30.05.2018 – Hafenklang, Hamburg DE – Clara Bow; Screaming Females

It’s sad to wake up knowing that today is the last show of tour. It will be nice to be home and see friends (including furry ones) in Philadelphia again, but I wish we could stay longer. Now that I’ve adjusted to our new life (wake up, drive, load in, band plays and I sell merch, sleep, repeat), I feel like I could do this forever.

This time, our hostel in Berlin is pretty hip, and we have a large room all to ourselves. The air conditioning feels like a real luxury. We have enough time to take a gander at the hostel’s breakfast buffet, and it’s German breakfast again. I’m all about starting my day with a cheese, cucumber, and tomato sandwich.

We get moving to Hamburg, pick up some more Club Mate at a rest stop, and arrive a couple of hours early. My first impression of Hamburg is that it seems pretty impersonal compared to a lot of the cities we’ve been to so far. We drive through what seems to be the city center and looks like a pretty standard business district. It could be Center City Philadelphia. I’m starting to wonder how it’s possible that a music scene could exist in a place like this, but then we get closer to the waterfront, and things start to look a lot cooler. There are blocks of buildings that look like an extended radical community center, painted with wild colors, decorated with materials like repurposed bike parts and even an old wooden boat, and surrounded by community gardens and playgrounds. Jarrett explains that these squats that have been here for years, and gives us a quick history of Hamburg. The city has been a leftist stronghold throughout its history, and was one of the few areas in Germany that more-or-less resisted the Nazis. And although the 2017 G20 Summit, where leaders of the world’s wealthiest nations get together to talk international finance, was held in Hamburg, the foothold that radical cultural institutions have in the city enabled a response via massive protests.

So, Hamburg is a place of extremes. On one end there is the wealthy downtown district, the access to the waterfront that represents a profitable shipping industry, and most high-end design shops I can recall ever seeing in one place. On the other end, Hamburg is one of the most well known hubs of anti-capitalist organizing in Europe.

The venue, Hafenklang,  is a few blocks away from the squats, but it has a similar vibe. The in-house chef makes us some of the best food we’ve had on tour so far: There are trays of vegan pasta, quinoa and vegetables, salad, hummus, and bread, and it reminds me of potluck community dinners in West Philadelphia.

We find out that the band Pere Ubu is playing on the downstairs stage of the venue while the Screaming Females show is upstairs. Too bad we won’t be able to be in two places at once and catch their set!

The venue also has the first soundwoman we’ve met during this tour. I haven’t brought this up yet for fear of pigeonholing a lot of the bands we’ve seen into the imaginary category of “female-fronted,” but I do want to say that it’s been awesome to see that most of the bands Screaming Females have played with on this tour have at least partially been made up of women. It’s also been nice that many of our hosts/promoters have been women as well. (I don’t like the idea of assuming someone’s gender identity, but without having asked each individual to identify their pronouns, I am referring to persons who present themselves as feminine. I hope the point I am trying to make comes across, which is that it’s been really cool to see non-cis-men out there running the show! And also that it’s super important to continue to support folks of a diversity of genders and backgrounds in the art and music worlds and beyond.)

Once the doors to the venue open, we meet lots of awesome fans, including the man who designed the poster for tonight’s show. It’s an illustration of Marissa leading a horse out of the ocean. In case you’re confused by this concept, surprise! The illustration is based on the cover of a Whitney Houston single for her song called “All At Once,” and he gives Marissa a copy of the single along with a multitude of bonbons. What could be better?

I wander away from the merch stand momentarily to check out the opening band, Clara Bow. They play catchy pop songs that occasionally have a riot grrrl vibe, and they definitely have a strong local following here.

Luckily, Screaming Females fan club member Andrew has been keeping his eye on the merch stand while I was gone and made a few sales! Andrew has been to a couple of shows on this tour and it’s nice to see a friendly face.

By the time the Screamales take the stage everyone is pretty much melting into puddles of their own sweat, but that doesn’t stop the crowd from rocking out. The band plays “Normal” (which they haven’t played in a very long time) because it was requested by the fans from Russia, who are here again! The band ends the tour with a bang by playing “Boyfriend” one more time, and chills run down my spine as Marissa jumps into the crowd with epic blood-curdling yowls. That’s certainly one way to bid Europe adieu.

After the show, we have approximately two hours to sleep before we have to wake up at 3:30 AM to get back to the Netherlands, return the van and gear, and then catch our flight back to the States. Luckily, we get to stay right next door in an apartment that is part of the venue. There are rows of comfy bunk beds, plenty of clean towels, and tags all over the place from bands who have stayed here before. This room in a city of anti-capitalist squats feels like a part of history, but the real question is: What’s next?