5.) London & Brackrock
August 3rd 2018
Big Ass Show
02 Forum Kentish Town
Bloody Hell. What a show in London. Each time we’ve played London over the last 8 years it has gotten exponentially better. This was no exception. Sharing the stage with such legends as Lagwagon, The Lawrence Arms, The Lillingtons and Bad Cop Bad Cop did more than help. (LINKS) This was one of the best line ups we’ve ever had.
Days like these really fly by. We walked about a mile to the Camden Town Markets, which is an open-air, enclosed food-and-goods market in Camden Town. The famous picture of The Clash from their self-title record is taken on the steps there. They’ve got all kinds of food and tons of goods. You can get really touristy London stuff: bootlegs, incredible vintage clothes, high-end leather goods, just about anything. The good bootlegs are up the street. I even got my first film camera since taking up photography about 9 months ago. (I just completed this roughly six-month online multi-course photography course offered through Michigan State University and Coursera and I cannot recommend it enough!) I also tried an incredible Venezuelan sandwich I’ve never heard of before, an Arepa Sandwich, made by these guys.
When we got back to the venue I immediately started running into old friends. Some are doing really well. Some are not. That’s how it goes with old friends. As we get older you’ve got to put in the work to maintain good relationships with those you love. Otherwise you just hang out with your work friends and the people you see in line every day. There’s nothing wrong with that, but I think it’s really important to make the effort. Reach out. Here is one of several interesting and alarming articles outlining how loneliness is the largest health threat to middle aged men in the United States. Not smoking or something else. That’s fucked up.
Everyone killed it. Did you know The Lillingtons formed in 1996?! Listen to that band and realize the lineage. They’re legends. From the first chord of the night up until Lagwagon’s last there was a smile on every face. The highlight was probably Lawrence Arms going 10 minutes over their set time, causing our tour manager to cut them off before playing two more songs. Our gold-hearted and beautiful baby boi got booed by 2,000 sweaty drunk brits. Hilarious.
The venue staff were phenomenal. The UK is going through a heatwave right now, and these old buildings were not meant to keep people cool. They had water stations throughout the building and several hundred cups of water filled at the barricade which they handed out to the crowd throughout the night.
The venue was a beautiful old theater. We later learned it was full of old oddities like sealed-off rooms and hidden tunnels. Our booking agent, the voracious Tom Taaffe, told us they used to hold something called “Church” at the venue on Sundays, where the beer was outrageously cheap, it had something to do with Australia, and they hosted all kinds of absurd debaucherous shit like jello wrestling. It got so out of hand that the venue had to hire security guards to mind the buildings between the tube station and the venue to fuck the punters right on out of the neighborhood and funnel them back to their homes.
Our set was nothing short of mesmerizing for me. I was caught up in every moment of every song. The crowd was huge and close, and tuned in. It was such a fucking jump start. The adrenaline coursed through me for hours after.
At the end of the night the venue gave us two bottles of champagne which we drank with The Lawrence Arms and old friends from the north and south upstairs. What a way to wind down.
We piled into the bus and made our way to the ferry.
Listen - The Clash - Self Titled
Watch - Rude Boy
Eat - Arepa Sando
August 4th 2018
Oh you know just a castle park
20 miles outside Antwerp
In the shit.
European festivals are such a unique and fascinating facet of touring life. They are in some of the most beautiful settings imaginable, often nestled at the base of mountains or in rolling fields outside of picturesque towns. They are feats of logistics and are almost always staffed by the warmest and most hospitable of hosts. The food is 9 times out of 10 some of the best food I’ve had in my life and the alcohol flows without conclusion. There are also other things you’d expect being in a field in Europe. There are of course Europeans everywhere, the happiest and least “too cool for school” people on earth when it comes to the European festival goer. Some of them wear hilarious (and not so hilarious) costumes. At a certain part of the day a good percentage of them just kind of sit in the dirt. The “open air” festivals are definitely an excursion into nature for a lot of folks, us included.
In this case we were in a type of park with trails and a moat-guarded castle at the center. I never did find out how old the castle was, but I’m thinking it was a kind of recreation situation judging by 1) it was falling apart. The other ones I’ve seen were built to last and 2) the brick and mortar looked modern. Hell I could even look it up right now instead of wasting your time…….but I won’t. Conjecture it is. The staff were wonderful. I must send out endless thanks to Lisa….
It feels like during every European tour somebody gets sick or injured. All kinds of new allergens and pathogens combined with alcohol and difficult logistics grind the body down and, well, it says “fuck you” and calls off. Us and our friends have broken hands, arms, caught pneumonia, impetigo (yes, that impetigo), and every variation of influenza and common cold they’ve got floating around these ancient lands. This time it was my turn. I busted my foot up before the tour and little did I know the way it started to heal involved the big toenail tunneling into the flesh. Infection city. So I got the hobble wobbles and Lisa brought the medic to our bus where he gave me an ice pack and told me to go to the doctors for “maybe shot for you see infection.” More on that soon, a whole new adventure.
The Bombpops and Bad Cop, Bad Cop killed it. It was lovely to see the former as they are old buds and it’s been quite some time since we saw them last. Union 13 were badass as well. Our set went off. It was the first show on the mainland of the tour, and it dialed us right back into their frequency.
At night time I got stir crazy and took a walk into the town. There was a Chinese spot listed on Yelp and I wanted to get some solid, reliable food. Asian food is often a go-to for dietary restrictions. You can get vegan, vegetarian, gluten-free, and lactose-free food normally without fail.
It was a bit of a walk but I made it. I’ve got to mention that in the distance I could hear our music festival, but I could also hear the bleeding audio from another music festival on the other side of town of which I was completely unaware. There was a band covering Bon Jovi, in English, in Belgium, at the same time.
It was a neat little spot with no tables but lots of children’s toys scattered about, and a teenager’s bike for sale for 100 euros. There was an Arnold Schwarzenegger movie on TV with Flemish subtitles. His character and their crew were doing some kind of drug raid and they just unabashedly shot every person they came across right in the fucking head. A bit surreal.
The woman at the Chinese store was absolutely lovely, and very excited to practice English so she told me. It’s like stumbling upon an NPC in a video game that fills your supply stock right back up. The hot and sour soup was some of the best that I’ve ever had and the fried rice lasted the next three meals.
Finished out the night watching Nothington absolutely sleigh, then passed out to the chatter and bass thumping of the late-night festival hangs.
Listen - The Vandals Anarchy Burger
Watch - In Bruges
Eat - Fung Lai Duffel