Wrapping up the German leg: More February Tour Diary.   Leave a comment

OK, just got back from my second gig (this year) in Nijemegen, and it seems silly that I haven’t told you about the first, so I’m going to crack on with this tour diary. Where were we? Berlin, February, 2005…

Nathan drops me off at C-Base and hurries off to take Pat to the airport. C-Base is a club that looks like HR Giger designed it with a Red Dwarf budget. Its very shadowy, has various spaces and levels, and there are is fuck of a lot of computer equipment about, serving a largely decorative purpose on the whole, but there some consoles attached to living, typing cybergeeks who look a bit tired and fried. In fact everybody is tired and fried because this is something like Day Four of the Alternative Berlin Film Festival, and so it’s like a gig/party/performance/technical nightmare that’s been going on for four days. A film is being screened, but a problem with the equipment means that it is silent. It consists of footage shot that day of some kind of performance action on the streets of Berlin. A man in a turban, robes and an Osama Bin Laden T-shirt exactly like the one my brother gave me for Christmas a couple of years ago, is leading two gimps in bondage gear around town and hassling people. It was kind of hard to tell what point was being made, but then my exhausted mind was having difficulty locating the point of things after three days of pretending to be an artist in Berlin. There are a few people inside the part of the building where the film is being shown but some of them appear to be asleep. I find a guy who knows vaguely who I am who then introduces me to a person who has absolutely no idea why I might be there. All day Nathan and Bernd have been trying to ascertain when the Um roadshow might take to the stage and the latest we have heard is that it will be midnight. This means I have four hours to kill in a dark place on my own, but I know I’ve got to go easy on the booze. After a while Bernd arrives, wearing exactly the same get-up as he was two days previous, which reinforces the impression that he is some kind of caricature of somebody who may or may not be himself. He asks me if the promoters have sorted me for drink and I sort of shrug like an alcoholic version of Hugh Grant. Immediately he sources four bottles of beer, and then asks me if he can have one. This strikes me as a very suave move, and I am impressed.
Eventually Nathan reappears and the evening splutters into some kind of life as the first and only other band go on. They play some kind of Godspeed You Black Emperor shit from behind a curtain, which strikes me as a little wack perhaps. They also have some kind of PERFORMANCE ART LADY to help them, which she does by standing in an odd white clerical/medical dress in front of the curtain and moving very slowly with a self-consciously spaced-out expression on her face. I got a strong impression that she had started to think about what she was going to do only that afternoon, and she hadn’t quite got there yet. Eventually she manoeuvred herself down onto the floor and lay there as if dead, with staring open eyes. I tried to persuade Nathan to rush up to her with a glass of water and say: “Are you alright love?” and then had to persuade him not to, and also to stop shouting out facts like “This is shit!” every five minutes. I embarrass easily, and plus it would make me look like a cunt if my entourage of one is dissing the other acts, wouldn’t it? I told Nathan this and he seemed to see the logic.
Then Felix arrived. Did I mention that he’d been on the phone to me explaining that he and his promoter friend were looking for acts for his label/gigs etc? He is a tease. Anyway he was wearing some hilariously outrageous get-up of pointy shoes and fur collars and had some hilariously outrageous blonde creature with him who Bernd claimed to know but seemed to get short shrift from.
Anyway I finally get to go on at about half midnight and it all goes OK apart from I’m a bit sloppy from drink and at one point my minidisk runs out of power. This moment was particularly uncool because although I had a euro plug adaptor and there was a power source only feet from where I was standing, it took a long time to establish this fact because of the language barrier and the fact that the engineer was hidden behind THEE MYSTICAL CURTAIN OV THEE OTHER BAND, and so I had Nathan and Bernd, both chaps who like to help, running backwards and forwards and shouting through curtains in an ecstasy of fumbling, whilst I stood there looking a little ineffectual. Generally speaking, however, the audience were extremely receptive to the Um nonsense, and I felt cocky enough to do a rather spirited Holy Fire dance at the end. When I got off Felix told me I “put a hot shoe between me and the parquet floor”, or some such untranslatable German phrase, but didn’t mention anything about record deals. He did buy me a massive tequila though, and we had a very interesting chat about the occult. A lot of sitting down and drinking alcohol followed, and by the time Nathan had been relocated after running off after some U.S pussy (he’d met some fresh-faced American gals on the train taking Pat to the airport, mentioned the gig, and they actually came and enjoyed it and bought Um CDs, but that was as far as it went) I didn’t have the energy to go out to another club at 4AM with Felix and Co. even if Nathan did. I still feel like a wuss about this.
That pretty much wraps up the German leg of the tour, apart from a brief incident where I almost get busted for drugs. I had a tiny, tiny blim of hash on me because I feel naked without dope for some reason, but of course it never really helps my flying phobia to be trotting through customs with the old illegals on my person. Anyway, Nathan is taking me to the airport and we are running a bit behind. In fact I am literally running a bit behind Nathan as we approach the terminal, and by the time I catch up with him we are right next to the check-in desk, which is also right next to the bit where they check your bags and give you a shakedown and generally X-ray your mind for paranoia. We do the check-in hurriedly, and then Nathan gives me a big old goodbye hug. This is the point that I realize that I have to get the tiny blim from out of the small pocket on my tight black jeans right in front of some severe looking authority figures in sunglasses about five feet to my left. We are too late to be wandering off elsewhere and besides the airport is just one big open-plan room with nowhere to hide. So while I’m hugging good old Nathan Blunt, I’m also fishing with a skinny index finger in my constricted pocket, but the bit of hash won’t scoop out into my hand. There’s some motion going on with the hurried hugging and the downward pull of my heavy rucksack and some nerves associated with fear of flying and fear of going to prison in a foreign country for about 80p’s worth of soap bar, but I cannot get the bloody thing out. I am starting to look really dodgy, and I keep looking over at the shakedown police to see if they’ve scoped what I’m up to. Nathan is blissfully unaware, as he has never even smoked a cigarette in his life, let alone smuggled drugs, but he is concerned that I should make my flight, so he is sort of shooing me onto the plane and saying “Brilliant. Email me when you get back. Bye! All the best…” All the while I have the rictus of a smile on my face and I’m sort of looking into the middle distance like an inexplicably rude friend who has forgotten where he is, but eventually I get hold of the thing and stick it unconvincingly into my nervous criminal mouth with some sort of bad theatrical cough. Bizarrely, I get through customs fine and fine myself flying towards Rotterdam. Of which more, possibly, eventually.

Posted September 27, 2005 by peteum2013 in Uncategorized

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