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Live Like a Beast, Die Like a Man of Good – Nine Eleven Tour 2012 Report

How I drove Nine Eleven through the Wild East

I had the privilege to join my good friends from Nine Eleven as a roadie/merch guy/driver on their Live Like A Beast Or Die Like A Man Of Good tour in the Autumn of 2012. This tour report was originally published in my blog on irregular intervals during and after the tour. I forgot my camera so the pictures are not mine…

Nine Eleven Tour Fall 2012

18.10.2012 – Paris, France

I arrived in Paris a few days prior to the first show of the tour with Nine Eleven and spent wisely the time with long time friends. I just chilled and didn’t sightsee a lot besides one long walk with my good old friend Guillaume. I should also say the weather was really shitty and didn’t provide me with the right motivation.

I arrived early at Le Cafe de Paris, the venue where the first show of the tour was supposed to take place. I only found the promoter there and we waited patiently for the 9/11 guys to show up. They arrived around 7 pm and I helped them unload the van. The first band to play, Reviver, set up the gear and did a short sound check. They are young guys from the Paris region and I think this was their first show in Paris. They played a blend of modern hardcore reminding me of bands like Carpathian and The Carrier. Next on stage was Bien à toi with their heavy atmospheric instrumental post hardcore/rock. They were good but I didn’t watch a lot of their set as it was very hot in the venue and I decided to go out and spend some time with a few friends I hadn’t seen in a very long time. Life is short so we gotta have fun!!! I missed for the same reasons Union Jack and their ska/punk rhythms. Nine Eleven played last and invaded the stage around 22h 30. They played maybe 40 minutes and everybody in the venue was moshing and having a good time. It was the perfect kick off show of the tour. After the set was finished we all had a break and then we loaded all the gear in the van and went to Julien’s place to take a shower. At around 3 am we left his apartment and took the road to Rendsburg, Germany. It took us more than 10 hours to get there but that’s another story…

19.10.2012 – Rendsburg, Germany

Overnight drive. The distance between the two cities is around 1000 kms and it took us maybe 14 to 15 hours to arrive at our destination. The show was at T-Stube, a really nice venue at the heart of the city. It was in the middle of a big park with a river nearby. Our hosts were really nice and hospitable: they cooked us a delicious vegan ragout with potatoes and salad. Delicious!!! While they were cooking we walked around the city: it was 6 pm and it was already very calm, almost dead… The shops were closed and there were no people on the streets. We ate after 7 pm and a little bit after 9 pm the show started. First played Planner, they sounded like a bad Discipline copy. Their mix of street punk and eurocore (think of Backfire and early Discipline) sung in German was nothing special. They were really nice guys and we even slept at their bassist’s place. Nine Eleven played next as it was getting late and they prefer to play before 10.30 pm. They gave their best and at first look the 40 to 50 people that attended the show liked their music. This was confirmed at the end of the evening at the merch table :) News at 11 went on stage after Nine Eleven and had the difficult task to headline the show. I went to the van to take a nap as I was really sleepy (I had been the co-driver almost all night long and I started feeling the consequences). The band was playing a kind of energetic and melodic punk hardcore. It looks like the audience was having fun while I was resting. At one point I had to wake up and help the dudes to get the backline in the van. At the same time the promoter of the show was trying to figure out where we were going to sleep and a fight broke up between the guy supposed to host us and a girl. Apparently our host to be was some kind of sexist pig (this is what the locals told us, we didn’t understand the argument due to our bad German). At the end we ended up at the house of Planner’s bassist as a last minute plan. We arrived there and it was already 2 am and we had to get up very early the next morning. I went to sleep around 2.30 am.

20.10.2012 – Torun, Poland

We slept for a few hours (maybe 5) and woke up very early. Only the bravest from our small group of people took a shower as the water was cold. I should admit I wasn’t one of them. We left the house around 8 am and took the road to Torun, Poland. It was another day spent driving/traveling: almost 800 km and maybe half of them on the highway. We were all tired from the overnight drive and the time passed by very slowly in between sleeping, jokes and breaks for breakfast/lunch. We arrived at Torun around 6.30 pm. The city is very beautiful, with a river passing through it. We unloaded the backline and the merch and had a nice dinner. Then I just chilled with the guys and we took it easy on a Saturday night. I checked Momma Knows Best from the Czech Republic who played before Nine Eleven. They played metalcore and did a cover of Every Time I Die. Then Nine Eleven took the stage and got the crowd moving. A few drunk dudes pogoed and a few hardcore kids moshed. Then it was time for the headliners of the night, Schizma, to take the stage and deliver their powerful metalcore ala Hatebreed. I was really tired and not in the mood for such a hardcore attack so I just chilled at the merch table. After the show was over we just stayed in the venue to party and went for a snack to a nearby grocery store. I went to bed earlier than the others and they had the pleasure to wake me up when they arrived kind of drunk and in a party mood an hour or two later at the hostel.

21.10.2012 – Warsaw, Poland

I woke up around noon on Sunday morning. One by one the dudes went to take a shower (I did that earlier just because I was the first person to wake up) and we went to eat in a very nice vegetarian restaurant in the city center. We left Torun around 4 pm and arrived just in time for the show in Warsaw. Unfortunately we didn’t have any time to visit the city. We went straight to the venue, unloaded the gear and had some pizza while the 2 local bands were playing. One of them sounded like the early Discipline albums but kinda worse. After the eurocore band came on stage a NYHC band who did a Warzone cover. Next on stage were Momma Knows Best and they delivered again their metalcore while people seemed to enjoy their music. Nine Eleven were headlining the show and closed the evening in beauty! Their played a good set, a lot of energy and even some mosh and side to side moves :) After the show we went to sleep in an apartment in the city center and left very early the next morning.

22.10.2012 – Grodno, Belarus

We left Warsaw around 8 am and headed straight to the border with Belarus. A little bit before the border we stopped in a small town to change our zloties in Euro and buy some breakfast/lunch. We didn’t get a lot of shit at the border but were they taking their time. We passed almost uneventfully (the customs’ officer didn’t even check the back of the van) if we don’t count the time spent there. We needed 3 hours just to pass the border between Poland and Belarus. 20 minutes later we arrived in Grodno. The promoter came to pick us up from the city center (3 big buildings and two statues). The show was maybe 5 minutes away from the center by car. We arrived near a big communist type building and found the show was taking place in a chic restaurant. The personnel moved the tables away and we set up the stage in the middle of the big room. The back stage was fucking cool as it was a private room with a big round table, an aquarium and a huge TV. We had a little bit of food and a tea/coffee and set up the merch in the entrance hall. People were really interested in it but very few of the kids spoke English.

We managed to understand each other somehow :) When there’s a will, there’s a way… Two bands played before Nine Eleven. The first band was playing some kind of crust music and their drummer was the only person singing. They were cool and we saw them also the next day in Minsk. The second band was playing a melodic modern hardcore and I really liked the voice of their singer. He also did the most amazing thing on stage I’ve ever seen: he received a text message in the middle of the song and just read it on his phone while still singing!!! I laughed my ass off! Nine Eleven played in front of maybe 80 to 100 people and everybody was having fun. The people were really into them and got them to sign a lot of posters and even some passports at the end of the show. After the show was over (a dude tried to steal a shirt from Jerome but didn’t manage to do it thanks to the help of one local kid) we packed the van and went to Yulia’s place where we were supposed to spend the night. A hot vegan dinner was waiting for us and we were very pleasantly surprised. After a hot shower and a hot meal I went to bed full and happy! Just like everybody else I guess.

23.10.2012 – Minsk, Belarus

We woke up around noon and had a warm breakfast at Yulia’s apartment. Vince went to take the van from the parking (which was far away from the apartment) and we loaded our personal affairs in it. We left Grodno around 1.30 pm. It took us a little bit more than 4 hours to reach Minsk. The promoter came to pick us up at a metro station near the entrance of the city as our GPS was not working. We went to the venue and found that the show was taking place in a gay bar. That was a fucking awesome place for a hardcore show. We unloaded the van and set up the merch almost immediately as the show kick off was approaching fast. We had some pizzas and started selling merch with Jerome to the Belarus kids. There were 190 paid entries on a Tuesday evening! The venue was packed up and the kids were dancing and having a good time. The first band played mosh core with NYHC elements. The venue was half full and some people started moshing encouraged by the vocalist. When the next band (emotional hardcore trio in the vein of some 90s bands) started playing (bands are very organized in Belarus/Russia and usually take only 10 to 15 minutes to set up their gear in between bands) the venue was already crowded. Next came a metalcore band and the last local band was the crust band we saw in Grodno the previous night. Kids were already moshing and getting amped for the main act. Nine Eleven started their line check and I got hit by some hard moshing kids. The band did their mosh policing speech and started their set. From the first song the kids went berserk and didn’t stop moshing/dancing/singing along, especially for the songs from City of Quartz they knew by heart. An awesome show! When it ended I watched a football game on the giant screen while the guys were taking a rest. We then loaded the van and went to a friend’s place where we had pizza. After dinner I took a shower and went to bed. So did the other guys (except some of them who took a shower in the morning). Showering is very important while touring! One should be happy when having the possibility to take a shower.

24.10.2012 – Riga, Latvia

We woke up very early and after saying goodbye to our hosts took the road to Riga. It was a pretty normal drive: a lot of sleeping, reading, joking and losing around 3 hours at the border. It took us more than 9 hours to get to Riga (I drove the van for the first time after we passed the border) but we still arrived early for the show and after unloading our stuff we had dinner (a very delicious seitan with carrots and mashed potatoes) and went for a walk around the city. The first thing we saw was a pro abortion monument which is not really our thing. Otherwise the city was very beautiful and we had a lot of fun walking and joking around. There was only one band that played before Nine Eleven: some kind of post hardcore/rock thing. I couldn’t really enjoy their music as it was too loud and I just stayed in the other room of the club. The venue was pretty big and there were 3 or 4 different rooms. Then Nine Eleven went on the stage and there were a lot of kids moshing. We met our friend Remy there as he didn’t have enough time to get his Belorussian visa and he missed the two shows there. When the show was over the guys took some rest, we loaded the van, parked it in a secure parking and went to sleep at the hostel nearby. I just took a shower and went to bed while some guys went downstairs for a beer.

25.10.2012 – Pskov, Russia

We left the hostel at 10 am and after a short stop to change our money we started the trip to Russia. After another quick stop for a well earned lunch break at a supermarket near the main road we continued and arrived early in the afternoon at the border between Estonia and Russia. We spent at least 3 hours there. The customs didn’t bother us but they really took their time and did everything very slowly. After the border we headed straight to Pskov and turned around a little bit before we found the venue. Then we unloaded the van as usual and had a small dinner (a few chips + some salad, very little after a whole day in the van). There was only one opening band: Not An Accidental Death who played a tough guy metalcore (think about 90s vegan edge hardcore) with a female vocalist. Their vocalist turned out to be one of the biggest 9/11 fans around and attended also the next two shows. Nine Eleven came on stage next and made every one of the 50ish attendees mosh, stomp or at least headbang. We spent very little time in the club after the show as it turned out that the kids in Russia, just like their counterparts in Belarus, buy some merch before the show and 10 minutes after the last band has finished playing there is no one in the club. So we headed with our full van to our host’s apartment and Richard and me spent the night in the van. It was cold. During the show the rain had turned into snow. It turned out we’ll have the snow accompany us for the next 4 days.

26.10.2012 – St. Petersburg, Russia

We went to the apartment in the morning and took a hot shower. It felt good after the night in the van. We left for St. Petersburg maybe around 11 am because we wanted to have some time for sightseeing. Lena came with us as she was living in St. Petersburg and we had some free space. We arrived around 5 pm in the city and after Remy negotiated with a policeman to go without paying a fine after a U turn in the wrong place we parked in front of the venue and went for a walk around. The center is really amazing and we checked out the Hermitage (from the outside of course), a few churches and just had a good time walking in the streets and melting in the crowd. We were back at the club at 7 pm and unloaded the gear + set it up on stage. The first band made a short sound check while we were having dinner. The show started around 8 and the kids were moshing hard during the first band’s set. They were playing some kind of tough guy mosh hardcore with a lot of break downs. There was even a semi fight during their set when one person was kicked a few times when he felt on the floor. Nine Eleven started and the 50 to 60 kids in the venue moshed hard. This caused Richard to break a fight during one song. The set finished without any other problems and everyone was smiling at the end of the show. We chilled for a bit, loaded the van and went to a super market to buy some pasta and cookies. We cooked the pasta and Remy made a delicious sauce at our hosts’ place. I had dinner, took a shower and went to bed. Two people slept in the van that night.

27.10.2012 – Petrozavodsk, Russia

I think we left St. Petersburg around 10.30 am in the morning as we had a long drive to Petrozavodsk. The distance is only 400 km but the road is not that good + it had snowed during the night. We were stuck for an hour in a traffic jam around 100 km after St. Petersburg. Otherwise the trip to Petrozavodsk was good and with only a handful of breaks as we were late for the get in. At the entrance of the city we stopped to wait for a train to pass by and it was the longest train I’ve ever seen in my life: 4 locomotives and 51 cars. Huuuuuge! After maybe 10 minutes it passed and we were able to enter the city. We found the venue without any problem (fingers in the nose as we love to say) at 7 pm and unloaded the gear at – 5 degrees and with 40 cm of snow on the ground. It was hard and we were all feeling the winter in our bones. There were no opening bands tonight so 9/11 did a short sound check and the show started around 8.30 pm. The 70 kids that came to the show were not disappointed. The band delivered a heavy set and everyone was having a good time. We sold a lot of stuff at the merch table with Jerome. As usual 5 minutes after the show ended there was no one in the club beside us, the promoter (the venue owner/manager) and our friend from the two previous days Lena. I think she was in love with the French guys and was having a hard time to let them leave. We had to load the gear in the van very fast as the venue was transforming in a night club. Afterwards we had dinner and coffee and chilled for a few moments before taking the road. We had decided to have an overnight drive to Vologda because it was too far away and the weather conditions were very bad.

28.10.2012 – Vologda, Russia

The trip to Vologda was really crazy. We were all tired and I was co-driver so I tried hard not to fall asleep (without success I have to admit). It was snowing hard and at one moment we had to leave the main road from Petrozavodsk to St. Petersburg and took a small road in the middle of nowhere. There was enough space cleaned from the machines for only one car but as it was our lucky day we didn’t meet any other cars during the next 3 or 4 hours. It was just us, the snow, the sky and the forest on the two sides of the road – like a fairy tale! Richard was driving very slowly and carefully and we managed to survive. On top of that we couldn’t find an open super market in Petrozavodsk and didn’t buy any food so we were very hungry when we arrived in Vologda around noon. Our GPS was not working (again) and we stopped to check the route in a big mall with free wifi. True punks! We also had lunch, I ate some kind of Russian “pita” which was very greasy and I was really full (and happy of course) afterwards. We hit the local supermarket and met some local punk kids when we were going to the car. They knew the dudes from their previous show there and we stopped to talk with them. Cool. We then headed for the venue which was a nice club/restaurant on the second floor of a building in the city center, big enough to welcome more than 100 kids for the show.

The show was cool. There were 2 or 3 tough guy metalcore beatdown mosh whatever-you-wanna-call-them bands and the kids were moshing hard (the frenchies like to say: “ça pite sec”). A cool pop punk band played just before Nine Eleven and a lot of kids were singing along while some others were stage diving their asses off. Then Nine Eleven went on stage and delivered their sound and power while everybody was dancing/moshing and having fun. No after party, we just loaded the backline as some kind of party was starting in the venue and they kicked us out. We went to sleep in the promoter’s house which was one hour away from Vologda. At least it was on the road to Moscow so one hour less driving for tomorrow. We had some dinner and went to sleep.

29.10.2012 – Moscow, Russia

Of course when presented with an opportunity we were not to miss it – we slept until noon and left for Moscow then. The get in was early and we arrived just on time after taking the motorway and then to my surprise there were no traffic jams when we entered the city. The venue was under the ground with a very small staircase, just near a very big mall and rats running outside. There was no one from the promoters at the club for some time and we unloaded the backline with the help of an old friend of Remy. We then just chilled and waited for the sound check. We got the worst surprise till this moment at dinner time: we got only 16 veggie sausages (we were 8 people) and two breads (maybe 4 leafs of bread per person)… We were quite unsure if we had to laugh or to cry. There was a tough guy band with no bassist and one girl did a featuring on one of their songs. There was another band with mosh hardcore or so tell me my memories + a 90’s emo band afterwards and of course Nine Eleven. As usual in Eastern Europe it was party time during their set in the Russian capital. A lot of moshing, sing alongs, stage dives. Someone jumped on my shoulder and it hurt for at least 3 days afterwards. Hard times! We sold some merch and loaded the backline in the van after everybody else had left. The rats were still around. We went to a nice part of town and stayed at Sergey’s apartment where he cooked us some good old fashioned pasta with tomato sauce. We were happy! Warm food, wifi, hot water and enough place for all of us to sleep comfortably and on top of that no one had to sleep in the van. I took a shower and went to bed after dinner while some of the guys stayed talking for some more time.

30.10.2012 – Moscow, Russia (day off)

The only day off of the tour. Jeff had to take care of some personal affairs and left the flat early. Sergey left for work just after him. We slept till noon, just chilled around and left the flat with Maksim, our host and tour guide for the day, around 2 pm. We met with Jeff at the Red Square, took some pics and took a long walk in the city. We had a big break for lunch at a nice vegetarian restaurant nearby. It started to rain when we had finished our lunch and it wasn’t very nice being outside. We bought some souvenirs and decided to head back to the apartment. We cooked dinner and of course ate it all. We spent the evening joking, watching silly videos on YouTube and chilling (some of us even used the time to talk with their relatives/family/girlfriends on Skype). I went to bed around midnight after a hot shower.

31.10.2012 – Tula, Russia

We had only two hours drive to Tula and half of us decided to sleep till noon. I was part of the other half who woke up at 8 am and went to visit the Kremlin. It was cool and beautiful even though a lot of buildings were closed to the public. There were some nice views of the city too. We enjoyed our trip and were back at the apartment before noon. We had lunch with our sleepy friends and left for Tula around 2 pm. We got kinda lost trying to find the promoter of the show in Tula. It turned out we had to drive maybe 20 km out of the city to the venue. It was a small youth club in the middle of nowhere. As it turned out later luckily for us it was just near a supermarket. We parked the van just in front of the venue and unloaded the backline. Three more bands played this evening but I was too busy to eat with the other guys in the “backstage” room. The promoter gave us a cucumber and two tomatoes, not washed and sliced in big chunks. Not surprisingly we didn’t eat them and went to buy some bread, cheese and some beans and bananas. There were maybe 40 to 50 kids, some really drunken ones too. Welcome to Russia! We managed to have some fun, Nine Eleven played a decent set and we went to the sleeping place. I stayed there only 5 minutes and went to sleep in the van because a lot of people were smoking and I happen to find this gross… Aurelien joined me a little bit later while the others were eating some potatoes and partying hard with the local guys. At one point it seems someone was seen shooting heroin in the toilet but there is no evidence of it :( This was my second night in the van and it was very cold. I managed to survive though and even went to piss early in the morning almost naked. Straight edge power!

01.11.2012 – Kursk, Russia

We left Tula before noon and arrived just on time for the show in Kursk. We searched the venue for quite some time as it was for once not in the city center but in some kind of industrial park/zone. At least it was safe: just near the police station! The usual routine: we unloaded the backline and set up the stage as the promoter wanted someone to make the sound check. Nine Eleven declined and the opening bands did it while we chilled around with no dinner before the show. Hungry us… We chatted with the barman who was speaking French. The show started with maybe 40 to 50 kids and a local folk “singer”. Then there were two hardcore bands that got the crowd in the right mood for Nine Eleven. The French machine delivered the goods once again and the kids were having fun. A lot of circle pits and no stage dives. After the show we loaded our stuff and went to the sleeping place. We cooked something to eat, had dinner and just chatted. I took a shower and went to bed afterwards. Someone slept in the van.

02.11.2012 – Belgorod, Russia

We woke up late (for a change) and took the road to Belgorod (only 80 km) with the folk dude from last night. We arrived very early in the afternoon at the promoter’s apartment and ate all the delicious food he had cooked us. We then just took some rest and left for the venue around 5 pm. It was a bar near the downtown with 2 or 3 security guys, a nice and friendly staff and an old crazy woman who I think was the owner of the place. We put the gear on stage and set up the merch table waiting for the other bands to arrive. Someone did sound check and the show started around 7.30 pm. There were around 70 to 80 people. The first band delivered their brand of punk to their die-hard fans and then the local beatdown heroes took the stage. Unfortunately they didn’t get a lot of reaction from the crowd. The third opening band was from Ukraine (they played also the next day in Kharkiv), modern hardcore with a few melodies here and there. It was time for the French invasion. Nine Eleven were on stage and the kids were restless. A lot of moshing, a few circle pits, Remy was dancing everywhere and Jerome tried to do some back vocals on one song. A perfect ending of Remy’s touring with us as he had to leave the next day for France. Our friend with his acoustic guitar played a few songs while we were packing the gear. All the guys went to the 2nd room of the venue to party hard and dance like crazy on Ska-P while I was figthing my growing intolerance to cigarette smoke. At one point I and Aurelien decided that we wanted to leave and tried to convince the others that it was a good idea. Fast forward almost 2 hours later and we were back at the promoter’s apartment cooking a late night dinner. I ate some pasta with butter and went to sleep after taking a hot shower. Richard slept in the van. What goes on tour stays on tour, right guys?

03.11.2012 – Kharkiv, Ukraine

We woke up before 11 and went to a mall to buy some food and exchange all our money before leaving Russia. We finally left Belgorod after 2 pm and got stopped by the police at the end of the city. Vince negotiated with them and they asked us for one CD to let us go without a fine. We accepted of course and gave them a signed copy of Le reve de Cassande. No problems at the border but we still waited for maybe 2 hours before we entered Ukraine. We arrived in Kharkiv at 6 pm and stopped in the city center to wait for the promoter to come and pick us up. A few guys went to the McDonald’s to take a dump and the promoter arrived in the meantime. We arrived at the venue that was very close, unloaded the backline and set up the stage. We went to a nearby restaurant and had some rice with vegetables (a very small portion). Remy left us just before the start of the show as he had to take a bus to the airport and flight back from Kiev to Paris. The show started and there were 2 local bands one of which had played the previous night in Belgorod. Nine Eleven delivered a good set, the people were into them. We ate some of our food after the show while resting, had a drink at the bar and left the venue. We dropped the promoter near his apartment and took the road to Odessa.

04.11.2012 – Odessa, Ukraine

Overnight drive – the 3rd of the tour. Vince and Richard drove for the most part, the road was very bad. I drove for 2 hours in the morning. I was very tired at one point and Vince took my place while I went to sleep for a little bit. Ukraine is a beautiful country from I what I saw. We arrived in Odessa at 2.30 pm and went for a walk in the city center. The weather was very nice and the Black sea welcomed us with clear blue water that we saw from far away. I really liked the city center and the walk under the sun. We went to eat a pizza as it was still early for the show and we were very hungry. The pizza was good, so was the show! 3 local bands + Nine Eleven, a lot of moshing and pogoing (old school style yo!) in a very cool venue with a very tight timing. A good show and a lot of fun! I even managed to trade a few records with a fellow record label owner. We went for dinner after the show and waited for more than half an hour until almost everybody who was at the show got served their falafel before we got ours. By then we were very hungry and ate them fast. Afterwards we took our host in the van and he showed us the way to his apartment. We got our stuff and went upstairs for a shower while he went with Richard to park the van in a guarded parking. I was ready for bed when they came back. I think I felt asleep around 2 am while some of the guys were still talking or checking their emails.

05.11.2012 – Chisinau, Moldova

We woke up before noon and our host and Vyacheslav (the host for tonight’s show in Moldova) had prepared breakfast. Those of us who were hungry ate, the others just chilled around. We left at noon and changed our money before leaving the city. We passed the border pretty fast and headed to the capital of Moldova – Chisinau. We arrived there early in the evening and it was already dark outside. Luckily with Vyacheslav we didn’t have to search for the venue for once which was very cool. We unloaded our stuff and ate some local kind of croissants, not bad at all. The local band (there was only one playing tonight) did the sound check and the show started around 8 pm. I was on my laptop catching up after a few days with no wi-fi. The local band was the promoter of the show singing and a few young kids playing a mix of SOIA and Terror like hardcore. They got the kids at the show moving around. Nine Eleven went up on stage and had a decent show. A fight almost broke up during their set but Richard and then the promoter did their pit police speech. We stayed at the venue at least for an hour after the show ended, we chilled and talked with some local guys and girls. At one point we loaded the van and went to Vyacheslav’s place where the promoter and some of his friends joined us for dinner. I ate some salad, took a shower and went to sleep. I also took Vyacheslav’s pictures from the show on my hard drive. The local crew was up for a party but we were too tired.

06.11.2012 – Cluj-Napoca, Romania

We had to leave early the next morning as we had a long distance to drive until Cluj Napoca + a border to pass. We managed to pass the border quite uneventfully (just the usual time spent waiting but less than on the previous borders) and we spent the day on the road. Romania is a very beautiful country and the mountains were particularly impressive. I spent the day enjoying the sights from the van’s window or watching a film on my laptop and of course sleeping. We arrived in Cluj at 7.30 pm and waited for Alec to show up at the venue. The Irish club was cool, some of us had a drink and we were speculating about tonight’s show. Vlad arrived first and we set up the gear on the floor. Then Alec arrived and after some greetings we did what we were waiting impatiently for: we had dinner! She had cooked us something nice and we were eating while the local band was doing sound check. We had finished our meals and were back in the venue when the PA broke. We had two options: to go to another venue and maybe play there or go back to Alec’s place. The guys chose the 2nd option because it was getting late and we were very tired after a whole day spent on the road. We went to Alec’s place and met all the local crew there. I took a shower and went to sleep in the van with Jeff. Some guys went out for a drink and apparently the barman tried to rob them but our local friends didn’t let him do it.

07.11.2012 – Bucharest, Romania

I woke up between 7 and 8 am and went to the apartment to piss and get something to eat for breakfast. I had bread and some homemade fruit jelly while the other guys were slowly getting up and ready. We took one of Alec’s friends to drop him in Sibiu and just when we had left Cluj Alec called him that the package we were waiting for has arrived at her apartment. We made a U turn and went back to her place to pick it up and lost almost an hour before we were back on the road to Bucharest. We had to pass through the mountains again and it was very beautiful. Good times I once again spent appreciating the landscape or watching a film on my laptop. If I wasn’t that lazy I could’ve written the tour report then… We arrived at the venue around 6.30 pm and went for a walk around as the promoter wasn’t there yet. The show was in the Underworld, a cool venue in a basement and a bar and hostel on top of it. We slept in the hostel and had an awesome dinner there when the promoter arrived. We then set up the backline and the opening band made a sound check. It was very long and boring for me. At one point the show started and they showed us no mercy with their metalcore assault. There were even two vocalists and one of them seemed to enjoy their performance a lot and jumped around all the time. Nine Eleven played next and the 40 to 50 people in the venue seemed to really like them. It was a nice show and some of the guys stayed to party with the promoter and some random guys and girls. I went to take a shower, check up some news on the internet and sleep.  The party guys arrived very early in the morning, it seems the party went strong for awhile…

08.11.2012 – Sofia, Bulgaria

We left Bucharest around noon. As usual we needed almost 2 hours to wake up and leave the hostel. We arrived fairly early at the border and lost an hour there because we didn’t have a vignette. The border agent wanted to make us pay a fine but V. went to the nearby gas station and bought a vignette. The agent let us go with the words “bandito, bandito”… We laughed hard of course but bought a vignette for Bulgaria straight after the border. There was a traffic jam at 5 pm in Sofia and we arrived kinda late for the get in. Luckily the bands were not using Nine Eleven’s backline so the sound check was done and they were waiting for the doors to open. I helped the dudes unload the backline from the van and went to have a tea with my mom as we had some business questions to discuss. During that time there was some issue with the food that the promoter resolved by buying falafels for the dudes. The band was invited in a local radio and I showed them how to get there and went back to the venue. Unfortunately I missed Noviot Pochetok from Macedonia during this time. I stayed on the merch table and spent some time with my girlfriend. It’s good to be at home! Expectations were good and the people were into them. They are the rising stars of the Bulgarian hardcore scene. Nine Eleven played and didn’t get a big reaction from the audience. A lot of people went out and didn’t stay until the end of their set. I enjoyed the show and helped them clean the stage for the headliners: local heroes Melekh. Their set was one huge sing along stage diving mayhem from start to end. We loaded the van and went to my apartment. I showed the guys where the food was and left them as I went to my girlfriend’s place.

09.11.2012 – Thessaloníki, Greece

I went back home at noon and the guys were just getting up. They were ready at 2 pm and we went to the city center to take a walk. I showed them the basic sights of Sofia, some of them who were hungry again had a falafel and we started the trip to Thessaloníki at 5 pm. Just another 5 hours trip, we were so used to them at that point… We arrived in the university where the show should take place and just searched for the venue. It was a nice squat/bar in a building and we were lucky some punks showed us where it was. We unloaded the backline and I spent some time catching up with Nikos, a bassist of My Turn and a good friend of mine. The other MxT guys arrived later and it was great to see them again. We talked a lot and around midnight someone brought us a very delicious dinner. I ate all of it while the first band was playing their kind of cypress hill influenced hip hop. Not my cup of tea but I guess because I didn’t understand a thing they were saying. I have to admit I didn’t witness any of the next events as I went shamelessly to take a rest in the van and the guys woke me up when they had finished their set. Apparently the PA was not good enough and Nine Eleven played only 4 songs and quit the stage. There were at least 250 people at that moment and a lot of them were there to check them out so they were really frustrated. We went to the promoter’s apartment and some of us had a second dinner while the others took a shower. I went to bed while the guys were discussing the show. Simon slept in the van.

10.11.2012 – Kavala, Greece

Simon woke me up early as he came in from the van. I spent some time on the balcony, some more time inside on my laptop and then the guys started waking up one by one. We just took it easy, had a breakfast and went to the city center in the early afternoon. The weather was perfect for the autumn: sunny and hot (17 to 20 degrees Celsius). It was also perfect for hanging out. We went to the city center, parked the van and walked around. It was a very nice and well deserved break. We met a French couple and they showed us where to buy delicious falafels which we did immediately. Jeff found a “boracha” and was a happy man for the next few days. Vince and Simon bought a balloon as a present for Richard’s birthday. We spent some time at the sea side near the White Tower and left Thessaloníki. It took us only two hours to reach Kavala but then we needed more than 20 minutes just to find the university and the venue. When we were parking we met the promoter of the show arriving with some friends. Maybe 10 minutes later the My Turn dudes showed up too. We loaded the backline in the venue and waited for the sound check to begin. At one point Apostolis told us we will have to pay for our dinner and we decided it would be better to go eat downtown. We walked a little bit, had a very nice pizza of our choice and admired the view of the port and the fortress. We then went up on the hill to the university and were surprised to find only 20 to 30 people there. The show started with a good street punk band. It was getting late and we were all sleepy. I think I felt asleep when My Turn were preparing to start their set. Aurelien slept under the distro table before Nine Eleven were to prepare their gear. They started the show and played 4 or 5 songs to a dead crowd. I was still half sleeping half awake. I got up at the end of Nine Eleven’s set because we had prepared a surprise for Richard: one of the local kids had bought a vegan cake for his birthday. So we had some cake and then loaded the van and left straight for Athens.

11.11.2012 – Athens, Greece

A very long overnight drive, a lot of toll passages and some good sights from the van windows later, we arrived in Athens around noon. We asked one or two people and found our way to the Acropolis. We left the van in a paid parking and went on our sightseeing tour. We managed to enter the Acropolis and went straight to the Parthenon as it was closing in less than 2 hours. It was awesome! A lot of sun, very nice weather (almost 20 degrees), a lot of jokes and some very good places/monuments in front of us. Perfect afternoon! After our visit to the Acropolis we just walked around in downtown Athens, found a place to eat and even bought some pastries (I have to admit I bought 3 while the others had one each!!!). At one point we divided in different groups and I and Jeff went to see the Acropolis at night while the others were taking a rest in the van or nearby. We then had some trouble to get out of the parking and the nearby very narrow streets but Vince managed to do it like a real rally driver :) We went to the venue and chilled. The My Turn dudes showed up and we laughed and talked a little bit. I even watched an Athens football derby on the TV in the nearby bar. The show started and the venue was slowly but surely filling up. AN club is a very big place but it didn’t look empty at all. The people were into the bands and we did our best selling music at this show: more than 15 LPs and 5 CDs!! It was a nice change from all the other places where people were more into the shirts… The show was very good. We went to sleep in one of Apostolis’ friend somewhere near the venue. Someone slept in the van. I took a shower and went to sleep as we had to leave early the next morning.

12.11.2012 – Skopje, Macedonia

We left Athens early in the morning as we had a long drive and a border to pass to go to Skopje. We had a lot of trouble trying to avoid the toll motorway, very unsuccessfully I have to admit. We reached the border in the afternoon and passed it in 20 minutes. We were surprised by that as it is known to be a tough border to pass and a few friends of ours had had troubles there in the past. We were in Macedonia and enjoyed the beauty of the mountains around us during a short period of time before it was dark. We arrived in Skopje and got lost as the GPS was fucked up and just made us drive to the same place again and again. We stopped at a mall in the city center and the promoter of the show came to take us. It turned out the venue was just behind the corner of the street. We parked the van near the back entrance of a local theater and once again loaded the gear on stage. We then went to eat the delicious food our hosts had prepared for us. During our dinner the first two bands did their sound check. We set up the merch table with Jerome and sold some clothes to the local kids (I also bought a cool split 7” from the local distro) while the first band was attacking us with their metal/crust/punk hardcore. Nine Eleven played second and while the people were into them it was a strange show with almost no moshing/pogoing. Next played an emo hardcore band. They were cool and managed to pull out a decent performance for the thinning crowd. We loaded everything in a hurry as the theater was closing and we went to Kumanovo to our sleeping place. It was a very strange house with very strange “rules”. I slept in the cold room and some of us slept in the warm room with our host. Touring is cool!

13.11.2012 – Novi Sad, Serbia

I woke up at maybe 9 am and we got ready to leave in an hour or so. We passed through the city center of Kumanovo, bought some food in a supermarket (I helped identifying the vegan stuff as the Macedonian is very similar to the Bulgarian language) and exchanged the money in Euros. We arrived at the border around noon and passed it in less than 20 minutes. I took the driver’s place later in the afternoon and drove almost until Novi Sad. We arrived in Novi Sad at 6 pm and asked a taxi driver for the way to CK13 (our GPS was not working… again), it appeared we were just around the corner from the venue. We unloaded our stuff and met some of the guys from Reflections Of Internal Rain who were cooking the dinner while waiting for us to show up. We had some very delicious pasta with tomato sauce for dinner that I ate with my Serbian friends as the 9/11 guys were discussing something about their next tour. The show started and we spent some time at the merch table with Jerome. I enjoyed talking with Boyan from the Rebuild collective who had a distro on our right side. Furtive Forest played a surprise set and they were very good. I see why my Bulgarian friends like them so much: they are full of passion and managed to communicate it from the stage. Next were our hosts from ROIR and it’s always a pleasure to see them live. They didn’t disappoint anyone in their home town and played a cool set that we all enjoyed. Nine Eleven headlined and I was to enjoy their music for the last time during this tour. Nice show that ended up at the Crna Ovca (black sheep) community center/bar downtown. I was one of the first people to go back to CK13 where we slept (there is enough space for mattresses at the 2nd floor, above the venue). Stoja woke us the next morning at 9.30 am and we went downstairs for breakfast. Nine Eleven left for Vienna around 11 am and we said our goodbyes. They had 4 more shows to play before going back home in Tours/Le Mans. I spent a few hours with Stoja before catching a bus to Belgrade. Here Djordje, a friend of Boyan from Novi Sad, showed me some sights in the city center and bought me a falafel all the while talking about the city and hardcore. A great host! I had a lot of fun talking with him and walking around. Unfortunately he had to go to work at 6 pm and my train was at 9.50 pm. Almost 4 hours to spend in one of the worst train stations I’ve ever seen in my life. It was long but at around 9 pm the train arrived and I went inside. At least it was hot as outside it was getting colder and colder. I had one companion from Belgrade and we tried to understand each other then I slept for a little bit. I arrived in Sofia at 9 am the next morning and was happy to finally be back home!

This is the story of my first 4 weeks tour. It was hard at times but always fun! I’d definitely do it again whenever the opportunity presents itself!!!

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