Stage One complete as we set sail east to the continent. Base Camp Brighton truly got us match fit in a rip roaring fashion! Primeval Soup stepped up at the last minute to open proceedings in glorious technicolor getting the Cowley Club rowdy for the Bristol invasion of The Migraines, Public Order Act and ourselves. A great gig to kick off tour and you can always rely on the Brighton crew to provide a warm welcome and a hearty meal!
After a late night and shockingly early start we headed for the white cliffs of Dover. The ferry amusements failed to amuse us due to a faulty Time Crisis 2 pink gun which misfired, leaving us to our own devices in the bar. We picked up our trusty and rather swanky hired Lancia and divided our forces as the car headed to Lille to pick up half The Rebel Spell and the van ploughed on the long drive to Amsterdam.
We met up with old friends Baps & Bassie at the ADM and heard inspiring stories of action and fun, these lot are always busy and as for our new friend Adam he to is everything good about Dutch squatters! We then got stuck in, in the kitchen and had a delicious hot soup with The Rebel Spell and friends accompanied by some YouTube jukebox gems only interrupted by some disturbing footage from Warsaw of a squat under fascist attack. Our love and solidarity go to the squatters who stood solid and successfully defended the squat.
We left for the first gig at the Valreep squatted social centre in central Amsterdam surrounded by “urban regeneration”, read gentrification but again standing strong in the face of it all. The first gig was a stormer, both The Rebel Spell and resident Rebel Time dj Phil smashed it, unfortunately about the same time the van window was smashed. In possibly the most bungling robbery ever passports and money were left whilst Richy’s toothbrush got nabbed. Rubbish robbers! Some had an early visit to the copshop for insurance purposes where they were treated to a fine display of “police and anger management” by Bassie.
Back at the venue there was a bonding session on the kick bag with locals as the dance floor got going to a local troublestarter. Then Phil lost the Spanner football and received the first yellow card of the tour. “What do you mean your not climbing over the razor wire to get the ball?!” It was clearly time to head for bed so back to the ADM for an earlyish night.
Em, Pete & Bassie had an early start heading to the local scrapyards looking for a new window whilst everyone else had a lovely lie in and a bit more loving with the gorgeous ADM attack dogs – we’ve never felt safer! Massive respect and love to the early morning crew for sorting the van out! The van posse got their first pull and we have a winner as Nick was bang on with Tuesday afternoon for our first pull by local cops in the Spanner sweepstakes!
Next up was a long drive to Hamburg where we were met by an amazing dinner and friendly people at the Drucker. This is part of a squatted block which includes twelve houses as well as the venue/social centre. It’s in the heart of the financial district and is a clear middle finger salute to the so called custodians of the German economy and the displacement of working class communities which we see everywhere. One of the squatters explained that they manoeuvered around the so called “Berlin Line”, which is a pledge by the authorities to evict any new squat within 24 hours. Ha. 4 years later they’re still here…
In a developing pattern “Super Girl & Romantic Boys” got us in the mood for our first ever gig in Germany. After our Spanner disclaimer (“spaner” in German means ‘peeping tom’) and making it clear that we are not, in fact, the Spanner jazz punks (as appeared on the poster!) we seemed to make a good impression and there was visible movement on the dance floor not least instigated by the Toronto Wobblies Dance Faktion. It was great to meet up with so many old friends, some for the whole tour and others for just one night and we give a salute to the folk from Braindead who just couldn’t leave the dance floor as the cheesy pop kicked in.
We saw TRS had a few moves as well and were agreed that this tour was meant to be. Then the mob moved onto the Jolly Roger St Pauli pub, possibly the most stickered up pub we’ve ever seen and of course there were some additions from Spanner and the Bristol Rovers Snowboarding Club! Our hosts taught us an important phrase – “Ganz Hamburg. Hast die polizei”.
We began the day with a good stomp around Hamburg and the obligatory visit to the mighty Millerntor St. Pauli stadium and shop. Jaws to the floor at the extent of the St Pauli branding – everything from a chopping board to a sky box. Phil narrowly escaped replacing our lost Spanner ball as we showed mercy in the face of overpriced footballs, resisting the power of the brand! Next stop was the Rota Flora, another huge, longstanding squat under threat of eviction. It was closed but we marveled at their DIY built skate park. We then headed back for breakfast … and a bit more bread, which was as hardcore as the punks and politics round here. After a last round of stickering we divided our forces with the van heading to Potsdam and the car going forth to Kreuzberg for some revolutionary shopping. We were treated to some quality Californian punk courtesy of ”Trousers” from TRS, which kept us going along with chocolate and cough sweets. Alas, the plans were shelved as it got too late so we did the sensible thing and headed straight for Potsdam and the impressive Black Fleck.
The Black Fleck is a top DIY venue and the collective house is an amazing space. An exemplary human chain shifted the gear in, showing the crew was working solidly as one already! Especially after a long day of travelling, the dinner was an early contender for meal of the tour; stuffed peppers with rice and a sauce from vegan heaven! After dinner a breakaway group went to size up the local opportunities for post revolutionary accommodation / pond hockey stadium in the grounds of a local stately home, refining reconnaissance skills and keeping it naughty.
Special guests for the night were Ben’s nephews who took the place by storm with an impromptu drum session, showing Nick a thing or two. Emiliano was in the thick of the pit, berating his uncle for swearing too much and complaining “Your guitar is too loud and all I can hear is Blah blah blah!” Outrage! Shortly afterwards he got his first crowd surf. While he was stirring things up his little brother Gabriel fell asleep by the speakers. Not quite the effect we were looking for and possibly the first time we’ve sent someone to sleep at a gig! We packed them off with a poster of their first punk gig, a CD and a promise of Spanner Tshirts to come…
TRS tore it up and there was mass approval as we finally persuaded them to play “A world turned upside down” with mob singalong. Birthday boy Gordon, the promoter, and top geezer, was angling for dancefloor champ, especially as the disco tunes kicked in. The dancefloor action was out of control. Em put paid to Spanner breakdancing with the first of many smashed bottles that night.
We loaded gear upstairs and a fatal error and first yellow (nearly red) card ensued. Ben was in the doghouse as he managed to lock Nick, Richy, Erin and himself the wrong side of the door at a critical moment, as the tune of the night began; “Bukiet R” by Super Girl and Romantic Boys. We made the best of it with a stairway dancefloor and then found a way round back to the dance, but too late! Ben only just managed to avoid an early bath by getting the bar to play “Respectable” by Mel and Kim, at Richy’s stern request. However, there was disgruntlement as the bar refused to play 99 red balloons by Nina, stating “She is like the devil to me!”. We didn’t take it any further but we did take the party up to the kitchen!
Best breakfast of tour and massive thanks to our hosts. Nick’s getaway driving got us past appalled looks from christmas market staff to the anarcho freeshop and book store where we stocked up on some much needed clean(ish) clothes and Erin had one of her famous, anytime, anyplace, naps. It’s known as “Doing an Erin”. Next was a proper long, caffeinated drive to Dresden and the AZ Conni. This is a well organised social centre that was “swapped” for one of the squats. They run a kindergarten and a youth club as well as a lot of the usual social centre tick list of activities. This is the first place we came across the “Anti-deutsche” politics. WTF?! Israeli flags on the antifa logo?! We’re not convinced at all and from what we understand it smacks of the politics of guilt. It has certainly provoked some interesting discussions in the movement, though, as well as a whole lot of diversionary infighting and shit it seems.
The venue was quality and the gig was a fundraiser for the AZ Conni. We had to play early to a not very full room, and couldn’t resist asking the 4 or so gig goers “Good evening Dresden, are you ready to rock?!” Thankfully, it filled out a bit and got going pretty well. TRS had some techy issues but shone through anyway. Pretty boy Nick did the business on the merch stall and sales rocketted. Then it got hectic as the second half began – as luck would have it, a stonker of a drum n bass night! Richy, Nick and Ben teamed up with TRS’s dancefloor dynamo and demi-god, Elliot to form the TRS/Spanner dance crew. We got what we wanted and there was some uncontrollable throwing of shapes all night until the great falafel hunt began at 5am. We didn’t get what we wanted and dry buns from the train station was not a triumphant end to an otherwise top night!
Richy woke up checking his options for re-entry into the UK having lost his passport at some point in the frenzy since Amsterdam. We roused the crew for another stonking breakfast before another long drive to Giessen, everyone was focusing hard not to nod of at the wheel as the fatigue from a nights bebopping kicked in. Rebel Time Phil’s soundtrack, along with German motorway coffee helped keep us on the right side of the road and not in the proverbial ditch!
If there was a top trumps of Euro Squats the AK44 would be a popular card, especially for those punks of a train spotting disposition (ie. Eastfield – your legend lives on strong!). We were playing with a Swiss band called “Defused”, lovable punks with all the trimmings who found themselves in a Spanner/TRS sandwich. There were snacks, noodles, table football and sofa sprawling aplenty as the tour tiredness kicked in. The gig was good. TRS showed off their backstage banter skills with the undisputed champ “Trousers” one to watch as the giggling and storytelling lulled everyone to sleep. The afterparty was not on the cards tonight.
We started the day in much the same way as everyday on this tour, munching through various breaded delicacies and pates, whistling the tune “Is it enough, is the bread enough?” courtesy of TRS. We had an unmissable photo opportunity in the mid afternoon sunlight in front of a spanner in the works mural before heading to Dusseldorf for the final gig. A self service restaurant attempt was thwarted but then so was our “hanger” as we were forced to pay up.
We arrived at the Hinterhof, a top venue hired from the left party (it won’t last!). We had an emotional last supper with TRS and the crew and we carefully assembled the gear for the final hurrah. Cables/Cords were wiggled and drums adjusted with wrenches as our bodies were not the only things feeling the strain. We found one of our favourite stickers on the fridge in the bar, and had lots of good chats with very solid people and Fortuna fans waiting for their overnight bus to Sunday’s game against Erzgebirge. We were ambushed and roundly demolished on the table football by local champions, but could take pride in one of the best spread infoshop tables of the tour.
We gave it our all for our last gig, and had a proper moment as the mob took the stage for a hearty chorus of “Punk as Fuck!”. Powerful! Our unplanned version of “A World Turned Upside Down” however didn’t go so well, with Richy’s predictions proving scarily accurate and his stepping aside and noncompliance entirely justified! It seemed like a good idea at the time, still it didn’t encourage TRS to do it properly and we had one of our most giggle inducing gigs of the tour. An unnamed Spanner member (no prizes for guessing who!) did a sabotage job on the TRS set in a moment of over exuberance taking out mic stands and bass cables in one hit. After the show we did a short radio interview with TRS and Punkrockers-radio.de before a whole lot of hugging, chatting, plotting and most importantly some frantic dancing together with the crew. We bid farewell to old and new friends, and headed for a local football hooligans house for a few hours kip before the long drive West.
“Why do all the punks here have to live on the top floor?” – Rebel Time Phil
The home run started early, and was helped along with regular stops for the Wasabi Challenge, a nifty substitute for caffeine burnout. We made good progress across the Low Countries but still managed to miss the ferry, mainly due to the UK Border Force but in a good part down to a bit of good ol’ ‘fashioned Spanner traditional tardiness. Richy used his boyish charm to get through with no passport, Pete smiled nicely when they realised his passport was out of date, Em blagged us onto a late ferry at no extra cost and Phil prepared for his first cross channel boat ride.
We were all pleased to get back late Sunday night in Bristol, exhausted but with lots of good memories, plans and bruises! We had an amazing lack of technical issues this tour and all the gigs were storming. A massive thanks to Marta and Carlos for some late night techno fuelled screenprinting sessions and great Tshirts, to everyone at Rebel Time Records, The Rebel Spell, last minute tour buddies and solid crew Vanja, Joe & Jameson and all the promoters who looked after us so well. Even Phil!!! Can we have our ball back please?! We’ll see you all soon and we’ll be back!