The Swede life
I stumble into a truckstop bathroom, it’s Luxembourg: 5am.
They’ve got me trained, the Germans, to fumble for .70 euro every time I need to answer the call.
And there’s been plenty of close calls at the WC turnstile, brother, as I pat every pocket and go through backpack, desperately searching for suitable coinage, clenching orifice tight against the threat of messy disaster.
But it’s a rich country, this Luxembourg, as the luxury of a toilet and sink is free!
And soon I am brushing my teeth next to a portly Belgian trucker, he naked from waist up and lathering his furry body at the sink.
His attention shifts from his underarms inversely reflected in the mirror to my bleary eyes and he gives me a sly wink.
We’ve shared this same dawn stretch of road and both have a long day ahead of us.
Brussels Zaventem airport at 8am.
It’s a bittersweet goodbye to Frank ‘le Tank, as fine a gent and handler as we’ve met over here.
We’ve bonded these last few days, and the long stretches of road allow for the ease of brotherhood that allows for both tearful confession and competitive farting, the true payoff of traveling in a box.
We’re through security with an hour to spare, and it’s time to consider the Belgian version of sausage for breakfast.
We change flights in Copenhagen, and our heads are swimming at the currency change when we hit the lounge bar.
Euros can be used, yes, but change given in Danish Krone.
Shall we exchange some Euros at the desk, since they use these Kronen in Sweden, right?
Well no, as they use a Swedish Krona, worth slightly less.
Alf’s delirium tremors start to kick in as I thrust handfuls of dollars and euros and pounds at the bemused bartender, all the while pointing at the taps and making the universal drinky-drinky sign.
Listen pal, all we want is a goddamn pint of beer, not a lesson on global economics.
Next time we vow to get paid in only Krugerrand and hollow point bullets, the only currencies that know no border!
Touchdown Göteborg, and this is where the tourbook gets a little hazy.
Benny the booker only gives us a few cryptic notes about venue and hotel, and we see a festival poster that baffles us:
There’s little info about transportation and, well, what the hell we’re doing here—but there is a cheerful driver waiting for us at the gate with our names on chalkboard, and soon we are rolling through a beautiful countryside in a whispery quiet Volvo efficiency van.
And soon we are checked into the swanky Scandic Crown, and the hospitality and kindness of the en-blazered reception staff baffles us–what’s the catch?
It feels, for lack of a better term, really expensive here.
But the promoters have handled every single thing, and we’re soon in cheerful blonde bedrooms that are ripped straight out of an Ikea catalog.
A catnap and it’s back to the lobby and another smiling, impeccably groomed driver.
They take guitars out of our hands and hand us water bottles for the drive to the venue along the lovely evening streets.
We think perhaps we died on that last bumpy flight out of Copenhagen and we’re experiencing that Twilight Zone episode where the dead hood gets everything he wants without question.
We meet up with TSOL, and they are all fresh and chipper as this is their tour start date.
It’s a quiet backstage and even quieter onstage, as they have a 100db sound limit—in the club!!
I finally get to meet up with our internet pal Pete, maybe the only guy here who knows who we are!
We don’t know what to expect, what with our loopy lack of sleep, the library-hush of the place, the bizareness of us getting onto the tiny stage.
But guess what? It turns out to be a rockin night, we do an encore, and they call out for more, but it is a tight schedule and this place is nothing but on time!
Jack come out in his latest breezy summer ensemble from Olvera Street, and the TSOL fellas rip it up for their night one:
We have time for the usual laughs and drinks with the locals.
The polite chaps come up and tell us the show was great, struggling with the Nordic reserve they admit to–
really, I am very excited right now! they tell us with straight faces.
And soon it is back into another van, with another cheerful, prompt driver, who lets us know his replacement will be back in 90 minutes.
There is a brief debate on sleep or power through, but soon enough it is back in a van, back to the airport.
The tiny Scandinavian Air mini jet is struggling for liftoff, with all of TSOL and CH3 aboard, not a man under six foot one, only a couple of us admitting to being under the 200lb mark.
We hurdle back towards Brussels, where it’s going to be a tight touchdown and 90 minute drive out to Ieper for a 12:40–pm!!!! —–downbeat.
And as we skid across the fourth tarmac in 18 hours, Anthony’s luggage rests comfortably back in Copenhagen, refusing to go on any further.