Tag Archives: squat

Euro Tour: Day 14, Leipzig

28 Jun

We had a nice breakfast in the sunny lounge at the hostel. We trekked back to pick up our van and headed toward Leipzig. We found the Zoro squat without too much difficulty but it was early, so we took a walk downtown towards the train station to change our Czech Krunas to Euros. Jason, who had been doing so well with our primarily vegan diet, was suddenly craving junk food and dragged us into McDonalds. The coffee menu was all in English but my perfect American pronunciation of “grande flat white” threw the girl for a loop. Bill bought a t-shirt because he couldn’t stand the smell of anything in his bag. (We still have not found a place to do laundry.) We strolled back to the club stopping for ice cream and sight seeing. Once there, we met Maria and Ralf at Zoro and they showed us around. We loaded in to the basement and then went upstairs to the third floor for yet another fantastic vegan meal.

Tuesdays at Zoro are a music/game nights. People come to play fooseball and ping-pong and check out a band. Ralf had assured us that though the show was donations only, it usually works out quite well. By the time Joe 4 played the music room was full and Ralf was working the crowd for donations. Joe 4 was really loud (and amazing) as usual but the crowd dug it and a huge drunken German guy danced like a hippy. Jason danced with him and then they took turns picking each other up. Later Bill did a waltz with the guy. We all grabbed the mic at various points and sang along to Johnny, Ilova, and Spartacus. Josip wrote our set list and we rocked a pretty tough set. The crowd had grown a bit and it was nice to see all the heads bobbing. One kid right up front had a shit-eating grin on his face the entire time and was really getting into it. We didn’t sell any merch, but ending up collecting 160 Euros in donations. All and all another excellent night.

Since Vienna appeared to be totally flaking out for the next day, we opted to get in the van after the show and drive to Zagreb. The drive started with the biggest Croatian blow-up/shouting match yet and we were a bit hesitant about getting in the van while WWIII was going on…

An hour or so into the trip, someone suddenly announced that he had to piss and couldn’t wait a second longer. He was going to piss out the van window but someone else convinced him that it would be a better idea to pee in a beer bottle instead. So an iPod was used for illumination of the process. Half asleep form the front seat, I kept hearing the admonition, “don’t overfill it!” Suddenly I heard bottles breaking as they were flung out the window. I heard desperate cries from the back seat: “What are you doing? Don’t do that!” Now, having used all the bottles, hanging it out the window was required anyhow to finish the call of nature.


Euro Tour: Day 11, Berlin

25 Jun

Sasha loves Berlin. He had been bugging everyone to get up early so that we would have more time there before the show. I dragged myself out of bed at at 9:45 only to find everyone still sleeping and none of the equipment broken down or packed up from the night before. We finally got on the road after noon. The drive to the autobahn was a gorgeous little road crowded on either side by trees and we sped by fields of wheat, cows, and pretty little brick houses. The gas stations have their porn magazines proudly displayed and everyone seems to have machines in the mens room selling travel pussies. The approach into Berlin was through Russian built tunnels but would have been much cooler without the snarls of traffic. We finally found the Hauscherer squat in the northwest. This neighborhood is purported to be one of the worst in Berlin with large immigrant populations (largely Turkish). As we told Thomas from the squat, anyone describing this as a bad neighborhood has clearly never been to Detroit, Chicago, or even Milwaukee.

We took a walk for a drink and a fantastic falafel sandwich and then back to the squat to set up. Our friend Andy from Dublin (now Berlin) showed up soon after and we hung out exchanging insults round-robin style between Croats, Americans, and Irish. Later our friend Carl from Madison (now Berlin) showed up with a couple of other visiting American friends. The music room was cool, but the stage was bizarrely set up — an odd shape in the corner that made it almost impossible to set up in any kind of coherent way. Joe 4 played a good set with Josip in a USoT t-shirt. I climbed on Josip’s back during “Johnny” and sang the chorus over his shoulder into the mic. The crowd was sparse but appreciative. Andy had asked that we play songs from the first record so we obliged him with six. We all felt that it was the best we had played all tour. Damir and Josip politely and not so politely, respectively, demurred. The eye (or ear) of the beholder and all that… After the show I talked with Carl for a long time about the messed up state of Wisconsin politics and the human drive to exploit. I’ve been re-reading George Orwell’s 1984 in the van and this conversation just served to fuel my hopelessness. Josip tried to lighten the mood with ridiculous drunken antics to no avail. After much discussion about going out on the town with Thomas, we all just crashed in the squat’s band dormitory.


Euro Tour: Day 10, Neu Tramm

24 Jun

The Hafenklang staff gave us an amazing breakfast and after load out and a bit of walk about, I took the wheel for the two hour drive to Neu Tramm. We had all the usual adventures getting out of the city without GPS and then again trying to find the small village but we pulled into the squat compound around 5. The place is right next door to a nuclear wast storage facility housed in a WWI military complex, but the setting is forested and idyllic. Again, we had an fantastic meal, though this time with meatballs for the carnivores. We snoozed, played fooseball and hung out with Jason, a Seattle transplant living in the squat.

The show was very thinly attended, but Joe 4 played their new instrumental “Neuro” flawlessly and to great affect. They were incredibly loud though; louder than I’ve heard them so far. We played well, thought the sound was a bit weird. My guitar was lacking in low-end and the vocals sounded at times distorted and at others oddly hollow and ringy. We were coaxed back to play one more song by an incredibly vocal group of audience members who would not shut up until we played more. I think everyone was a bit down later on partly because the discrepancy between the expectations set up by the promoter and Bernd and the actual number of people in attendance. Still, they made it right, even going so far as to go person to person to collect a bit more in donations.


Euro Tour: Day 8, Leiden

22 Jun

We woke up in a place that reminded me of the Project Mayhem squat in Fight Club. The bathrooms reminded me of the first scene in Saw every time I had to use them. After everyone checked their e-mail and Facebook on the squat’s computers, we headed into the Amsterdam city center. We wandered along the canals, stopped at the train station to change money (and pay .50 euro to take a piss), eat some sandwiches and fries, drink some coffee, and stop into a coffeeshop. We managed to find our way to Leiden (sans GPS) and made to a club early for the first time on tour. We had a drink in a little bar and then hooked up with Gabry from the the band Boutros Bubba, who helped us set up the show. We loaded into the tinniest room I have ever played in. Then went upstairs to hang and to eat a fantastic vegetarian meal.

Boutros Bubba played a great show. They reminded me of Hoover or Unwound with some spazz-jazz influences. Joe 4 played a great show, but were somehow restrained — holding back. Despite a few stops for tuning and Josip’s heckling, we played a pretty good show. We had neglected to write a set list so we called out the songs and it worked OK. I met Ivica from the Dutch band Gone Bald and we discussed our love of old guitars and Touch and Go and AmRep bands. He has been playing our stuff on his radio show and seemed genuinely happy when we played some his favorite songs during our set. We stayed with Jeroen, BB’s guitar player, and the size of our accommodations matched the size of the venue last night. Josip, Sasha, and I spent some time messing around trying to download updated maps for the GPS unit with little success. We may have to navigate the old fashioned way — with maps!


Euro Tour: Day 7, Amsterdam (Cancelled)

21 Jun

We spent the night with Jean Louis and his roommate Gael in Beauffont, a little village outside of Paris. I think some food, some sleep, a shower, and some coffee did us all good and we tumbled into the van for the drive to Amsterdam in much better spirits. As we pulled away Sasha reminded us that was the first day of summer and Bill’s birthday. I drove most of the way to Amsterdam with Sasha and Damir figuring out directions as we went because apparently Josip’s GPS unit doesn’t know anything about Holland.

We finally found the ADM squat on the waterfront after many consultations with bus-stop maps. The 46-square-acre compound used to be a ship yard but has been a squat on and off since the 50s. After driving around aimlessly we called our contact Berk. He appeared out of from between two piles of junk and admitted that the gig had totally slipped his mind. In addition, he had just had a hernia operation that morning and was totally out of it. So the show was not going to happen. He introduced us to some other residents who took care of us though. They led us upstairs to a huge open warehouse floor and produced a couple of crates of beer, some pizzas, and an amazing salad with produce from the ADM garden. Despite not playing a show, we had a good time hanging out and listening to music.


Euro Tour: Day 3, Ljubljana

17 Jun

We tried to clean up the mess from last night a little before heading back to the club collect our gear where we met up with Bruno and Sasha. We stopped at a gas station on the way back to Zagreb for eurodiesel and coffee. It was the nicest gas station I’d ever seen. With table service at the open air veranda that had an incredible view of the mountainous Croatian countryside dotted with orange-tile-roofed houses. We picked up our ATA Carnet paperwork which allows us to enter and leave the EU without being forced to pay taxes on our equipment. Then it was on the road to Slovenia. The border crossing took longer than yesterday because we had to present our Carnet documentation to both countries’ custom agents. They didn’t ask to open the van though one agent asked which one was the longhair in Bill’s passport. After a quick stop to change the last of our Croatian Kunas to Euros, we headed to Ljubljana.

The Menza Pri Koru squat was an insane compound with art and graffiti everywhere. Apparently, it use to be a military prison. One of the buildings, the former cell block has been turned into various artist studios. The other building houses a fully equipped venue, dance club, and god knows what else. Joe 4’s soundcheck was sounding awesome and when I told the soundman that, he replied “Thank you. I like music such as this.” The common area outside started to fill up around 9 and a poetry reading started around 10 on the floor of the venue with gallery seating all around. Around 11 people filtered out as the reading ended and Joe 4 began preliminary warm-up/set-up noises. A totally different crowd poured in. There was no entrance fee and the place filled up nicely.

Josip broke a string on the first song so I jumped on stage and readied my guitar and a replacement string. I swapped out guitars between songs like pro roadie and replaced his broken string while he played the next song with my guitar. Not quite his usual Electrical Guitar Company aluminum sound, but serviceable. I swapped guitars back out and then returned to the floor to be treated to the best Joe 4 set yet. The Shellac influence is readily apparent but they bring more finesse and texture to the formula with some truly gut wrenching vocals courtesy of drummer Damir. They are so rhythmically tight sometimes, it’s mind boggling. We couldn’t have chosen a better band to tour with, but it is a bit daunting taking the stage after them.

We played a pretty brilliant set, I think. About half way through, I realized I wasn’t so much listening to Bill and Jason as I was just feeling the music and just fucking playing. The crowd was very vocal and into to it. There was even a fair amount of movement and dancing! I broke a string on “State-Sponsored Terrorism” halfway through so I dropped out during the vocal part and then just attacked by guitar with abandon, not caring about broken string buzzing or the not-quite-right tuning. I thrashed through to the end of the song and people were going nuts. We had one more song on the set list but I figured we should just end it. We got yelled at for more. One girl even threaten Bill, “you play one song more or I will KILL you.” Josip thrust his guitar into my hand and we launched into “Reconsidering The Green Mile.” I pretty much hated playing Josip’s aluminum guitar with its heavy, unbalanced neck and weird thin fret board. The crowd was appreciative and showed it. We sold a decent amount of mercy, though sadly none of the new split 7″ that Fidel Bastro had shipped to us here in Ljubljana. We slept in the backstage area of the club while a dance party throbbed underneath us until 4am.