Kreuzberg is a whirlwind of colours and sounds, a complete patchwork of vibrancy so typical of Berlin. We arrive there at Jay’s house to drop our stuff off before heading to the venue for tonight’s show. Jay Gard is the drummer of Top Down, the band we’re sharing the gig with tonight. He’s also a very talented artist, and so in classic Berlin style, the first thing we do is head to an exhibition opening. Through the chaotic streets, where the cafes and bars seem to buckle up endlessly against each other, we reach a group of people waiting outside an old building. A disused window space is housing an exhibition in celebration of the A4 format, which is now 100 years old, and Jay has a sketch in there among over 100 other art pieces. It’s an entertaining way to begin the evening, and the curator of this event asks me to choose my favourite before I leave (which I do but he’s too occupied by the time we need to go, so I leave him to it – numbers 39 and 93, by the way).
Our gig tonight is at the Wild at Heart, a well-known and incredibly atmospheric venue with a culture all of its own. I haven’t been somewhere like this for a long while, and I’m instantly brought back to old the Intrepid Fox on Wardour Street in London. Gig posters, stickers and t-shirts hang from the dark red walls, framed by low red lighting. There’s music here every night of the week, and I spot that the Hangmen were here a few nights ago, just after we played with them in Prague (more on that in the next episode). The Supersuckers will be here soon too. We don’t have anywhere quite like this in Brno, and I’m just sitting here soaking up the atmosphere while I can.
We were kindly invited to tonight’s show by Berlin rockers Top Down, who we enjoyed great gigs with in Brno and Bratislava earlier in the year (we were also supposed to make it to Prague but that got cancelled at the last minute). Their most recent album Backyard Thunder has often been on the record player since then. This is their home turf, and they are well-known here at the Wild at Heart, meaning we’re getting a good crowd tonight. A couple of guys have come all the way down from Oslo just to see them, although I’m not sure they’ll remember anything about it considering how hammered they are. I’ve had to stop him using our records as beer mats several times already. Each time he apologises sincerely.
We’ve got our own backstage, remarkably with our own toilet, free soft drinks and a number of free beers. And we’re even getting well paid! We deliver one of our most enjoyable sets of the year before Top Down get on stage and rock the hell out of the place, Szim and Charlie swapping vocal duties as they go. The bar staff are wonderful, the sound engineer is excellent and helpful, and the crowd are having a ball. With the amps eventually cooling down, the DJ takes over with a wonderful collection of rockabilly and garage music, reminding me of wild nights at Born Bad in Brighton, down there at the Engine Rooms. The night is a blast from beginning to end, and it’s times like these that remind me why we do all this in the first place.