Berlin, Hamburg

Continuing the day previously described…

In Berlin a handful of us stopped by a cafe which Sibsi has nicknamed his living room since he is there so often. Sitting in there with Johnny, Sam, Chris, and Simon revealed to me that we are pretty much annoying American visitors. I don’t think we were actually irritating anyone in the room, but we could have been if we were a little bit louder. We were trying to decode menu items and joking around. Which is fine, but I’ve been trying to keep in mind that I’m a visitor here ever since.

That evening, we had our first performance at a place called Hotel Bar. I still haven’t seen Dashan, Neil, or HiKool at this point. Herding around the 6 of us was difficult enough, and I was getting nervous about having to deal with 9. We were late for the soundcheck a couple of minutes, but so was everyone who worked at the bar.

The employees got there, some very nice folks. Bartender Julia, soundguy David. They helped us out with setting up, and giving us drinks. I had heard that European clubs are much better about treating their performers, and from that one performance it was evident that it is very true. Everyone was given four drink tickets, we had soundcheck before the show (rather than a “line check”), we had a guaranteed cut from the bar, and David was fine with letting us start and end when we wanted with no pressure.

When we started setting up, no one was in the bar. But then Neil, Dashan and HiKool showed up. So good to see everyone. After we soundchecked, I noticed I had been so focused on that, that I didn’t see a bunch of people walk in. HiKool played first. He was so nervous to play, but he is so together. And hearing songs that I hadn’t heard live for months was really a throwback to August. The crowd was big, at least 50 people. The WoWz were also really great, and I became thrilled to have the opportunity to see them every night. Simon and Sam are both great guitarists, and the three of them have really got their act down solid. The Huggabroomstik show was really fun, possibly out of control in the best way.

After the show we hung out in the bar for a while, and spoke with familiar and new people: Jules, Christine, Alisa and Frauke (HiKool’s sister). Then everyone but Sibsi and I went to HiKool’s apartment; Sibsi and I stayed at his place. We got some soup at a turkish restaurant, and then slept. I hadn’t slept since monday morning, and at 4am wedenesday I began a 10 hour slumber.

Waking at 2pm was a bit depressing, only because I haven’t been waking up so late, and I really wanted to explore Berlin. But I figure I’ll have time for that when I get back, so it’s alright. I met Sibsi and Dashan at the cafe and had a coffee and talked with them for a bit. Dashan and I walked around for a little bit, got a snack and just talked. He hasn’t been sleeping much, and was a bit stressed out because of it. We got him back to Sibsi’s to take a nap, and I decided to do an errand.

As a project for the plane trip, I decided I would make a 12 page zine over the approximately 12 hour trip. I went to a copy shop and did the layout, made a master copy, and had 20 of them made. Then I went back to Sibsi’s, but I couldn’t figure out how to get into the apartment. Sibsi gave me the keys, and I was unlocking the outer gate, but I couldn’t push it open. So I decided I’d go to the coffee shop and relax and read and write for a bit.

Yet another reminder of my visitor status – I walk into the Cafe and ask the server “Could I have a coffee with no milk?” The man is smily and round, in a way that could only be described as jolly. He was confused, and had me repeat myself, and try different languages. He obviously spoke english though. He was laughing, and was happy so I didn’t offend him or anything, but I felt rude for just walking in and speaking English. Sibsi later told me that teasing English speakers is sort of a hobby for him, the cafe owner. I felt less guilty, and more aware of my behavior.

After reading I said goodbye to the jolly man, and went to Sibsi’s, where I figured out how to get in. Dashan and I decided we would go see The WoWz play (tonight’s show was booked without Huggabroomstik for some reason). I realized I forgot to pay for my coffee! Feeling more foolish, we went back and I paid. “That’s fine, that’s fine,” I was told, and my tip was refused.

I could write a ton just about little differences in culture and objects here. Here are some small things: tipping is acceptable, but not expected. Chris offended someone by giving too large a tip. Prices are always listed tax included. Sometimes there are people sitting outside of bathrooms: they are the people that clean the bathrooms, and they do want tips. There is much more concern here for energy/water conservation. In apartment buildings, stairwells aren’t lit 24 hours: there are little buttons which you press to give you light for about 20 seconds. Toilets aren’t big bowls filled with water, and many of them have on/off switches so you can control how much water is used to flush. Driving around, we see windfarms all over (driving with cheese on bread I think we only saw one in all of the US we drove through). All the cities we have been to have great accomodations for bicycles (lanes, parking places). Of course, more and more, but I’ll move on.

We went to the WoWz show, and it was really great of course. I wish we could have played there as well, but didn’t mind too much. That night we went to sleep knowing that the next morning we were to head to Hamburg to play our first show after a drive. The plan was to depart at 10am.

I woke up around 9:15 and called Sibsi (I was at his place, he wasn’t there). He said the plan had changed, they weren’t yet able to get the van because they needed HiKool to sign some papers first. We soon enough got the van, which is huge! It seats nine not uncomfortably, with more than enough space for all our packs and gear. After collecting everybody, we were off onto the German highways.

The van ride itself wasn’t very eventful (luckily). Some were nervous about the driving, but generally everyone was just a bit tired. We got into Hamburg, and pulled up to the club, Hasenschaukel. We unloaded, and again, everybody was really helpful to us. Before the show we wandered down the strip, which was just a bunch of sex shops and strip joints. The shows went well, ended at 11pm. We hung out and then headed over to Hannah and Romy’s house, where we stayed. They are friends of Hi Kools and totally silly. They had a friend named “Sassy”. They all hung out for a bit, then went to a bar. I stayed with Neil and we talked and played guitar. Eventually everyone came back from the bar and was really loud. That’s when I began to head to bed.

The next morning we had breakfast in Hamburg, in a less sexualized part of town. Then we were off to the Netherlands.

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