12 September 2008 ~ 4 Comments

on the road with Jena Berlin

This here is our tourreport of the second transatlantic tour, covering central europe from sept 5th – sep 21st. We are on the road with Jena Berlin from Philadelphia. 'We' is: Willem, Pitter, Riekus ( = antillectual), Erik (Driver), Chad (merchguy Jena Berlin), Jon, Dave, Zac and Jeff (=Jena Berlin)

4 sept, nijmegen / schiphol airport / gent
The day starts early because we're picking up: a driver, a tourvan and and a bunch of Americans. Erik (the driver for this tour) and I (Riekus) head off to schiphol airport and Willem heads for Gent (BE) to pick up the van. Jena Berlin arrive safely at the airport and seem a little tired / jetlagged. No wonder: they've been on a plane for 8 hours without sleep and 6 hours time difference. When we get home in Nijmegen they crash out on the floor immediately, which gives me some time to pack and arrange some last minute stuff. In the evening, we go out to get the guys sleeping gear, douchegel and the like, and we take them out to the local punkpub de Bijstand.

5 sept, OHK, oostende, BE
other bands: second base

After a short rehearsal with our bassplayer for this tour, Pitter, it's time to pick up the gear and head for Oostende. We've played the OHK before and had a great time back then. Besides that, Ken and his friends of Bobby in a Volvo are arranging the show and have always done a great job. Last but not least: this will be our first time to  see Jena Berlin play. Enough ingredients for a night to look forward to… Still, i don't really feel like i'm on tour yet with all the hassle beforehand and playing a town we know pretty well. The show is not too crowded , but afterwards the tour-feeling kicks in: we're on the road and playing! Our good friend Etjen of Just Like youir Mom offered us to sleep in his appartment, while he is out on tour himself. As always, a delicous breakfast has been arranged.

6 sept, Kingstown café, le Havre, FR
other bands: Nightingate

When we arrive in Le Havre, we meet promoter Bertrand in traffic. The Kingswotn Café is a pub located in a narrow steep street that leads to the harbor of le Havre, a nice place to see! The young guys and girl in Nightingate play a solid set and then it's up to Jena Berlin. The crowd seems well into it and Dave has a little thing going on, borrowing hats from the audience. When we play our set, again the audience shows its appreciation. Awesome! At Bertrand's place, as we expected, some friends of his drop by and we end up talking and having some drinks until deep in the night.

7 sept. Day off, le Havre (FR)
After a good nights sleep and breakfast we head into town. Eventhough we've played le Havre before, i never got to see any of the city. It appears most of the city was bombed during WW2 and had been rebuilt in the 50's. Not particularly my favorite style, but when we get down to the shore the fun begins: one of the largest free openair skateparks of france is situated right by the beach. As is sit down and watch the hurdle of kids skating, bmx'img and whatnot i realise how calming it can be just to watch some people enjoy their sports. Some really young kids are hanging out and trying their best to learn the tricks by heart. Very enjoyable!

8 sept. Day off, le Havre / Toulouse (FR)
We get up early and head for Toulouse, where we will meet up with our friend Pierro and have a show on tuesday. We decide to avoid tollways (that can be extemely expensive in France), resulting in a 13-hour drive through the beautiful landscapes of france.

9 sept, le caravan serail, toulouse, FR
other bands: rentokill (AT), openightmare (FR)

After a long session of getting 9 smelly people showered we head out to downtown toulouse. Pitter stays in Pierro's beatiful countryside house to arrange tours for his other bands. Downtown, we visit some records stores, skateshops, churches and the like. Toulouse is one hell of an impressive city, dating back as far as the middle ages. Impressive to me, even more impressing to our American guests.
When we drive up to the venue, we realise the name 'caravan serail' is exactly what it is: a pub / karaoke bar amidst all kinds of outdoor / camping / caravan stores. We finally get to see the band of Pierro, who has been putting up shows for us since 2006. On top of that, we get to meet up with our Austrian friends in Rentokill again. They're also touring. After some comparing of tourvans, some weird incarnations of football on the parking lot and a fine meal, the show is on.

After the show, we head back to Pierro's house, have a few drinks with Rentokill, hug and say goodbye. How wonderful it is to meet friends all wherever we go!

10 sept, sonic, Lyon, FR
Other bands: Next Friday (FR)
We take the long drive up to Lyon without toll. It's a long but beautiful drive through the french countryside, woods, tiny roads; just plain beautiful. When we arrive in Lyon the venue turns out to be a boat, in the middle of the river Rhone. Beautiful location, awesome venue, but above all: smelliest river ever! The stench of the river would actually overpower the smell of 9 young men in a van. We meet up with our old friends Flo and Next Friday, who will be opening the night. Jena Berlin take a walk downtown and we try to get some rest, and food. By 9 o clock the place is getting crowded, eventhough the show is supposed to start at 8. French timing is what it's called. Next friday open the night with some fine melodic punkrock, and the place is warm as hell. When we walk off stage we are soaked to the bone, but as satisfied as a toddler on the potty. 5 of us go to sleep at Flo's appartment, the rest decide to go down to Nicolas of the Twisted Minds' house to have a drink or two. Somewhere around 3am the drinkers roll into the van and face a short night. Next morning we gather at Flo's appartment and enjoy some breakfast, showers and the regular morning stuff.

11 sept, acropolis, Vimercate, IT
The drive down to Vimercate – just 10 km. from Milano – is, again, a long one. We drive into something that would be best described as 'basketball court' or 'sportspark', and our label 'bosses' Ste and Dami welcome us to Vimercate. We are the only bands playing, it's an outdoor show and the first night of what is refered to as 'beer-fest'. Sounds good, right? We get served some delicious fresh pizzas and chat with the guys of No Reason Records. The show is not so crowded: a lot of people are just there for their friends, drinks and not particularly interested in the band. Those who are enjoy the show, and Chad (JB merchguy) finally brings his signature "huge mosh" during our set. After the show some of decide to sleep out in the open air, since the weather is so good. Next morning we wake up just in time to avoid the rain and head for Austria

12 sept, Triebwerk, Wiener Neustadt, A
other bands: astpai (A)

And again a long drive today. It's good to see the Astpai guys again and to be back at t
he Triebwerk. We played there in summer 2006 and it's a really inspiring place to be, the core of what is called "Neustadtpunk". Jena Berlin and Astpai have played a few shows together in the states so it's pretty much a bunch of friends getting together again. Today's show is a benefit for animal rights activists that were arrested a while ago. So we're having a get-together with 3 fine bands at a lovely venue, playing for a cause. punkerrock than thou! The show ends up being well attended and we all have a blast on and offstage. We crash at Zock of Astpai's house, where friendship is celebrated until early in the morning.

13 sept, Zone11, Hallein b. Salzburg, A
Other bands: Astpai (A)

After some laundry and a great austrian breakfast (vegan spreads go!) we and Astpai head for Salzburg, or Hallein, which is just outside Salzburg. The venue is beautiful, a mix between a bar and a youthcentre. Unfortunately for us, the hall we are playing is on the first floor, so we enjoy some back-wrecking exercise. Astpai open the show and there's a good crowd gathered in the place. In the meantime we get a confirmation that we are doing a last minute show in Zürich on tuesday. The crowd really seems into the show and we get a lot of good reactions afterwards. We say a long goodbye to our friends in Astpai and end up sleeping at 2 houses: at Kristoff's parents and at a guy named Ozzy. No bats were harmed in the process of sleeping. The next morning we are treated to again a wonderful breakfast.

14 sept, Lifetripstudio, Gornja Radgona, SLO
This show was set up pretty last minute by our friend Dario of In-sane. It's going to be the last show ever at this squatted former kindergarten in a small village in the North of Slovenia. Over the past years, Dario and his friends have set up some sweet shows at this place, but seeing as Dario is moving to Ljubljana and the local government isn't really co-operative, the place will be shut down. While setting up gear and doing soundcheck we witness the first ever show of Jesus Fire Dick, an experimental noise ensemble involving Dario, Dave, Jeff and yours truly. As the place fills up, we find ourselves playing to a handful of friends of Dario and have some nice dancing and singalongs going on.

15 sept, Tovarna ROG, Ljubljana SLO
Other bands: Alliance (SLO), The Black Heart Rebellion (BE)

Driving into Ljubljana, we realise this must be one hell of a beautiful city. The Tovarna ROG is part of a huge squatted area, a former bike factory. During dinner (delicious chili), we have a talk with Slovenian National Television, who happen to be shooting a documentary about the autonomous area. They want to know what our impression of this place is compared to Dutch and US squats. Apparently, squats are far less common in Slovenia than in Holland. Truth be told: this is one hell of a nice area, providing a venue for bands, a social centre for the homeless and a skatepark for, well, skaters! With a belly full of chili, we head downtown to explore the wonderful city, get some postcards, contact-fluid and hang out at H&M, the regular stuff. The show draws a crowd i wouldn't have expected on a monday, approximately a hundred. After the show we drive down to Dario's new house just outside Ljubljana and crash out. But not before we make a stop at the local snackshop to enjoy something called 'burek' or 'fried death', which would haunt Dave's bowels for the next 24 hours and took a year off of Jon's life. The next day would be a long, loooong drive to Switzerland.

16 sept, Dynamo Werk21, Zürich, SWI
This show was arranged somewehere when we were already out on the road. It doesn't get more last-minute. Our friend Alain got in contact with Dynamo and basically made the show happen. Dynamo is a huge building by the riverside of Zürich. It hosts a venue, a gym, metal-workshop and loads more; a fine cultural centre. Again, we face a crowd larger than we would have expected and even special guests from the states. Jeremy and Eric of Jumpstart Records just flew into Munich for the Bierfesten and decided to come down to the show. We suffer some technical difficulties, but other than that the show goes down really well. To top it off, the DJ treats us to some fine classics such as "love in an elevator" form Aerosmith. Not everyone is equally siked about Aerosmith, but still a fair portion of Huge Mosh is brought. The people of Dynamo are so kind to let us sleep in their backstage and serve us some good coffee and chocolate the next morning.

17 sept, Feierwerk, München, GER
Other bands: we fade to grey

Finally a decent short drive up to München. The drive is so short that we arrive before Alexander, the promoter, gets to the venue. Apparently there is two shows going on tonight: we play downstairs while upstairs Maria Taylor is playing. We have some wonderful vegan hachee for dinner and wait for the locals to arrive. We fade to grey open with a solid indie / post-punk set. Once we start playing Pitter's mic seems to  be broken and would remain broken for the rest of the set, even though the soundguy tried his best to fix it. Too bad, but nothing some improv can't solve. It's nice to see some familiar faces among the crowd and we end up talking to a lot of people, even a girl that hosts an undergound radio show. We crash at Alexanders place and get up early because he has to get to school. We finally find the time to look up a postoffice and send out some cards before we head for Mannheim. We will spend the night there at the youthcentre, where we unfortunately don't have a show. 

18 sept, Mannheim, DE: day off
Our friend Litty couldn't help us out with a show, but he was so kind to offer us a place to stay at the Juz Mannheim, the local youthcentre. Fortunately, there is a VOKÜ (public kitchen – good and cheap food) going on. Some of us decide to drive up to the Paint it Black / Blacklisted show in Trier. Word has it that a lot of new friends were made on the way up and down..

19 sept, Buntes Haus, Celle, DE
Other bands: overdraft (DE), One Strike Left (DE)

The day starts out with some great news. While brushing my teeth i get a phonecall from Yvo. Yvo couldn't join us on this tour because he and Suzette are expecting their second kid. And yes, Yvo has good news: on the evening of the 18th their second son Raaf was born, mom and kid are doing fine. Awesome!
When we arrive in Celle, it takes us a little while to figure out where the venue is, eventhough we are driving on Sat-nav. The venue is located on a huge space with at least 4 concerthalls and apparently there is also a Kiss coverband playing one the halls tonight. Why are we doing a show? Kiss! Anyone? Anyway, we are playing one of the smaller halls and there is quite a crowd gathering. Overdraft bravely open the night as we recover from another incredible vegan chili. Next up is One Strike Left, then us and Jena Berlin. The rest of the night is kind of a black hole in our collective memory, as we got way too many drinktickets…

20 sept, Merleyn, Nijmegen, NL
Other bands: Brat Pack (NL)

Hometown show, finally! Zac finally reunites with his long-lost burritos before we head over to Merleyn. It's almost scary to see so many familiar faces a
fter 2 weeks of mainly new kids. As always when coming back to NL, i feel pretty weird hearing so many people speaking Dutch around me. The show is very well attended. Apparently, our marketing-scam ("one time opportunity to see Pitter in action") worked out fine! Jena Berlin meet up with Fritz of AssCard Records, who are releasing their new LP in Europe and Brat Pack open this fine evening. I don't exactly recall when i last saw Brat Pack, but as always i'm amazed how well they sound. Jena Berlin pull off a great show and truth be told, i'm also really satisfied with ours. Too bad we have to pack up really quick because the venue is hosting a dance night after the show. This however gives us the opportunity to head down to the Bijstand to celebrate their 25-year anniversary, yell along to rock classics, get bummed out the DJ will not play Aerosmith and eventually ending up in our beds pretty late.

21 sept, JC Metteko, Mechelen, BE
Other bands: The Sedan Vault (BE)

Somehow i feel weird about doing this show after having done the hometown show. It's like coming home, but not quiet. Anyhow, we arrive in Mechelen well on time and some take the time to explore this beautiful city. Generally, i think we are all pretty tired and our friends have a long night at the airport to look forward to. Not the best conditions for a full-blown show, but we'll just have to deal with it. We open the show and i must admit i've never felt so utterly miserable playing: being hungry and tired on stage are not my favorite pass-times. Still the show goes well apart from some technical difficulties. Luckily, we get fed after the show and i start feeling a lot better. Jena Berlin are not so fortunate: after their show most of the dinner is gone.. Joran and his friends try their best to satisfy the hungry Americans with some croques-monsieurs (AKA tosti ham kaas) and meanwhile The Sedan Vault set up their gear and embark on a synthesizer-fed indie / prog journey. When it's over, we and Jena Berlin exchange some merch, grab our bags and prepare for a long drive: first dropping off the promoter and  tourvan in Gent, then heading to Schiphol Airport, where JB's flight will be leaving early next morning. On the way up to the airport we have one of the weirdest experiences: we have been touring all over Europe, including non-EU countries (Switzerland), countries that have only recently joined the EU (Slovenia) and parts of countries that have a reputation of, let's say, "strict police patrol" (Bavaria, Germany), yet we have not been pulled over by the police once. Until now. At the Belgian-Dutch border, we are escorted to a parking lot by a motor officer for passport-check. Luckily, the police seem to be more interested in some small talk than actually interrogating us. I don't even have my passport on me, but it seems fining me never came up in the police's mind. After a 5 minute cigarette-break with the police we continue our trip to Schiphol, do some hugs and good-byes and head home, where we lay our hungry, exausted heads to rest somewhere around 5:30 am.

4 Responses to “on the road with Jena Berlin”

  1. 14 September 2008 at 12:04 pm Permalink

    Klinkt goed mannen!! Nog heel veel plezier en tot snel!

    Groetjes Fieke

  2. 19 September 2008 at 5:24 pm Permalink

    Harde zaak! Tot morgen 🙂


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