I’ll skip my review of the fantastic gig in London two nights past for now and jump ahead to the shit show morning we just endured. London deserves its own post, but I just need to take a step outside of chronological order to regale you with a tale of no sleep, a missed ferry, and a complete lack of empathy for a band that sincerely tried their damndest to make it all work.
We left the comfort and warm company of Daniel, Thai, and Julia’s house in London. Showers, popcorn, hot coffee, and Red Dons tour leftovers were consumed. Sometime in the early early hours, we piled in the van, turned on Poison Idea and bolted for the coast. And when the white cliffs of Dover revealed themselves in all their Vespa-killing glory, it was 30 mins til shove off. Yet this was apparently 15 mins too late. A first, given Michl does this route toting bands often enough. Like jackasses at a party too fucking early, we parked in the vacant lot and endured 2 hours of stress inducing incarceration. From here we crisis managed the fact that we were now going to be two hours late to our 10:00 am Ieper load-in.
From the ferry, as we steamed across the channel, we received a phone call from the Ieper Fest assuring us everything would be “ok.” In the most contorted of positions, we attempted to catch as many zzzs as a crowded boat ride would allow. From the port on the French side we burned toward the fest in pissing rain dealing with closed exits off the hwy, detours, and slow-ass country roads. But we made it. We pushed through the night, misfortune, and shitty-weather and we fucking made it. They committed to the show and stuck to their fucking guns.
We were told to quickly load in. Grabbing everything we could as fast we could, we sped across the muddy load-in area and dumped the gear at the Trench stage. Half stayed with the gear, half retired to the van to await further instructions. Eventually, a Fest rep hopped in the van with us. He said “bad news,” because they were late, despite their best efforts and circumstances outside of their control, there is no longer a time-slot for Night Birds at Ieper Fest. Not much additional info could be gained from him other than he was just the messenger and we’ll see what happens as the day goes on and that we could always hunt down the Fest organizer Bruno and talk to him. He did not have an answer as to why we were told initially that this problem would be resolved. He was just the messenger. Brian and I made our way to the Production Office to figure out the discrepancy.
“Let me guess, Night Birds.” The door swung opened and we stepped out of the rain into the small office. Bruno explained that as the head fest organizer he could not force another band, even a local band, to switch their time slot with Night Birds. His hands were tied and that maybe we should just wait around and see what happens. It was more or less the exact same thing we had just been told by the messenger 5 minutes previous, but this was delivered to us by the head organizer of Ieper Fest. In the author’s unendorsed opinion, it was the slowest, most passive aggressive “fuck off” I’ve ever heard.
The whole thing was a comedy of errors on top of a giant shit show. Night Birds pulled out all the stops and ran into not uncommon travel and weather issues (not the only band to face such challenges that day). The fact that kids paid their money to see Night Birds at the fest; the fact that they received conflicting information from the organizers, the fact that NBs showed up and loaded in and were told that they cannot play is just insulting to all and flies in the face of what Ieper Fest represents itself as.
I owe the faithful readers a bit more here on our adventures, London, the Pits, setting up a hobo camp at the Brussels airport. For now, time is short, the last show is at hand. Fuckin' Helsinki man!