First “gig trip” in a loong while. It’s a strange situation for me, as I’m used to being out there on a regular basis checking out bands all over the planet. This year, however, I’ve had to restrict it for financial reasons, as I’ve chosen to go on the Monsters of Rock Cruise 2016, which is a bit more costly than my usual trips.
So anyhow, Gus G is in Scandinavia. He’s playing Oslo, Norway tonight and then continues on to Stockholm the day after. Oh yeah – the headliners are Kamelot, and the other guest act is Kobra and the Lotus. But you know me – I’ve been following Gus G’s work for several years now, so it’s not like I’m giving up on that anytime soon.
First stop was in Rodovre, Denmark, at the venue “Viften”.
I heard that there was a sound check in progress, and it was a pretty nice day so I just decided to hang outside for a while until I saw a familiar face. People were walking in and out of the stage door so it probably wouldn’t be long until someone would show. I could have texted, but there’s no point doing that when it’s obvious that everybody’s busy.
A guy on a motorbike drove up to me and said hello in such a friendly way that I asked him if we knew eachother. “No, but I recognize you. You’ve been to all the Gus-shows I’ve been to, at Rockmässan and [some other place I don’t remember]”.
Apparently I’m becoming a familiar face to Gus-fans, I can’t imagine how that happened. ;)
He was an Ozzy-collector and had bought a guitar lesson with Gus.
– I don’t actually play guitar. But I thought maybe he can inspire me to start!
That was the best motivation ever.
The guy drove off, said he had to take a shower so that he was nice and fresh for the lesson, haha! I went to the parking lot behind the venue, was trying to pick up a better WiFi signal, when I saw a familiar character all dressed in black, with sunglasses and everything. There was Gus, on his way to do a few errands. Talk about perfect timing.
After the quick errand-round, back to the venue and the sound check. It was really nice to see everbody again, although I think I suffer from tunnel-vision sometimes. Almost tripped over bassist “Strutter” and didn’t see it was him until he said “Hello Daniela!”
On the stage there was Jo (Nunez, drums), Markus (tech, merch) and Henning (Basse, vocals). Jo came down to have a quick chat, and also introduced me to his old Nightrage-buddy Bill Hudson, who is on this tour playing guitar with Kobra and the Lotus. You might also have seen him with Circle II Circle, TSO, JOP…)
I do know who he is very well though. Being in that whole Savatage-family, you tend to recognize people, even if you haven’t actually talked to them before. But what I remember the most about Bill, has nothing to do with his playing.
It’s something from the MySpace days, where he wrote this very intense diary/journal thing (this was before the word “blog” was used) about a transformation in his life, where he decided to make a big change, from something very negative and destructive, to something positive and more fulfilling.
It was so well written and so straight from the heart that I still remember it all these years later.
I was just sitting there watching the preparations and the sound check of Gus and Kobra and the Lotus, when I felt the smell of food. Catering-time for the bands. That’s usually my personal signal to get the hell out. If I’m not on the payroll, I have no business there when the bands are getting their dinner of the day. I rarely stick around for that – I did on the last tour, but then I was actually a part of the crew in a sense.
So I went outside. And I didn’t get back in until the doors opened for the public.
Kobra and the Lotus were first out. A very competent band, they know their craft, all the guys individually and collectively – and Kobra herself is a powerful front-woman. In all honesty, their music isn’t my cup of tea and it’s not what I personally would be listening to at home, but I did enjoy their performance and I think she is a genuine and charismatic band leader. Respect.
After a quick changeover, it was time for Gus G. It was cool to see that there had been some pretty big changes made in the setlist, which is awesome cause after seeing a zillion Gus-shows I know most of the little details and when they occur in the show. I couldn’t forsee anything this time and I loved it.
And the Belgian powerhouse Jo Nunez behind the drums has always impressed me, but the interesting thing is that he gets better every time. I remember when he first joined, he was a great drummer from the very beginning, but he was a talented boy who was pretty invisible behind his drumset. NOW – he’s this wild dude with the mohawk, SLAYING those drums with extreme, Swiss clockwork-precision! He’s absolutely amazing. :)
Gus himself has always impressed me. Watching his fingers during a solo can be almost hypnotic sometimes. I admire and have the highest respect for people who have practiced and sacrificed so much to become absolute wizards at what they do. Some of the stuff was new to me, haven’t heard it live before, so it was a treat to get to hear it “in action”.
After his show, I went outside again, and just sat in the cafe, they had pretty comfy fake-leather chairs. I was tired as f**k, had been up since 4 that morning and there was some personal crap going on that just made me feel a bit “off”. I met a few familiar faces, Maj-Louise and photographer John, but all in all I felt like I was in my own little “bubble” and not quite in a “party rock’n’roll” type of mood.
However, figured I’d stick around till Gus had finished his signing-session at the merch, take a few pics of that and then head back home to get some sleep before driving to Gothenburg the next day.
Gus came out, posed with some fans, signed some stuff and all that. I told him that I was leaving, said bye to Jo, and drove back home. Didn’t even say hello or anything to Markus in the merch, felt like a total ass, don’t know where my head was at.
And no, I didn’t see Kamelot – I heard them from outside. Never been my thing at all. They are a visually impressive live band to watch and everything is very professional and well executed, but it’s not my “thang”.
Got a few hours of sleep – then drove off with destination GOTHENBURG (Göteborg) the next morning.
I love driving, it’s the most relaxing thing there is (well… if you don’t count my roadrage outbursts…)
You get to listen to either good music REALLY loud without bothering anyone, you can sing your heart out, you can just let your mind wander – and you just see a road, heading to your destination. Always loved driving.
When I got to Gothenburg, it was around 1.30 PM, a beautiful, sunny day. There are only about 5 parking spaces right in front of the venue, so getting there early is the key. I got the BEST spot. :)
Took a little walk around the beautiful garden in the back.
Went back to see if there was anyone outside the buses that were parked on the side, but didn’t see anyone. A guy asked me if I could take a photo of him and Linnéa, the female voice in Kamelot. So I talked a bit with him. He was on sick leave and was in what they call “work training” here in Sweden. His income per month was a little over 1000 Swedish krona. I thought he was just bullshitting me, this is Sweden, you can’t live off of that. That’s not even enough for a month’s worth of food?
He said he has been living on pasta – without anything on it, gruel and crispbread. His friends and parents have helped him with money. Crazy, I didn’t think that was possible. He so wanted to see the show, he was a big Kamelot-fan and collector, but since it cost more than he could afford to even get to Gothenburg from where he lived, he couldn’t buy a ticket. I was so pleased to see that he got in anyway. Somebody must have put him on the guest list.
I offered him a Gus G poster cause I still had a few left from the last tour in the car. He asked if I had a few to spare for his friends, so I gave him a bunch and he was a happy camper when he got it all signed by the whole band. :)
Once again Gus showed up – on the parking lot (here we go again…!) and recognized my car. He’s been driven around Malmo in that very car when he was at Rockmässan a while ago. :D
So we went inside, another sound check thing going on.
I said I was perfectly fine hanging out somewhere where I could make myself invisible, while watching the preparations. And that’s the thing, I think that’s relaxing in a weird sort of way – watching the building of a stage, everbody running back and forth with amps, cables, a snare here, a cymbal there – lights, rolls of gaffer tape, backdrops… Just all the bits and pieces that need to be put together before a show can even take place.
I love that shit. Call me crazy but I’m perfectly content just watching that, like some people enjoy watching an ant-heap. I’m sure some were wondering who the hell “that chick over there” was or what my business was there in the first place. I just figure, if someone wants to know, they will ask. If not, it’s not my problem what anyone thinks. :)
While I was sitting there, one of the guys, in a red baseball cap and glasses, who was working with Kamelot, walks up to me and goes: “What, are we not friends anymore??”
I hadn’t even seen his face under that cap, so I said “I should know you, shouldn’t I?” because he kinda reminded me of a guy who used to work with Jon Oliva. I wasn’t sure though, cause it’s been a while, so I was waiting for him to say something, give me a hint.
He said something I didn’t hear and took off, then never came back. So, I’m still wondering if I either offended the guy or if he thought I was somebody else. :) When you see people outside of their original context, it sometimes takes a few moments to remember, and I’ve always sucked at it.
Also, being in your own corner works best for me. I’m not in anyone’s way. After all, it’s a workplace. If anyone has a few minutes to spare, they will come over and talk, but I’m not chasing anyone around in that environment.
Stage was done, sound check was done when doors opened. The first one I saw running towards the stage to get his front row spot, was the Kamelot fan that I had met outside earlier. I smiled to myself, I thought he deserved to get in, he was such a passionate fan. People like that should be treated well. :)
Shows commenced, like the evening before – same comments from me there. The crowds were great in Denmark and Sweden, ten points for that!
After Kamelot’s gig, everybody gathered at the merch stand again so I just hung out for a little while, feeling bummed that it was over ALREADY. I’m not used to just going home after one or two shows, I’m usually the one who has a whole TOUR planned ahead! So, getting in the car, driving back home after just 2 shows sucks. Was invited to come hang on the bus for a while before they left, but I had a long drive home in the middle of the night, so I left early. There will be other, better opportunities.
That was that. Well – things will look different next year. :)
QUOTES HEARD AFTER THE SHOW IN GOTHENBURG:
Fan to Gus G: “Man, you played GREAT!”
Gus: “Thanks. I’ve been practicing”
Fan to Henning Basse: “OMG! It’s you! Metalium! [does the Wayne’s World “we’re not worthy“-bow]
Henning [after a few seconds of being speechless]: “That’s embarrassing!”