Massgrav in London 2016
As you may all know by now, we’re not the kind of band that grabs only a toothbrush and hops in a van to spend six weeks on the European roads, playing every squat from here to Hannofer. We like to play one or maybe two shows, have a good time and then go home. The endless slog of the road is not for us. So, what could be better than a spring weekend in London? Jill one of the organizers of Chimpy Fest, which we played on our last visit to England, asked us to play her birthday party (hers and her two friends) at the Unicorn In Camden. We said yes.
Our flight from Stockholm was delayed so we had plenty of time for beer drinking and overspending at the airport, running so late we were getting worried there’d be no trains into London when we arrived. Luckily, we got as far as St. Pancras before public transport shut down for the night and we had to resort to taking a cab to the hotel. The hotel bar had just closed so we ended the night in the next door pub, The Lexington, marveling at the fact that Helen Love were playing an extremely rare show there next month.
A whole day in London with nothing to do but relax, amuse ourselves and try not to get to drunk what a treat! We walked up to Islington and had brunch at Breakfast Club. Since we had nothing but time, we opted to move around by bus and managed to snag the top front seats of the double decker down to Oxford Circus. After an extremely short stint of shopping, we hopped on another bus to Ladbroke Grove. The antiques/junk market is manly full of moldy shit or stuff too big to bring home, but the food market at Acklam Village has really grown into a nice place lately and we spent long while relaxing in the big bar there, sipping beers and listening to the open mike hopefuls playing their angst merchant misery music.
Portabello Road on a Saturday afternoon isn’t exactly relaxing, but it brought us in the right direction so we braved it and arrived at Taqueria in time for our lunch appointment. Some great Mexican food and a number of beers later, it was time to slowly head back towards the hotel for a pre-gig moment of mindfulness (watching cooking tv and changing socks).
We’ve played a few shows in the U.K. before and most of the venues have been really crusty places, so it was nice to arrive at the Unicorn to discover it was a clean place with a great gig room, a stage about a foot high and plenty of space. We were greeted by Jill and were offered food, 30 cans of beer and a chance to soundcheck. Great. Though only Fenok said yes to food, we enthusiastically accepted the rest. Souncheck sounded pretty good, although the drum kit was not quite up to Fenok’s standards. He’d been given the option to travel completely without any gear and had gladly accepted, but now he was paying for it. Apparently it was a good thing we’d already decided not to play “Mera bruk I baljan boys” because according to him, there was no way he’d be able to play that fast with the supplied kick pedal. Anyway
We hung out, as you do, talking to people, drinking beer and failing miserably to sell much merch. Bloody Kev came by, always nice to see him and get the latest news about Diagnosis Bastard (which is a bit of a roundabout way, seeing as all the other band members live in Stockholm) and how they’d had to cancel their Copenhagen gig due to visa problems.
With five other bands on the bill, we’d asked if we could get out of playing last, so we were moved one slot and were playing at 10.10. At seven thirty, Disfago started playing their mix of d-beat and metal riffage exactly what you’d expect from the name, but a lot of fun to watch with the triple vocals and all, especially their hockey anthem “Puck up you ass”. Jill’s own band, Dysteria put on a fantastic show it’s odd you don’t see them at more festivals in Europe, but as they’d recently played Bloodshed, maybe that’s about to change. The fantastically named Hot Cops kicked seven kinds of ass. A lot of times, those “one drummer, one guitarist”-combos are dull as hell to watch but not so this time.
And then we were on. Yeah ,sure, there were some minor technical problems, but in general, we had a lot of fun and the audience seemed to do too. The Unicorn has a fierce lighting rig, so it was hard to see exactly what they were up to, but judging by the number of people who were thrown/fell up onto the stage and the number of times monitors and mike stands were dislocated left and right, there was a lot of action, and the pile of clothes on the side of the stage kept growing as the London music lovers got too warm to keep wearing them. We played a lot of classics, a few new songs and even a couple of requests from Jill, seeing as it was her birthday and that. All great things must come to an end though and we finished the way we played fast and brutal and returned to drinking beer as Noise Complaint ended the night with their thrash inspired punk rock bandanas and skull mask included. We innocently asked the singer if he’d heard of Doctor Living Dead he hadn’t. The crowd loved them though and it was a great end to a very varied and well curated, if you will, night.
The Unicorn closed pretty early and we ended up standing around on the sidewalk outside for a long time, talking to Jill and others. She wanted us to join the after party but feeling sweaty as hell and having all our crap to carry, we didn’t feel like walking to a bar. We said thanks and hopped on a bus, dropped off our stuff at the hotel and tried to find a place to get one last beer. Islington was shutting down for the night it’s very odd that a city like London closes so early, but we finally found a place where the bouncer reluctantly let us in after we promised him we’d behave and we got our much wanted beers only to discover all the party mood had left us. We’d left it too long in between drinks or maybe we were just too tired but it was clear the night was over. We had kebabs in a real dump walking back. Certain unnamed band members were ill, repeatedly. The hotel tv was showing early eighties Top of the Pops so we stayed up about an hour later than intended, watching Tenpole Tudor and Adam and the Ants.
With a late flight home, we had another day to spend in London, and not many plans. We started out by riding a bus down to Shoreditch and had lunch at Spitlefields, laughing at hipsters and browsing taxidermy. The sun was out and it was a nice day for killing time aimlessly. We then travelled up to Camden and had a few beers in the Whetherspoon by the canal, stopped by Crispin Bending’s leather store and did some gift shopping at a Sainsbury’s (where Norse failed to locate “a Sainsbury’s steak”) before heading back to pick up our luggage and taking the train back to Gatwick. Apparently, while we were sleeping, the morning had been foggy, which had disrupted the entire flight schedule. We ended up arriving in Stockholm at about 1 a.m. feeling like crap and dreading Monday morning.
Great little trip, let’s do it again soon. Big thanks to Jill and everyone who came to watch. If anyone knows how to sell more than a few shirts in England, let us know we probably won’t bring any next time.