The Dopamines, Maked Intruder, Mikey Erg, Brutal Chérie, Confusion, Flow – Shaka Laka, Hazebrouck, April 26th 2013

Here’s a quick summary of the last 28 hours or so

The phone rings. At 8.35 a.m. I went to bed at about 2, and it has been like this for days now, so you can imagine how this feels. Stumbling out of bed I have to find the damn phone. Its somewhere deep inside the camera bag. I find it, pick up, it’s Anka. She’s on tour with Masked Intruder who are playing in France that night. I really really wanna go to that show, for Masked Intruder but the Dopamines are also playing, and Mikey Erg and a bunch of French bands. It’s been too long since the Dopamines toured Europe and now they are not even playing anywhere near me. The closest show is Groezrock and I don’t wanna go. Hazebrouck, France is the second nearest date. But actually who am I kidding? Its not near, not by European standards. I’m looking at 750km roundtrip here. That’s a full tank of gas to blow and none of my friends are crazy enough to join me for something like this. I really wanted to go, but I don’t have that kind of travel budget. What was I supposed to do? Was I going? I didn’t know.

I mentioned this at the Masked Intruder show in Mönchengladbach. Anka said that they are passing by Bonn on their route to France, maybe I they could give me a ride? Was this my chance? I emailed here about it, but never heard back. And the plan I outlined would require them to do a detour, cause I needed a ride back as well. Getting to France was fine, but without a plan to get back home this would be even crazier than it already was. So up to the moment I picked up the phone I did not know if I was going or not.

Anka asks for an address where they can pick me up. Okay. So I’m going. I guess. I’m still half asleep. Then the photographer mode kicks in. Before I even turn on the computer to google map the address I find myself putting batteries into chargers. I decide on a gas station that is near the Autobahn and also near a stop of the Cologne-Bonn tram line. I have about 3.5 hours till pickup. Those go by fast. Shower, eat, pack, organize, edit photos of last nights Smoke or Fire show just to get that out of the way. Think about what to take with me. Make small prints of the usual masked intruder suspects artwork for the band to give to. Walk to the central station, take the tram to Cologne.

The pickup is pretty flawless, we say hello and off we go to France. The ride is uneventful. I spent too much time on the road to care anyways. Masked Intruder actually have fresh fruit in the van. That’s something you rarely see with touring punk bands. Yet its a bag of pickled flavored chips that gets the guys attention at a rest stop. Hazebrouck turns out to be a rather small town. We get there in time, even as the first band. The place is nice, a bar with two stages and more room upstairs. There is food, wifi, drinks. All is good. Eventually the other bands and the audience shows up and the show goes its way.

The acts alternate between the electric stage in the back and the other one is acoustic and in the front. First up are Confusion. Punk/Hardcore in a modern style. They play tight and good. What I like the best is that almost everybody who is already here is watching the band at the stage. There is no awkward emptyness. And most people seem rather young, that is a good thing. Old punkers get lame too easy.

Next is Flow in the acoustic stage, I only catch the last song cause I talk to the guys and girls and we hang out upstairs.

Brutal Cherie are playing on the electric stage next. Punk trio, but they can’t win me over. IMG_5768

I miss the next act on the acoustic stage and instead find myself a good spot near the stage for Masked Intruder. By now the room in front of the stage is fully crowded. Show has been sold out for quite some time and the venue is not that big after all. I see many familiar faces in the ranks. Lots of crazy Belgians. Belgium is not far and it shows. Somebody dressed up as a police officer. Hope he’s not scaring away the band.

The show is a lot of fun. People sing along, crowd surf, dance. Some girl joins to sing the femals vocals on Heart Shaped Guitar, there is a Green Day cover. This is good.

Mikey Erg is up next on the other stage. I have seen him play his solo set about 12 times if my count is correct. Still love it. There is a couch which I sit on the first few songs. Perfect. Can it get any better? I get up and take photos eventually though. He ends with a House Boat song. Even better.

Dopamines are dope. Or something. Anyways the show starts with Ricky D. jumping from the upstairs gallery onto the audience. Need any more explanations how it was? Has anyone ever checked the water supply in Belgium? There’s gotta be something in there. Or radiation. Therefore Aliens! IMG_5913

The show is a wonderful, hot, sweaty, awesome mess. These are the moments I do this for. Everybody sings along, it had been warm on stage ever since the first band, now its almost unbearable. Jon Lewis takes off his shirt and pants to cope with it. Some people in the audience too. I pour water over my head. Mic stands get kicked over and mics drop onto the floor. Crowd surfers on top. The energy is overwhelming. IMG_5979

At the end I’m completely soaking wet, my system is filled with adrenaline and dopamine probably too. What a brilliant show. First serious contender for show of the year. I don’t get why people go to Groezrock or similar events when they could go to shows like this. The idea of these guys playing the main stage on Sunday before noon is just scary. There is another band playing, Guerilla Poubelle, who are really popular in France and I know Till, but I can’t take another band. Sorry Till. Next time I swear. I needed to calm down, change into a dry shirt, re-hydrate myself. It’s too cold outside so we’re hanging out backstage. The room is upstairs and all the hot and moist air is there too, if you leave the room it feels terrible. And I need the rest cause Masked Intruder plan on driving back to Germany right after the show. They have a weird routing and schedule unfortunately and it makes sense to just drive back over night. The hours go by talking, catching up, packing, loading, saying goodbye to everyone. Intruder Green steals all the food thats left before we go. Classic move. He also destroys Ankas blow up cushion humping it in the bus. For a minute everybody contemplates not to do the drive and the next show, but then we hit the road.

Anka takes the first turn, then hands over the wheel to me. The GPS sends us back to the Autobahn over small roads, next to fields filled with bunnies. Weird. The Ipod plays some Smoke or Fire records on shuffle and endless mode. That’s what I listen to the next three hours straight. Anka falls asleep, I keep driving. Overnight driving is cool, cause there is no traffic and it sucks cause I’m tired. It works out. I wouldn’t have wanted to keep going much longer, but I make it to the train station I want to be dropped off. (Or drop myself off?) We get there just when the train is about to arrive but I don’t mind, I know the next one is following soon. I say goodbye and thank everybody again. They keep on going. I walk to the station and then realize that the next train is not coming soon, instead there is a bus. Oh great, that takes like twice as long. Whatever, do I have a choice? I fall asleep on the bus. Wake up in Bonn, 10 minute walk home. Bed. Bed. Bed. Bed. Bed.

A meager 4 hours later there is a Hupkonzert outside, lots of cars blowing their horns. The fuck! Now I’m awake. HOW THE FUCK AM I AWAKE??

And here I am now. Its the early afternoon. Writing this, editing photos. ewww. Still tired. Listening to Off With Their Heads. What a great trip this was. Well worth it. And yet I’m beat. The next show I have scheduled starts in three hours from now. Not sure this is happening. Batteries are already charging. My own batteries are not.

A big big thank you to Anka, Masked Intruder, the Dopamines, the crazy Belgians, Till, the venue, and promoters and whoever I forgot in this brain state right now. Lets do this again. Soon.

I could easily post twice as many images, but I went with these: