Massgrav in Polska
The last few years, we’ve been getting an email from Pawel every spring, asking if we’d like to play the DIY Punk and Hardcore fest in Gdynia and every year we’ve had to decline due to already made holiday plans. Scheduling seems to be a problem for this fest, as it was held the same year as OEF this year. On the bright side, we were finally able to say yes this year. Insane flights were booked and we were put on the poster.
Yadayadayada - let’s cut out all the boring stuff about getting up early and flying this time, ok?
When we arrived in Gdansk, we were picked up by a nice guy who’s name escapes me, but for once we got to ride in a car with plenty of room for us and our gear. It’s amazing how many times people arrive in tiny cars to pick up people with large instrument cases. Not so this time - we got to ride some kind of big Nissan SUV. We drove out into the sticks, on smaller and smaller roads until we pulled up in front of a nice little country hotel and shown to a bungalow behind the hotel, where we were told Filip would meet us soon. Filip’s family runs the hotel and he is also one of the people organizing the fest. He soon arrived with both good and bad news. The good part was when he showed us our apartment in the hotel, which was one of the nicest places we’ve ever stayed in as a band, and the bad part was that we were gonna hang out until four or five in the afternoon before going to the festival.
Not very fond of sitting around doing nothing, we asked Filip if he could at least drive us to the bus stop a few kilometers away, so we could get to Gdansk, which he did. Since we’re a super responsible band who take our art very seriously, we couldn’t hit the beer too hard at this point, but instead walked around Gdansk, taking in the old town and things like that, ate some burgers, the usual stuff, before taking a commuter train to Gdynia, a 30 minute ride with lots and lots of derelict Polish industrial buildings covered in graffiti to look at. Walking to the venue we got stopped by some hard ass cops who gave us a stern lecture for crossing the street when the light was red. ACAB.
The fest was held in a club in the harbour parts of town, with a nice yard where all the distros had set up their tents. The live room probably held about 6-700 people, had a balcony and a bar at the back. Everything seemed very well organized and Filip had already arrived with our gear. We met up with Pawel, who is one of those guys we’ve seen many times at different festivals around Europe, but never really talked to. Nice guy. We also ran into some fellow swedes, Swordwielder from Gothenburg. Again, nice people.
For once, we weren’t playing so damn late, but rather at nine thirty or so, and we didn't’ have any merch with us to sell, so we just hung out for a little while, watching a few bands and getting our stuff in order until we were expected on stage.
The Gdynia fest is a lot more varied, musically, than most festivals we play and it also seems a lot more focused on punk (as opposed to hardcore). Most people were a bit older than your usual festival punter and they seemed to like slow stuff. Whether it was down to age, musical preferences or sheer amazement at our brilliance we’ll never know, but the crowd was pretty quiet. Active audiences are always more fun, but we still did our thing and did it as aggressive as we could, and got the hell off the stage to get stuck in to our band beers with Swordwielder and other friends - new and old.
The rest of the night was an increasing blur, so there’s not that much to tell, except for when the guitarist in american band VEXX came by and asked if we wanted to have all their beer. Some creep had spiked the drinks he bought for their female drummer and singer. Fortunately the plan had failed and security had stepped in (however, failing to apprehend the creepoid) and nobody got hurt, but they felt more like getting the hell out rather than getting drunk. Never heard of anything like that happening at a punk/hardcore show. Security cameras later showed a guy that nobody recognized, so most likely this was not someone who’s part of “the scene”. Fuck knows how he had planned to get two drugged persons out of the venue without anyone noticing.
Anyway, late at night, we were driven home by some poor soul, together with - likewise poor - La Fraction. Either thinking nobody understood Swedish or simply just not giving a shit, parts of the band belted out Onkel Kånkel’s “Jag firar Julen i Polen” at the top of their lungs the entire way home. Naturally, it turned out one of our Polish hosts speaks damn near perfect Swedish…
A phone call, saying breakfast was ready, woke us up sometime around lunch time. We dragged ourselves out of bed, showered and left our luxury apartment in search of food and a way to spend the day. It turns out that Filip and/or the hotel rent out mountain bikes, so we grabbed one each and headed out into the beautiful Polish countryside. There’s not a whole lot to tell about the bike ride - we rode into nearby little town Zukowo, stopped for sodas, watched storks, got lost a couple of times and had a pretty great time sweating out all the hangover nastiness from our bodies. We got back to the resort in time for a couple of beers on the patio by the pond before it was time to head back into Gdynia.
We opted to feed ourselves and went in search of what Tripadvisor claimed was the best pizzeria in town. Apart from the fact that they sold no alcohol, it was pretty fantastic, but the pizzas were very small, so we decided to also hit the best mexican eatery Gdynia had to offer. The Polish idea of mexican food… let’s just say the pizza was great and leave it at that. We also walked around the touristy harbour area with it’s fairground and parks and had a beer at a ship turned restaurant before we headed back to the club.
Since Norse had to drive from the aiport the next morning he had to behave a bit, but Ola and Fenok got back into serious drinking. Another Swedish band - Fredag den 13e - had arrived so we hung out with them a bit too and generally made a mess of things. Seeing as Norse was pretty much sober, HE should be writing this - there’s probably a lot to be said. The plan for the later part of the night was unclear the whole time - we were catching a very early flight so we weren’t sure whether there was any point in returning to the resort for a few hours of sleep, so when we piled into the van at the end of the night, we weren’t sure where we were heading.
The airport, that’s where. Arriving at an airport at 3 am, drunk as hell, with a 7 am flight to catch… it’s not a lot of fun. The only enjoyment to be had, was filming Fenok as he stumbled through check in, customs and tax free stores, scaring children and worrying staff. The rest is all a blur. All in all though - very well organized festival with serious, super nice people who took great care of us. If you ever get the chance to go to this festival, do it!