Wednesday, 21 July 2010

With Full Force festival. Eastern Germany. Part 5. Slayer Day!

It’s Slayer day! I have been a super lucky girl this year and had myself 3 Slayer days. Meaning I have gotten to watch them play 3 times and have built my whole day around this, ergo, Slayer ‘Day’. See!

But first alas we must start yet another roasting and boiling hot day with no shade. And our soundtrack for this morning gives us Mambo Kurt and Rockbitches. I was kind of intrigued by the name imagining some sort of awesome German Rockabilly punk get up, smashing us across the face awake with double bass and catchy riffs and 50’s styling dazzling us with light weight fun in the morning sun. Instead we got some lame cheap looking group that apparently goes round all the festivals in Germany and opens up, a comedy spoof act that I can only imagine might translate for us as The Mighty Boosh? Although even the Germans themselves who were busying our stand all day looked shamed and apologised.

Music wise the day was a blah for me. I looked forward to NoFX, The devils Blood, As I Lay Dying and Sodom, but nothing could capture my excitement because that was all reserved for Slayer.

I covered a hung over Ben and Kim for a couple of hours quite happily, pleased that I was able to make up for my absence yesterday.

The stand was doing really well, a constant stream of custom, plus re-stocking and re-hanging of t-shirts that were getting lose in the wind that had out of nowhere picked up later in the morning, meant that we were kept busy. Visits from Janet and Meeri, who became our glamorous assistants helped keep lagging spirits up, and when Kim and Ben rose all was back to good times! Hangovers gone, the stand doing excellently, and it is our last day. As much as this weekend has been both epic and amazing and crammed full with good times and hearty partying, I will not be sad to see the sweaty morning starts and the long arse working days gone. And I’m totally over toasted sandwiches.

I slope off backstage to see if the Slayer camp has arrived yet, with me a couple of boxes of heavy duty pain killers for my touring friend BC3, Kerry King’s guitar tech, who had asked me to, since his back was doing him in with their gruelling tour schedule.

I get to behind the main stage and cannot get further without a better pass or some basic knowledge of German, and stand there stumped for a minute. Slayer’s truck is half unloaded of equipment by the back of the stage, but no BC3 in it. I spot an old friend Simon, who used to be in Cataract and is dating my friend Therese, and beckon him for help. Bless him if he doesn’t go back in to the artist area and bring me out the security guard assigned to Slayer. I get walked back to Slayer’s private back stage area, as this massive dude tells all the security that I’m fine, and feel like such an important nobody I can’t help but start strutting and pouting behind my sunglasses. Then I hit an uneven patch of grass and nearly twist my ankle. Serves me right eh. If the strutting and pouting was in any way effective, pretty much everyone back there saw me stagger. Fail. Still the point is, I’m now in Slayer land!

Slayer, on the other hand, are not. The only one there at this time was the production manager, taking care of business all over the place. I’m way too happy to see him in comparison with his surprised yet nonchalant greeting towards me. Fail 2. He’s confused as to me being here, as have most the bands been that I’ve gotten to hang with. Which is great, it can only be a good thing to be seen out and about round Europe working different things and not just in London right?

I catch up with him for a bit and ask if he needs help with anything. He declines, so I push off back to the Earache merchandise stand and put in another 3 or 4 hours of ace sales time. And then the itchy feet start again, so yet again I’m off backstage to see if my friends have turned up. And they have! Win. I spot the tour manager across the way, cleverly sitting in the shade of a port cabin and go join him, catching up and chewing the cud…teasing with the on going ‘when are you going to hire me as your assistant?’ questioning which I always know the answer to ‘never’. He’s all like ‘have you seen Kerry yet?’ and I’m like ‘nah not yet’. ‘He’s sitting next to you’. I turn to my right and sure enough, Mr Kerry King…legend himself, is stretched out chilling in the shade.

I collect myself, and say hello, we chat for a bit and then he asks if tonight I’m going to join them after the show for shots because last time I didn’t. Kerry fucking King gives a shit! Holy fuck I nearly fell off my chair no word of a lie. I’m all trying to be respectful at the invite yet blasé and cool when out walks Dave Lombardo, on route to watching NoFX from the side of the stage. And he’s pleased to see me too! Dave is cut from the same troublesome cloth as me of course and I’m over the moon to see him. Hugs and excited hello’s out the way and he’s off with BC3, turning back and asking if I’m coming too. ‘I don’t have stage access dude’ is my reply. ‘Fuck that, come up with us’ is his reply. Have you any idea how much I nearly burst with happiness at that precise moment!

These guys are so fucking down to earth it is not even possible for me to explain how much so. They are so unaffected. Just dudes in a band that love seeing other bands as much as us ordinary folk do. Fucking epic. The next hour is a dream like daze of going up the stairs to the side of the stage, actually on the stage, with BC3 and Dave Lombardo, and watching NoFX. Not all of the set, I watched like 3 songs and then went back to the merchandise stand to put some time in before Slayer played. BC3 gave me his pass so I could get back on stage again and I hurried back to Earache petrified that some one was going to spot it and swipe it.

The next hour as NoFX finish up, set change happens, and Slayer get through the first handful of songs is agonising. I’m on the store, selling merch, trying desperately to contain my excitement. And the air is weird. You know like just before a storm when it’s been really hot and humid and you can feel that there is about to be a tremendous storm of epic proportions?
Finally I’m running back to the steps up the stage, petrified once again that BC3’s pass will either get nicked or when I get to the bottom of the stage steps, the security will see right through me and confiscate it. Of course they didn’t, he looked too busy not roasting in the now gone down sun to give a shit about the little things in life!

And there I am. Slayer are in my top 5 favourite bands of all time. I’m standing on the stage, to the side with my friends watching them play an almighty ear destroying set and there is lightening streaking the dark sky and the mosh pit is going crazy! Every hair on my body is up with goose bumps and I check myself. This is one of the most amazing times of my life. 14 year old me would be so stoked to see how well she does in the end!

After the set, of which I get to see all because I don’t have to rush off and prepare the bands dinner like when I worked for them at Hellfest, we all go back to their VIP area and hang out drinking till they have freshened up. Shots upon shots, stories and tales, copious drinking done, and Slayer are whisked away to the next lucky venue. I just stand there, in a daze, trying to take the last couple of hours in. Looking around me at kerry King’s empty dressing room with my friend Therese in awe of the conversations had. Kerry has even told me to take as much of the rider as I can, for me and my friends back on the merchandise stand. What a hero eh!

I truck back to Earache loaded with as much booze and mixers as I can carry. And plenty of still water of course!

Monday, 12 July 2010

With Full Force festival. Eastern Germany. Part 4. Booze and blood

I came round and back to the land of the living in time for the sun to go down and cannibal Corpse to play. Ben had marked them as the band he definitely wanted to go in the pit for, so off he trotted, booze in hand while Kim and me realised we had missed our friends band play, Deadline from London. Duh. I think we had even taken a walk over to catch them but they finished as we arrived. Bit of a fail that.

Thomas Kupfer came to visit, laughed when he found out where Ben was. As did all Ben’s 'bromance' buddies. Cannibal Corpse played a mighty sick set; our stand allowed us direct acoustics, which was rad because we never missed anyone really, even though we couldn’t see them. Earache always seems to be given a good space, probably ‘cause it rocks ha! But then when they finished, Ben didn’t come back? Maybe he had been trampled to unconsciousness during the Cannibal Corpse ‘wall of death?’ or maybe he had done the rounds on all his 'bromance' buddies on the various different stands to show them his pit injury. Ben got punched in the face in the pit during Cannibal Corpse and was delighted with his black and bloody split eye. To be fair, it did look super fucking cool.

Couldn’t tell you a thing about Heaven Shall Burn, but Venom rocked my world for sure. Ben was unimpressed but he is a violent pit dweller so his opinion no longer matters. Venom are so amazing and epic but alas the young crowd who are mainly hardcore kids don’t know about them. Apparently, according to Janet from one of the other merch stands, who is completely 100% Metal, there were like 3 rows of people and then loads of space between the rest of the people milling around. Really sad. At the end was a massive fireworks display that we all watched from outside our stand. These fireworks were epic in size, colour and duration, no expense spared. And I tripped out one last time, but in a great cosmic wow type way.

We poured drinks out and hung out as the site got cleared by security of non traders and felt satisfied that we had yet again done great on the stand considering no one was really shopping. Earache merch is easy to sell because the bands are super rad and the t-shirt designs rule. Municipal Waste flies out the stand, Oceano a Deathcore band from Detroit did great, along with Gama Bomb and a heap of other bands. Vinyl was proving a success, box sets too.

Work done with, party time starts and with the tarpaulin over the front of our stand, everyone from our festival family joins us as the table full of rows upon rows of C’D’s becomes a bar area, with Luke becoming our bar tender. Him and Ben come up with many, many strange and glorious concoctions from our varied array of brightly coloured bottles of pure European filthy liqueurs. They pass them round in massive empty sparkling water bottles, the sparkling water fizzing away on the grass at our feet. Everyone would swig as much as they could in one go and then pass the bottles on to the next person. Drunkenness was not a long time coming.

Ben had barely eaten all day, none of us had in fact. Probably down to the 38 degree heat that had been hammering us since dawn. Rather we had been snacking and grazing on snacks that hadn’t melted in to oblivion. Ben had bought a bag of pink and white mice for his sister that had since melted in to one big swirly lump. Most of the cheese and ham was too dubious to eat, one of the other festival family saw our pitiful state of affairs and offered us space in their fridge the next day for anything that was still edible. Win.

So Ben had turned to eating Doritos crisps absolutely slathered in a mountain of hot chilli sauce and a pool of Tabasco sauce in the middle of that. He got hic-ups several times, his face went red several times, his breathing went weird several times, still he kept on munching. We decided that by the end of the weekend he had to finish the entire bottle of Tabasco. Next stop was one of the other festival families stand. We partied there with loads of people including my friend Meeri from Finland who I had met in Germany on the Evile tour, and Thomas Kupfer our new journalist best friend forever. I left them all to it to go find Happy and Joy and hang out with them some or arrange where we can all meet up on masse. Gwar would be playing at 3am and most of us wanted to watch them drunkenly.

Backstage I ran in to Joy, happy had apparently gotten lucky with a German girl. Exodus were all hanging out drinking too, hugs all round, chatter and bullshit talked. Good times right there. I arranged with Tom to meet at the second pole along the tent where Gwar were playing at 2.45am and that we would both bring our respective parties with us. Job done!

The rest of the night was a blur. We got to hang out with Exodus for ages, they even drank our vicious and potent cocktails from the bottles being passed around. By the time Gwar came on, everyone was arms round shoulders style, laughing and shouting and chatting and generally pissing about having loads of fun and relaxing. Interruptions for photos and autographs from fans pulled me back to the amazing reality that I am hanging with fucking Exodus like they were my school buddies. What an amazing night.

Gwar came on and none of noticed we having so much fun. I got a hotdog in a bid to sober up a touch, which started a food envy train to the hotdog stall for loads of others, and then Tom and me went in to the crowd to get closer to the mighty Gwar stage. Watching Gwar at 4am, still stoned but nicely, drunk and standing next to Tom from Exodus banging our heads and chucking the horns was possible one of the coolest moments of my life to date. And with that, Exodus had to leave.

On route back to the Earache merchandise stand having said my farewells to Exodus and Happy and Joy, I rounded a corner in the main stage area and rounding the other corner was Ben and Co. The side of Ben’s face other to the side already bruised from his Cannibal Corpse injury was covered in Mud or dust. He was happily drunk, as of course we all were, and explained that he had clear lost his feet from underneath himself and crash landed straight on to his face! Having laughed at Ben’s poor, abused face for a while, I took myself off to my tent and crashed out with my earplugs in, which yet again did nothing to dilute the noise and bass vibrations under me where I slept from the all night ‘D.J’ tent next door.

With Full Force festival. Eastern Germany. Part 3. The lost day.

Saturday. Ah yes. Saturday went a bit wrong for all intense purposes. Started out, as it should, as one would expect it to. Hot, bit hung over, getting ready for the day ahead with lots of de-sweating breaks in between. Setting up the Earache merchandise stand for the day. Trying to drink sparkling fucking water without gagging. And then this happened. Exodus came to town.
Exodus came to play a gig and bought with them two old friends of mine whose names for the sake of this story shall be Happy and Joy. Ooh you know it’s a good story when I revert to code names huh.

Happy had apparently come by our stand when the Exodus bus rolled in but we didn’t hear him shouting. The next time he came by we were pretty much ready to trade, although the main stage area was still closed to the public, and I could be found sprawled out on a fold up chair in the sun bitching about sparkling water and why do we always forget to just open the bottle in the supermarket and check for bubbles. And then there he was, and I was overjoyed! One of my favourite people right here is our Happy. Happy is very troublesome, we are cut from the same cloth. Although Happy is from Holland, and always has fun things for me to play with on him if you know what I mean. So he hangs with us, I introduce him to the others and he goes off to get us cold, still water after having us in stitches for the best part of an hour.

Next visitor for the day to the blessed and holy Earache stand is the lovely Tom, drummer from Exodus. We chew the cud; shoot the shit, all that stuff. It’s good times when friends pop up like this at small festivals in the middle of Europe because none of you know the local language or that many people so you all stick together more.

Exodus are in my top 5 favourite bands and I have been very privileged to meet them on several occasions throughout the years, starting with working as a bouncer at one of their gigs in London and carrying on bumping into them spanning over, shit, about 7 years now. I still get star struck by them now, even more so because they are so down to earth and great people.
Happy, on return with water that gets guzzled down immediately, offers to get me breakfast. I’m well stoked! Backstage artist food is gonna be much better than our breville toasties we been boshing together for the last 72 hours. Off I trot, leaving the others behind with promises of great delights stolen from backstage.

Happy and me reach the coolness of the tour bus and I slouch down in to one of the chairs up front, hugging Joy and saying Hi as he goes through paper work. He is in work mode and so I sit there quietly while Happy goes to the back of the bus and opens up his present for me. Ffs. Space cake. Yep, Happy is giving me space cake for breakfast. I’m like ‘Dude I haven’t eaten this stuff for 10 years, it’s boiling and I have a full day of work ahead of me. Oh and it’s 11am.’ Happy and Joy then go about friendly bullying me with ‘eat it eat it’ till my arm is twisted and the cake is eaten. Didn’t have to twist much to be fair to them but still, would’ve rather just had more still water.

So you can guess what happened for the rest of my day. First off, after an hours nervous wait back at the stand which sees me apologising ahead of time to Ben and Kim for whatever may come of me in the following 8 hours and seriously contemplating making myself vomit, comes the giggles. I laughed so hard at absolutely nothing that I cried. I cried as Ben and Kim looked on at me in resigned amusement. I had to take myself off to behind the tent because I couldn’t stop laughing at the customers. I cannot stop laughing now as I write this. It was very fucking funny for me. Just for me one suspects though. Then, a brief spell of calm where I sat with the others and maybe even managed to serve a customer before the next stage kicked in. Intense paranoia.

I couldn’t look at the customers or people passing. I couldn’t look at Ben and Kim without seeing them passing looks of disdain between them; in my head they were rolling their eyes. Although, I can hardly blame them if they were. I couldn’t say anything because everything I said came out wrong in my head and I was questioning it all and how they might take it.

Then the agitated bit. I couldn’t get comfy anywhere. And the burning heat from the sun helped intensify this. I moved from the stand to behind the stand and tried to sleep it off in a tiny patch of shade, but the passing gen-pop could still see me so I got paranoid and moved to my tent, where I boiled and sweated. So I clambered out and laid down in a foot wide space between my tent and the back of the stand and stayed there for an hour or so. I think I kind of slept, or close enough to it. People came by to visit but I just stayed there feeling guilty for not working.

When I came to I sorted myself out. Kim came on a walk with me to the nice toilets in the traders campsite to help walk it off and also because I couldn’t figure out if I needed a piss or if I was just paranoid that I need a piss and concentrating on it too much. Jeez it was exhausting. On our way there we bumped in to Happy who was, very happy. The shit. Yes everyone was highly amused by my day except me it seems. Damn them all the fuckers.

So, there’s 8 hours of Saturday righteously thrown right out the window. Want to know what bands I missed? Well, Exodus for a fucking start! Ha-ha, yes I heard them but was wedged between two tents trying to chill out when they came on. I heard Walls of Jericho and Grand Magus. Their sets intertwined with the football that was being broadcast on the other side of the field and somewhere along the line, a trumpet joined in and I tripped out massively with all sorts of sounds and songs in my head. Fortunately the middle day is always a very quiet sales day. The first day is busy, second day everyone is browsing, and the last day everyone spends what they have left or comes back for what they have been looking at on the previous days. If this had happened on Sunday I suspect Ben and Kim would hate me forever!

With Full Force festival. Eastern Germany. Part 2. Sales and sun

I am being roasted alive. Sweat is tickling my skin as it runs down my face and the sides of my body on to the floor of my tent. I cannot even bare to lie there and trick myself in to pretending to still be asleep for another minute. My tent flap is open, I must have opened it when the sun first rose and started slow baking me in a bid to breathe. There is barely a breeze even with the rape gate. I clamber out and locate the only shady area near, the side of our next door neighbours truck.

Ben told me of the rape gate last night at some point during our drunken ramblings when we were discussing this morning. That’s what it’s called when you leave your tent open at night apparently. We reckon we are safe though because our tents are pitched in a closed off area, and frankly, I don’t think even potential rapists wouldn’t bother in this heat. We had also decided that we would not have time for lake shenanigans today, the stand needs finishing. It can definitely be done on the next few mornings though since we will clearly be woken at 8.30am by the ferocious sun and the site doesn’t open till noon. Ourselves and the rest of the trader fam’ all agree that this will be the plan. Fuckin’ A!

But not yet fuckin A, oh no not yet. No, right now are very much bad times. I wake Ben up, who has also blown caution to the non existent wind and rape gated his tent, and then climb in under the tarpaulin to wake Kim, who is sleeping in the stand having not bought a tent the silly. We ‘wash’ with wet wipes, and curse the school boy error of buying dozens of litre bottles of sparkling fucking water which is both disgusting and not thirst quenching while guzzling it down anyway out of pure survival need. I have to take breaks between getting ready. Hair done, break to de-sweat. Make up done, break to de-sweat. Changed, break to de-sweat. As the sun continues to cook us, we quietly focus and finish the stand. No one talks much, we are just trying to get the job done and done well.

The site opens and the gen-pop (Ben’s amazing abbreviation for general population which we laughed at for ages, what a twat!) come tearing in. Oh no wait, no they don’t at all. They are all in the lake! Yes it becomes apparent that due to the heat, no one actually comes in the main stage area with its lack of shade until just before the first band starts. Very wise. And good for us because now we can relax a minute and put the finishing touches to the stand which looks super rad with all the Earache and Earache band t-shirts hung up, and rows upon rows of mouth watering C.DS’s and Vinyl. Our next door neighbours on one side are all sorted. Very posh with their fans and matching outfits. Wankers.

Sales start before the main stage area is open to the gen-pop with two Americans, the vocalist from Job For A Cowboy and the guitarist from The Faceless, who picks up some Cult Of Luna. Seemed like nice boys. We payed attention to their sets because they bought of us and they did a fucking sterling job, which is impressive when they were first on and had to play in that heat. Kirk Windstein and the hot brunette whose name I can’t recall from Crowbar come over and we chew the cud. I saw these guys at Hellfest last week so we talk about what we have been up to and the heat. They are used to it in New Orleans, but we all agree that sunburnt tops of feet suck balls massively, and with that they bowl off backstage.

Kim makes us lunch, we drink and chat to customers, talking about Earache bands past and present, haggling prices and practicing German and English. Before we know it the day is drawing to a close and we have done brilliantly! This is good, obviously. This festival is a first for us to have a stand at and it is crucial that we make Earache a profit so that it does not become a waste of time, effort and money. We tidy up the stand and close it down.

Then what? Jeez who knows, the rest of the weekend has eclipsed the relatively mundane Friday night. None of the bands were particularly interesting, and we got drunk and passed out relatively early. Well I say that, but we did find a skate park area where skaters were performing behind a fence for us drunks at about 2am and continued to sit on the grass whooping and heckling while guzzling booze for a couple of hours. I planned with Luke from one of the other record labels with a merch stand that whoever wakes first should come wake the rest of us and we can all go down to the lake for a couple of hours. Janet, who was with yet another label and is German, told us we were mental and not to go in lakes in Eastern Germany because they are all polluted. I died inside a bit. We watched Marduk but by then I was finished and sloped off when no one was watching back to my tent, washed my filthy flip flopped feet with wipes and crashed hard, dreaming of skaters on sand dunes, lakes and tumours growing out of my sides from polluted lakes.

Apparently Luke knocked for us. Didn’t hear a thing though and now he is all smug and freshened from his swim in the lake with Max and I am all sweaty and cranky and tired from being so hot in that tent of mine. On the upside, Ben, Kim and me feel happy that we can use Luke and Max as experiments and that if they are o.k. by the end of the day, then we will do the lake tomorrow. I’m not so much fussed at this point about the potential of the having future babies with five heads bit but rather that I don’t want the shits when I’m living in the middle of a field and the nearest non porta-loo is like a ten minute walk away. Fuck that.

With Full Force festival. Eastern Germany. Part 1. Booze and mileage!

Where to start. I’ll start with this. I spent Monday morning this week by skinny-dipping in a lake in Eastern Germany with a James Hetfield circa 1985 look a like. Not a bad way to start your working week huh? I was hung over and slightly sun burnt, being slowly cooked in my tent that the sun was beating down on, and the Earache merchandise stand needed to be packed up in lieu of my two comrades and me driving back across Europe to good Ol’ Blighty. So I hit the lake instead of throwing up and dying inside. Reality can wait just a few more hours.

With Full Force is a gnarly little festival held on some airfield in Eastern Germany somewhere. Last week, having only just returned and certainly not recovered from Hellfest festival in France, I was seriously coming to the mind of not doing WFF (With full force) but rather staying put in London. Then, at some point during another groundhog night of bar work, while standing there pulling another pint, I suddenly had the overwhelming desire to get the fuck out of there and committed myself wholly to camping and eating noodles with stoic gumption that I usually have reserved for ‘right, tonight I’m gonna not get home till morning’ times. It’s fucking on people!

Work rota’s covered and bag quickly packed since I hadn’t gotten round to unpacking it from Hellfest, and I find myself waiting for my ride to turn up in Kent where the pick up is with nerves and desperation. I love leaving. It’s the best feeling in the world hands down. Finally, the van is here and my two comrades for the next 5 days jump out. Who have we got then…we got Earaches sales and merchandising manager, Mr Ben, and we got driver to the lower classes of Punk and Metal and Grindcore, Miss Kim. Ben and me get straight to work by moving boxes around in the back of the van that have fallen. So that we could rake out some booze of course! Can’t hit Dover empty handed it’s just rude.

Dover is Dover. What can you say? Ben and I were ready for the mundane and loooong arsed process of getting on a boat, and continued our drinking in earnest. We have started on sparkling rose since it was the only bottle we could pull out of the wedged up booze box at the bottom of a pile of boxes and take turns necking it back. Poor Kim is stone cold sober on account of her being the designated driver of this road trip and looks on at us and laughs, shaking her head in amusement. Ben and I have made a pact to stay awake for the whole drive and keep Kim company, I see a brief flicker of ‘oh dear god no’ in Kim’s eyes as we stand there discussing what booze to buy on the ferry.

The ferry ride for the most part sees us waiting for the duty free shopping to start, buying ridiculous amounts of cheap booze (2 crates of Strongbow, a litre bottle of Malibu and 2 assorted packs of flavoured Smirnoff bottles topped off with a litre bottle of limited edition Smirnoff vodka) and chain smoking on the open deck while tucking into the Malibu for me and the Strongbow for Ben. All the while surrounded by school kids blasting tinny R&B from their shitty stereo and looking as us warily. We already look like more trouble than their pubescent little minds can get round with our rocking hair, tattoos and devil may care attitude. Hey I might sound like an arsehole saying that but you could see it in their faces, they’re like 16, these things matter to them. I like to think we turned some of those kids to the dark side and away from wishy washy tunes with too many melodies of men crooning about how good they can please you.

Waving goodbye to England with our middle fingers up, we hit dry land and the beautiful joy that is European speed limits. Beautiful because none of us know what they are, no one else seems to pay any attention and this van can push 95, which is what it stays on. Kim drove us through the night; we left Kent at gone 7pm and arrived in Lypsik at 8.30am having only stopped for piss breaks. During this epic road trip we listened to 3 Finntroll albums back to back, then 2 Turasis albums and some hardcore and punk albums. We drank most of the Malibu, nearly a whole crate of Strongbow, and some Hoegarden that we bought in Belgium. We made dubious cocktails and chucked out metal moves while all squashed into the front cab area of the van, chain smoking and laughing and chatting and throwing the claw to the moon that lit the road until it fucked off and was replaced by the sun rising over open expanses of farmland.

Ben and I woke from a drunken power nap outside a Nettos in Lypsik, Germany. And at 8.30am,a very drunken Ben and a very exhausted Kim went supermarket shopping. I chose to stay in the van and sleep another half hour. Fuck that, I was done. I must have dropped off again. Waking up drenched in sweat, the van sitting in the car park right under the baking sun. One patch of shade at the edge of the car park would mean me driving only 6 meters but I was still drunk so instead went to investigate what the hell was taking so long in the shop. See, upon waking and feeling all disorientated, I had checked the time. Ben and Kim had been gone for two bloody hours. Hope some crazed gunman hasn’t held up the shop.

Ben is still drunk! He bellows across the store when he sees me that ‘it’s ok, we are just choosing mixers and we are out of here’ and gets back to concentrating on the countless bottles of god knows what in front of him. Kim shakes her head and grins at me. The trolley with them is full, including a crate of beer underneath it. There is food stuff in there, cold meats, cheese, bread, chocolate and crisps, some veg' and fruit. But mainly there is just a ton of miscellaneous booze products. One of the joyful things about shopping for alcohol in Europe is you have no idea what you are buying and have to either spend ages figuring it out or choose on the basis of the bottle being attractive and the percentage on the label. This option is our one of choice. It has seen us end up with chilli chocolate vodka, cherry schnapps and mint liqueur on several occasions. Where in toxic mind blowing cocktails are born!

I hurry them out, cranky from the heat and total lack of sleep and partake in some kleptomania by not announcing the crate of beers under the trolley, that I’m not sure that the others remembered they put there. Naughty.

As we approach the festival site, hordes of cars packed to the brim with metallers and hardcore kids, tents and sleeping bags, drive with us, kicking up dust clouds all over the place. Loads of them have got WFF gaffa taped to the back windows and everyone of them including us have various limbs hanging out of windows, attempting to stay cool.

And the following hour? Traffic jam on to the site big time. By the time we had gotten our passes, been wrongly directed to various points on the site and had finally guessed our way to the merch trading area, we were all completely exhausted and heat stroked out. Fuck our lives all over the field if we didn’t then have a bloody merch stand to set up before the van had to be parked at 9pm,the cut off curfew for having vehicles on site.

I mean set up from scratch too. If I hadn’t been so tired I would have had my wits about me and taken photos from the start of set up, when it was a piece of grass to the end result so that you could see the varying stages. We build the frame, get the tarpaulin up, and set up the stock, displays, and the lot. Kim got Bens tent out and passed out straight away, she totally didn’t need to help set up when her crazy arse had just driven us through 5 countries lets face it, the girl was way over due some downtime. Ben and I plugged on, until Ben’s body finally went on strike and he passed out on a pile of Insect Warfare t-shirts that had fallen out of the van. Safely in the shade I left him to it and quietly went about getting as much done on my own as I could, following info and advice from Ben in the van when we were talking shop, and then set up my tent behind our merchandise stand. A little back yard area closed off from the public with stands and a fence made for a perfect bunking down area and would eliminate us having to walk all the way to the trader’s campsite and back all the time. Ben has done this festival trading thing enough to know that those painful morning starts would be so much easier like this. Having received no information or help regarding anything to do with the festival, I ask our new neighbours what time the main stage site where we are will open and shut each day, where the traders campsite is, if there are any showers etc.

Good news. The site won’t open till 12 noon, which means we don’t have to get up at the crack of dawn! It shuts at midnight, but the party continues at the big tent next to the main stage area with bands until 6am so we won’t be missing the party either! Wait…I’m not finished. There’s a fucking lake ten minutes away! With a sand beach! Big ol’ dirty fucking win, my face is sore from smiling. The bad news, we are right next to a ‘D.J’ area, which never stops. 24 hour music blasts from it, the ground where we will be sleeping vibrating, oh and for the most part they seem to have a C.D on repeat.

The stand is coming along nicely when along comes our first visitor of the weekend, one of the guys from another label, who have a stand set up further towards the stage. Within half an hour we have half a dozen guys from there and our old friends from yet another European label too, all with beers in their hands catching up and joking around.

Festival families. They rock. Let me explain. Every year, you inevitably end up working many of the same festivals as the year before. Also within a summer festival season, the same bands play all the festivals, so you are bound to come across them several times. For me, getting to these festivals might see me helping Talita, the press officer at Earache with bands and press, or working backstage on dressing rooms with the bands, or like this time, working as a trader on a stand. You meet the same people, who do the same, and you form bonds and ties and friendships and stay in touch between festivals. This goes for the bands and other workers, crew etc. And they become your festival family. You only see them at festivals, and that might only be a few times a year, but you are comrades none the less and after living through a long weekend of wrongness together you feel like you have been to battle. So that is why all work on our stand has come to an abrupt halt and we are now just catching up and getting drunk with these awesome and crazy fuck ups! Let the good times roll.

Our motley crew of drunken merchandise bandits includes Max and Luke from Holland, Sparny, Renee, Joe and Janet from Germany and ourselves. By the time we hit the sack for the night we are all wasted and exhausted. Which is the second time for Ben and me today! Oops. Least the Earache stand had been christened as the best on site for another year running eh! Just how we roll.

Evile Infecting Nations 2010 tour.Vosselaar.

Oh boy last night was crazy. A night with my buddies in Nashville Pussy saw drunkenness and debauchery all over the shop! Lyall and me were the only ones to trek to the venue they were playing at to begin with. We had hit up Nettos across the street for copious amounts of cheap European booze and were drunk before we got there. After hanging with the band for a bit, we went back to the bus and continued drinking in it and at the bar of The Bastard club, where we were last night. I was in my element , surrounded by punks, but at 10 pm we took off back to Nashville pussy, this time with Arie and Laux in tow. Arie puked down the side of the bus when we got back, Lyall wrestled him and Laux in the snow, we all ate the best kebabs in the world from a kebab shop in a bus and this morning the pink puke, pink from the cherry liqueur Lyall made him drink, had turned in to icicles. Chop initially thought it was me, seems I got me a rep! I remember watching some of Taxi Driver at like 7am ‘cause I was too drunk to sleep, and then going back to bunk as the bus drove off to Belgium.

At the venue, I wash, eat and set up my stand and then go hang in the dressing room for a bit. There is a ton of band graffiti, a really impressive amount of bands who are now a big deal, and even some who are friends of ours, so of course it gets added to. I have done all I can to drop hints about the fact that today, is Valentines Day. Oh who am I kidding, I’m still banging on about it.

I have a great merch area today, it’s right next to the front door, opposite the bar, so lots of opportunities for people to be around the merch and therefore more likely to buy. At said bar, is Kevill, gripped to his laptop playing some online fantasy war game. Doors open and he’s still there, totally engrossed. There is a man who has toured so much he is completely capable of switching off and not giving a fuck.

A good, strong sales start and a great turn out makes for a happy vibe all round, and the next time I see Kevill, he is at my stand and on his 4th beer. We discuss how beer 1 and 2 are warms up, 3 and 4 are the ones that count. He is getting quite drunk and I love this ‘cause it means for an even funnier Kevill on stage. He is super funny at the best of times, but drunk, he is on fire. He makes up lyrics to The Fading’s songs and generally plays the fool, me laughing like an idiot all the while. We talk about last night and he informs me that I was both loud and obnoxious in my drunken post Nashville Pussy state. I mind a bit, and apologise, but honestly, Kevill is always drunk and obnoxious so I don’t care that much.

I get told off by the venue manager for taking up too much space, and promptly have to reign in my tables to suit him, which leaves me with a little slither of foot room. After cussing him under my breath for half an hour I stop acting like a teenager and admit that he is right, which kills me. I don’t admit that to him of course. Laux got to go to Europe’s biggest metal store and has a pile of C.D’s that he is showing kevill, which totally makes me jealous. Even if I had got to go I wouldn’t have been able to buy anything, I have spent all my money on booze. Tut.

Lyall brings himself and his laptop over to the stand and sets up camp for the night. I am stoked to have constant company and pretend that he is doing it because he likes my company and it’s Valentines day rather than the actual reason which is you can’t get to and from backstage without going on to the stage, which obviously is out of the question during show time. Still, we drink some beers together but mainly he is working or on facebook. We talk about how this epic tour is almost over, everyone is so bummed out by it, there’s a real family unit going on here and although everyone is up for getting on with it so they can do the next thing, it’s hard not to get attached and sentimental.

So I have most the guys with me throughout the night due to the back stage restrictions, which is awesome except for two gripes. One, they block the merch area and therefore, I worry, get in the way of me making merch sales. Two, they keep putting their fucking drinks on top of the merch that is displayed on top of the tables. Some of which is their own, idiots. Other than telling them off for this repeatedly, I get to spend my Valentines Day with 15 of my favourite men. Lucky me.

Kevill is getting loads of drinks bought for him and for sure is going to end up super duper trashed tonight! He gets up on stage for Shark attack time during Evile’s set, which I’m over the moon about because so far I’ve missed it when he does this. And soon enough, there is an almighty run of stage invasions as kids stage dive repeatedly. I look back down over all my displayed stock to check on it and would you believe it, some cheeky little beggar has nicked a sticker. I reckon I can live with that, fuck it.

Hanging at the stand, I also get to meet all sorts of cool people, one of the many perks to the job. And tonight I get to meet a Brazilian chick called Lucy! She is awesome and we chat for a while over drinks and swap details. Yet another new friend I hope I hear from but probably never will! Before we know it, the night is over and its time to pack up. As I do so, I have a fan club of young metal boys sitting at the bar watching, turning away every time I look at them the little cuties. I finish up and head back stage to find the best Valentines gift to date! All the guys have signed a drum skin with the message ‘To our hot merch girl, we loves ya!’ Awwww bless them, they were listening!

Back to the bus of love, back to we love drinking, and on to the next spot! Love it!

Thursday, 24 June 2010

Evile Infecting Nations 2010 tour.Osnabruck.

Not again. seriously, I cannot be here again. I’m freezing, I’m dying with a hangover and I’m pretty sure that Aunt Flo’s just come to town. Oh, and get this. It’s so cold that the water in the venue has frozen and so we have two port-a-loos outside instead. Festival ones. The really shitty ones with just a bucket and a seat. The ones with no flush? Yep. Fuck my life.

And I was so super stoked to be coming back here, this venue is awesome, it’s got a live music area, connected to that a bar and a massive indoors skate park. And the manager, Schnarly, is awesome. I have quite possibly totally spelt his name wrong there, I’m spelling it out in my head and that’s what came out. On the down side, or weird side, is that this is the only venue on this tour that we last played on the tour that Mike died. So last time we were all here, was with him.

First off, Ben and Matt look to see if Mike or indeed any of them, ever graffitied the dressing room walls. After a disappointing find of nothing, I feel a decision has been made to always vandalise in future. Imagine if we had found a ‘Mikeism’ on the wall there. It would have been awesome and surely bought a tear to all our eyes.

Back to the cold. This building is basically a massive warehouse, sectioned off with plywood walls. It is freezing, absolutely fucking freezing. Hands are numb and stiff, breath is easily seen and toes and noses are hurting. I mean, the water has frozen type freezing, not some poxy U.K type ‘Ooh isn’t it cold’ type freezing. This is like survivalist stuff. Which makes setting up the merch stand really hard work, it makes everything really hard work. Little tasks become proper heavy duty.

Evile’s sound check is pure magic because of the cold. They are shivering under their scarves and hoods up coats. They can’t play fast enough because their fingers are too cold. Basically the sound check becomes even more redundant than it normally is. The guys are taking it well, laughing about it and all, but you can tell that this is going to be quite a massive fucking problem. Thrash being thrash, kind of need to be quite dextrous on the old’ strings eh. And the guitars are cold. They are playing badly for it.

I lost my gloves and my hands have gone purple. Dinner doesn’t even warm us up. I’m all over excited about the venue still though and up in the dressing room I say so. The response is, am I mad, it’s freezing and I’m like whatev’s still love the venue. I get quickly cut down by Andy who is like’ not whatev’s, how the fuck are we supposed to play in this?’ Which is a valid point and leaves me feeling like a total wanker. I slope off back to my stand in time for doors and wish the cold away. As I leave, the boys are all trying to warm their hands up on the little plug in heater.

A few of my first visitors turn out to be total winners, I end up chatting with them loads throughout the evening and even swap emails with the girl to stay in touch. They were a cool as fuck couple that loved metal and I thoroughly enjoyed hanging with them, talking gigs and travelling while drinking beer. Chop comes up to me and gives me my first valentine day’s gift. Yes, I get to spend that day with 15 men and you better believe I let them all know about it! I don’t even care for it really, but may as well make the most of the situation.

So Chop has given me the best gift. A toilet roll squished in to the shape of a heart! You have to understand that bog roll is at a minimum. And I am on. God bless that man, he really knows how to treat a woman. Note to self, remember to give him a gift back.

Elad comes and hangs out with me after an unfortunate stalker moment concludes in me giving the desperate help me eyes to far too many of the guys before Elad gets the hint. Him and Steve the driver. My heroes. See, earlier on in the night, some dude came over and saw me shivering so gave me a sip of his Whiskey, very nice of him. Then, about half an hour later, he bought me over a coffee. Again, very nice of him. With the second coffee however, he sat himself down, too closely and began an awkward ‘conversation’ with me. Awkward because he can’t talk English and I can’t talk German, although I probably would have pretended I couldn’t even if I could. He was basically a creep, trying to pick me up, paying no attention to the bands, why the fuck pay to get in if your just going to sleaze over girls? I cannot get over how Laux came over, asked me for his baccy, and walked off with it, the whole while I’m pleading with my eyes for him to cock black away! God dammit.

So there I sit on the steps that are behind the stand leading up to the t-shirt display, Steve on one side and Elad on the other, all trying to stay warm. Elad lends me his gloves bless him and we watch as Kevill dedicates a song to Chop the driver, who it turns out is down at the front with a beer, since he doesn’t have to drive tomorrow. He staggers out shortly after this and according to some of the others, stacks it. That is even funnier because his dedication from Kevill was to ‘the Lord and master’.

It’s too damn cold to write, I’m having a tough time even drawing tally lines down on the sale sheet so I can only imagine what it’s like playing guitar. It even gives me a headache.

Once off stage, Kevill heads over to the merch stand. With a bloody nose. This is how a good Thrash show should end eh! Apparently some kid down the front punched him in the nose by accident. Kevill is pretty fucked off until he realises that his Thrash points have just gone up and we take a photo. He then spits on one of my boxes and I slap him on the arm and tell him to stop bleeding and seating and snotting on the stand. In true comedy timing, at that exact minute, a fan comes up with his denim-patched jacket and asks Kevill to sign it and spit on where he signed it.

The crowd are fantastic for Evile, there a lot of people here who were here last time when Mike was with them and the support is phenomenal. By midway through there is a guy hanging off the rigging and mosh pits and stage diving and crowd surfing ahoy. The drunken guy hanging off the rigging becomes a problem and Lyall and Steve go get him off Joel’s mic, before his friend comes and takes him away. And guess who his friend is? My stalker rape ferry man! Ha.

Soon as the gig is done, it’s all about sales and packing up quickly so that I can get back to the heater. The Evile guys are in good spirits and end up getting told off for fucking about on the ramps in the skate park, chucking themselves at them at the top, and sliding back down like a rag doll.

Tonight, I am staying in. A lot of the other guys hit the town, different bars with the fans to get trashed and party ‘cause tomorrow is a day off and for once, not a travel day. I am filled with dread that we have to spend another day using the port-a-loos but have a big party to look forward to tomorrow night. There’s a punk night at this venue, and 10 minutes walk away, my old friends, Nashville Pussy are playing. And I shall be there to surprise them with a bottle of Bourbon and my drunken self! If they are anywhere near as cold as us, they will need it!