When you wake up in a beautiful European apartment with a god damned 300 year old fresco in the living room, and you enjoy an espresso and cigarette on a balcony overlooking a historic Italian neighborhood, you have to ask: what have I done right, OR what have I done wrong with my life?
That’d be my entry into the amateur General Foods International Cafe model contest. What was the name of that waiter? JEAN LUC!
We woke up at Filipo and Allesandro’s apartment in Turino. These are two super cool guys who not only had amazing gorgonzola cheese and bread awaiting our late night arrival, but also had mattresses out and ready in their living room. They are supporters of the arts, evidenced by their immense rock poster collection all signed by former guests, and also very astute activists in Italian political actions. They had this amazing apartment, full of antiques, refurbished wood furniture, and a shit-you-not 300 year old fresco just chilling out. Sean was ready to move in.
We had kept our gear in the club. It was nice of them to allow it, in order for us to feel safe leaving the van in the street with no one having to take the hit and sleep in it. A leisurely afternoon load out preceded our journey to a show we had been added to just days earlier in Padua. There were some folks skeptical about the show. I was one of them. What were our chances with two to three days promotion on what I was told was a stoner rock show?
We pulled into Padua and met with Brandy the promoter (a dude) and he was wearing an Impetigo shirt. Okay, this show could be good. The headliners, whose show we had jumped on, were Karma to Burn. I imagine the cold stares we got from them might have been because of this flyer:
Ai yi yi. I felt kinda bad about that. This was THEIR show we jumped on, and one where we might’ve expected an epic fail. To add to it, Canadian punkers Hard Charger had also shown up after they had a show cancelled in Bologna and were also added to the bill. Karma to Burn must’ve been getting annoyed.
Hard Charger was quite good post-millenial crust punk, though they had a rough time as the crowd just wasn’t there yet. Then the crowd did show up, bedecked in Napalm Death, Hirax, and other death metal shirts. All of a sudden, I felt better about our upcoming set.
Local band Volcano Heat, sounding kinda like White Stripes, played next on this odd bill. We headed up and found we were doing our own sound on a four channel mixer with only two working microphones. Luckily, Raul had his goofy mixer set up and was able to output some drums to the board. I got the task of doing Jason’s vocals. And we sounded fucking GOOD. Weird, sometimes the more punk the set up, the better we sound. The tigers who’d shown up, a decent amount, danced and headbanged and screamed loudly when I yelled, “Porko Dio!” We gave our propers to Karma to Burn and they had a good set, too. Everyone ended up having a decent time. The warm beer flowed.
We were told we would sleep in the club, which was fine, they had mattresses ready for us. Problem was, they were open until seven am. Have you ever tried to sleep while a Wasp promotional video is playing and the music is cranked through a PA? It’s not so easy. Me and Conny opted to sleep on the sidewalk across the parking lot, where we could still hear Wasp, but at a reasonable volume. Jason, Raul, and Sean “slept” in the club… until seven am. Tiku Tiku Music was closed for business and kicked them the fuck out. After a lovely three hours sleep, we were on our way to Croatia via Slovenia, where the festive border crossing sings to you “la la dee la la RAPE.”
Croatia is not part of the European Union yet, so we had some papers to deal with. The worry was about the backline and getting it in and out with an official stamped list. We stopped on the Slovenian border and tried to ask the Policja what to do. They pointed us towards a building with a bunch of doors marked only in Slovenian. Conny and I entered one door to find a bank. Then another door didn’t open. The next door we entered had a huge group of older Eastern Europeans staring at us with dead eyes, looking like something out of an old Polanski film. One of the pair of dead eyes stared into my soul and then just pointed me to my right. Ooookay. That led to the exit, and so we tried another door that held the policja inside, and they kept telling us, “not our job” and pointed us back to the other door. Kafka, much? We finally saw a customs official and followed him in the formerly locked door, which we weren’t supposed to do. Back to the Polanski room, which was now empty. We waited 15 minutes or so, and finally a customs guy comes up and looks at our paper and says “nyet official, I cannot stamp. Just go aend maybe you having loock tomorrow coming beck.” Sweet. Into Croatia with fingers crossed and thumbs pressed.
We arrived at Autonomni Kulturi Center in Zagreb. It sounds real official right? With a nice letter head and logo and everything.
It’s a squat. It’s located in an old pharmaceutical factory, so our health was in check. Just like all European squats, it was replete with all the psychic vaccumming of overbearing urban style graffitti. Hip hop and ya don’t stop.
The club in the squat was called Attack! (the exclamation point is part of the name) They’d asked us to arrive nice and early around four because they were so concerned about the drum set only partially being shared and time constraints. Good thing they showed up two hours later around six and took about two hours to set up cables. I was falling asleep standing up with none of the local currency to buy a coffee by the time we finally sound checked around eight. With all that concern about time, you’d think they’d skip a full sound check for the other three bands playing, but no. Full sound checks for all, and a show that’s starting one and one half hour late! Come on in!
That said, Igor (not making fun, that was his name) and crew did great sound for all the bands. So much as they were worth listening to. I did quite enjoy the band right before us, Krlja, grinding death metal in an old school tradition.
We had been warned about the Korn concert in Zagreb interferring with ours, because you know Impaled and Korn has a real crossover listenership. A ton of people showed up, some just to hang out drinking at the place, and a healthy amount of crusties and metal heads. The metal heads were surprised we would play this place for such cheap entrance and that our merch prices were so low. The crusties wanted to haggle over our cheap prices like a middle east bazaar, as crusties are wont to do. Of course, the cheap entrance ended up fucking us, as apparently the gig organizer wasn’t there, and we had one email telling us one guarantee price, and the people working had another one that had a significantly lower guarantee. We are not the types to drive people to their ATMs, however. Sucks for our pocketbooks.
We still had a very fun show, though it seemed evident the crowd was a little wiped out after the late start and the numerous bands. We got to hang out late afterwards drinking and partying with some cool Croatians. According to one, “In America, you have Fourth of July. Now I have June Twenty-Seven, the day Impaled play Croatia!” Hell, even our resident tetotaler, Dr. Kocol, joined in the libations.
The next morning we loaded our gear out after sleeping in the squat. Back to the border between Croatia and Slovenia on our way to Austria, and back to some official bullshit. Slovenian customs decided, as offical heavy metal emmisaries of California, we HAD to have some weed. The guard sniffed pouches of tobacco personally, before he brought out the dog. I was expecting a gnarly German Shepherd, but the dog they had was super cute! No photos of course, I wanted this to be easy going. The dog hopped in the van, sniffed to his satisfaction, and got out. Apparently the guard didn’t trust the dogs nose, which is 100x better at smelling than his, and kept forcing the dog back inside and around the van. He even sniffed stuff after the dog. He opened bags, took stuff outta the back… I mean, really, did he expect some drug smugglers shipping bricks of hashish would use mules that look like us? How about them old folks that you just waved through with their giant caravan? All he might’ve found in a band van would’ve been a couple joints, and the drug war could be won to his satisfaction. As it was, he was visibly disappointed that he pulled over Impaled, the squarest death metal band around, and found nothing. At least he brushed off the seats and table.
Onto brüderchen, Austria!
Doktor Ross Sewage
The G.O.R.E. Corps Minister of Filth
reporting from field of battle: Europa