Hausmusik Festival - 7th and 8th November
As with the tour Diary from the September shows I would like to stress that this is again just one persons opinion of the Festival and what happened to one of the bands involved in it. I think it must have been difficult for all concerned (not only us) and I hope our little bag of worries didnīt effect anyone elses bag of worries too much. In hindsight Iīm sure that everybody involved could now probably work out better and easier ways to have done things but at the time we all tried to work things out as best we could. For anybody that saw the shows itīs an interesting insiders perspective of the incredible amount of effort and patience involved to make an event like this happen and really I guess we must all pay homage to the "God of Fender" that weīre all still here to tell the tale. Not for the faint hearted or Sunday muck-raker. Read on at your own peril and may the force be with you...
We have to rehearse before the Festival so I arrive a day earlier than Dieter and go through the stuff as a three piece minus the cello and violin parts. The old kindergarten we usually use is out of action for reconstruction so we have to find a place inside of a very dusty old storeroom in a local factory to practice in. This involves Flavio and Fabrizio moving all of the equipment by themselves into the place and also borrowing a vocal PA for Mr Cake to sing through from a friend in a nearby town. It must have taken them a few hours to get it all sorted out.
We go through the songs as a three piece but we donīt play them with much feeling. This seems to be normal for this lineup that it needs a couple of days to get things together but itīs a worry to hear us play the songs so shit. Dieter arrives the next day and we go through everything again. We spend the first hour or so improvising and then another hour or so working on a new song called Hey Mister Wonīt You Help Me To Get Back On My Feet Again?. It finally falls into shape and is our first attempt as a group to play in a Reggae style. Graeme has the idea of selling the song to the work department and there are jokes about making a video with various members of the band filming each other begging in the street for money. It wouldnīt be a bad idea.
After weīve gone through everything that we needed to go through and worked out our 45 minute set for the Festival we pack up all the stuff into Frieders' van and head back to the Steinbachsīplace. We eat something and sit around and talk with Frieder and Rosaria for a while and sink a few Kaiser lagers and then retire for the evening. Everybody makes it out of the fartsack by ten and after weīve eaten breakfast and gased up weīre off. We donīt have to be there until 3:30 but Graeme wants to get there early and since we have to allow for a possible traffic jam itīs a good idea to leave at 11. If for any reason we were late it would mean that we would have to have a really short soundcheck or fuck up the other bands schedules. Festivals can be tricky, you have to be prepared for anything. Being early is a good idea.
We return the PA on the way and head into Munich. Luckily thereīs no real traffic jam and we make good time. We arrive at the Festival a convienient one and a half hours early. Wolfgangīs been there since ten in the morning and Holger the soundman and head technical guy is also on duty. We say hello and load in our shit and offer to help. Theyīve had to move the stage to the other end of the building in order to try and solve the weird concrete floor sound bounce that was a problem for Iso 68 the last time they played there. Things seem to be running on time. The show is also being recorded on the Zuendfunk mobile which is parked outside so it will mean setting everything twice. Once for Holger and the out front sound and then for Zuendfunk. Once all the lines and levels are in place it will be easier for both parties but it always takes more time for the first band when both of these things have to be considered. Weīre playing last tonight so that means our soundcheck is first. It will take a little longer to put our soundcheck through because being first means you get all of the initial problems but if itīs done properly it shouldnīt be as much of a problem for the bands that follow.
We hang around and try to not get in the way. Our accomodation has fallen through and so we are being put up in a pension down the road. The soundcheck after ours is at 4:30 so since were not on until midnight we have a lot of time to kill after soundcheck. Perhaps we can even get some sleep. We ask if itīs possible to check in at the pension since weīre so early but for some reason it doesnīt seem to be possible. At around 20 past 3 Graeme asks Wolfgang if everythings on time but there still seem to be problems between Zuendfunk and the Fronthouse sound. Things start to run behind time. Iso 68 arrive and we help them bring in some of their stuff. Everybody waits around.
At last we get to begin our check. We go through it drums first, bass, Graemesī guitar and his vocals, Dietersī cello and his violin and then Fabriziosī extra guitar for the "Old Grey Coast" and the first half of "You Never Run Out of Luck". They seem to be having a few technical problems. Since the PA has been moved and then replugged back in and since we're the first to have to go through the system weīre the proverbial guinea pigs. Weīve only managed to sort out the rough on stage volume and placement of amps and drums and gone through 2 and a half songs before Wolfgang tells us we have to get off the stage.
The stage sound is weird and the foldback seems way too quiet to accomadate the level that Fabrizio wants to set the bass amp at. We go through "You Know I Really Like Your Style" which is a louder song than either of the other two and then get off the stage with a total of less than 15 minutes of real soundcheck. All of our equipment must then be moved, so it will be even harder to get it right when we actually play but weīve been told to get off so off we get. We hope that things will come out OK. Lucky for us Holgersīa good soundguy or we could be in the shit. Maybe weīll be in the shit anyway. There also seems to be a weird problem with the power supply to Graemesīamp which for no apparent reason sometimes has no power when itīs plugged into the plug box. It works after a while for the soundcheck but since we have no idea why it wouldnīt go in the first place it might be a real problem just before we go on.
If the worst comes to the worst weīll have to swap it for Fabriziosī Fender at the last minute. The stage will be completely empty and all of the other equipment will be all over the place when we finally have to go on so it will be difficult even if the amp works OK. We must remember to pray to the "God of Fender" and keep our fingers crossed. Dieter has also misplaced his tuner so we have to be sure to take a little extra time at the all important last change over to make sure weīre rocking at A 440 khz. Things donīt look so good and everybody seems to be stressed out.
We make our way to the pension but they donīt want to let us in without giving them some money. There seems to be a problem in the organising here but eventually they give us a two little single rooms with bunks after taking down all of Flaviosīpassport details. The staff is not very friendly. Thereīs no room toilet or shower and then whenever I try to go to the loo with my special "Go to the Loo Key" thereīs always somebody in there having a shit. I try about 5 or 6 times on various floors and am confronted with the smell of 5 or 6 different shits and embarrased replies. Thereīs a soccer team playing a match across the road the next day staying here and they seem to have a problem downloading some of their old sausages. I give up on trying to have a shit and also cancel the idea of trying to take a shower.
The rest of the band are safe in their little beds and presumably asleep. My junior woodchuck type bunk is a little too small for me to sleep in comfortably so after Iīve hidden my passport and money that I donīt need for the evening under the big 6 foot wardrobe and shaved my hairy face in the plugless sink I head back to the venue. Everything seems to be in order when I get back and all is relatively quiet. Wolfgang gives me the allocated 3 free drinks only per person little drink tickets and tells me if I need more just ask. He also says that there will be a meal of pizza for the band members at around 9 o'clock. I try to buy a coffee at the bar with one of the drink tickets but they donīt have any coffee beans. So I drink an Afri Cola and wait around. Itīs going to be a long night.
"Squares on both Sides" open the festival. Theyīre a guitar, vocal and bass type thing with just two guys on stage. They sound pretty good. The vocals are surprisingly unclear for such a small amount of instruments but they seem to go down fairly well. Much to my surprise I bump into Markus, we had previously planned to do the Festival with the album personal as a special one off treat but he had to cancel this plan because the Tied and Tickled Trio had a show on that Saturday. Michael Heilrath is also there. We stand together talking and I wonder if anybody notices that the 3 main players from the album are actually all here this evening. Oh well, seems the wires have been crossed yet again.
Carlo Fashion are next up. They have a lot of brass and are instrumental with a guy conducting with his back to the audience. I wonder why it is that conducters are permitted to have their backs to the audience without complaint for the entire show but whenever you do it with a guitar youīre either hiding how to play the fancy bits that everybody wants to see or else youīre considered a wanker. Doesnīt anyone realise that when the members of the band have eye contact that they will probably play better even if you have to look at their bums a bit more. Carlo Fashion sound pretty good in a "Soft Verdict" kind of way and the trumpet playing from Micha is always interesting to hear. They get a good response.
Iso 68 clamber on after this. They set up but are lucky enough to still have a lot of their gear left where it was at the soundcheck. Thereīs a lot of them on stage and they play a good set. The new clarinet player adds a nice touch and they go down well. About 10 minutes before weīre due to go on Wolfgang tells me that thereīs some pizza but itīs getting so close to show time that I wouldnīt be able to eat it anyway. Now comes the biggest hassle. How to get all of their gear off and our gear on in an orderly way without breaking anything.
The plan has been to have our stuff on stage right and they unload on stage left but this doesnīt really happen. We scramble around and try and not fall over each other. Iīm really worried about the amp actually working but canīt even find the plug box to plug it in to see if itīs going to go. I scream "Whereīs the bloody Plugbox?" to no-one in particular and much to my surprise Wolfgang hands it to me. It was way over where I couldnīt see it or perhaps I was just too stupid to look properly. I plug the amp in and it works. Thank you "God of Fender".
Thereīs still alot of people scrambling around the stage so I have to wait to put my peddles and things in the place where Iīll use them. I try to not get stressed out or to be honest to de-stress myself. It wonīt help to give a good show if Iīm so strung out. I re-tune the guitar and very carefully place it by the amp with the capo over the input hole so that it canīt fall over and then hand the tuner to Dieter. We scramble about a little more and at last it seems like we can begin.
I say a few things off the top of my head to give Holger a chance to check the vocal out front and re-position the foldback wedge in the place where I will be able to hear it the best. Dieter decides to put the amp in a different place to where it was at soundcheck. This could be a problem but luckily isnīt. We begin with "The Old Grey Coast". The on stage sound isnīt so good but considering that all of the microphones are in a different place and Holger will be working like a Hamster to try and get it better itīs as good as it could be. We go through the set without stopping for anything and manage as best we can. The band actually plays quite well and the audience reaction is surprisingly warm. We finish up with "Stupid Town" and exit stage left.
Thereīs clapping for a longish time so we take advantage of this, jump back on and play "The Resurrection of Lieutenant Ghmpinski". The PA begins to make weird noises and the version is slightly dodgy with weird electrical interference type static that we have no hope to fix. We plough on. Then I thank everybody for coming along and announce "DJ Laufi", the first and perhaps the last cassette only DJ in the world. We get off stage again and thatīs it. Yahoo. Weīve done it. Whatever was wrong or right can now be forgotten. We did as well as we could given the circumstances. I spend a fair amount of money at the bar and get drunk fairly instantly because Iīve only eaten two pieces of toast and a couple of bread rolls all day. I end up dancing around to DJ Laufi by myself and itīs good to let off steam.
People are now sitting on the stage and for some reason all of the microphones are left plugged in. People are drunkenly partying and playing with Flaviosī White Tiger. Itīs nice to not have to do anything any more. We make it back to the Pension at God knows when in the morning and drink one more beer and divide up the money. Each member of the band gets an equal 100 Euro each after all of our travel expenses are taken out. I think itīs about 4 in the morning by the time I get to sleep. I was right. It was a long day.
Breakfast is between 8 and 10. I wake up at around 8 but because I drank too many beers and because I ate next to nothing I feel like I might be going to be sick. I lie in bed for half an hour but my body wonīt let me go back to sleep and I can tell that Iīm in trouble. Dieter is still asleep in the bunk above so I grab the key and see if I can right the problem by having something to eat. A salami roll and some cherry yogurt later I still donīt feel so good and the coffee that I finally got does nothing to help my pounding head.
I try to sneak back to bed but I know Iīm going to be sick. I think maybe a shower might make me feel better but it looks suspiciously like somebodys has masturbated in it and "My God" it still smells of shit. Weīd been mistakenly told we were going to have a hotel so I have not brought a towel with me anyway. So I dry my face on my shirt and go for a walk. I eventually throw up on the Church just around the corner without re-colouring my shoes and then try and walk the hangover off as best I can. The guys manage to get up but donīt have time for breakfast and we hobble along.
Weīre surposed to meet up with Flo at the Hausmusik Shop to get the key for Axelsīapartment where weīre allowed to stay for the night but we have to drop off Fabrizio at the Bahnhof because heīs going back to Stuttgart first. Although Iīve thrown up I still feel really bad and am too unstable to get my ticket back for tomorrow booked at that point. I can do it later. Fabrizio heads back to Stuttgart and Dieter, Flavio and whatīs left of me head towards the Hausmusik shop. Nobody's there when we get there but I feel too sick to go in anyway so I try and sleep in the van.
Dieter and Flavio go in to get the key but itīs not possible for some reason and they stay in there for hours. Flavio buys some records. After theyīve been gone for about 15 minutes I have to quickly wrench the door open because Iīm going to be sick again. Opening the door sets off the burglar alarm in the van and makes one hell of a noise. I throw up on the brick wall in front of the van and then somehow manage to turn the alarm off. Vomit has come out of my nose this time and Iīm not so lucky about the shoes either so I lock the van and go in search of a place to clean myself up. I still have an elephant size headache.
I wander around the streets for a while, coming back to check the van every half hour but the guys still seem to be in the shop. I donīt want to go in there smelling of chunder. I find a horse market and buy a large rubber chicken for 6 Euro. After a while I finally manage to find a wash room and clean myself up as best I can. Then after about another hour I try to eat something again and my stomach accepts it. I go back to re-check on the van again and this time find 2 rather large crows eating pieces of half eaten salami out of the vomit I left there before. They make a big noise about being disturbed and fly away. Sorry about that Mr Crow. It didnīt taste so good the first time anyway. Iīm feeling very cold but I canīt get back into the van because I donīt have a key. Iīm still hanging around outside wondering what to do when a friend walks by so we head into the shop together and I hope that I can slip in and out unnoticed.
Thereīs lots of people in there and my headache is almost gone by now. It takes another while and then we drive Flo to his house to get Axelsī key, then go to Axelsīplace, drop off Dieter and then drive Flo back to the shop. Why is it that we always seem to end up with the long way home? When we get back it takes 20 minutes to find a parking space anywhere near the house and it is only when we jokingly pray to the "God of Fender" that one appears. Anyway, at least our stuff is safe in Axelsī place and we can do as we please from this point on. Thank You God of Fender. Remind me not to drink anymore beer this weekend.
I decide that I want to go back to the Festival to say hello to fellow Antipodeans "Sodastream" who are soundchecking around about this time and Dieter and Flavio come with me. We drive back to the venue. It seems that things are just as chaotic as yesterday. Thank the God of Fender that we donīt have to soundcheck again. The noise that sounded like the PA giving out was in fact the PA giving out so half of it has had to be replaced and things are running behind again. It seems that somebody has stolen some of the microphones from where they were left last night and things look stressy.
We talk to the people from Sodastream and ask them if thereīs anything they need. Theyīre desperately looking for a laundry and their tour manager really needs a cup of coffee. Thereīs still no coffee beans and although everybody seems to have a washing machine at home nobody seems to know where a laundry is. We talk for a while and hang out downstairs. It seems that everybody is on edge a bit so we try to not get in the way.
Mountaineer are last to soundcheck and manage against all odds to get a really good sound. Volker from Calexico is there and we talk about this and that and marvel at how well Mountaineer sound. Their songs have a generous amount of space in them and itīs a blessing to the ears. Their sound guy is just making a few final adjustments to things when thereīs one hell of a big high pitched ear fucking noise from an unmuted channel on the desk. Wow, that hurt. Bastard.
Amazingly enough the PA survives (although I wonder if my ears did) and itīs on with the show. Thereīs a lot of talking while they play which seems rude and the out front sound seems unusally quiet. Maybe my ears are fucked. It could have been a little louder for Mountaineer but they were good anyway, not as good as the soundcheck but nobody ever is at a festival I guess. Next up is Phone which is Wolfgangs new band and all of the members are from the Hausmusik Office. Itīs a good spot to play in and thereīs slightly more people here tonight as far as I can tell. Phone sound pretty good and play pretty loud. Maybe my ears are OK after all but by this time their getting fairly stretched even with earplugs. Itīs nice to see the guys in "Phone" out from behind the computers and in front of the punters. Keep on Rockinī Wolfie.
Sodastream are next and have a few problems with feedback but battle on as best they can. In particular Petersī vocal microphone is really muddy and itīs hard for people not from the Antipodes to understand what he says. Anyway, itīs good to see them play again and they surprise me with a great version of "Hope Grocery" from "Practical Footwear" which they apparently usually donīt play so much these days anymore. Their allocated 45 minutes is up all too soon and they get off stage on time.
Hellfire are next and if you thought that Wolfgang bordered on loud then my God somebody should buy Toby, their soundguy, a new set of ears. After so little sleep and at that volume I canīt really manage it. Iīm really worried about my ears anyway and itīs just way too loud. Maybe if I was drunk it might be OK but I havenīt had one beer at all and donīt intend to so I sneak outside and study the eclipse of the moon which is strangely beautiful. Thereīs an incredible amount of red in it for some reason and outside isnīt such a bad place to be.
Eventually things wind up at the Festival and after Flavio and Wolfgang have sorted out a few things we head back to Axels place. I take the couch and Dieter and Flavio get the double bed. There arenīt many pillows so Flavio uses the big Teddy Bear thatīs there instead. I go to sleep giving my ears Reiki and hope that I can hear myself fart in the morning. I sleep like a tree in a swamp.
We manage to wake up and get to the train station. Turns out thereīs a train leaving for Dortmund right away so I chance it, buy the ticket and then race with a luggage trolley thatīs got my Fender Twin Reverb, Big Bag of Clothes and Guitar on it towards platform 22. The next train leaves in two hours. I canīt find the guys to say goodbye but hope that they figure it out. I only just get there in time and leave the trolley on the platform with a Euro still in it. This train is the only connection that goes from Munich to Recklinghausen with only one train change in between and since the trains change on the same platform itīs possible to move everything by myself. I take the risk.
I feel kind of bad about not saying goodbye but taking this train right now means that Iīll get home in the daylight hours and since I have over 50 kilos of stuff it will be a lot easier to wheel it from the Bahnhof to my house if I can see the cobblestones on the way. I hope they will see the luggage trolley and figure it out. Iīve found a place in the Buffet Car where I can stack the bag on top of the amp, with the guitar behind it and Iīve taken the wheels off the amp so it should be all right. Itīs not so easy to find a good spot like that on an ICE Train so I guess I should count my blessings. I make it home OK and try to call the guys but only get answering machines. I wonder if they hate me and hope that theyīre OK.
Flavio gets the worst deal. While heīs helping Dieter to carry his stuff he leaves the van unattended and gets a parking ticket for 35 Euros. He spent about 60 in Wolfgangs shop so there goes his money for the gig. Dieter doesnīt make the train that I got and has to wait a couple of hours for the next one. Lucky he doesnīt have a Fender Twin Reverb to carry or the trouble of getting it back to Belgium by himself. Things could be worse but Iīve spent a good many hours at the Munich Hauptbahnhof so I know its choices of entertainment are not so hot and I hope they didnīt spend too much time looking for me. Eventually Dietersīon his way.
Now Flavio has to drive himself back to Süssen. Nobody has had very much sleep so he stops somewhere along the way and sleeps for a couple of hours but itīs really too cold to sleep properly so he continues home. When he finally gets there he has to unload all of the equipment by himself and then after that he goes back home and crashes back into bed to get up later in the evening broke and broken. Yes Folks, the mightly Cakekitchen has done it again and survived another show. At least we still have all of our fingers intact, even if most of our brains are at half mast but it seems that nothing got broken or lost this time that I know of so I guess it was a howling success. Thatīs it for the shows this year and I hope that by next year weīll have forgotten about all this enough to be ready to want to go through it all again. After reading this back I think we must all have rocks in our heads but for the time being all is indeed quiet in the Kitchen...