Report from HHB & Devastated Balkan Tour in May 2012 by Luka.
Day 1 Budapest
This was our second time on the road with our young friends Devastated. The first day was Budapest and we were pretty screwed, because Andrej was working in Koper until 14h. So we were in hurry from the start. Most of us were already in Ljubljana and ready to go. The trip to Budapest was OK and we were there on time just before everything started. I was really looking forward to play that night because there were another three bands playing. But most of all I was excited to see Rivers Run Dry with their new line up. Well, it turned out that there were another two bands who jumped in as a last minute show. It was a long night so I’ll sum it up as short as I can.
Tyrell’s Owl were the first band who played. It was a kind of neo-crust really similar to Ekkaia but not that good. Then Devastated played… holy shit! New songs are outrageous, the kids know how to play and they are more metal than ever! Then it was time for Icaros and they were also some kind of neocrust. Then Rivers Run Dry played and it was really cool. The new songs have a lot of potential; think of Catharsis mixed with some progressive sludge stuff. We played. Then Sick Time from France. They were nice but I already O.D. on distortion so I just checked a few songs. Then You Suck! played. They are from Italy and they play fast HC and I wasn’t impressed. The place where the gig was held was an old factory turned into a huge rehearsal room, so the bad part was that the promoter had to pay for each band that was playing. They also had a vegan buffet and they served some delicious snacks. When the night was over we packed everything and we also took some equipment from the Rivers Run Dry guys. Our van was packed just with our gear and it was really hard to find space for their stuff, but that’s not all, we were supposed to take with us Laci, Elliott and a friend of them. It was a funny ride.
Day 2 Timişoara
The next morning we chilled a bit and went for a walk. Laci was our tourist guide, hehe. The trip to Timişoara was one of the shortest ones. So we took it easy and everything went smooth. We had the address of Ionut in Timişoara and me and Jaka knew how the neighborhood looks like because we slept there with Melete. Ionut and his friend Negru (or something like that, I know that his name means “the black one”) served us some food and then we went to DIY Atelier. DIY Atelier is a rad place where the crew is organizing shows. It is a small rehearsal room/infoshop. Again I was excited because Livia Sura played with us. Be sure to check Livia Sura they are amazing, think of some experimental black metal with anarchist stance. It was Sunday so there weren’t that many people. Still it was fun to play and we had fun dancing on the Devastated set!
Day 3 Bucharest
The ride to Bucharest was one of the longest. We spent more than 8 hours in the van. We got lost a couple of times. GPS didn’t work properly. It was hot and we were exhausted. The place of the show was Underworld and we already have been there with HHB. Again, I was excited because this time we were sharing stage with Void Forger. Another promising band from Romania. They played first and everyone was surprised how good they are. They were also really nice folks. Devastated nailed it again! When we played the crowd went ape shit! This was the best gig we ever played so far. After the gig we went to a place that was a semi squat. That means that some buildings were squatted and for some they were paying rent. They had anarchist library, a small bar and a nice garden, also some ateliers. That part of the night was super nice. We were sitting around in the garden, around the fire and were smoking blunt after blunt after blunt… haha. No, seriously it was a great night, lots of rad folks, nice talks, good cheap wine.
Day 4 Varna
We were supposed to play in Istanbul, but the show was cancelled, so we decided to go in Bulgaria and swim in the Black Sea. We decided to go to Varna! The GPS wasn’t working again so we improvised with an old map and our instincts. The road took us to a crazy border crossing. First we went on a raft… yes it was a raft, not a ferry. It looked scary! The trip was long but it was worth it! It was a nice sunny day and and the water was cold. We were the only people who went swimming and the folks there were looking at us like we were completely nuts. Well, I think it is not common to see 9 dudes with long hair and dreads jumping in the water and screaming, hahah.
So we were having fun on the beach and then two dudes came close to us and began staring at us. We said hello, they said hello and asked us if we are a band. We said yes, we are a band, and they asked us if we wanna play a show in a rock bar. Honestly, we were super sceptical about it, but then they took us to the bar situated on the beach and everything there was really professional. Well, you can’t decline a (literally) last minute gig, so we played. It was fun. People showed up. We even have got a few free beers. The whole show was recorded with video-camera and streamed live online on the website of the club (and the guys organizing the gig in Sofia on the next day were watching our whole set from Varna live on the internet!). After the gig me and Alen went on a mission to find a spot on the beach where we can set a fire and cook food, and also where we can sleep. That night was really nice. Nine crusties around a campfire, making food, drinking warm beer, the sound of the waves crashing on the sand beach. A true post apocalyptic scenario. Ha!
Day 5 Sofia
We woke up early in the morning and left for Sofia. We had another long ride in front of us. I was pretty psyched to visit Sofia for a first time and we were also sharing the stage with UHL, a French anarchist black metal band. The venue where we played was really professional. Mitko and Angel were doing the show for us. They brought lots of delicious food, but the best thing were the raw vegan sweet balls, insanely yummy!
We went for a walk to see the city centre. The night was long, six bands played. We were playing last which is usually a bummer because everyone leaves. But in this case the kids were staying and they went nuts during our set. There were circle pits. After the gig we went to Mitko’s place together with all the French dudes. Some of us went to sleep and the others went for a nights walk around Sofia.
Day 6 Skopje
The ride to Skopje wasn’t a long one so we went to see more stuff in the city centre. Mitko and his girlfriend took us to the Asian part of town. We went for a Turkish coffee and some of us did some shopping. We even got our van clamped, but it was no drama since it costs only 5€ to un-clamp the van. After that little accident we drove to Skopje. This was our first border crossing out of EU. We got ATA carnet so we weren’t afraid but I was stressed out as usual. The border crossing was OK, no major problems. Skopje is one of my favorite cities on the Balkans, so I was excited to be back in Skopje and to hang out with the dudes from FxPxOx! Vasko took us to the supermarket because me and Jaka wanted to buy vegan cheese. We did so and each of us got 7.5 kg of vegan cheese! Vegan pizza to the next level for a few months, FTW!
The gig started early and it was in La Kaňa, in the Asian part of town. The gig was OK. After that we went for a walk, went to see the huge statue of Alexander the Great. The city hall is spending shit loads of money on state buildings, but the citizens live in poverty. It got a decent impact on us seeing all those money spent on worthless huge buildings.
Day 7 Zrenjanin
Another long trip plus the border, but everything went smooth. Zrenjanin has a rad crew of folks. I was there with Gods And Queens and everyone was excited to see me again. It was a bit weird but I was happy to hang out with really great folks who are giving everything for the scene, even when they don’t have much. After two years I met again Luka from Kikinda. He is running a distro and providing punk records for the scene. He is also working at Cimos on a CNC machine. He is working a job of two people and his paycheck is circa 200€. Here in Koper you are probably paid twice much more. His stories made me feel really bad and it just made me realized that my life isn’t shitty at all. We shared stage with Spark from Hungary. They are super nice dudes! I met them two years ago when they played in Pivka and Ljubljana. They play fast HC and somehow they remind me of Comadre. Devastated killed it again! We were in Serbia so we got drunk with rakia. Dujc, Dado, Fofo and Marko were out all the night and went to sleep around 8 am.
Day 8 Sarajevo
Fucking hell of a ride! 7 hours of crazy roads. I’ve lost my nerves on the border crossing. The customers on both sides didn’t know how to deal with the ATA carnet. Finally we came to Sarajevo. The full moon was rising above the mountains and the minarets on the horizon were so epic. Sarajevo is my favorite city on the Balkans, so I was excited again… you see I get easily excited. Tarik did the show for us. He is one of my dearest friends so I was happy to see him again. He is running a noise label called Mrtvaja! We came late and there was a misunderstanding… The show was supposed to start at 21h but we were told that is OK if it starts at 22h, so some of us went to eat something. The owner was pretty pissed off because everything started so late. Tarik was doing the show with another friend and because they both are busy doing other things I helped them with the doors. When Devastated played there were lots of young kids, but when we played everyone went home, because the trams stop running at 23h. Anyway, we were already exhausted so we sucked. After the gig we went to party in a pub where the hipsters are hanging out. I got totally drunk so I danced the whole night. Haha. Everyone was fucked, except Jaka, because he is Straight Edge, so he was driving the van to Visoko where Tarik lives and where we were sleeping.
Day 9 The way home
Visoko is the place in Bosnia where you can see the Bosnian pyramids! We went back to Sarajevo and did some tourist stuff like buying gifts, eating burek and čevapi. The way home was a huge pain in the ass, because the police was on strike and there was a never ending line of cars to cross the border. It took us 4 hours to enter Croatia. Then everything went smooth and we were back home, back to our boring lives.
Luka // HHB