8 July 2010

day 363- * FESTIVAL STORIES * 3 - Drugstore x The Levellers and the rest of the known World 
We have always taken pride in the fact that despite the boiling cauldron of passionate arguments, tears and heartache at the core of Drugstore's carousel, we hardly ever let that spill beyond the confines of our own personal enclave, and most people who were in contact with us will remember a friendly, funny, super-professional, easy-going, charming bunch.
That is not to say, though, that every one of us in the band had, on occasion, behaved in such ridiculous manner, that did not represent the way we were for pretty much the majority of the time. But, more often than not in life, it's the rare awful incidents that go down in history and get stuck on you forever.
This is a tale about pride and professionalism, as seen through the eyes of a very drunken miss monteiro.
I have a simple but effective breakdown system alert, that works pretty much like a set of traffic-lights: 1- GREEN: I will mention it very nicely (like: can you please try not to be late, as it's inconsiderate and unprofessional blah blah blah), 2- YELLOW: is an upgrade from green, when the importance of a request is emphasised, 3- RED: that's when the 'for fuck's sake' appears within the sentence (like: 'for Fuck's sake, just don't be late again, as this is getting ridiculous and it's totally unprofessional etc etc).
Beyond RED, I no longer know how to cope or reason with the situation. More often than not, at this stage, I'll either get the eraser/knife out and give up on that person, or worst, I'll just make a scene and cry and say things I don't really mean to. What would you do? How do you guys cope with situations like that?
And of all the things that make me turn purple-blue with anger, it is shabbiness, lack of professionalism, not doing something to the very best of your ability, that is sure to light up my fuse.
Before we go into our horrible tale, I need to make a point that Drugstore had the most amazing, hard-working and adorable crew ever. We worked with the same sound engineer Dan, roadie Bambino and TM Stevo for many, many years, stretching over a decade of non-stop touring. There was a huge amount of love and respect between us. They were great guys and we were family. But in the following tale, you will see how a drunken, frustrated monteiro would spare no angels.
- To the tale:
I cannot recall the year, or where in Europe this Festival took place. Was it Austria or Germany? Poland or Sweden? I just can't remember.
We've been touring around and for the last 3 gigs the bass-guitar went dead half-way through the set. It was probably to do with my own lack of finesse and playing it like a feral cat on heat.
The crew had tried to fix it, but by the 3rd time it happened, I probably included the dreaded 'for fuck's sake' in the sentence, so we hit this Festival in Europe with a hint of nervousness in the air.
The trip got off to a terrible start, the promoter picked both Drugstore and the Levellers at the airport. The Levellers were a sombre, large group, taking up most of the seats in the bus. They were like a micro-travelling-village/community: dog on string, babies on back, stove, tie-dye pots, just like we imagine they would be.
We sat at the back, a small unit of 8 - suntanned, drinking whiskey, thinking we looked dead-cool.
Bus stops at the 5-star HiltonPlatz, and just as we're all getting off, promoter turns to us and says: 'Sorry guys, no rooms left at the HiltonPlatz, got another nice place booked for you.'
Hummm. Don't like the sound of that, and just as I suspected we drove away from the city center, into the motorway and half-an-hour later into a half-abandoned carpark, et Voila!:
Wilkomen to El ShittoLodge.
You know the places? No reception, no mini-bar, just a dreadful car-park, where sad-looking underpaid chambermaids sit outside long dirty corridors smoking and planning how to get a visa. Where the memory of the previous occupant is still fresh with the surprise hair under the pillow or the used tampax in the grubby loo bin.
You see, we never moaned about accommodation, we would ordinarily have laughed about it, but the promoter made the cardinal sin of letting us know that the Levellers were being treated way better. Bad move.
I was the last one to get out of the bus, stood at the deserted car-park and traffic-warden like, raised my arm and shouted:
'Stop - stop everyone.'
They came over, band, crew, promoter. I said: 'Ok, the Levellers are playing the Rock Stage, right? Drugstore are playing the Indie Stage, right? What's the matter with you - don't you like indie music?'
Promoter laughed, but I did not smile back.
Emergency calls were made, and as if by magic, rooms were now available at the HiltonPlatz. It was just the thought that the Levellers were probably not even gonna use their 5-star toiletries that got to me, and us, man, we would have killed for a decent shower-cap and a free mini-bottle of anything smelling vaguely decent.
The Festival was quite a big deal, as big as Reading - the whole thing was gonna go live on National Radio, equivalent of your BBC Radio 1 - so I was absolutely adamant that the bass guitar had to work properly.
We got onstage, big crowd of indie kids, gig was going fine. I'm aware we're live on Radio, so making sure I'm not swearing. Everything going according to plan, but just as I've drunk the best part of the bottle of local red vino - and we're playing one of the rockier tracks - yes, you guessed it right, Bass guitar goes dead:
d e a d.
Something came over me - I just started shouting at the mic:
'Oh For fuck's sake, for fuck's sake, you fuckin kidding me?! How am I fuckin supposed to play my stupid fucking songs, play my fuckin idiotic bass lines if my stupid fuckin bass-guitar dont fuckin work? HOW?! - Fuckinghell Fuckinshit Fuckingcrap Fucking unprofessional bastards... arrrghhhhh'
I went on and on and on, you get the idea.
I then smashed the bass-guitar up.
Believe me, I'm a petite mademoiselle, it's not easy to smash a guitar up, it's bloody hard work. I then kicked the mic stand, kicked the monitors and stood in front of the bass amp, crying.
The audience, band, crew - everything stopped - there was an eerie silence - no one spoke a word.
I then made the 'f off' sign to band, crew, audience, everyone and stormed off-stage, red-faced and in a flood of tears.
What I later came to know was that the radio station went off-air, 1st-time in their history. You see, what happens with those Festivals transmissions is this: they set everything up, they listen to a couple of songs, adjust levels, then go off to the kitchen and make a nice cup of tea. That's precisely what happened, they were all chilling out, when after a minute or two of my mad-rant, someone spotted what was happening and stormed into the staff canteen: 'Quick, quick, no music, Drugstore gonne crazy, swearing, bad swearing, put cd on, put cd on, NOW!' Apparently there was a lull of a minute, a long time in radio, when the station went dead, just like my bass, there followed by that classic announcement: 'Unfortunately due to some technical difficulties, we're no longer able to transmit Drugstore live, and now some nice music from the Cardigans...'
Funnier still, and I only found out about this when we got together for the Dingwalls reunion last September, and Mike told me that when the whole thing kicked-off he stood by the side of the stage and overheard this Festival security guard, shouting in his walkie-talkie:
'Attention, attention, she's coming back, I repeat: she's not done yet, I repeat: she's coming back onstage - attention, attention!'
(pause- I'm now hurting with so much laughter, my face hurts, this is too funny...)
What happened was that I did indeed went back onstage, not to destroy anything else, but to get my cigarettes and whatever was left of the red wine, patzos!
By that point, the sleeper-bus that was to take us back to our triumphant UK return and imminent Reading Festival appearance had turned up. I locked myself in the back boudoir and spent the whole evening crying, just like a little girl.
Next morning, I need to say this, both myself and our crew were desperate to apologise to each other, take the blame, but there was no need, stuff happens and we just very quickly decided to move forward, buy a new bass-guitar and agreed that in not too distant future, we would surely laugh it all off.
That was an essential quality we shared - no mountain too big to climb, no well deep enough to fall into - we were smart enough to grasp the bigger picture straight away, and move forward very quickly.
And as we were moving forward, away from the Festival site and back to England, hard to believe, but through the tinted glass of the bus, the crew spotted a guy proudly walking 'round the Festival site with the broken neck of my bass-guitar, but whether he was a Drugstore fan holding priceless relic, or a Levellers fan collecting fuel for his stove, we shall never know. And that brings an end to the Festival Stories' Season.

1 comment:

Mister Superglider said...

cool story, never underestimate the demonical swearing power radiating from a bass guitar... :)