My day has finally come! I thought on Thursday. There are those certain moments when you realize that you’re making a difference in the blogging world. One would be the day where you first hit 1000+ page views in one day, another is when people start offering you free swag or passes to events or what have you. I had my first 1000+ page views years ago now – it had something to do with a review of a Metallica show in Aarhus, Denmark, I think.. But never once have I been one of those bloggers fancy or famous enough to be offered free things based on who I was, how I rolled or what I wrote..
Well, not until late last week anyways, when a cute, little blonde showed up with an offer I couldn’t refuse.. Even if I tried initially! See, I have this long time friend and follower of this blog called Pernille who you may remember her from such posts as “Dear Steel Panther“. She apparently works as a merchandiser for a Faroese/Danish band called The Dreams and apparently this very band was playing a show in my home town of Kolding this past Friday night. It seemed only natural for Pernille to chat me up on MSN and ask me if I wanted to go.
Though I have a history of not really being able to say no to propositions made by a pretty blonde, I eventually tried to wiggle my way out of it in the most diplomatic of ways by telling her that “I really wasn’t into that whole f’ing emo punk rock wave.” – I don’t remember her exact answer, but she did give me a bit of a well-deserved hard time for writing a band I’d never heard off as f’ing emo punk rock based on their image and the fans, so she suggested I stopped being such an ass, went down to see the band the next day and then she’d let me say or think whatever I wanted about them. A valid argument, I thought, and a fair enough deal especially after the sweet Miss Pernille said that she’d put me on the list so all I’d have to do was show up and form an honest opinion.. Oh and get to meet her as well, of course, she even gave me her number so I could confirm the whole thing the next day.
“Umm,” I ended up thinking to myself afterwards, “did I just throw a bunch of insults in a pretty blondes face and walked away with a phone number, a free show and a “date” to show? Yeah, I guess I did.. Wow, I really *am* the epitome of Rock n Roll.”
I quite honestly didn’t know what to expect from Friday night, at all.. Well, I’d heard one song from The Dreams, so I thought I was in for your pretty standard pop punk show in front of a young, predominantly female fan base. On the other hand, I didn’t really want to do too much research either because a lot of the time it’s just fun to have a band completely surprise you in a live show situation and then see where it all ends up. And, really, these days anyone (probably even me) can sound good in the studio, so a live performance is worth a thousand MTV videos in my book..
As such, the plan was pretty simple, I’d finish my chores Friday, go home, have some food, have a few beers, march the five odd minutes down to the venue, grab a beer at the bar there and check it out – and try to bug Pernille as much as I could in the process, maybe even hang out a little afterwards.. And save a few really strange and hilarious twists and turns, that’s pretty much exactly how the evening shaped out.
The first part of my plan, at least, went pretty smoothly and according to the book, I finished my job hunting process at around 4 PM and shot Pernille a text message to confirm our arrangement for the evening. I then went home and cooked up some dinner. I had a beer (Mikkeller Beer Geek Breakfast Bacon if you must know, it was full of smokey goodness) while talking to a few friends on MSN all of whom seemed pretty skeptical about my endeavors, but oh well, I’m used to getting crazy ideas and as such used to people being pretty skeptical about my adventures. At around 8:30 PM, I donned my white and pink Sex Pistols t-shirt, which I reckoned would be perfect for the occasion as I was willing to bet that most other people would be wearing black and donning some sort of mean appearance, and set off for the venue. Five minutes later, I arrived and that’s when things started to get really interesting.
“Good evening, Sir! Please, do step inside!,” said the doorman as I arrived, propping the door open for me and extending a welcoming hand. “Huh?” I thought, not used to such courtesy at a rock show, but figuring that maybe I had some new aura of authority around me after having cut my hair. “Hi,” I said to the people in the door, “I do believe I’m on the list..” – “Why, uhh, yes,” replied the men in the door, seemingly a little flabbergasted, “Michael, I believe this is your task..” – Before I could say or do anything, the kind gentleman from the door scrambled by me and started checking his list in a nervous and excited manner. “Johan Johansen?,” I offered in an effort to help. – “Ah yes.. Mr Johansen, welcome to the show,” he said, shaking my hand firmly, then stamping it.. “Go right in, I’ll sort this out (under his breath) where’s my pen?”
“Relax, guys,” I thought walking into the venue, “it’s not like I’m with the band or anything, I’m really only sorta with the chick that’s with the band.. Such commotion, I need a drink!” .. and with that, I did what I first do whenever I enter a concert venue, headed for the bar and ordered a beer. A seemingly uncomplicated task which suddenly got very complicated indeed when the friendly blonde behind the bar posed the essential question: “May I see some ID?” – “Sorry, what?,” I cocked my head and looked at her.. “Mixed crowd, she shrugged, we card all youngsters.. “But? I’m 29 years old,” I attempted, “I haven’t even brought picture ID, I haven’t been carded for the past 13 odd years!” – “Sorry,” the lady behind the bar shrugged.. “Look, I have my VISA card which technically I can only have at the age of 18+,” I tried, then swallowed my pride, bent my head and pointed to my bald spot, “.. and would a 17-year old have this?” – “I guess not,” the lady behind the bar smiled, “ordinary pilsner or classic?”
“Women..,” I thought as I walked away from the bar with a beer in my hand and a few scars in my dignity. TIme to check the place out, so I settled near a corner and started surveying the place. The first thing to hit me was that it wasn’t so much a mixed crowd as it was a young crowd which kinda explained some of the commotion going on around my arrival and my trying to order a beer. The only other beer drinkers in the house actually seemed to be fathers acting as guardians for their young sons or daughters. The next thing I noticed was the song playing over the PA.. I know this song, I thought, and yet again, I don’t.. And there’s something very odd about it. After going back and forth a bit, my mind worked out that the song being played was Johnny Cash and Joe Strummer doing a cover of my favorite Bob Marley song, “Redemption Song”. Which, in itself was pretty epic, but my brain couldn’t for the life of me figure out why an old reggae protest song covered by two (sadly) long dead rock icons were being played in front of an audience of mainly teens and preteens. Not that there’s anything wrong with a bit of musical education, it just seemed strange.. But both me and the family dad standing next to me tapping his feet seemed to enjoy the song, so I gave up wondering and instead scanned the place for the sight of a familiar blonde thinking I’d search out Pernille and do what I normally do when meeting someone for the first time after a few beers which is usually to come on full on and say or do something exceedingly stupid and/or funny, thus earning about a 50/50 chance of making a good first impression (or, alternatively, a really f’ing bad one).
I eventually spotted Pernille, the familiar blonde face, up on stage and after very little consideration decided that moshing over a sea of frenzied teens and scaling the stage to get up and say hi to a girl who was exceedingly busy with doing her job was probably NOT the best way to make a good first impression.. It might, however, have been a good way to get thrown out. So I gave up on that plan and instead went and stood near the merchandise booth thinking that that would probably be a good place to meet up with a merchandiser once she’d finished doing her job. I’m smart, me! So there I stood for a while, trying to fathom what I’d gotten myself into.. And it was a good place to stand, it turned out because Pernille soon came down and started pushing merchandise to the hungry masses.. She still seemed very busy, though, so I deducted that now was not a good time either, so I tried to give her a wave just to let her know I’d spotted her and figured that if nothing else, I’d talk to her after the show.
“Alright, here we go,” I thought, as the lights went down and the screams from the teen girls in the audience went up in volume. I now rather expected to see a band of Faroese kids take stage in front of me, but rather I spotted a little blonde rushing towards me as fast as her high heeled boots could carry her. “That should be her now,” I thought before Pernille ran into me and flung her arms around my neck, giving me a big old hug. “Thanks for coming, welcome to the teenage rock show!,” she cried over the voices of the still screaming girls.. “Oh, thanks for having me,” I replied, “I might grow to like it here,” referring mostly to the always enjoyable feeling of having a pretty blonde in the arm and a cold beer in the hand of the other.. And thus, with everything properly sorted out, the band hit stage with the only song I knew of theirs, “Revolt!”
“I forgot my ear plugs,” Pernille cried after about five seconds, “I’ll be back!” – “Huh?” I replied, already half deaf from all the screaming and the onslaught of the band ripping through a pop punk song on stage. By the time she got back, I was fully busy head bobbing slightly to the second song of the evening which was much slower, heavier and more hard rock like than I’d expected. It took Pernille about a half second to find her “I told you!” smile as I leaned in and told her that “this stays between the two of us, but I may have to revise my impression of this band.” – “Oh, just you wait,” she promised, “we’ll have much more for you later on in the show!”
I had a few songs to think about what on earth she meant by that before the lead singer kicked into a frenzied, fast yet very, very familiar riff for those of us who had some of our first brushes with rock music in the late 80’s and early 90’s. I looked at Pernille and smiled, she looked back at me and smiled and then we just sorta bounced around for a while. It was the opening riff to Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit” – and it was followed by the rest of the song, sorta.. Their cover was anything I’d expect a punk cover to be, fast, simple, aggressive, zero attention to details and with the added bonus that no one in the band remembered the lyrics, even though they all tried.. I think the chorus eventually got mangled in three different ways, but in a way that’s just SO punk rock.. And Cobain’s lyrics didn’t make a fuck of a lot of sense to begin with.
That broke the ice for me and from then on onwards, I was pretty sold. Not that I’ll become a fan of The Dreams any time soon (if ever), but I will hand it to the boys that they are much more than their appearance and fan demographic hint at. I’ll be honest and say that I went in not thinking that I’d come out with much of a change of mind.. But really, I’d be lying if I said they didn’t put on a great show, even if it wasn’t really my scene. They’re young, they’re spirited, they’re versatile and most of all they’re passionate about what they do and seem to genuinely enjoy it. With the dedication shown to them by the fans and the dedication they show their fans, I wouldn’t be surprised if they make it far.. There, I’ve come out and said it. Are you happy now, Pernille? 😉
That being said, they’re a bunch of weirdoes as well.. There was a lot of ramblings between songs like stories about back when their bass player came out of the closet on stage and other such nonsense which made me feel even happier about having Pernille around because she was able to fill me in on some of the madness that was going on like when the boys suddenly stopped the show to play with a remote controlled helicopter and she was able to explain that they thought that all big rock stars had a private helicopter, and as such they needed one as well, but this was all they could afford. At times, though, even Pernille had to give up, shrug her shoulders and roll her eyes.. Strange kids indeed 😉
Musically, the evening was a mix of punk rock, hard rock, pop punk, industrial undertones and even a bit of synth pop with darker rock elements elements and upbeat melodies thrown in.. Actually, some of it quite reminded me of stuff that Danish band Nephew could have made (or rather, would wish they could make) if they didn’t suck.. It wasn’t entirely down my alley but didn’t really put me off either.. And it was a hell of a fun experience to be kinda stuck on the sideline watching the fans go crazy.. Which they did.. A lot.. A little too much at times.. But like I said on the day, if that had been Iron Maiden up there, I’d be right up there screaming with the best of them and at the end of the day, it was all just rock n roll and it was quite fun to see what the younger generation was into.
Pernille eventually revised her statement from before the show and said “You can say or write whatever you want, as long as it’s not bad!”, so let’s not mention that I wasn’t terribly crazy about the vocals and that I found it kinda strange that a rock band didn’t know the words to “Smells Like Teen Spirit” but nailed every single word of their cover of The Backstreet Boys’ “Larger Than Life.” .. Also, I thought their timing on their cover of “Summer of 69” was a bit strange, but that’s possibly because the original is the only Bryan Adams song I actually like. On the other hand, they did do a good job on an old John Lydon/Johnny Rotten classic I forgot the name of but which Pernille introduced to me as “a song originally written by the lead singer of Sex Pistols. The original is the worst song ever written.” – Not really remembering the original, I’m still willing to take her word for it, though, anything written by Lydon is pretty, well, bad..
They played a pretty long show, too, the boys did, so long that when they first left stage to get ready for encores I had to, well, go dispose of a few pints, put it that way. As I went about my business, I was joined by the guy who had first let me into the show who struck up conversation about how far along in the show we were and all the chores and stuff that had to be finished afterwards, he seemed a little spiritless so I told him a bit about my stint in volunteer work and how good it feels to be doing something for others. I then pretty quickly excused myself and dashed off.. Which may have seemed a bit rude and I’m sorry if it did.. It’s just.. Well, it’s not that I believe there’s anything wrong with male bonding, on the contrary, I just.. Really prefer the kind of male bonding where everybody doesn’t have their genitals in their hands while it’s going on..
I dashed back in time for encores and the end of the show. I then very politely and calmly sat down with my beer and watched Pernille go absolutely bonkers trying to push merchandise to all the members in the audience who needed a new shirt, a new sweat band or something else entirely.. All while also trying to keep track of the line building up for the upcoming autograph session with the band.. I did what I could to help, mind you, which was mainly to make sure I stayed hydrated while pointing and laughing at the right intervals and snapping a few pictures of her working her ass off. I even went so far as to say “aww” and pat her on the shoulder whenever she had two seconds to zoom by and pout and tell me that her feet hurt from walking about in her heels which I assured her were very pretty.. That’s just how great of a friend I am!
By the end of the night, the band came down for an autograph session and I must admit I was reasonably surprised that they actually took the time to sign everything for everybody and to talk to the fans as well.. Good show, dedicated boys. This gave Pernille some air to breathe and kick her shoes off while it gave me a chance to nearly break my neck as I scaled some pretty rickety tables in an effort to help her pull down a bunch of display t-shirts which had been pinned to the wall of the makeshift merchandise booth. It was around this time the idea developed that I should probably get something signed for Tina’s cousin who’s a huge fan of The Dreams and would’ve probably loved to have been there along with Tina and I. But since Tina was busy that evening, well it never came to be. Anyways, Tina’s poor cousin apparently has this idea that the world is against her and that not a fuck of a lot of people want to do her any good, on the contrary. So I figured someone should do her a favor and, like, get her a signed t-shirt from the band she loves.. Pay it forward, y’know.
Brilliant plan! The only real problem being that, as I’d have expected, they weren’t really selling any non-black t-shirts and you can’t well sign a black t-shirt with black permanent marker, can you? Well, my mind works in mysterious ways sometimes, especially after a few pints, so eventually it goes “Hey, you’re wearing a non-black t-shirt, in fact it’s white and black permanent ink looks pretty good on white.. It’s not a The Dreams t-shirt, mind you, but it’s been at the show that she was supposed to have been at. And it’s a Sex Pistol’s t-shirt, they were fronted by Johnny Rotten and they did cover one of his songs.. Hey, we should sign my t-shirt!”
So, I let Pernille in on my plan and she promises to help set it up and then I call up Tina going “Hey, what’s your cousin’s name again? I just happen to be sitting with the band and I thought we should do something..” This causes Tina to giggle and go “But of course you just happen to be sitting with the band”. she then gives me the needed info and hangs up. At which point Pernille looks at me, giggles and goes “But of course you just happen to be sitting with the band..” – “That’s what she said,” I reply, feeling a little confused.. Anyways, I then wait for the fans to get their autographs because I don’t want to feel like the dick who cuts in front of people who have been lined up for like an hour, I then with the help of my lovely assistant for the evening get each of the four band members to sign my t-shirt and it all goes reasonably well. That is until I get hold of the, by now nicely liquored up lead singer and ask him to do the dedication.. We end up in the pretty funny predicament where a rather hammered Faraoese rock star is trying to write “To Christina across my shoulder blade while I in a rather tipsy manner is trying to spell out her name letter by letter to him as he asked me to while at the same time trying to ignore him spelling the name out to himself for whatever reason.. And giving a very tired Pernille a proper hug goodbye and thanking her for a fun evening.
“There, I got it now,” he eventually exclaims, “sorta, well, it reads To Christinæ now.. That’s sorta what we wanted!” – “Good enough for me, cheers guys,” I say and then get ready to leg it out of there as I notice a lot of people suddenly taking a lot of interest in my t-shirt.. I eventually make it home despite a lot of solid interest in my t-shirt and some strange offers of both the monetary kind and other stuff as well.. Uhh, so here’s a tip for the guys out there who are around, say 10-15 years younger than I. If you ever want a lot of attention from the young ladies, try showing up at a The Dreams show in a signed t-shirt.. Just saying.
So there you go, unexpected fun times at the teenage rock show. Thanks very much to Pernille for the opportunity, the good times and the good company.. If you guys are ever in the area again, let me know!