The trip to Berlin

Hasse Gäfvert | August 1996

Sator before the showAs you all propably know we decided not to do any gigs during -96 and work on our new album instead. But in late July our friends in the German punk band Die Toten Hosen invited us for a support job at a show of theirs, in Berlin on August 10th. We did of course accept, who could say no thanks to play in front of 22 000 people? But there was one one major problem – time! Chips was in another part of the world producing a Swedish band called The Mutts. Kent was working as a producer for Smash Hit Wonders – an other excellent local pop group. Micke – no one had seen him for awile and I (Hasse) was working on this web site. After a few telephone calls it turned out that we could only reherse for two days. Normally that's plenty of time but now it was 11 months since we last set foot in the rehersal room. Shortly after that we set the dates for practice, "MTV USA" called and wanted a video shot with us for a "The Germs special" that they planned to broadcast during the autumn. And of course we didn't have a video for the song that we recorded to the tribute album for the The Germs so one of the rehersal days had to be booked for that. Another problem was the non-existing budget so we had to do the video ourselves. The video was successfully shot by our fan-club president "Jonte" – he managed to drive 600 kilometers, learn how to use the equipment and shoot the video in 12 hours... how about that folks. What a hero!!!!

As soon a we saw the rear end of Jonte's car disappear in to the sunset we ran down to the sewers (our rehersal room) and started to rehearse as our lives depended on it. Belive it or not it was a blast, we had so much fun doing it that we hung out there for hours playing old material that we definitely not were gonna perform in Berlin. So filled with confidence we went home to pack our bags and get some sleep before leaving for the airport.

07.15 That was the time we were supposed to meet and get the gear out of the sewers
07.25 That's the time when the first lads showed up
07.30 The taxis arrived and still no sign of Chips and our new roadie that we hired for this ocassion
07.45 We called Chips and the roadie to wake them up (they were not sleeping together – we had to call two different numbers)
08.00 Chips arrived but still no sign of the roadie
08.15 We're now late as hell, the flight leaves at 09.00 and still no sign of our roadie
08.25 We left without the roadie
08.26 The taxi driver spotted a funny looking caracter running down the street with his arms full of luggage and sweat poring down his face – our roadie!
08.50 We arrived at the airport
08.55 Everything was checked in and we ran to our gate
09.00 Take off. Believe me, that was a close call

After a short visit at the 5 star hotel (those Hosen boys sure know how to enjoy life) we left for the arena and as usual nobody had bothered to find out what type of stage it was. I thought it must be some kind of fotball field but Chips said it's called "Waldbühne" which means forest stage so maybe it could be some old outdoor theatre or something. It sure was. It was the biggest f***ing amphitheater that I ever seen. The audience stands were more than 100 meters high so the only thing you cold see from the stage was a massive wall of concrete. The construction itself was scary enough and the thought of seeing it filled with people was horrifying. Micke summed it up pretty good when he looked around and said –"This is not for real, let's go and get a beer."

After checking the stage we met up with the main attraction of the show, Die Toten Hosen. As usual they were totally cool about everything and invited us to enjoy all the good stuff back stage. It is definitely not normal to be treated that way when you are a support band but those guys never turned into the rock stars that major big selling bands mostly do. No primadonnas allowed – okay some extravaganza, at least compared to us but no luxurious overkill. No cut-glass chandeliers and silver plates in the dressing room. The only thing out of the ordinary we could find were some table tennis equipment. Yeah!!!! Table tennis kicks ass. Micke's asian style with a lot of spinning serves totally disarmed the Hosen boys so they gave up after a few games. No hard feelings though – free drinks for the winners.

The soundcheck was delayed by some technical problems and that left us with two choices – soundcheck in front of the audience or no soundcheck at all. We chose the first. What a weird feeling, everytime somebody hit a cord the crowd went wild, but thanks to our wonderful crew it was done in a very short time.

The doors opened at 16.00 (in the middle of our soundcheck) and we were scheduled at 19.00. That left us with a 3 hour wait, with other words plenty of time to get nervous. Not only because it was our first gig in 9 months but also because the size of the crowd (22 000 people). Chips and Kent never get that high strung, me and Micke on the other hand... I went to the bathroom about 19 times. An hour before the show some old friends from Berlin showed up for a chat. That helped me come in contact with planet earth again and get the nerves under control again (thank you Sacha).

We started to walk towards the stage10 minutes before the show. In the distance you could hear the roar of the crowd – talk about "Golgata" – the thoughts that went through my head during that walk. –"Everybody out there is definitely hardcore 'Hosen' fans, right? They paid a lot of money for their tickets, they have been squeezed together in the burning hot sunshine for at least 3 hours, all they wanna do is see Die Toten Hosen show, get out of the arena and go to a cooler place, right? What is gonna happen when they find out that there is a support band? We're gonna get killed!!!!"

Surprise, surprise... after a few songs we had most of the crowd rocking. The most we were expecting was some polite applause betwen the songs, but those guys were actually dancing and having a blast. After our 40 minute set we left the stage with the feeling that it was too short. Normaly 20–30 minutes is quite enough when you're a support band but this time it felt like we could have played on forever.

Hasse with UweA few beers later we went back to the stage area to check out how the Hosen boys were doing. I swear it was the most amazing show I've ever seen. Imagine 22.000 German maniacs jumpin' around and singin' the same chorus at the same time! Totally breathtakin', it looked like a human avalanche coming your way. The band played for almost 3 hours but the crowd just couldn't get enough. My favourite part of the show was when one of the road crew guys came on stage dessed up as a 300 lb Elvis look-a-like and sang "Love me tender" (good show Uwe).

The after party soon got too crowded so we left for some Berlin clubs instead. Some of the guys from Die Toten Hosen showed up as well, I guess the people at the after party was too busy with the free drinks to even notice that their hosts had left.

The day after I woke up with a terrible headache and could not go back to sleep again so I went down to the breakfast room to check out what they had on the menu. It was a big buffet that contained all that you could wish for so I had champagne and pickled cheese. A brilliant start of the day (and very nutritious as well I guess). When the other guys woke up (5 hours later) we went to a really good restaurant – "The Pow Wow" – for lunch and after that to the airport.

It was a really intense weekend and I can't wait for the next time we get invited.



Thats all folks,
Hasse