Saturday, September 06, 2008

Saturday, September 6th, 2008:
Eventful gigs in Helsingborg and Bjuv

What I think:

After coming back from holiday (US/CAN: vacation), I had a few gigs lined up, so I was kept busy with rehearsals.

I was to play at an IKEA party in Helsingborg with Suckerbucket on the Thursday, September 28th (with a guest appearance for a couple of duets with Twisted Systems - the other IKEA band here in Helsingborg).

I also had a couple of gigs with CSI: Helsingborg in the tiny town of Bjuv; one as part of the festival, and one at a restaurant/bar which is located right in the middle of where the festival was taking place.

On the Thursday evening
Twisted Systems were first to take to the stage, and they did a great job. They're all good musicians, and are pretty tight.

Here's a photo (Left to right: Boy, Boy, Girl, Boy, Girl):
I think they're actually the better band, but they had to go on first, as Sven (our lead guitarist) was just coming back from a business trip in Stockholm (doesn't sound very Rock 'n Roll, does it?), and couldn't make it early enough for us to open.

But eventually Sven turned up, and before long we were all tuned up and ready to rock. Yay.

The set was going pretty well.
Here's a rather unflattering photo of the set going pretty well:
I was really getting into it; having a great time. During the guitar solo on "Hard To Handle", I even hopped off the stage to dance around a bit. Loads of fun..

But then disaster struck. When I went to hop back onto the stage, my foot didn't quite land flat on it; it kind of hit the edge.

Crack. Oops. Ouch. Agony.

I'd done something to my right foot. But I managed to hobble back onto the stage, and continued the set.

I'm not sure if this was taken before of after the big snap!
Marcus, our bassist, kept saying that we should stop playing (bless him), as I kept whispering to him that I was getting these intermittent waves of nausea, but I was determined to carry on.

So we carried on until the bitter end. I think we went over quite well, but I was in a bit of a world of my own by that point, so I couldn't be sure.

Luckily, Claudia (the singer from Twisted Systems) managed to find me some pain killers, and my girlfriend was there to get me to the hospital.

I know I've got only myself to blame (I was a wee bit tipsy, of course), but there's one thing that I believe was another contributing factor:

At this party, they were selling beer and wine, both for 35 Kronor each (about US$5 / £3 / €3.70). Normally, I find that four beers is a good amount to have before going on stage; I lose any nervous edge I may have, I'm feeling confident and energetic, and I'm nowhere near drunk enough to screw up.

So I had a beer. Then I had another. By the third one, I realised that I wasn't really feeling much, so I checked the bottle: 3.5%. I was drinking piss-weak beer!

I found this quite annoying, because when I have a beer, I have certain expectations of what that beer will do. And it wasn't happening. So I decided to go for the wine instead... Look at it this way: for three quid, they were offering a coice between 3.5% beer or 12% wine. Yes, of course the quantities were different (you weren't getting half a litre of wine), but the alcoholic proportions per volume were way off.

Anyway, needless to say, I went onto the wine. And perhaps in a bigger way than I would have done if I'd have realised from the start that the beer was crap. So, while I'm by no means making excuses or blaming anyone else for my folly, it's all their bloody fault.

So.... My girlfriend brought me to the hospital. Because it was fairly early on a Thursday night, it didn't take too long to get seen. The doctor felt my foot in different places; some hurt, some didn't so much, and I was able to wiggle my toes, so she established that I had broken a few small bones in my foot. She said that I should rest it a bit, but try to keep putting some weight on it, if possible.

They wrapped a bandage around it, and sent me on my merry way.

On Friday morning, I was in pain. My foot was swollen, and there was lots of weird bruising (which, I was later told, is normal). The bruising is still there as I write this; mostly on my toes, for some reason.

My girlfriend stopped by the hospital on her way home from work to get some crutches for me. I had been told that I should try to put some weight on my foot, but this was proving impossible, and I had a gig to get to.

The CSI: Helsingborg team picked me up at about 6 p.m. (SWE: 18:00), and we went to our rehearsal space to pick up our equipment. I sat outside (drinking proper beer) while they heaved everything onto the trailer.

Bjuv is about a 20-minute drive from Helsingborg (with a trailer). When we got there, a couple of the guys went and found me a bar stool to use on stage, as there was no way I'd be able to stand for the whole performance

CSI: Helsingborg was supposed to start at 8:00 (20:00), but the band before us took their time, so we didn't actually start on time. But there was a good atmosphere...

Here's CSI: Bengt, CSI: Me, and CSI: Per
And here's CSI: Nils, CSI: Bengt, And CSI: Me
Bjuv is the home of Findus Frozen Foods, and they usually have a Miss Pea contest. Last year, I asked the question: When Miss Pea is crowned, do we actually call her "Miss Pea", or are we expected to use the more formal "Your Royal Pea-ness". I asked again this year, and again this year, no one got it. Bjuv is not exactly a bustling cosmopolitan metropolis, so English is not such a big thing there.

Bjuv does have some quirky and fun people though. I was thrilled and amazed to see our Number One Fan from last year there. He was the old guy (our only dancer, for the most part) in the blue cowboy hat with the nicely coordinated socks in his sandals. See photos here and here.
And there he was this year as well! Brilliant!
Sorry about the blurry photo; he was boogying far too much to get a decent shot. Cool effect on his companion though, don't you think?
As you can see, he'd swapped his cowboy hat for a baseball cap, and he was wearing proper shoes as well. I must say, it looked much better. Took years off him.

This year, we also had a few younger fans who were hanging out by the stage. My girlfriend snapped this little cutie for us:

We had a great show, everyone was happy, blah-blah-blah.

Afterwards, I sat with a few friends who'd come to the show, and got down to some (more) beers. There was a good friendly vibe all round.

At one point, someone from our entourage suddently pointed to a table behind me, where a couple of ladies were dancing on a table, doing a bit of striptease thing. Oh, dear.

Again, sorry about the blurry images; it was a bit dark, and these two were gyrating rather frantically:
Yep, those Bjuvians know how to have a good time.

On Saturday night, we were to provide the music for Bjuv's Restaurang Hörnan (The Corner Restaurant), from 7:00 p.m. to 1:00 a.m. (19:00-01:00). This meant that we'd perform five sets over the course of the evening, and have my iPod running a specially-prepared playlist in between (the preparation of which was how I spent my Saturday afternoon).

It was rather a strange set-up, actually. They had a wooden deck/terrace outside the restaurant, over which they'd made a kind of tent out of white tarpaulin stuff. At one end of this tented terrace, they had a sideways-parked trailer, with tarpaulin and lights on a structure they'd attached to it. That was the stage.

Here's CSI: Bengt setting up, with CSI: Nils in the background:
Here's one of the guys setting stuff up on the "stage":

And here's one of me not helping them with all this:
OK, this gig was really fun. Obviously the crowd changed throughout the evening, and I had to make several announcements about us not doing requests.

Having said this, there was one sweet girl who came up and asked if we could play some kind of birthday song for her sister's boyfriend who'd just turned 21. So we made an exception and attempted "Birthday" by The Beatles, which we'd never tried before. The one verse we managed was OK, and everyone was happy.

There were a few people I knew there, and a Blackfoot Indian harmonica player, "Ironman" (who'd played with very famous people like Gordon Lightfoot and James Taylor) came up and accompanied us on a couple of numbers. Good stuff.

Oh, and at one point, during applause between songs, a young lady sitting near the front made some kind of gesture I didn't really catch at first. Initially, I thought she was trying to indicate that she wanted a cigarette. Or a beer. It was only after I actually asked her if she wanted a cigarette or a beer that I realised that she was actually offering me something. It dawned on me that I was being offered something that a White House intern might offer a mid-90's American President.

That was a first. And a pretty interesting one at that.
It was a very good evening; loads of fun, free pizza and beer, and we got paid 5,000 Kronor between us. Yay!

I got home at stupid o'clock in the morning, and woke up in agony. My foot was sore, and my arms and shoulders were aching from the crutches; it had never occurred to me that they were such a workout.
And I couldn't speak.

I'd never lost my voice before, and it was a weird feeling. Later in the evening, I could just about squeak a bit (much to my girlfriend's amusement - oh yes, there were indeed many moments of sheer hilarity. Bitch), but it wasn't until Tuesday that I had any semblance of my former self.
Now, about a week later, my voice has fully recovered, my upper torso isn't aching anymore, and I'm able to walk using one crutch. Thanks to my great friend (The Yank), I also have some decent pain killers (something that's very difficult to get in Sweden).
Would I do it all again? Well, losing my voice for a day or so wasn't such a big deal. I'm not so sure about the breaking of the foot. I think that if places are going to sell beer and wine at the same price, the beer should be of a strength that one would expect to find in bars and not your local supermarket. This should never happen, and it's time that the Swedish government did something about it. That's what I think.