Day 29/Day 30, Show 23/Show 24, Thessaloniki, Greece/Komotini, Greece
Today started off real early. I didn’t go to sleep till 5 am and we woke up at 9 am cause the dude we were staying with had to go to work. We went to the beach and I stood in the Mediterranean Sea, but it was too cold to swim/enjoy. The beach was also pretty dirty, but so are a lot of beaches in Massachusetts so I’m used to it. Then we drove to Thessaloniki. It wasn’t a bad drive and I slept thru a lot of it.
We got into town around 7 and this show, like every other show, doesn’t start till like 11:30 or something. The show is at the Biologica squat. This place is pretty interesting because it has been squatted for around over 20 years and is a room on the bottom floor of the biology department at the University of Thessaloniki. The building is still in use at the university and somehow they took this room and claimed it. It has nothing to do with the college what so ever. It’s only squatted as a venue, no one lives here. Dimitris booked the show and is a nice dude. We loaded in and ate. Had some beats, rice, lentils, and 2 different kinds of salad. After that we waited around for the show to start.
It is a Monday night so I don’t think any show should start this late on a Monday, don’t people work in Europe? SO the first band went on around 1 am. The second band played. Then Witch Cult, then BearTrap finished at around 3 am. This show would have been over by now if it was in Massachusetts, where its 9pm. It blows my mind that shows run this late. There were a lot of people here for a Monday night, over 100. I think half just stood outside the whole show. The ones that were inside were cool to us and seemed to enjoy it. They made us play more again.
I have a love/hate relationship with this. I love that people want to hear more (even tho most of the time it wouldn’t matter if it was us playing more or not, they just wanna hear more music) but I play short sets because I like playing short sets and hate bands that play for too long. In a typical United States punk show if you play more than 15/20 minutes people usually get bored and start to leave. In Europe they always look at me weird when I say we only play for 10 minutes. Funny how different things can be in the same genre of music.
After the show we went to the squat we were staying at and went to sleep. Woke up at 2 pm today. Then we drove around and found a grocery store. After that we drove to Komotini. When we told other people in Greece we were playing in Komotini they asked “why?” and said, “No one ever plays there. Do they even have shows?” or stuff like that. So I was skeptical about this show from the start. We get to the venue and it is at the University of Komotini. The room we will be playing in is a lecture hall. The room next to it is a squatted anarchist meeting room. Again, at a University, in a building that is still being used, punks stole a room. Priceless. When we got shown the lecture hall I asked if the school knew about the shows and let them happen. I was told that “they know about the shows, they don’t let them happen, but they have stopped locking the doors because they know that people will break in and have the show anyway”. That’s pretty crazy. Also, in case you didn’t know, police have no jurisdiction on any college campus in Greece. It’s where people go to learn and sell drugs/commit crimes.
Before the show we have some fruit and pasta. Then we load in. I propose the idea of not playing on the stage, but playing in the corner so people can stand in front and do whatever they want. The people doing the show (there are too many to name) didn’t quite understand me so we played on the floor facing one of the 3 groupings of seats. There were a lot of people at the show, over 75 I’d say. Of course it didn’t start till 11:45 and the first band played for AN HOUR. A whole fucking hour. They were a post rock band with no vocals, and actually probably my favorite band we have played with all tour, but they played way too long. After them the 2nd band played and was an alternative rock band. I was beginning to think punk rock was not too common here. I thought there were only 2 bands playing before us so we set up to play. By this time about 3/4ths of the people at the show had left. During the first 2 bands everyone sat in the seats. That didn’t change for Witch Cult or Beartrap. I even asked them before we played “who comes to a punk rock show to sit in a chair” and then invited them to come down with us and hang out while we played. Not 1 single person did. I told them this is the most awkward show we have ever played. I wonder if they understood that? After that another band started to set up. I had no clue another band was playing. They sounded like The Casualties song Punk Rock Love. After the show we packed up and waited around to go to where we were staying.
I am here now, laying in bed typing this. One of the worst parts about this tour is the language barrier when I have to tell people they can’t use our stuff. Most of the promoters asked me before the tour if locals could use our stuff. I told them that “the tour is really long and we are afraid that equipment will start breaking (and the guitar head did break already, luckily it was fixed), so if locals could please bring their own stuff that would be cool.” I think people have borrowed stuff at every show. This isn’t that bad, its usually just parts of the drums (toms and bass drum) or cabs, but when I have to argue with people who don’t speak my language about not using our cymbals, snare, or guitar heads without sounding like an asshole, it gets pretty frustrating. This happens more often than not and sometimes I think they wanna kill me when it does.
Day 31/Show 25/Istanbul, Turkey
So today sucks. We didn’t get to sleep till about 5 am and woke up early to deal with the border. Now there are 2 major border crossings from Greece to Turkey. Our gps told us to go to the one that was about an hour further away from us. On a map it looks like a way bigger border crossing so we thought it would be the best bet. 3 hours later we are at a small hut on the border of the 2 countries with 1 border patrol officer. He tells us that we need a green card for the van (a term we have heard a lot and never had to get, yet.) He then tells us we can only get it at the border crossing we were closer to early in the day. So we head back toward where we came. On our way to that border we didn’t get hassled once, didn’t even see any cops. On our way back south to get the green card we got stopped twice. Once the cops asked for our passports and then told us to have a nice day and to do what they tell us in Istanbul. Literally 2 minutes later 2 different cops pull us over. They ask what we are doing and are positive we have drugs. I don’t know how many fucking times, in how many ways you can ask if someone has drugs and not get that they aren’t gonna tell you even if they did have drugs (of course we don’t). So after that he takes all of us out of the van one at a time and searches all of us. Some he is harsher with. He is particularly harsh with me. I think it’s because of my short one word answers and my general distaste for being fucked with by cops. He takes off my hat, stares into it like it’s a fucking crystal ball, and the ruffles my hair to see if I have drugs in my hair. After that he aggressively takes everything out of my pockets where he finds the money bag. I instantly think he is gonna steal at least half of what we have. He scratches all the money to see if its counterfeit /has drugs on it. He then gives it all back to me and proceeds to aggressively search pockets he has already emptied. He demands what I still have something in my pocket when I don’t. Bluntly I tell him “ No, I don’t” then he checks my legs for weapons, much like an airport or venue pat down. He then full on grabs my dick and shifts it around. At this point he tells me to turn around, aggressively goes thru my back pockets and wallet. After he takes my shoes and beats them against the ground he asks if there is any other money in the van and says, “I don’t wanna get blamed for taking it.” We grab whatever is in the van and he only goes thru my bag. Unfolds everything and leaves it half unzipped with shit falling out of it. Thanks, Asshole. Then he asks about drugs again and says, “today you are lucky. Don’t come back from Turkey with any weed of ecstacy or anything.” Another cop tries to shoot the shit with us and talk about what kind of music we play. A few blunt 1 word answers later and we are out of there. I’m really glad we didn’t get extorted but fuck those dudes. If you’re gonna grab my dick you better make me cum.
Then we headed to the border of Turkey, 3 hours and loads of gas wasted. Now we sit at this border and get passed around to different officers. ! looks at our passports, one charges 15 euros each (90 total) to be in the country. Then we get sent back to the first guy so he can stamp our visas. Then the next people look at all our shit and then we have to go to a 5th person for our green card for the van. When they say Green Card it really trips me out. In the United States a green card is what you need to obtain to become a citizen. The green card for the van cost 90 more euro. So today so far we have spent 180 to be in Turkey for less than 24 hours, 110 euro on gas that most got wasted because of shitty technology.
We are gonna get to the show right on time (4 hours late for “load in” tho) and it starts at 11:30. Out of all the places we were going Istanbul was the one I wanted to spend some time in. Thanks to bad technology, shitty cops, and shitty border patrol I will see the 4 walls of the van, the 4 walls of the venue and the 4 walls of the place we are sleeping. Thanks to all contributing factors. So we finally get to Istanbul and I think it’s the biggest city ever. We drove thru what looked like a really populated downtown for like 20 minutes. Then we got to the main strip and right there was the club we were playing, Peyote.
Uger from Neglected booked the show and they played first. They were fucking awesome. I also like his old band, Ultimate Blowup. After that Witch Cult played and everyone got down. Same for BearTrap. The room was small and pretty full. I liked this show a lot. I wanna wake up early and check out Istanbul before we head to Bulgaria tomorrow. I doubt it’ll happen tho. After the show we drove to the apartment we were staying in, which was in Asia. It didn’t even occur to me that I was anywhere near Asia till we were crossing the bridge to Asia. When we got to the apartment I went to sleep.