One day while leaving my work in NYC, I noticed a woman standing on the sidewalk looking perplexed and a bit lost. She had a roll-aboard suitcase and carry-on with her. Staring into a phone, she clearly was trying to figure out her next move. Let’s face it – travel rules, but the travelling part of it can be awful! I met a friend for dinner that night and several hours later rolled back past my work. There in the exact same spot as before, sprawled out on the sidewalk and very much asleep for the night, was the woman! Oof – travel fail! Or actually homeless? Hard to tell. But now, as I sleep far too comfortably on the floor of Brussels Int’l surrounded by my earthly possessions, I can relate a little.
Without reasonable accommodations and facing an early morning flight to Helsinki, we had no choice but to bunk down at the airport. We found a quiet space near the end of the terminal and set up our hobo camp; a punk rock shanty-town for six sweaty assholes. Remember, that morning we were denied our ferry after driving through the night from London, we were denied a slot at Ieper Fest in the pouring fucking rain, and Night Birds had gigged at the Pits a mere handful of hours earlier. So we were in no mood to discriminate. The airport floor didn’t have blood, shit, or corrosive acid on it, so it was fine. According to various reports, I was snoring within minutes. PJ crashed with part of his body directly on the floor sans sleeping bag; Joe like a sentry working a double shift, fell asleep leaning against the wall in a perfect right angle; Ryan was happy to be there; and Brian, the winner of the tour’s insomnia award, wandered about until he discovered a closed-for-the-night café with padded chairs.
Despite scouting out a reasonable location, minutes after we crashed, the adjacent check-in desk lit up with hustle and bustle as more-well-rested-than-us travelers prepared for an early flight. At least we gave them something to stare at and be disgusted by.
Awkward travel aside, we sleepily loaded in to the Kuudes Linja in Helsinki, Finland. We opted to use our dinner tix for a late lunch and chowed down on burgers and fries and strong coffee on tap. Strong Finnish coffee like spinach for Popeye. This was the last day of tour. With an afternoon free, we sat outdoors at a picnic table eating good food and drinking good coffee on a beautiful day in Scandinavia laughing about all the crazy and wonderful times we had been through in two short weeks. It reminded me of the first night of the tour where we also sat at a picnic table – this time in Amsterdam – just bullshitting and laughing and wondering what lay ahead.
Fuckin’ Helsinki, man.
Four years ago, I visited Combat Rock Industries during a visit to Capital City, Finland and got turned on to The Heartburns, so I was totally psyched that they were on the bill tonight. As we relaxed backstage, we hit off with their crew, but sadly could not take them up on their offer of a pre-show sauna. Not only would this be bad for new tattoos, a pre-show sauna would probably render me far too relaxed, detoxified, and needing of solid uninterrupted sleep for days on end. No, I would need a sauna in 24 hours, instead I would get a crowded train commute to work.
Ydinperhe also played on the bill. Another great band and further proof that Helsinki may be punk/hardcore’s best kept secret. Seriously, hey touring bands - put Helsinki on your radar. You won’t be disappointed. We definitely weren’t.
I was just about to take the 50 euro bill for a stack of merch, when the familiar chords struck my brain. “I can’t get clean, I can’t get clean.” This crucial Night Birds rager had been cut mid-tour when Brian’s raw throat began to get the best of him. But here it was closing out the night in front of a near sell-out crowd on a fucking Monday PM in Helsinki. “I’ll be right back!” I told the paying customer and moshed my ass from the merch table to front of the stage. “The filth all over me will never leave my sight!” The closing notes of an amazing tour rang out.
Hard to believe so many kids turned out on Monday for a band that had never ventured this far northeast before. Kudos, exaltations, and much reciprocation abound! I think the promoters were blown away by the success of the show as well. The bar had been verbally lowered by all, but the night far-exceeded even the highest of expectations. We moshed happily, screamed the words, and watched the Night Birds kill it again and again and again. Every song, like every night of this tour.
Fuckin’ Helsinki, man.