Labasheeda UK Tour
Tour: November 2009
Where: United Kingdom
Formed in 2004 by singer/guitarist Saskia Van Der Giessen, the Amsterdam-based art-punk band Labasheeda blend poppy melodies with burst of noise and distorted violin.
November 22, 2009 @ The Freebutt
The legendary UK Tour begins, with lots of wind above our heads, with a trash, dirty white Toyota in a far away train station in Breukelen. Dyan drives, I’m on the back, curious of what’s going to happen. The car is moaning in every turn, it’s more full than American sandwiches are with ketchup, mayonnaise and crappy old fried onions. But we are proud of it. It runs like a devil. Stops for coffee, gas, toilette, the wind gets worse, we enter France, nice landscapes, more flat than low Nederland.
No sign of French policemen, everything looks good. I try to visualize me entering the UK, with a huge smile on my face, leaving behind my worries and my stress for a crappy old Greek ID. It’s the last Greek thing left on me and it’s still causing me problems. I grab the wheel, drive the last hours of our marathon.
We reach the French borders. French policemen introduce us to the already known problem. With a funny look they wish me “good luck” with my ridiculous traveling document. We reach the opposite side. Of course, they like us so much they wanna meet us personally. Dyan helps me out, I am convincing enough, and I present bankcards, train cards, all cards on the table. I am almost there. Almost there. YES. We did it! I am in the UK officially. I got this big smile on my face. The one I was visualizing a few hours before. Saskia’s face on the window of the car says a lot. Dyan came out as the Napoleon and confused her. No one was sure if we won the war or not. But my winning smile says also a lot. Saskia’s relief was big, our smiles back in our faces. We are off for the rocknroll thing.
Dyan is driving the UK. All are opposite but not so weird. We go fast, we reach the venue on time. The Freebutt in Brighton. Unload. Friendly people, meeting other bands, waiting and waiting, sound check finished fast, all well.
Suddenly, there is not time at all. We must go out and play. I get a few bites of the most unpleasant pasta ever and off we go. We have problems with Saskia’s amp, problems with pedals and sounds. As a result the feeling is gone. Lack of concentration, lack of mental preparation or just lack of Alcohol?
Nope. The 2nd half was much better, the sound got better, and we played around 60% of our capabilities. Still it was ok. The venue had indeed an amazing sound. On stage and off stage. Professionals. One dude was enough to make this happen. And indeed, to be loud is an art, not a volume knob.
Other bands are fun. Headliners are “Bang Bang Eche” from New Zealand. Kids. Kids born to play music. Kids born to fuck up all the old ideas about what “rock music” should sound like. Amazing show, great vocal experiments, great energy on stage, expensive equipment.
Phil is there, our host for tonight, friendly and warm, swallowing beers in a pretty fancy British way. Load, split in 2 cars, drive through Brighton, Indian palace in the centre of the city, the dark sea, the empty streets, the hills, wonderful ride, I enjoyed every moment of it.
And now we are here, Newhaven. Indeed. Everything is ready. A few more beers, a small chat, we are off. Our first day in tour land goes to sleep.
November 23, 2009 @ Buffalo Bar
I slept well, but some other didn’t, and then they wake me up to park the car on the right side of the road. Half asleep, I decide to take it for a ride.
We are on a UK tour so why not a morning tour to Newhaven or Brighton or wherever the fuck I was driving around. So, yes, I got lost. I got lost like a 10 year old boy, with no phone, no driving license, no fucking clue how to return back, no fucking clue what’s the name of the street I must return, no fucking clue what’s the full name of Phil, our host. Desperation, rain, strong winds, walking, driving in loops, trying every possible way. And all this of course: The other way round. Opposite.
Well, I did pretty well, after getting soaked to the bone, and driving every possible way in 2 hours, I finally found the house! Ho! Ho! Ho! Reward: A huge English breakfast, dirty and tasty.
Phil’s studio with 4-track tape recorder, and his amazing collection of 7″ vinyl singles complete the picture of today’s morning.
We are off to Cardiff. Dyan drives, bad bad bad weather, angry sea, grey and green fields. Miles do not finish very easily. It takes time.
We reach Cardiff and we find the venue pretty easily. It’s called Buffalo. Pretty fancy place, the stage is upstairs. Pretty cool. We leave our stuff and we go for a walk in the city. Grab some pretty nasty fish and chips, order some really bitter tea, remember Guinness, sound check fast, meet people, get on stage and do a really good show. Again great sound and equipment, professionals to help and lots of smiles, lots of people attended, good crowd. A good gig. Other bands also really cool. Most interesting a duo, guitar/drums with live loops and cool sounds (Left Hand Right Hand). Headliner was Joe Lally, bassist of Fugazi. Post-punk and poetry. Pretty cool bass lines, noisy guitars, shaved heads and interesting rhythms. His music really fits Labasheeda’s sound and there are plans to play together again in the future.
After meeting lots of people called “Liz” we finally found the real promoter Liz, and heading to her house for sleeping. Cool day. Now I have to find a way to sleep with a crazy cat next to me.
November 24, 2009 @ The Fleece
Slept on a quite comfortable attic with Dyan. Realized that my mattress was not the one I imagined, it was like 2 weird mattresses joined together like a puzzle, but anyway, the cat went to sleep somewhere in the house, my eyes got really heavy and I had a pretty good night’s sleep.
The morning after: A big house on our own. Breakfast, mtv2, piano, really relaxed, taking our time, arranging the last details for our next destination. Bristol. It was supposed to be only like 45 minutes away, but we did much more, bad weather, traffic jams, looking for supermarkets, parking places, and finally here we are in our amazing old-fashioned bed+breakfast suites. A bit outside from Bristol, it’s located in a fantastic green area with lots of hills. Got a room on my own and enough time to relax and enjoy the benefits of being in such an amazing place. A long warm bath, a bit of silly TV, emails, sleep and I am back to raise the dead.
Drive back to Bristol, got some troubles to find the venue for tonight, the Tom-Tom let us down, but people helped us to find it. Great place with great history, The Fleece, good sound guys and lots of young lads ready to hit the stage. We were a bit late so quick sound check and everything sound cool again. Promoter brought pizzas and fries and drinks, what a nice surprise! First band is a ska band, pretty cool, having fun. Only 10 people are watching though. We are 2nd. We did a good set, but magic was missing, very few people watching (mostly the other bands) and in such a big place it was a bit disappointing, but promoters – what can I say for someone who fails to do his job right. (Later we found out that in the same night a very known and popular local band was playing in another stage in the city-which explains a lot).
Incident of the day: I gave my bass to the bassist of Cut Nancy (last band) since he had some problems with his own. It’s indeed really cool to see my bass in the hands of someone who can actually play. And guess what? His sound was much better. The low end of my bass worked for the best. And went straight through the mix and made his cool bass lines more audible.
Anyway, we talked a lot with the guys from Cut Nancy band. Young guys, and like Bang Bang Eche from New Zealand, this new generation is mixing everything so much better, creating a new wave of post-everything. Well, it was a nice evening. Nice music, nice people. Then why do I wanna go back to this amazing farmhouse that we’ll call our house for tonight?
November 25, 2009 @ 229
Waking up from this amazing bed, leaving the warmth of these amazing blankets, saying goodbye to the relaxing aura of silence. It was the hardest thing to do. But the idea of a full English breakfast and a strong smell from the kitchen made things much easier for me.
So, indeed, an amazing breakfast and we are off to London. This time for real. I am driving. Sunny day! The first one. It’s a real pleasure to drive with a good weather. In 2 hours we were in the city, Dyan’s turn to drive. We find the venue with a bit of a trouble, but I was impressed by the fact that no traffic jam whatsoever appeared in London.
Parking was allowed next to the venue, so this was amazing. We did our classic walk around the block, since we never have the time to actually see the city, found an amazing English pub, ordered some good food, did the sound check (very loud) and waiting for people to come in. Well, we did our job well; Dyan was bleeding the whole time. Did I forget to mention that Saskia hit her head pretty bad the previous day in Bristol? Yes. A giant tree attacked her. And she was feeling a bit dizzy.
Anyway, we did a good show. I got to play in an Ampeg amp (yeah!), and I re-confirmed that this is the amp I love the most. Amazing sound, crunchy with full low end and heavy and just amazing.
Time for a Guinness and enjoy the other bands. “Guile”were dressed for success, having the right equipment (again a big orange guitar amp!), the right guitars (epiphone original semi-hollow and Gibson), the right haircuts (English hair rock, a bit emo, a bit funny), but no originality whatsoever. Miming Black Rebel Motorcycle Club and playing too loud doesn’t help. Rich white boys copying.
“Sketches” were the kids who brought the crowd. Nice melodies, it’s obvious they are trying to be on NME. They have the music, it’s up to them and luck. I bought a t-shirt from the band, pretty cool, only 8 pounds.
“Nova Stare” was the last band and the most amazing. They had the best sound, they had a singer who has a voice and something to say, and they had a guitarist who’s following the tradition of the great British guitarists. Something between Suede and Strangelove, I loved it and I wish I could see them in a better venue and a bit drunk. Finally, emotional music.
Well, Arne and Saskia go to a hotel, Dyan and me go to Andriana’s house (friend) to sleep. Nice to see her again, we get chips, cookies and another Guinness and we finish the day talking.
November 26, 2009 @ Breakthru Radio
Didn’t sleep very well, had to wake up early and feed the parking machine. And this time I am not gonna try to find another place to park, ok? Andriana is already up, so time for a nice full breakfast, Eirini -with her legendary “orange” coat! – will join us later.
Saskia and Arne are on their way to Mile’s End metro station, so time for us to say goodbye and “tot zaterdag” to the house kittens. I am driving. Pick up the guys, and off for Norwich, our next destination. I am tired, so after 1 hour driving I give the car to Dyan, who’s gonna drive to our final destination. It’s a nice small Bed+Breakfast in Norwich, with a happy young guy running it. It was probably the fact that the weather was fantastic today. Sunny. We got our rooms and some rest.
Labasheeda played in Norwich Arts Centre last year and the guys have wonderful memories from this city. Somebody calls, we are informed that our studio recording is postponed for 8 o’clock (instead of 4) so we have lots of time to walk in the city with Dyan.
Accidentally, we find also Arne and Saskia there and we go together to have dinner. French restaurant, nice atmosphere, fantastic food and low prices (and an amazing waitress with booming flowers). Time to return, get the car and drive to the studio. After a few failed attempts to locate the precise location of the studio, we discover it at the back of a factory complex. It’s dirty and cozy. It fits Labasheeda.
Jason is the boss around here, and he’s friendly and good at his job, fast and easy to communicate. After a lot of time preparing we are ready to start recording. It’s made for a live radio show (Breakthru radio from New York), so it has to be done in one take, live. 10 songs. All recorded on tape, good old tape. Saskia is a bit stressed, Arne a bit pissed off, and energy is low. But we have a small break, a cup of coffee and everyone is ready to go.
After 1 hour of really hard work, we have in our hands an amazing recording. Jason did an amazing job and we played fantastic. Very concentrated, no mistakes (except a funny attempt to play Intertwined), controlled rhythm, a real good blend of sounds, remarkable vocals, amazing bass drum, massive noise. Even the violin sounded out of this world – This is the real Labasheeda sound. At the end we learn that our show the next day in “Marquee” (Norwich) is cancelled because the PA was destroyed in the venue (!), so they are unable to host a show. Pity. We need to make new plans for tomorrow. But first, sleep. It’s almost 2 o’clock after midnight and I am so so tired.
November 27, 2009 @ The Marquee
Funny beginning today. I set up my clock for 8.30 to have breakfast with Dyan. But I forgot that my phone is set on Dutch time so we actually get up at 7.30 English time to have breakfast. That’s why I was feeling so tired and didn’t really want to go for breakfast (who, me?). Anyway, we go back to sleep after the breakfast.
A small confusion with Saskia and Arne in the morning, but we manage to go to the city centre all together, Saskia to Marks&Spencer, the guys for coffee. Huge coffee cups and Triple Chocolate Brownie-I loved it!
Back to the hotel, get the car, drive to BBC Norwich studios. There we find the most friendly and positive people ever. Fantastic studios and a huge Dr Who robot! The big surprise for us was that the session will be filmed and also a small interview will follow. Well, why not?
It was a nice setting, funny and modern, we fix the sound semi-acoustic, Dyan finds a way to make a new drum kit that actually sounds great, and we are all very positive about it. We did 2 songs, Subsoil Streams and Intertwined. We did the first in one take and the second in two takes. Then, a short interview with a very friendly girl, and that’s it! We were all very enthusiastic about it, and really curious to listen/watch the result. We did pretty well, I mean there was some nervousness but the result was very satisfying. And the interview went really good, which was a surprise for me because we are not really used to do this kind of things. A brilliant new experience. I am so happy about it!
Car back to the hotel, walk to the city, find a strange restaurant with great homemade food. It was like inside a house, and we were alone in there, with a very kind woman who was taking the orders. The food was delicious (for English standards), fresh and the beers really interesting. Classical music in the background and heavy Christmas decoration, just like old people do.
We are off to the Marquee to see what went wrong and just to see it out of curiosity. It is indeed just like they told us. Black and dirty. We have a drink there and we meet Jason again. He helped also with our sound in the BBC studios, very nice of him.
He, then, took us to this amazing underground (literally under the ground) bar with live music. We loved it! Friendly people everywhere, cheap good beer, shiny faces, beautiful tattoos and piercing, music that makes you chill, trip and dream. That was probably the coolest place to be in Norwich and we were really happy to see it before we leave.
November 28, 2009 @ Notting Hill Arts Centre
Woke up and took our breakfast early, leave at 9.30 heading London for our last 2 gigs. We arrive pretty early there; find parking easily, no problems with traffic, again. Notting Hill. Nice neighborhood. Tall white houses, fancy cars.
Our first gig is in Noting Hill Arts Centre. We need to wait for the centre to open so we have a coffee, some food and walk around the area. The place is a basement, friendly guys from other bands, good sound, more Dutch people in other bands (Trip To Dover + The Trail), our first beers, we play first today although we are supposed to be headliners. We need to go immediately to the next gig. So, we go on stage and we do one of our best shows.
The 2nd half specially was great. Unfortunately my bass amp let me down and the sound that was coming out wasn’t good, so I couldn’t enjoy so much. I was spoiled to play with amazing amps in this tour, but this one was a bad one. The Arts Centre was a cool basement with lots of crazy light projections on the walls. We met a few people there, we sold some records. But no time left, we need to go, in the rain, load the car again, go to the next venue. The Consitution in Camden, London.
November 28, 2009 @ The Constitution
We find the place but it’s just a pub, where is the venue? Underground of course! Filthy and punky just like I like it! Punk kids all over, noise on the speakers, really badly cooked food, no sound check whatsoever, the first band begins and we are off to eat something.
We find another pub very close and we order. We met also David and his friend. David was the first bassist of Labasheeda and we still play some of his songs with the band. I am really looking forward for this gig. When we come back, I see the band that is playing, I see the crowd, and I know, that these are the real places to play, these are the real people to play for. Noisy bands, interesting bands, communication with the crowd, which was just in front of you, no stage, no special lights, no PA, no bullshit, just pure fucking noise!
We get the noisiest and ugliest of sounds ever, and the crowd seemed to like it. A bit frustrating in the beginning trying to fix our sound (the bass amp was the worse bass amp I have ever heard), but then we surrendered to the music. People were screaming and wanting more! I had moments of ecstasy. Seriously.
I wish we had a gig like that every night on our tour, but at least we had a taste of what’s out there. What a closure to our first UK tour!
(Labasheeda have visited the UK one more time in the past, but this was our first UK tour with the new line-up)