We wake up and I’m a total mess. Start pouring water and vitamin c sachets down my face to get over it. We go to a vegan soul food café and it’s great; soul food is basically southern U.S. country style cooking. I get deep-fried tofu with tartar sauce plus a baked potato and greens. It’s all good but the greens are amazing. Fucking hell I need nourishment. Too much fried crap. Shoulda got broccoli instead of a potato, but y’know, that shizzle’s ma heritage baby. We leave and I get a few hours kip. We stop at the most amazing shop ever, a huge megastore full of “patriotic” items. Yeap shoplifts a large White Pride World Wide bumper sticker and I get some oversize confederate flag fluffy dice, whilst Penke only just about manages to not get a bumper sticker saying “if I’d known about all this I’d have picked my own damn cotton”. Crikey! Some of the stuff in there is pure gold, though it’s slightly unnerving to chat with the store owner and the lunkheaded neanderthal I’m guessing is his son. We stop for food at a gas station deli counter a bit later and we all get mac & cheese. Shit’s getting infectious. Penke gets some deep-fried frogs legs too and I nab a pair. They’re delicious, like a mix of chicken and cod. The motorway continues right through a huge swamp, raised on concrete pillars. At one point it rises in a huge bridge and the view is amazing…miles and miles of green leafy bayou and winding waterways. But unfortunately we ain ‘t see us no ‘gators.
I’m pretty excited about New Orleans; ever since I was old enough to know anything about anything NOLA has been the one place in America I’ve wanted to go. Something about the mix of cultures, the style, the filth…it’s extremely appealing. And on a Friday night? On tour!!? HELL YEAH!! We stop about an hour outside the city and this cute black girl gives us a hilarious spiel about the city; “boy, them Noo Orleans girls are gonna go bananas on yo’ banana”. Jesus! As we reach the city limits it’s all about Three 6 Mafia and baby, I’m gettin’ in the mood.
We arrive and drive down to the club we’re playing at. It’s called Siberia and allegedly owned by the girl from White Zombie, and the neighbourhood it’s in is rough as a badger’s arse. Basically looks like a third world country. I’m excited as fuck. We load in and get a few beers and Night Fever turn up; they’re old mates from Copenhagen. We figure out set times and all and go down to the French Quarter with Nikolaj, NF’s guitarist. We get take away cocktails in half litre Styrofoam cups and do jelly shots in some alcoholic candy store. This shit is nuts! We head down Bourbon Street and things are wild as fuck. Hot semi-naked chicks drunk as fuck everywhere, fat tourists staring wide-eyed at everything, stern-faced cops and bouncers beside skimpily dressed trannies and crazy prozzers. We get “hand grenades” on the street, a crazy cocktail that might contain even more sugar than alcohol…and there’s a LOT of alcohol in there. Things are getting pretty loose and we get dragged into a strip club by some cute girls. It’s mental…the polar opposite of My First Strip Club experience from the night before. We buy Greg a lap dance from a very cheeky stripper. He’s reluctant but eventually accepts after she whispers to him (he later tells us) “hey, they’re paying –don’t you even think about taking this money offa me”. He regrets the whole thing even more after she tells him “ain’t you never heard of deodorant? I hope I don’t smell like you after this, boy…”, hahaha! She even offers to “take care of him” upstairs for an extra $40, but he politely declines and she struts off. We make a hasty escape since we need to get back in time for the show.
The second band are on by the time we get there and they suck. Bad metal hillbillies who do more insulting of the crowd than anything else. It’s sort of funny but they’re not really insulting enough for it to be proper funny. Night Fever get ready to go on and we help them set up since we’ll be sharing the backline. There’s supposed to be some local heroes playing after us called The Foot and one of their fans bad-humouredly tells Penke we better be good cos they’re amazing. He tells him to piss off. They demand to play next but we’re not having it; no more pissing about like in Richmond. They get into a big huff and try to face us down about it. No luck. We tell them to piss off and they take their gear and leave. Night Fever go on and play a good show, but crowd response is minimal. There’s this one HUGE black dude doing pit moves on front of the stage. It’s awesome; at one stage he flat out squashes two guys up against the wall! Night Fever finish up and we get ready; I’m already pretty smashed and with the whole atmosphere it doesn’t seem like it’s going to be the best gig ever. Wrong as fuck! We start off pretty hard and initially it seems like we’re going to be playing mainly for our own entertainment; within two songs the whole place is like a warzone. The bassist from Down & Crowbar is standing on front of Penke repeatedly punching his bass like it’s a fucking punching bag. Penke smacks him on the head with the bass. He punches it again. Penke whacks him again. It goes on like that for about five songs before Penke realises he’s not gonna win. There’s this one dude who keeps screaming and running into the wall as hard as he can. Yeap lifts up a monitor and throws it into the crowd and I get over-excited and kick a hole in the wall. Someone finds a manikin and throws it onstage. Yeap hoists it up and throws it and it hits someone in the face. The crowd are demanding an encore…I pick up the mic stand and fuck it across the room and we do two more. It’s fucking awesome! Best show so far! New Orleans rules!
Afterwards…well, the less said about afterwards the better. Let’s just say that what happens in New Orleans stays in New Orleans…we get back to the hotel at around 6am.
I get a surprisingly decent sleep and wake up vaguely refreshed…we shower and leave the hotel room around 12.30. It’s gonna be around six hours drive so we hit the road and decide we’ll stop for food along the way. I’m looking forward to Texas: so far, the south fuckin’ rules. We stop at a Waffle House and get breakfast –American hash browns, yesss! The lady serving us is sound; she tells us all about her tattoos and wants to chat. I love the way people down south are so amicably curious. It’s hot as hell and getting hotter, though I still manage to get a few hours sleep. We stop at a hilarious gas station and get tons of shitty souvenirs. And some good ones. By the time we get to Houston I’m frickin starving. We get down to the place the show’s supposed to be at and it’s awesome –an open air Mexican bar with a load of picnic benches outside, cocktails and margaritas, all sorts of nice looking people hanging around, air-conditioning, a friendly vibe…and then we find out the show’s at the abandoned house next door. Dude. Fucking. Hell. Yeah.
We walk in next door and there’s two guys outside who kind of ignore us. I ask the one closest the door if there’s a show on here tonight, and he disinterestedly concedes that there is. We go in and have a look around. It basically looks like a Polish squat. The management comes in and gives us the low-down. Apparently, the place is a ‘speakeasy’. He gives the cops $200 a month and they turn a blind eye, ensuring there’s no real trouble. He serves beer and whiskey. We get a drink or three.
Over the course of a few beverages, it turns out that the guy running the place is a total legend and hilarious character. He literally gives a shit about nothing other than making money, yet still seems to keep the place going somehow. The promoter Chuck turns up after a while, followed by some bands. There was apparently going to be food, but it turns out we’ll only be getting it at his gaff after the show, when we’ll actually be unable to eat it since we’ll be driving on to Austin. So, we head off, and end up at quite a fantastic Mexican restaurant. Margaritas and some great food get us in a good mood. A bit too much great food actually –pretty soon after finishing we’re all in a total food coma. We get back to the show and it’s pretty busy. I feel stoned off my tits…I’m so full of food I’ve no idea what’s going on. I drink a beer and just want to burp all the time to make space in my stomach. The first band starts and I’m all confused. They’re decent, but I go outside and sit down on a sofa for a bit and try not to go asleep. I’m seriously out of it. I watch the next band, Dead Line, and they’re good but I’m still massively confused. We’re playing in the middle because there’s six bands and it’s supposed to be over by 11pm. The place is cool, there’s a great crowd, people are up for it…but I might as well be on the moon. Completely spaced out. It comes around time for us to play and Greg (the all-seeing eye) suggests that I need to get off the beer and drink some whiskey. I do, and it cuts through the layers of enchilada clogging up my brain. I get vaguely lucid, and we play.
It’s completely nuts, but I’m on another planet. I don’t NOT enjoy it, but I’m not really there. I still get sweaty as hell and afterwards myself and Yeap walk outside and I go to get another beer from the van (the ‘speakeasy’ has run out but luckily we bought an emergency crate earlier). We loiter on front of the fan at the venue next door and chat to a weird girl. It turns out that earlier there’d been a bikini competition for under-13s, during which the announcer woman had made a very tasteful joke about a topless category. Charming. As soon as we’re cooled off we head back into the venue just in time for Deadly Reign, an ex-WB2D raw d-beat crust trio. They’re fucking well good, but within the first song this huge fat Mexican dude in a green t-shirt starts bashing everyone. It turns out that the ‘speakeasy’ has another event booked for 11pm, at which point our promoter has to stop charging entrance. People are still turning up, and it’s going to be a techno dance party. This fat dude is obviously at the first hardcore show he’s ever attended and has misunderstood that aggressive music means you should hit everything, including the band, crowd and amplifiers. Everyone gets pretty annoyed and people start hitting him back pretty hard. He flies towards me and I swing an elbow round and get him a good one on the chin. He calms down for two seconds and then starts again. Someone punches him and he responds, and ten people start kicking fuck out of him. The fight barrels out the door and I stay watching Deadly Reign, not that interested in a 10-vs-1 beating. The room empties by two-thirds. I stay for another song before realising that the room is still empty. I go outside.
It’s fucking World War III. There’s at least four fights immediately visible on the street. All the way up and down, people are boxin’ the heads off each other. A punk runs down the street with a Mexican girl punching both sides of his head from behind. Two girls are fighting until one gets her hair caught in the other’s earring, at which point they both scrabble about before realising there’s no positive outcome and disentangle themselves. Random pairs of dudes are punching and kicking each other. The original green t-shirt dude is being corralled down the street by his mates, shouting and screaming, bleeding all over and missing a tooth.
This is frickin awesome!!
It’s when I start noticing the dudes in MC patch jackets turning up that Greg grabs me and suggests loading the gear out. I run in and find the boys and we get everything out amidst the pandemonium. Things have now gotten scarily quiet on the street but people are still turning up for the second party. We see the end of Deadly Reign and have a few more beers. The final band, Red River, set up and start and they’re quality raw d-beat punk, noisy and wild. More people are turning up and it’s looking more and more like a whole lot of fun, but Greg’s real antsy to leave. I have a wee pipe with Matt from Dead Line but then we have to go…it’s a pity, but what can ya do: the boss has spoken. We drive three or four hours to Austin and go to Greg’s mate Jack Barfield’s house. Sleep glorious
Not actually that glorious…patchy and wakeful, but sleep nonetheless. Jack’s place is great, a really nice bungalow with full air-conditioning (Austin’s in the high 30s all the time –sweaty and humid as hell) and a great collection of records and books. We’re gonna have a crazy day: two shows, the first being a boat party on a lake with Krumbums. I’d been to a similar thing here three years ago with Judgement and Annihilation Time playing and it was wild as hell, so to say I’m looking forward to it is an understatement.
After we wake up and do some laundry we head out to an Indonesian restaurant that the apparently does a great Sunday buffet. It’s pretty good; alongside all the meaty stuff there’s plenty of vegan food to keep the hippies in business. The clientele are fucking nuts; I’ve never seen so many facial tattoos in one restaurant. There’s this one dude who’s tattooed like a bloody leopard. Some Jim Rose circus kinda thing. I fuckin love Austin! The city slogan is apparently ‘Keep Austin Weird’ and it’s supposedly the most tattooed city per capita in the world, which gives some idea of the vibe around the place. Zac from World Burns To Death comes to meet us with his girl Andrea and it’s great to see the crazy bastard again. I only have two modest(ish) plates and stop just short of feeling stuffed, as we’re not likely to eat much more again today. Not bad for $10. It turns out the boat show won’t start until 5pm, so that gives us longer than we’d thought. We head back to Jack’s place and sort out our laundry before driving to the lake. We wait around for people to turn up and the weather starts turning shitty; still warm but grey and overcast. It hasn’t rained here in two & a half months and now it looks like it will this afternoon. Lovely.
People turn up and we load our gear on, just instruments, pedals and cymbals since Krumbums are generously allowing us to use their backline. Apparently about 160 people have bought tickets but only about half that show up due to the weather, so the boat’s only half full when it leaves and it seems the whole thing might be a bit of a wash out. We bring along our mate Banana Bob who we met in New Jersey at the boardwalk. He’s a stuffed Rastafarian banana who we spent about $40 trying to win before eventually just pinching him. We hang out with Zac and get a start on the beers as the boat takes off for the island in the middle. There’s two kegs and the $20 ticket price covers it –drink all you want. It seems that tattooed bikini-clad weirdoes attract a certain type of ‘party favour’ and stuff gets pretty loose pretty quick. The boat docks out by the island and people start jumping in and swimming; the water’s gorgeous and it’s all great fun, but there’s some fucked up little fish that keep biting myself, Kirk and Penke. Seems they don’t like Asian food, ba-dum tisch! The third time it happens I get out…it’s actually pretty sore and horribly shocking. Austin bloody piranhas. There’s a barbecue with sausages and I get one and a half, the other half going down Yeap’s pants after he custard pies me with a plate full of soggy salad. There’s another boat of jock and cheerleader types docked beside us…some of them make a brief visit over but quickly get freaked out and flee.
Pretty soon it’s time to get started, and the sun comes out just before…bugger. I’d actually been quite enjoying the overcast weather, and the lesser amount of people on board makes it all a lot less hectic and more relaxed. We set up and start and it’s madness…beer and water all over the top deck mean footholds are impossible so it’s a slippy affair. Halfway through the first song Yeap grabs this dude in a GG Allin shirt and throws him overboard –amazing! People are looking terrified and flocking downstairs or towards the back of the boat to escape but the mic lead’s pretty long, so they’re not really having any luck. Yeap gets a nice big juicy cut along his hand after he runs into me and I shove him away. He slides into about five people and they all nearly fall down the stairs…nearly, but unfortunately not. At one point he’s running around swinging a chair at people and someone leaps overboard to escape. Tremendous!
We finish up there’s immediately a confrontation with the dude in the GG t-shirt. Turns out he’s a fucking coke dealer and had an eightball in his pocket when Yeap made him walk the plank. I woulda felt bad only a mate had told me a sketchy story about that very chap earlier on. He’s looking like he’s about to kick off but Yeap gives him the whole smiley hug treatment and he settles down. Krumbums play and it’s hilarious. The singer is off his fucking face, this little Mexican dude in some kind of Bavarian flower girl dress. He’s grabbing everyone’s beers and tipping them over himself and everyone else, sporadically jumping off the side of the boat and slip-sliding all over the place. The music’s pogo punk of the Casualties variety with some Circle Jerks and Peter & The Test Tube Babies numbers thrown in to spice things up. I’m off my face and having a great time, getting in a last dive or two before the sun sinks below the horizon and we head back. As we arrive at the dock everyone starts to realise that someone’s missing…we’ve left someone out at the island…surely not…it’s Banana Bob! Penke apparently saw him heading off on the island with a couple of bikini babes, whilst Kirky swears blind that he saw a small dreadlocked figure face down in the mud as we left, but didn’t do anything cos he was sick of BB getting all the hot chicks…ah Bob. We’ll miss you. Awesome day, and we still have another show to play! On the way back some girl with massive cans grabs Yeap and fills his hands before he can escape –she dives in for the kill and he ducks under, wriggles away and makes good his escape. Back in the van I drink about two and a half litres of water on the drive back to Austin, desperate to rehydrate before the night continues.
The show is at The Mohawk, a cool bar in downtown Austin. It’s pretty busy for a Sunday night, and I meet a couple of mates who it’s great to see again. I’m still out of it and remain so for most of the bands…Deadly Reign from last night open up the show and it’s good, ‘90s era U.S. raw d-beat crust. They’re followed by Dead Line who benefit from a much better sound than yesterday, intense and noisy. Last before us is Vaaska, who I’ve been looking forward to see. It’s wild European raw punk with awesome lead guitar and a vicious feel to it. People are interested but no-one’s too out of hand; very much a Sunday night crowd. We set up and spend a minute getting the sound right…it makes all the difference as it sounds excellent. I’m still totally off my head when we’re about to start so I go to the bar for a Jaeger shot (the musical equivalent of Viagra) and get peer pressured by the Deadly Reign lads into having something called a Mountain Lion. It’s two cups, the first containing whiskey and something else, the second containing pickle water. It’s odd, but it does the trick: I feel keen and awake as a fucking lightning bolt. The gig is excellent; starts off slowish but after a couple of attacks people are moving and shit starts getting wild. It’s mainly a blur but a fucking awesome one. Someone’s thrown a can and Kirk’s pissing blood out his forehead, Penke’s in another world, Yeap’s going bananas and I’m feeling it proper good. We finish up and I’m incapable of anything more…
A few more drinks and we load up the van. The plan is to head back to Zac’s place to party, so we get a few crates and head back there. A bunch of the Houston kids turn up along with other assorted characters. It’s fucking awesome and shit gets obscenely wild before Greg wants to head back around 6am…I can’t make up my mind, but christ knows I need the sleep…Yeap stays to hold down the fort for Kromosom and the rest of us take the old man option and head back to Jack’s. I get the proper bed in the spare room and it’s amazing…soft, air-conditioned, lovely…deep…sleep…
I wake up close to 2pm after the first really proper sleep in two weeks. Daaamn that feels good. Shower and a coffee and I feel surprisingly alright. Mornings on tour are not known for their brightness…we head out and pick up Timmy who’s putting on both our Austin shows (we’ve got another one tonight) from the record store where he works, along with a couple of purchases. We’re going to a Mexican restaurant that’s supposed to be great, and it lives up to its rep. We start off with avocado margaritas and chips with salsa and I start feeling a bit dodge…no food since yesterday afternoon so my stomach doth protest…I get over it and order tacos al pastor, my favourite Mexican food which I’ve not had since I was there two years ago. Everything’s great but once again I can’t clear my plate…American portions…they’re mental.
We leave Greg and Kirk back at the house and go to a nearby mall with Jack & Timmy since myself and the other two need new shoes and jeans and want to take advantage of not having to travel today, as well as the fact that the prices are miniscule compared to back in Aussie. We get sorted out and head back to the house where Jack’s wife Dominique has made us a huge feast of vegan fried chicken, vegan mac & cheese (hello Yeap) plus broccoli and green beans. I go heavy on the veg and light on the other stuff, but only with the greatest effort…it’s all too delicious.
Since this is gonna be our last night with Greg and his van before we fly to Seattle tomorrow morning we have to clear out the van and pack up our remaining merch aswell as our own gear, clothes and purchases. What a drag…we get it done, and at least the sun’s gone down. I’ve lost my MP3 player. Bugger. We do a stock-take and we’re down to a tiny number of t-shirts, with one of the three designs completely sold out. We’ve nearly sold all our records too, and with the entire first pressing gone it looks like we might be in trouble later on, though we have one more box of LPs and t-shirts waiting in Portland and some of the limited pink vinyl put aside for our official release show back in Melbourne.
We head to the gig which is in Austin’s only ghetto at this hilarious dive bar called 1808. Just three bands tonight, and this being the third show in the same city it’s likely to be a quiet one…all the more so since it’s Monday night. People slowly show up and I get a few whiskey sours in and start feeling good. First up are Night Siege, fast hardcore in the style of World Burns To Death. It’s not bad but lacks any real hooks or defining moments. Zac and Andrea turn up and we get drinkin. He’s giving us a ton of shit for wussing out last night and not staying on, but man…I wouldn’t give up those gorgeous hours of real sleep for anything. Criaturas are up next, it’s three of Vaaska with a different drummer and a female vocalist. Spanish style hardcore, pretty good stuff but I’m more interested in the rare opportunity to hang out with Zac and take the piss out of all and sundry. We set up and play and it’s fun. A decent sound and all manner of pushy-shoviness makes for a fun set, though by this stage the aggression is meaning that we’re left with a steadily mounting injury list. All fun and games until someone loses an eye…
Afterwards we pack down and drag the shit out, getting it all ready and consolidated for our flight at 6am. We go on to this huge pool hall bar; $4 pitchers until 2am. We’re well and truly tanked and matters are becoming increasingly hilarious in the Texan way. These people are maniacs. When they stop serving at the pool hall we move on back to Timmy’s house and start on the rum. Shit is getting extremely out of hand, which naturally is the only way it possibly can when we’ve got a flight to catch in three hours. The highlight comes when we get Zac with the best practical joke ever…earlier on he’d been jibing Yeap that he’d tried to snuggle down the night before with his friend Liz. I’d stoked the fire and Yeap was feeling a touch of paranoia…his imagination has obviously been running wild and he comes out to the porch where myself and Liz and a few others are drinking and smoking. He flat out asks Liz if he tried anything last night, afraid perhaps that he’d blacked out or was sleep-leching, or maybe just trying to turn shit around back on Zac. She replies ‘no!’, shocked. He’s about to go in and slag off Zac when we devise a cunning plan…first I’ll go in and ask Zac if he told anyone else, because someone posted about it on Facebook and Yeap’s girlfriend has just phoned me freaked out and upset. Then Yeap will come in looking for Zac and we’ll take it from there.
I go in and ask Zac to come into the kitchen for a word in his ear. I manage to keep a straight face and he’s totally freaked out. Penke comes in during it, afraid that something’s up. Since he knows nothing about the joke he thinks it’s for real and starts freaking out since it’ll mean a ton of hassle for the rest of the tour. Yeap comes in and there’s total silence in the rest of the house…he’s trying not to laugh meaning that he’s got this fucked-up creepy smile on his face, the smile of a psycho about to fuckin knife someone. Zac is positively shitting it. Yeap starts to question him and just when it seems about to kick off we crack up laughing. It’s fucking hilarious! The relief on Zac’s face is pure gold, followed by the embarrassment that he fell for it. So fucking good!
Unfortunately if we’re gonna make our flight we have to leave…it fucking sucks, I’d love to stay and party all night, but instead we’re gonna have to suffer. We drive to the airport and there’s a sweaty five minutes when Yeap thinks he’s lost his passport before it’s found. We say out goodbyes to Jack and Greg…but we’ll probably be seeing them in September on our Japan tour, so it’s not such a bad goodbye. It’s been fucking awesome touring with Greg and we’re sad he’s not continuing with us, but he’s off to Europe in a couple of days with a band he manages and we’ll have a different driver on the west coast. We get it over with and head in. Too early and we’ve to wait around for the check-in to open. The entire process is slightly less painful due to our inebriation and it all goes as well as can be expected, given the realities of an airport at 6am after two weeks on tour and no sleep. What’s worst is that the flight is in two parts; a 40 minute one from Austin to Dallas, followed by a three & a half hour flight from Dallas to Seattle arriving at 10.30am. The first bit is a load of whatever. We take off, Yeap falls asleep and coughs explosively all over the neck of a horrified businessman on front of him, the rest of us fall asleep, we wake up and arrive.
The transfer in Dallas airport…oh god…that half hour of walking and taking shuttle trains…I would genuinely have rather been dead at that point than continue…we somehow make it onto our flight and to our seats and sink into a half-slumber…uuuuuurrgh…
NEXT: WEST COAST TOUR W/ WARCRY!
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