Massgrav goes to Germany. Again.
Someone once said Germany is a crappy country to play in, but it's still the best place in the world to tour. There is some truth in that.
We were asked to play a festival in the eastern part of Germany - the Killed System Fest III. To help pay for the trip, we thought a Berlin gig would be nice since that's where we'd have to fly to anyway, so we emailed the people at Khoma F - the basement venue of the infamous Berlin squat; Köpi.
It is true that even when we do book the flights ourselves, we tend to do so at horrible hours of the day, but this time Kevin from Killed System booked them and they were brutal. Our flight left at 6.30 in the morning and apart from running into our favorite studio genius Tore Stierna and the Watain guys - who were also going on a festival weekend raid, albeit a way more luxurious and comfortable one - the getting there is all a blur.
We'd treated ourselves to a very nice little flat less than a block away from Köpi, but as we wouldn't be able to get access to it until 3 pm, we went in search of brunch, which we thought we could have in grand style at Berlin's most prestigious department store; KDW. After trawling the gourmet department of the 6th floor for quite a while, turning down the lobster and champagne bar and some other swanky places, we settled for some humble but nice sandwiches and then spent the afternoon walking around, having a few beers, eating döner at Hasir's in Kreuzberg, spent quite a while trying in vain to find anything to buy at Core-Tex (sadly, they were all out of Moscow Death Brigade shirts) and just enjoying Berlin on a warm and sunny day. Almost too warm and sunny actually.
Since we've had the food at Köpi once before (when we were told to cover the pots quickly after getting our meal, so the rats wouldn't get in the food), we decided to arrange our own dinner. One of the best burger joints in Berlin, Burgermeister, was just around the corner from our flat, so we thought we'd try that. Great location, in an old public toilet building under the U-bahn, and a nice feeling to it, but the burgers were nowhere near to what we had in New York last year.
Just like last time, things were a bit confused at Köpi. When we got there, the venue was locked and no one was there. We put down our gear and hung around, waiting for someone to show up. Now, if you haven't been there (or in a similar place), Köpi is a pretty outlandish place. It's a huge, crumbling, C-shaped apartment block, with a huge, garbage covered fence around it, a courtyard full of bikes and garbage sculptures and an outdoor mechanics shop, people grinding and welding on weird build projects. The place is covered in graffiti, stickers and trash and there's always a few dirty dogs running around. Now, I'm sure the inhabitants of the place think I'm describing them unfavorly, but hell - Köpi is like a mix of Mad Max and the evil gang's secret hangout in Police Academy II.
After a while, someone turned up, and it turned out to be Eleonor who used to sing in To what end?, who moved to Berlin years ago. Very nice to have a familiar face turn up and clear a bit of the confusion and let us know the guy in charge would turn up soon and that she would be manning the bar that night. So we hung around for a while, watched the Czech bands that were also playing carry their stuff down the basement and wondered who the hell the nice Danish guys who suddenly introduced themselves were? Slowly, it dawned on everyone that they were a fourth band that had been a last minute addition to the bill since their intended Berlin gig had been cancelled; Anti Ritual.
About this time, it we also discovered that the person who booked us, had - despite here repeated promises to do so, failed to secure backline we could use. It's sort of possible to see how asking another band if you can use their amps doesn't seem like a big deal if you're not in a band, but it makes you seem like an arrogant asshole who takes borrowing other's stuff for granted. Fortunately, the danes came to the rescue, leaving us with mixed feelings of gratitude and pissed off-ness.
The gigs at Köpi start fairly late; first band around 11. With four bands on the bill, it seemed it would be very, very late before we could hit the beer in any serious way. We figured we'd use us borrowing the Anti Ritual gear (they would be playing first) as an excuse to go second. Ok, good.
Considered they're a band we'd never heard before, watching ZR was unexpectedly entertaining. Great guitarist, throwing poses and using more pedals than we've ever used together throughout the last 15 years, and great vocals. Nice. As soon as they played their last note, we started getting on stage. Apparently, the Czechs had not been told we were playing second and Norse had a bit of an argument about it - something about us having to 'headline' or whatever, but we choose to ignore that and start playing instead.
For a freezing, dirty hellhole of a Fritzl coal basement, Khoma-F is not a bad venue. No monitors, of course, and too dark for you to see much of what you're doing, but still far from the worst place you've played. The good people of Berlin seemed to like what we were doing, a few scattered Swedes in the audience yelled the customary insults and demands for faster songs and a good time was had by all. We cleared the stage and started taking full advantage of the free band beer, talking to Loffi from Cyness, which is always super nice, and after he left - to the Zero Ritual guys who turned out to be pretty agreeable as well.
Don't ask when we headed home or what made us decide to do so because the details are a bit hazy, but it was really fucking nice to live so nearby for once, not having to lug our stuff for ages before crashing.
A while back, Norse had been to Berlin to record some sort of food tv show, so he knew about a good breakfast place not too far away and we had a great meal there, lots of fried eggs, bacon and dark bread. That's yet another great thing about Germans; they're not afraid of really dark and hard bread like everyone else seems to be these days. While we were eating, we got a call saying we'd be picked up in 30 minutes. Our driver turned out to be Enrico who plays bass in Trigger, whom we'd met at last year's Drächsfeschd in Hamburg. He was driving the smallest Audi station wagon ever built. Once we'd gotten our guitar cases, bags and ourselves into the car, there was absolutely no room to move or barely breathe. The discomfort was extreme. Enrico promised us it was "only" a two and a half hour drive. Well, that was before we hit the road works and endless autobahn traffic jams.
Four hours later, we were getting close to Glauchau. Fenok hadn't been able to feel his feet for the last hours and we were all dreading driving back the next day. Just as we started seeing signs for the town, the rain started pouring down and we were suddenly in the middle of a whopper of a thunderstorm. Lightning bolts everywhere, crazy rain and strong gusts of wind. We were playing on the outdoor stage in about five hours. Great. We'd been waiting for hours and hours to get out of the car, but when we finally reached our destination, it was raining so much we couldn't leave it without getting drenched. The mood in the car wasn't great. The previous day, the turnout hadn't been what Enrico and the others had hoped for, and with weather like this, the numbers were not likely to rise.
However, after a while, things got better and blue patches of sky could be seen. That windiness was working to our advantage, getting rid of the thunderclouds and before long, we were inside the festival, having a beer, watching Anti Ritual play the very big outdoor stage in full daylight to a rather thin crowd. Later on, Nuclear Cult played their super short, super fast stuff and Attack of the Mad Axemen did their grindcore in animal costumes thing. We'd seen the costumes before, but not in action, and they had now also added fireworks to the show. If you have the chance to see them, don't miss it. We also met quite a lot of people we know. Otto from Play fast or don't was there, having played with Lycanthropy the previous night. Sif and Ulla from Frankfurt had taken a 5 hour train ride to attend, though we hardly recognized Sif in his fantastic new beard. Naturally, Frank from Dräschfeschd was there, since he plays in both Attack. and Flop 47 (who we sadly missed) and some other people as well.
By the time it was our turn to play, it was dark outside, a lot more people and a much better feel to it all. The stage was super nice, all rented pro stuff with lots of blinking lights and shiny stuff and the sound had been good throughout the day. The only thing that could fuck this up was us -they'd even gotten us the amps they promised to (Köpi people, you could learn a lot here). Well, it's probably not for us to say, but judging by the audience's reaction and considering the amount of fun we had and the buckets of sweat we dripped on stage, it was a pretty good show. We had no intention of doing encores, but the enthusiastic, shouting audience and a very worked-up Loffi got us to return for a few more. You'd wish your life could be like this a bit more often.
Finally, we got off the stage, said a few hellos to the Rotten Sound guys who were waiting to get on and started doing the things we do after shows - getting dry, changing clothes and selling merch. Unfortunately, since we were flying, we couldn't bring very much and what little we had, we sold quickly.
The rest of the night was spent drinking substantial amounts of beer (can you say that?) and talking to old and new friends. The only Rotten Sound member we've met before is Keijo (when he sang with Nasum and we opened for them) but the rest of them were super nice. They were driving back to Berlin sometime late at night, to sleep for two hours prior to taking the 8 am flight home to Finland. Hey, at least they got to ride a larger car. We also got to see Trigger play a really good set. There isn't exactly a shortage of drums/bass (or drums/guitar for that matter) grind core acts, and most of them are pretty dull, but Trigger don't suffer from that at all - check them out if you have the chance.
To make a long story short, we drank some insanely strong white Russians and got really drunk. There was some bad behavior, there were band members that had to be held back from attacking a bunch of Nazis that showed up to pick a fight and apparently one of us threw up in Kevin's neighbors yard. Well. you gotta live a little, right? Besides, the festival were expecting nazi trouble and had a bunch of very serious looking antifa people patrolling the grounds, so there was never any real danger. Probably. Apparently, the Nazis showed up again later that night in larger force and had their asses handed to them in a bag. Being Swedish (and maybe not a worldly as we should be), we were a bit shocked by how common, violent and in plain view the Nazis were.
Next day was no picnic. There was a horrible morning, a horrible drive to Berlin, a horribly long wait at the airport and then a horrible trip home, with a stopover in Copenhagen and delays at every step of the way. Pretty much the only nice thing that day was talking to Enrico while driving north - real solid guy and being straight edge, he must have had a horrible time driving us the previous night, trying to get us to go inside and go to sleep instead of getting into trouble. Sorry about that and thanks for the company and the great driving Enrico! All in all, not a bad trip, let's do it again some time. If you ever get the chance to play Killed System Fest, do it!
Getting the touristy stuff out of the way: Fenok, inside the new part of the Gedächtniskirche, taking a photo of...
Ola. Religion sucks, but the light in there is great - we're thinking of doing something like this to our rehearsal space.
Meanwhile, Norse is taking care of his feet. Very particular about feet and shoes, Norse is.
Riding the subway, trying not to mention der Führer even when the train goes to Pankow.
Relaxing in the sun, having a beer. Sadly not in one of those fake beachs germans are so fond of, but this Spree-side river bar wasn't bad either.
Sweet dreams are made of these...
Långa farbrorn, relaxing in our apartment, having a Beck's since the Rolling Rocks were 7 euros each at KDW.
Absent minded lap drumming going on...
Under the bridge - Burgermeister!
Khoma F, the basement venue of Köpi.
Aaand Anti Ritual again, kicking it live at Köpi
This is what the rest of the evening was like.
For some reason, a lot of people like to take our logo and do unspeakable things to it. We should get a brand lawyer and go after them. This poster is like begging for a cease and desist letter.
We're too scared to look this up on youtube. You have a go.
Fenok, checking out the aftermath of rockstar living.
This is how big I want my breakfast to be
Since photos inside Köpi is forbidden, here's what the outside looks like.
Feels like you could catch a disease just walking by
Cramped as fuck in the car. The fish eye lense makes it seem much roomier than it was.
Waiting out the rain in Glauchau
Anti Ritual, playing what is hopefully their crappiest gig ever.
More Anti Ritual
Drinking in style at Glauchau's premier spot for fine dining.
Apfel strudels and ice cream.
Atack of the Mad Axemen
Getting ready to go on stage, drinking an Astra
Norse, warming up on stage
Marco of Anti Ritual, very happy with his brand spanking new Massgrav shirt.
Får man ta crusthunden med sig in i himlen?
Norse och Fenok, de e stabilt
Massgrav and Rotten Sound, planning to take over the world
Ola, not planning much of anything
Here's where everything went wrong. Those are pint glasses
The Burt Reynolds of the band, looking sexy for the ladies
Again with the shoes
Enrico's mum, cooking us knödel and stewed red cabbage for breakfast
Cafe Taktlos, home of Killed System Fest
Ola and Enrico, getting ready to get into the car. One is more suited to cramped spaces than the other...