Stockholm – Slaktkyrkan, March 20, 2019

Another hefty drive across beautiful Scandinavian scenery to Stockholm. The venue was the smaller entrance part of a much, much larger venue, and the band room at the other end of the entire building, in a little hut out the back. It felt very Spinal Tap walking to and from the stage.

Off I went looking for records again, this time with a very specific purpose. I crossed the city by train, managing to somehow lose my ticket midway through the journey. Just as I was tossing up my options of either A) explaining my predicament to a station worker, hoping they’d take pity on an idiot tourist and let me out or B) hopping the turnstile and legging it, I realised that the Stockholm metro only scans your ticket on the way in and just lets you out automatically the other end, so it was all to the good. I was heading for The Trash Palace, which I had been told by my mate Tom Ellis, who runs Static Shock Records and its attendant Weekend, had the most impressive selection of punk records he’d ever seen, and knowing Tom that was not an empty claim. Truly it was a magnificent shop, the noisy stuff, which in many shops is just thrown together in one big bin marked “ROCK/METAL/PUNK” was meticulously organised by subgenre and country of origin, a whole section of Danish hardcore, doom metal clearly delineated from sludge-metal. And yes, as Tom said, on the wall some of the rarest classic punk records you could ever hope to see. Of course, some legendary Swedish numbers like Anti-Cimex’s Victims of a Bomb Raid and Shitlickers, but also European slammers like the 83 EP Afri Cani by Underage, which pushes Wretched’s Finira Mai in my opinion for the title of greatest Italian hardcore record, or a couple of lovely looking Black Flag singles. Sadly, or maybe fortunately, all these were way outside my price range but still very cool to see. I left with a modern repress comp of Totalitar’s singles.

Back at the venue we met Feels, from LA, who would be accompanying us on the final four dates of our tour. They were about a week into their own European tour behind their new LP Post-Earth. I wasn’t familiar with them but their set, a mix of hard-rocking garage that would break into more tender melodic turns, sharper Wire-ish moments and wild hardcore sections that almost sounded Bad Brainsy was great and we were excited that we’d get to see them another three times.

We stayed in a hotel ten minutes from the venue which was part of a sports stadium, and the window of our room looked out onto a concourse dominated by O’Leary’s, a Swedish chain that describes itself as ‘en autentisk sportbar från Boston’. Yes, it was a Scandinavian take on an Irish-American Boston bar. It’s always extremely weird to see another culture’s stereotype-laden take on an aspect of your own (I’ve encountered the same thing curiously entering ‘English pubs’ in Texas). We were tempted to have a drink there just for the experience but it looked like they were just closing up. The bar, however, did have a massive billboard screen which played a rolling advert for itself and the other businesses in the complex twenty-four-seven, luckily the curtains of our room were thick enough to block out the light.