Friday 9 April: Athus, Belgium
After checking out of our rooms and making a quick visit to the
local boulangerie for breakfast, we soon got on l'Autoroute and
set about driving to the legendary province of Luxembourg to see
some sights. A few short hours later, we found ourselves wandering
around a fairly drab city, wondering if there was anything worth
getting fussed about in Luxembourg. Cue three hours of snide comments
about the place, tempered only by indefinite gratitude at the fact
that we were no longer paying over £3 a pint for beer. Plus,
there was a guy who regularly blew his nose like Coltrane blew
a sax, so we managed to keep ourselves entertained.
Then it was back in the van to cross the border once more, passing
through Luxembourg's highlights on the way, in the form of some
beautiful rolling hills and forests. We shortly found ourselves
in the middle of Athus, an apparently one-street town in Belgium,
at a venue that had been visited by our previous gigmates 90
Day Men the week before, and would find itself hosting
friendly acquaintances The Unit Ama, This
Ain't Vegas, and Brown Owl but a week
later. Small world, eh? By this point, we were all once again on
the point of collapsing from lack of nourishment, so it was with
infinite gratitude that we set about devouring a fantastic vegan
meal provided by our genial host Cedric, who also sported an admirably
deadpan approach to sarcasm that instantly ingratiated him unto
our hearts. It was just as well too, in the face of interesting
approaches to competence by the soundmen as we tried to set to
soundcheck for a good hour, hampered only by the dismal failure
of the PA to work at all. Thankfully, after a good deal of teeth-gnashing,
things got sorted and we got away to discover the joys of buying
Belgian beer in its domestic country for ridiculously cheap prices.
Shortly thereafter, as the other discovered the even greater joys
of a crate of complementary beer, Dan and myself barricaded ourselves
behind the merch stall to read and watch the other bands performing
that night: Half Asleep and Tom Sweetlove.
Yes, that's Tom Sweetlove. Awesome name for a band, which we couldn't
seem to remember properly, and so which henceforth was referred
to as 'Billy Lovewhistle', 'Fred Poofpants', 'Johnny Sweetcheeks'
and 'Tom Strangelove'. They were lovely boys though, which made
things harder when we realised that here was another band who obviously
liked Explosions In The Sky a little too much, despite their attempts
to 'escape' post-rock, and I don't know, sound more like a lo-fi
Massive Attack, or something. Anyway, there was a fairly decent
crowd of mildly boorish, boozy Belgians who had taken the trouble
to turn up and watch these locals play, who then promptly left
as soon as they finished playing, to our minor dismay. This, along
with a certain nervousness created by the imbibing of some serious
amounts of alcohol in the previous couple of hours, somehow wound
up the players collectively to some strange new heights, and Souvaris
promptly played our best set in literally years. During ¡be
he that lives to telephonic only!, I swear I can hear someone
screaming along with the melody, only to turn around and find out
it's Simmo going nuts as he plays the keyboards. We are all grinning
like loons again.
A fair few of the locals returned once we started making noise
too, so we got to rock out to a good sixty or so people that were
scarily enthusiastic: Dan recorded a couple of songs to Dictaphone,
and the noise of applause, hollering and whistling at the end of
each is deafening.
Cue a ruckus at the end of our show, as people storm the merch
stall and demand more autographs. We are dazed and happy, but slightly
confused. Each of us gets trapped and we find ourselves desperately
trying to converse in broken English, French and Franglais to some
very nice people indeed. I get the cream of the crop: some vintage
gear nut, who demands to know what amp I use, the answer to which
he uses as an excuse to launching into intimately detailed descriptions
of his own setup... I let him the hook though, when he describes
Boris' AbsoluteGo as his favourite album of all time.
Simmo gets accosted by a girl from Islington who is on holiday
in the area and decided to turn up to see a British band quite
randomly, and Aaron gets the barmaid trying to persuade him to
give her a drumstick as a memento. He has none of it, which is
just as well,
because we don't have any spare sticks with us.
Quite a few celebratory drinks later, we eventually heave ourselves
to Cedric's parents' house, and fail miserably to keep quiet in
our tired stupor, especially when we're clattering about with heavy
hard cases for the Beans. By this point, Aaron has lost the ability
to speak due to a fatal combination of wine and tequila, and the
rest of us find ourselves approaching the same point rapidly...
well, except for Simmo, who is doing a fine job of being a drunkard
patronising our straightedge host. Vive le British boorishness!
Thankfully, as mentioned before, Cedric has a wicked sense of humour.
After retiring to sleeping bags on a bare wooden floor, we find
ourselves freezing our arses off and therefore totally unable to
sleep, whilst Simmo whispers sweet nothings about hypothermia in
my ear. He soon pussies out and joins our lucky roadies in a double
bed - we figured they deserved some reward for their heroic efforts
to date. Unfortunately, all they got was Simmo.