Friday, November 20, 2009

Friday, November 20th, 2009:
Beer and Loathing
in Helsingborg and Ängelholm
A Tale of Two Telegrafens

What I think:

So, it's official: Ängelholm is my least favourite place in Sweden. Actually, I take that back; it's my least favourite place on Earth. In fact, if some form of intelligent life was ever discovered on some distant planet, somewhere in the outer realms of the known universe, and that civilisation (US/CAN: civilization) had one town that everyone considered really crap, I would most likely prefer going there than to Ängelholm.

Pause. Rewind. Pause. Play...

My band, CSI: Helsingborg, had a couple of pub gigs lined up a while ago. One was to be at Telegrafen in Helsingborg on October 30th, and the other at a different, unrelated, Telegrafen in a town called Ängelholm the following week, on November 6th. Cool.

I go to the one in Helsingborg fairly regularly, and we'd actually played there before as well (go here and scroll down, if you want to read about it). We'd had a great show there, so we were very much looking forward to this one (even though the "stage" area is about the size of a disabled persons' toilet cubicle).

I hopped on the train from Malmö (where I now live) to Helsingborg the night before the gig, and set about doing my usual bout of vandalising (US/CAN: vandalizing) the city with CSI: Helsingborg crime scene tape. I cordoned off much of the southern part of the city, bits of the park near the library, and a few places near Telegrafen in the north.

Here's a bit just outside 7-Eleven off Södergatan:

The next day, we had a visit from Miss Kitten from Gothenburg (SWE: Göteborg) who came down to see the show and to stay with us in Malmö for the weekend.

I met her at the station in Helsingborg in the afternoon, and we toddled off to the Charles Dickens pub to get the festivities underway for the evening. The beer went down nicely-yum-thanks.

My girlfriend turned up a bit later to take Miss Kitten to her friend's little pre-party, and I walked to the rehearsal space to contribute to The CSI: Helsingborg Loading of The Gear process. This didn't take long, as Telegrafen has an in-house PA with a mixer and speakers. So it was really just instruments, an amp, and a few other bits. We didn't need to hire a trailer for this gig. But it did mean that two of us would have to walk.

Our rehearsal space has a little fridge, which we try to keep stocked with beer, so I brought one of these and took a nice leisurely stroll to the venue with bassist CSI: Per.

The gig was good, but there weren't as many people there as last time. Miss Kitten had graciously agreed to take a few photos for us.
Here's one with me holding a beer:
Here's one in which Miss Kitten had run out of beer:
And here's one in which Miss Kitten had replenished her beer:
There are more photos, but I don't want to bore you, as most of the others don't contain beer.

So anyway, yeah, it was a good night, and a great weekend.

The next Friday, not wishing to break with a winning tradition, I went to the Charles Dickens pub for a beer or two, then went to meet the CSI team at CSI: HQ, Helsingborg. We loaded the gear and headed to the Telegrafen pub in Ängelholm.

The layout of the place was a bit special. When you walk in the door, to your left there are a couple of tables, and to your right, a few paces ahead, there's a small staircase leading up to the main bar area. The bar is straight ahead, and there are a few tables on either side. Before the bar, and on the left, there's another small staircase leading up to another area with a few more tables. In the far left corner of this area, there's yet another small staircase leading up to an area with the blackjack table on the right, and a small table and a sofa on the left. Past the table and sofa is a small balcony. This is the stage.

I know that was a bit hard to follow but, basically, the balcony is above the entrance area. If you walk in the front door and look up and to your right, you'll see the balcony; the balcony faces the first flight of stairs, and the bar.

Now this "stage" is bloody tiny. It makes Helsingborg's Telegrafen's stage area look like Wembley Stadium. OK, slight exaggeration; maybe Wembley Arena. There was about 60 cm (about two feet) of space between my microphone stand and the bass drum behind me, and guitarist CSI: Nils would have to stand sideways throughout the gig, to avoid hitting me in the head.

We unloaded and set up the CSI equipment, had a beer, then had a beer with some food, and got rocking with our first set.

We were told to keep our most upbeat set (with our most "known" songs) for the third set, as this would be when a lot of people will have come in for a drink before heading off elsewhere. Fair enough, and I thought it was a good call by the manager guy. He seemed to have a good idea of what he was doing.

After our first set (which we felt was pretty damn good), I went down to get us a round. I went to the bar and ordered three beers, only to be told by the barmaid that she was told not to serve us any more drinks. No beer? This is where the "loathing" bit comes in.

I marched straight back upstairs, told the guys that we've been refused beer, and announced that I was going out for a smoke to calm down, after which I would speak to the manager guy. If we weren't to be served any more beer, they would not be served any more rock 'n' roll, dammit. So there.

When I got back from my smoking/fuming stroll (which was actually more like a swearing, pacing, swaggering strut), I went back in and up to the bar. The guy was there. When he came up to me, I ordered three beers.

"Yep, no problem," he said, and began pouring. After he served me, I asked him what the hell the business with the barmaid was about. He tried to explain, in some bizarre and roundabout way, that it was a misunderstanding.

I tried, a few times, to ask why the barmaid would have refused to serve me unless she'd been instructed to, but to no avail. The guy was just rambling. I think he was confusing himself nearly as much as he was confusing me. In my opinion, he's just a weird guy.

It's not like they were free; we were actually paying for our beer.

Anyway, we continued with our show. After another set, the guy asked us if we would mind sitting in the kitchen area, so the customers wouldn't see us drinking. Umm... This is a pub. It looked to me that everyone else in the pub was drinking. Why would they mind the band having drinks between sets? I'd been out for a smoke when this episode took place but, needless to say, we did not sit in the kitchen.

After our third set (there were to be four), we were told that, because it was rather quiet, we could pack up and go, and that we'd still get paid for the whole gig. So we had another beer, and did just that.

Three of us waited in the car, while CSI: Per was collecting our money. He took quite a while because, apparently, the guy was lecturing him on our choice of songs, and how it's not very professional to have drinks when you're performing. Perhaps he normally gets Mormon bands in, or something; I don't know.

We won't be playing in Ängelholm again.

Ah Ängelholm. It's actually where Helsingborg's airport is (in the tradition of having a city's airport nowhere near the city itself). I wrote about my adventure of getting to the airport a few years ago here -> .

I looked it up on Wiki, and apparently Ängelholm is most famous for the manufacture of clay cuckoos and ice cream. Uh-huh.

But that's not all it has, oh no. There's also the "UFO-Memorial".

From Wiki:
"The UFO-Memorial Ängelholm memorialises the landing of a UFO, which is said to have taken place on May 18, 1946 and been seen by the Swedish ice hockey player Gösta Carlsson. The memorial consists of a model of the UFO and the landing traces, and is constructed of concrete....

"In the encounter Gösta Carlsson claims to have received recipes for natural remedies. Based on this knowledge he started the pharmaceutical companies Cernelle and Allergon which grew to become a success and made him wealthy. He later founded the first professional ice-hockey club in Sweden — Rögle BK..."

Clay cuckoos, a UFO memorial (on the site where an ex-hockey player got recipes from aliens), an airport that's not serviced by a train station, and a pub that doesn't like its guest bands to have any beer. Oh, and ice cream (that bit's OK - although I don't think I've ever tried - nor would I want to now). That about sums it up.

So, it's official: Ängelholm is my least favourite place in Sweden. Actually, I take that back; it's my least favourite place on Earth. In fact, if some form of intelligent life was ever discovered on some distant planet, somewhere in the outer realms of the known universe, and that civilisation (US/CAN: civilization) had one town that everyone considered really crap, I would most likely prefer going there than to Ängelholm.

I wish the Swedish government would do something about it but, judging from the decisions that they make in this country, I suspect many politicians are from there.

That's what I think.

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Anonymous Skatebambi said...

Classic Base at his best. Faced with adversity he rises to the challenge. Gotta love him.

7:40 pm  
Blogger Miss Kitten said...

Whatever gave the bar manager the idea that drinking in front of customers was unprofessional?

Like you said, the gig was in a friggin' pub. Everyone was drinking. If I were a patron of this bar during the gig I know that I'd find it odd if you weren't drinking between sets. Maybe he thought of the band as his "employees" and thinks it's unprofessional for the any of them (bar staff, etc) to drink in front of customers.

Who the hell knows? Anyway, I thank once again for being such gracious hosts the previous weekend. Wonderful (and a few somewhat fuzzy) memories.

1:26 am  
Blogger Mark Base said...

Mr Skatebambi Flipperandy: Thanks for your challenging love-thoughts...

And Miss Kitten: You are always most welcome, as you are the only other biped that our cat can relate to, besides us. X

1:47 am  
Blogger Michele said...

That is one of the silliest "rules" I've ever heard. Who wants a sober bar band? Sheesh, it's not as if you guys were shooting up during your breaks---it was only beer! That does not sound like a fun pub. I will henceforth avoid traveling to Ängelholm; thank you for the warning.

I've got to get over to Sweden to see CSI sometime!

4:40 pm  
Blogger Unknown said...

What a load of old cobblers. Is they guy who runs that place brain dead? ALL bands that i've worked with (been a few) have a drink before, during and after the show. It's called rock'n'roll. He's clearly an idiot. Liked the mormon point rofl

9:20 pm  
Anonymous meno said...

i Have never seen that before. although I have been there. nice gathering

11:21 am  
Anonymous kishan said...


8:09 pm  

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