An ominous gothic cathedral looms large above us as we stand on the small plaza looking out at the narrow eastern European street below. A jangly rag time melody fills the air. From the steps down to the cobblestone, we view the source: two kids in track suits banging away on an open-air piano curiously placed. A man yells out his window at the kids. I don’t understand Czech, but I assume it was something akin to “Shut the fuck up with that rag time noise. This is Brno, not New Orleans.” We descend the steps and applaud the young men. One of them abruptly quits the keys and stakes out a new career as an acrobat, by pulling a full front flip off the top of the steps. It stops us dead in our tracks. Did that kid just do a fucking flip? Joe seeing his big chance, yells “oh yeah, well czech this out,” and proceeds to stop, drop and roll on the cobblestones. It’s an old-fashioned flip off!
The punks in Brno braved stormy weather and any pretense of a quiet Sunday night and turned out for Night Birds and two solid openers at Kabinet Muz. A comfortable backstage meant a relaxing dinner before doors and a clean, isolated toilet meant the pipe-cleaning trifecta of a poop-pee-wank. The Night Birds hit the stage like a bomb. “Born to Die in fuckin’ Suburbia!” Even on a night where 3/4s of the band claim to be feeling a bit off, they kill it. Brian stomps the stage; Joe shakes back and forth; PJ, lock-kneed, glares at the moshers; Ryan pounds the set along.
We sell a lot of shirts and nearly every person wants to unfurl a shirt of their chosen size in order to eye its measurements and envision themselves in it. A practice I endorse. Nothing worse than an ill-fitting tee that you really want to show-off. Speaking of shirts, the door man has a cool Cloak Dagger tee, a mosher has a sick Germs shirt, the promoter Martin, sports a great Dino-Ju. Clearly the result of eyeing the design and size prior to purchase.
At the end of the night, some dude rolls by on his way out with an erect thumb placed conspicuously on his crouch spouting off god-knows-what as he trots by bow-legged. We all look at each other stone-faced and confused. Michl employs the oft-spoken tour quote “Go home, Wayne.”
Martin scoops us up and stashes us at a reportedly vacant flat that is seemingly occupied and definitely fully furnished. It’s all a little confusing, but we are able to do laundry and shower. Well by shower, I mean awkwardly negotiate an eastern European bathing paradigm. You have a removable shower nozel, but no place to hang it up. You are in a bath tub and there is no shower curtain. Do you stand and risk hosing down the entire bathroom? Do you park yourself on the cold tub and attempt to wash your ass while sitting on it? Do you kneel, squat, or bow? Do you go on all fours? It’s as worrisome and confounding as the Schiesse Shelf in some Euro toilets. Culture shock never felt so intimate.
Part 2 of the night begins with a gifted bottled of Absinthe. Martin pours out ice-filled glasses for all the partakers. Two hours later, I’m drifting off to sleep in the next room while the revelers belt out sing-alongs to the Nerves and Project X. PJ eventually winds up in the room with us. When he asks to squeeze in the bed with us, Brian calmly replies, “absolutely not.” In the morning, we find Joe flat out on the futon like a Gollum in need of resuscitation. Ryan on the floor is half immersed in his sleeping bag with only his legs protruding like a drunk ostrich. Michl the time-keeper is somehow more awake, more dressed, and more ready to rock than all of us.
Before sending us on our way, Martin tours us around Brno (this guy took such good care of us!), including a creepy stroll through a corpse and skeleton-filled crypt. We burn rubber down to Bratislava and witness the aftermath of a surely corpse-inducing accident. From what I can observe from my limited view on the highway as we cross the river, rolling hills are dotted with interesting architecture and private homes ala San Fran to the left and to the right is a dense mass of faceless body storage blocks of flats. I call them the “Communist Blocs.” It’s like the proletariat got the shaft once again, while the bourgeoisie got primo real estate up in the hills.
We cross into Hungary and I am now in a country where I have never stepped foot before. Budapest tonight! This is as east as we go. We need to consider new currency, language, and culture. Somehow it doesn’t seem like a challenge or obstacle. I’m armed with Czech-brewed Kofola cola and we’re listening to The Damned. It just feels exciting and where I’m supposed to be at this exact moment.