Well, again to the most beloved club in Europe, visiting our friends and colleagues' promo photos all over the walls, (Dinosaur Jr, Sonic Youth, Steel Pole Bath Tub, Didjits, Boss Hog, Big Black, etc.) checking to see that the Poster Children picture is still up (it is) - re-reading all of the fliers, having the same conversations that all of the other bands who play here probably have. We play tonight in the tiny, tiny basement room in Vera, because it's Saturday night and in Europe, Saturday night is disco party night. No one goes out to see rock bands on Saturday nights.
The audience tonight talks louder than some of our songs - apparently they don't notice that we're actually playing instruments. This kind of thing has never really bothered me, though it pisses off other members of the band. I just am not sure what they are supposed to be doing - are they supposed to be staring at us every minute of our show? I don't think so! So I don't mind that they are talking. What irks me just a bit is that when we stop playing, they don't really notice. There is a bit of light clapping and people go on with their talking. We all really felt like we played our little hearts out for these people and the least they could do is acknowledge that we were there. But this is the way it is in Holland. I asked the promoter later if we could play another show here and fly in a bunch of people from Chicago to be the audience. Vera deserves an audience like the Empty Bottle has, in Chicago. One step away from climbing up the walls! We just love Club Vera so much, we want its audience to love us, too.
2 encores and we are feeling scattered, smothered, and covered. and Very Happy. On the stage all hell seemed to break loose - but it worked in a good way. I remember hoisting the TV antennae up like a trophy during a couple of songs, because I had no other way of keeping it steady on the TV - it kept falling off. Somehow, a pretty-large club room - and a beautiful one, at that, looked full of happy people. What a great audience!
Berlin, we have decided, is the New London. It should be the new center of Europe - it is alive with youth, art, huge buildings, vibrant night-life. Jim and Howie went after the show with Mina, to something called a "Day Bar" - a bar only open 1 day a week - so they don't get in trouble. The bar is probably a squat - an empty building taken over by squatters. In America they bring out tear gas to make sure no one uses empty buildings without paying for them.
In former East Berlin, it is possible to get a huge apartment for really cheap - they are further away from most of the stores, but young people are moving into them in droves. Tonight we stayed at a youth hostel, called Hostel Circus, across the street from this huge club we played at, and it was more pleasant than any hotel on this tour - except Hotel City of course. The rooms were IKEA catalogues, the walls in the main room are bulletin boards covered with "Places To Visit In Berlin," "Museum Information," "Bus Information", "Where to Eat in Berlin," and "Train Information." For around US$17 per person, you could arrive here completely unprepared with no information at all, stay here and just read the boards in the main room to figure out where to go and what to do next. In the center of the room is a computer with a terribly fast internet connection for your email, .15DM per minute. Why can't hotels be more like this?!
Best of all is listening to all the Americans in the hostel. At first I was irritated to hear other Americans, as I think others usually are - but then I start listening: the guy behind the counter is saying, "So I saw this guy's shirt, and it had some sort of crest on it, some sort of English School crest, so I said, 'Oxford?' to the guy and looked disgustedly back at me and he replied 'NEOW, CAMBRIDGE,' (very, very haughtily) and I was like, 'Who cares? It's just a school. I don't care.'" (agreed!) And another guy was talking about having just seen the new Bond movie - said he wasn't sure if it sucked or if he was just getting old - and then said he had decided that it did in fact, suck. This comforted Rick.
Here's Berthold's "specials column" for this date:
"Did you ever play one of these clubs at famous red-light-district Reeperbahn? No. Now you do."
The Reeperbahn is a big German strip of Sex-clubs, like the area in Paris, but less scummy-looking, and there are family clubs across the street from some of the sex shops. We watched a group of school-children and their parents leaving from what we hoped was a family musical. Other than that, it was pretty empty-looking on the Reeperbahn tonight. Kind of cold. And you can't park anywhere here now - the street is closed, for pedestrians.
This was a good show. Best part was a very german-looking (I mean, he was dressed like Sprockets from Saturday Night Live, ok? Black Turtle-neck) Music Critic, who, standing near our Salaryman Sales Table, grabbed one of the Poster Children CDs, and said, "Why is THIS here?" so I told him why it was there, and he said, "No. You're KIDDING. That CAN'T be true!" And I assured him it was. "Well, I don't want to offend you, but I really don't like Poster Children at all," was his reply. "That's ok," I said. I certainly don't care. But I did worry that he might rethink his liking of Salaryman now. I had to ask him how many Poster Children albums he'd heard, and I think he'd only heard 1, one of the major label-ones. The albums are so different, and the songs are so different, it sometimes befuddles me to imagine that anyone could still listen to us. Even with the new one, Rick has proudly exclaimed, "I think we have made sure that for every song on this album that someone loves, there will definitely be another for them to hate." I agree. There are 2 that I hate.
I think we slept in a jail tonight. It was all grey and the locks to the door were combination locks. It was directly on the Reeperbahn.
This guy is a carpenter student. (He was in
Koln, actually - this picture is in the wrong place.) This is some
old German ritual - these students dress up like this - there are women and men who
do this - and they go around from town to town and do carpentry work for 3 years. They
always seem very, very happy!
GREAT food tonight! Rice Mit Scheiss, but the Scheiss had beef and was incredibly spicy!! I got to do my laundry in a combination bathroom/laundry room - with MOSAICS all over the walls! That makes me happy.
Tonight we played to the smallest amount of people - I think it was 8, and I think most of them were recruited club staff from elsewhere in the club. The funny thing was, the downstairs of the club was packed with people, because "Tonight is a special night," we are told apologetically by the promoter - "If you buy one drink, you will get another one for free." I suggest to the promoter that perhaps we could be doing that upstairs in the room where the band plays, too. He seems to think that might be a good idea next time.
There was a Wing Chun class going on down the hall in this compound - I watched it
for a while - I wish I had gone in and joined.. Although I don't really know Wing Chun,
only took a couple of days of it... and I don't speak German. I met the teacher after
the class and spoke with him a bit. It seems like less people around here
speak English. It's kind of cool.
We're really past the Inner Station now, I think.
This is a good one. The owner of this club went nuts after we played tonight and threw everyone out of the club, because GUTI (pictured front, right), famous from being the only German on the PKids-list, was outside drinking beers with his friends, instead of buying them in the place where we were playing. The owner tried to throw him out later and I guess Guti didn't leave. So the owner started yelling at people - including me - about Guti, saying, hysterically, "THESE PEOPLE DRANK 6 BEERS OUTSIDE MY CLUB AND I AM NOT MAKING ANY MONEY OFF OF ANY OF THIS!! SO I HAD TO THROW EVERYONE OUT OF THE CLUB NOW AND NOW I AM NOT MAKING ANY MONEY TONIGHT!!" He had put on a tape of some loud chainsaws, blaring, and looped it over and over again until everyone left the club. I finally went down and offered to pay for the beers that Guti may have drank had he drank them in the club, and the club owner continued screaming that it wasn't about the money, it was about the principle of the thing, that he'd lost money.
The bad thing about this whole situation was that we were going to be staying at this
man's house tonight - so we couldn't just pick up our equipment and leave quickly. And
we had to be paid, also. By him. So we had to repair all this damage. He finally
apologized to us for being so crazy - but by this time he had collected 3 of the beer
cans from outside and had them displayed on his bar - so he said, "Please accept my
apologies, I feel terribly bad -- but these are the beers they drank, by the way..."
Anyway, everything got fixed, and we stayed at his house and then we left.