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souvaris tour diary

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.

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