Berlin – Cassiopeia, March 16, 2019

On to Berlin, and after checking in at the hotel I asked the band to drop me off at Static Shock Musik, a fantastic punk record store, and I rinsed a good chunk of my remaining cash on records (some classic drum-machine post-punk in Second Layer, storming new d-beat in Bootlicker, massive mosh hardcore in Bib, Irish black metal Full Na Seanchoille), tapes (Neon’s true freak hardcore) and a bootleg Dee Dee King t-shirt, before meeting . The band we were playing with were the David Nance Group, spaced out psych-y country/classic rock, like a dirtied-up Lynyrd Skynyrd almost, from Omaha who were on their own European tour. Turned out I had a mutual friend with their touring guitarist who was from the UK. Small world and all that. It was a cool gig, though I did have to deal with an extremely punishing drunk couple trying to convince me to give them a discount on merch. This happened a few times over the course of the tour, and there was once or twice when I knocked a couple euros off for some keen excitable kid that was counting their coins trying to work out if they could afford a shirt, but if you’re people with clearly enough money to get blasted at the gig, there’s no discount coming people.

The next day was our only day off so me and Jarrett at least were in the mood for a big one, a real Berlin nightlife experience. A couple friends of mine, Sean who fronts the incredibly good post-punk outfit Negative Space, and their partner Eva, who plays in incredible new blood death-rock hardcore band Gesture, came to the show with a couple of mates and suggested a good rave we could head off to, not fancying the prospect of queuing three hours will no guarantee of getting in, as is often the case at the famous Berghain, we took them up on their offer to come to a rave run by a queer art collective called Room 4 Resistance. The whole rave/club vibe was a lot chiller than what I’m used to in London. The only thing the bouncer did was put stickers on our phone cameras, a norm at Berlin clubs apparently, one which I’m kind of into, as it means people are a lot less self-conscious and also there’s no chance of seeing your distorted drunken visage swim across a mate’s IG feed the next day. 

Going down into the rave, we were greeted by a room caught in that rave-hinterland between industrial/warehouse and pure party, blue and purple lights darting across the room, people really letting loose. It was extremely Berlin, exactly what Jarrett and I had been looking for. The music was, as is the German mode, mostly hard techno which I’m generally not the biggest fan of but it definitely fit the scenery. A couple of more breakbeaty tunes got dropped which is very much more style in terms of dance music, and some bloke came up to me while I was getting into one to say to me “You must be English!” What had given it away? “You’re doing gun fingers! No-one does that here! Everyone just fist-pumps.” It’s true. A cultural divide no doubt. The highlight of the night was Danish doctor-cum-DJ Mama Snake, who threw a couple of big house classics into her thumping set to liven things up, and also dropped a Prodigy track, one that really set the room alight in appreciation for the recently-departed Keith Flint. I’ve rarely seen Jarrett look happier, we’d been discussing a few days before how the Prodigy was his introduction to the world of dance music a good twenty years prior, another teenage circle completed. By the time we left it was closing in on seven in the morning.

The next day, although really the same day for us, after a bit of sleep and a nice brunch Marissa went to get a new tattoo, Mike decided to go exploring and me and Jarrett, still a bit worse for wear after our techno adventure, passed out in the van, sleeping that kinda of utterly knackered dreamless sleep where everything just goes dark and you wake up hours later feeling like you only just closed your eyes. Mike drove us to Rostock where we were getting the ferry in the morning. Rostock didn’t seem very popping on a Sunday night, and we weren’t exactly in the mood to party, so we stayed in the hotel room to watch some TV and luckily stumbled across the sports channel, which was showing snooker, the finest sport ever created by humanity, twenty-three balls, two people, six pockets, 11’8.5”x5’8” of baize, endless variations. Every frame the same yet different. Some would call it the sport of kings, except kings aren’t worth shit and every monarchy must be abolished. After playing them Chas and Dave’s immortal ode to the sport, Snooker Loopy, in the van a few days earlier, it was a pleasure to show them some of the real thing, as former world champion Stuart Bingham handily dispatched Ryan Day and we went to bed.