set while Aaron was vomiting on the floor behind his amp I took time out for this post-modern moment. Being photographed by a crowd-member while photographing the crowd-members.
Once back into the swing of it, we kicked the balls off those unemployed Frogs with the raw power of our rockness and got one of the lustiest encores of the whole tour as our just reward. It was a fine experience, so naturally we spent the rest of the night hobnobbing with the local gentry, trying to sell them t-shirts, and becoming droolingly, spasticly drunk. It hurt like hell the next morning, but sometimes you just have to get hideously hammered with the hosts. It's simple good manners.
Aaron drunkenly explains the inner mysteries of the box to a curious Lilleian gear nerd.
Dorothy grinning goofily and smoking unfiltered Cravens, like the hopeless soak she is.
CC. Bad-will Embassadors to the Royal Court of Wrong.
Yep, it was a grande ole night at the opera, my friends. Even the Baaron seemed satisfied and cheerful and failed to put a single member of the crowd in a choke-hold, or accuse the whole venue of Nazi sympathies or any one of the many disruptive, anti-social stunts he would usually pull on such an evening.
But this was early days, innit. The road is long and winding, and the Baaron is evil at heart.
*BUSHWEEK - Australian colloquialism. An unreasonable demand or behavior.
"Get ya fuckin feet off the fuckin couch, Nathan. Whadaya think this is, bushweek?"