SCAC Odyssey 104 (Part 4: Slim Cessna’s Auto Club)

More crap beer versus the greatest live band since the birth of our cosmos…

Live at Vera

We walked into town. It didn’t take long – maybe 30 minutes or so. And we only had to make a couple of turns – a piece of piss, really. After arriving in the centre we found the venue and made sure that the 10pm door time that was on the ticket was correct – it appeared that it was. With the important info gained it was time for food. Just down the road was a Mexican place called the Four Roses, which looked clean and welcoming enough but perhaps a tad too trendy for a couple of relative wasters fae Fife but we went in any way. We both had a Tex Mex Platter (a new addition to the menu or so we were told), which was nothing mind-blowing but palatable enough. We washed the food down with a couple of Brand Pilseners [5%], just like the food it was nothing mind-blowing but palatable enough. Food eaten and a couple a pre-gig beers glugged and it was time to get professional and head inside the venue.

We handed over our tickets and were then advised that we would have to buy a month’s membership to Vera for €1.50 before we would be permitted entry. A lot of Dutch places seem to have a temporary membership scheme – you’ve bought your tickets, you’ve paid the booking and transaction fees, now give us some more cash. But at least we’d bought our June membership on the 1st of the month so we had an entire 30 days to fully get our one and a half euros worth. Once all the financial transactions had taken place we headed down to the basement bar to see what delicious beers they had for sale… ah… Grolsch… and only from bottles. I hated Grolsch even before I became seriously interested in beer. Oh well, nevermind… I’d spotted a pub just down the road that had a big La Chouffe sign in the window so I could always pop in there post-gig for a couple of tasty beverages. The crap beer was tempered by a price that wasn’t as stupidly high as it often is in music venues back in the UK… and FREE wifi. The basement bar seemed quite cool but after a short while I felt like I’d stumbled into the grotto of Santa’s unemployed brother, so we made our upstairs. The main music venue is a grand place that instantly had me thinking “Oooooh! I’d love to see the Army here or the Wedding Present or [insert name here].” Although the main bar didn’t have a beer menu that was any more exciting than Santa’s grotty it did at least offer draught Grolsch. While residing at the bar I recognised someone I’d met at an Auto Club gig in Leiden back in January – Auto Club fans are one big beautiful family! Sandy is from Germany and is an uber-SCAC-fan: she drives all over northern Europe to see the band play, and like all good Germans she has a soft for New Model Army. It really was lovely to see her again.

He, Munly Munly

Twenty minutes before the band were due to hit the stage the place was practically empty and I was beginning to grow concerned that they would playing to a paltry dozen or so people. Thankfully, there was no reason to panic as by 11pm the audience had grown to a sizeable and expectant throng. Bang on time the band unceremoniously took to the stage. There were a few whoops and whistles from the crowd and a smattering of polite applause but nothing to suggest that this was going to be a full-on audience driven gig. Three days previously I’d been in London for the Auto Club’s first ever UK gig. The Barfly in Camden was sold out and the moment the band took to the stage the place erupted and everyone went insane and danced like possessed nutters for the entire night. It was immediately obvious that the Vera crowd weren’t going to behave in the same way as their Barfly counterparts but that was fine as one of the things that the Auto Club truly excel at is drawing an audience into a gig – they could turn they most stoic and static of crowds into a throng a dancing freaks. Every song the band played was astounding but the especial highlights were Jesus Is In My Body – the final couple of minutes were posssibly the most out-there and scary that I’ve ever heard from SCAC. With each passing song more and more people were getting sucked into the Auto Club live experience and by the time the traditional set closer of He, Roger Williams came around the place was going as mental as only Auto Club gigs can get. The band exited stage left but a rapturous applause brought them back for an encore that had everybody dancing and singing like it was the last thing they were ever going to do… Slim & Co have a beautiful habit of doing that to people.

Just after the gig had drawn to a close and while I was still high on music and a boozer’s dozen of Grolsch I sent a tweet that said something along the lines of: “You might think you’ve seen the best live band on the planet but unless you’ve seen the Auto Club you haven’t… no you haven’t.” I might have been reasonably smashed at the time but that statement still holds true a couple of weeks later when the most volatile substance to pass my lips in several days is a grape soda.  Seriously, they are the best band I’ve ever seen. GO SEE THEM.

Once the festivities were fully over and our sweat soaked shirts were almost dry and we’d exchanged drunken pleasantries with Slim (who indirectly but correctly called me a beer snob) we were back on the streets of Groningen heading to the pub that boasted the Chouffe. But first we had to be gentlemen and escort our German friend back to her car. Then we had to get a kebab, which was incorrectly served in a toasted roll instead of a pita bread – the shit that processed lamb vendors try to pull! The pub I’d spotted earlier was an Irish bar (which I’d failed to realise earlier) and it appeared to be frequented by a load of English-speaking nobends who seemed to have pissed off the barman cause some of them had vanished without paying. My mate went to the toilet and came back with the news that pub was joined to another pub that had surfboards on the wall and was less packed and noisy. We moved next door and took a seat at the bar. So there I was: a Scotsman who’d just been to see in American band in the Netherlands, enjoying a Belgian beer in an Australian pub that was attached to an Irish pub. Perfect. We had a few more Chouffes then a bottle of Flying Dog’s Snake Dog IPA then we staggered back to the hotel for a well deserved rest. Rock n Roll.

Big Bad Bob – Danny Pants – Slim Cessna – Munly Munly – The Peeler – Lord Dwight Pentacost

… all photography by landells

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~ by landells on June 14, 2012.

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