From the sublime, to the surreal, to the ridiculously surreal: this seems to be the arc of this week’s narrative. We woke up in the parking lot of a low budget resort-hotel on the shores of the Baltic Sea. I haven’t had a chance to do any Googling but this place had a distinct Eastern Bloc feel about it, very bare bones and hard edged. But I think we are too close to Hamburg for this area to have been in the East so perhaps this is just the way the German hoi polloi enjoy their vacation time. Today was Day 2 of The Rolling Stone Weekender Festival. A two day event that brings dozens of bands to this odd little enclave and spreads them over three stages; one main stage under a huge temporary tent, a second stage in a low ceilinged convention room inside the shopping complex that is part of the resort and a third stage (which is where we played) inside an odd little room, next to the mini-putt. The promoter made all of the right sounds in apologising for putting us on the smallest stage, saying that we were so late to confirm the gig that ours was the last slot available. Not only were we scheduled for one of the smallest stages that we have ever played, but we also had the much coveted 12:30am slot. So when I woke up in the parking lot at 8:30am this morning, I only had sixteen hours to go before show time. It was a tedious day, but not a bad place to be marooned. We had a couple of rooms in the hotel that we used, so we could escape our multi-wheeled urinal; there was a beach and a boardwalk to stroll along if you could handle the bone chilling winds peeling off of the Baltic; there was this odd little retail mall with a bakery, restaurant, pub and vendors in stalls selling vinyl and other indie-rock wares; there was a wireless internet room in which the network was down all day; a cafeteria which served up some very good food and, of course, starting at 5:30pm there was live music. I saw the Black Keys; John Hiatt; Tindersticks; Blittzen Trapper and an assortment of other bands that I had never heard of and will probably never hear from again.
The biggest drama of the day was supplied by Al who has contracted the Baltic Plague and was bedridden all day with a very high fever. It was touch and go, right up until gig time, whether he would be able to perform. The last thing that we wanted to do after a day of waiting around was to do an acoustic set, we needed to get some ya-ya’s out. But he rallied right before show time and did the show semi-comatose, sitting in chair. We had a jam-packed little venue to play to and they seemed to enjoy the set. On stage it was a little difficult from a sound perspective, but we did our best. We were the last band to finish playing at the Festival so when it came to load out the gear, most of the local crew had disappeared and the key to the small cargo truck that had carried the gear to the venue was nowhere to be found. It was a long load-out for Tim and Jared. When we finally got rolling at around 3am, we pulled out of the parking lot, drove for about 100 meters, there was a loud crunching noise down below, the bus rolled to stop and the interior of the bus went completely dark. We all simultaneously broke out into howls of laughter: there just wasn’t anything else one could do. The final turn of the screw was that all of the gear had to be loaded out of the bus (it is travelling in the bus bays), because Kevin had to get to the transmission which was accessed through a panel in the bottom of the cargo bay. Fortunately he was able to fix the problem, and once the gear was re-loaded, off we went on our little “Carry On Touring” adventure.