Throne of Blood European Tour Posthumous Diary: Part II of III
FROM THE ARCHIVES
Originally published January 2012
This week, the saga continues as we follow Populette and label boss, James Friedman throughout Germany with stops in Berlin, Stuttgart, Munich and a harrowing ride on the Autobahn.
Finally a couple days to chill and spend more than 24 hours in a city! I was really excited. Out of all my friends, I think I may have been the only one who had never been to Berlin. I’m sure there’s not much I can say here that everyone hasn’t said already, but all the hype is true. Berlin is a special place.
When we arrived in the morning, the weather was beautiful, everyone was outside, and we were all eager to sit somewhere and slow down. Odessa was the perfect spot. Our host Robin, who also bartends and DJs at Odessa, took us there. The four of us sat outside at Odessa along the Torstrasse for the entire day cracking jokes, talking shit and enjoying the weather. We laughed until our stomachs ached. When the sun went down we went to an Italian restaurant a few doors down and then back to Odessa. The entire day and evening was spent on only two blocks of Berlin.
The next day we were up and at ‘em and spent the day wandering around the city. Our only goal was to play ping pong in the little courtyard behind our friend Ville’s studio, situated in the same gorgeous building as the German label, Get Physical. I had a blast walking around Berlin, and life there seemed very civilized. In many ways I was happy I missed the infamous weekend-long parties of Panorama and the like. I would highly recommend spending a summer Monday and Tuesday in Berlin as a safer alternative.
That evening we moved into our friend’s Celia’s beautiful flat (Celia also manages a popular fashion boutique called Departmentstore Cabinet), and the next day some friends took me down to Alexanderplatz (which is huge!). We spent most of the afternoon walking around and taking in the city, and we even ran into a few NYC ex-pats along the way!
Photo c/o Joana Viega on Flickr
That evening we DJ’d at Soju Bar, which is connected to the Korean BBQ joint Kimchee Princess. We shared an awesome dinner at Kimchee Princess with the owner, along with the giant roster of DJs for the evening, and a few old friends from Berlin.
At some point during the dinner, our outdoor table must have been especially rowdy, and a middle-aged German man marched from across the street, set down a strip of white paper, and without a single word or eye contact, walked away. The note said:
“Please to stop being so noisy. Thank you, the neighbor”
We thought this was pretty hilarious and one of the most politely passive aggressive things we have ever seen. We imagined him printing out dozens of these sheets and trimming them with scissors in the silence of his apartment.
Soju Bar was opened just for us that night and we had a killer time with our round robin of DJs. The people were a ton of fun and the venue itself is incredible – very small and intimate. It reminded me of some of the back alley bars I have been to in Tokyo, but with techno and dancing. It has a tiny footprint, but super tall ceilings and futuristic lighting creating this Blade Runner feel. I highly recommend it. The owner, Hyun, is a real gent (and party animal) and they get a world-class roster of DJs there on the regular.
We arrived in Stuttgart on a dark and rainy morning. After the sunshine and positive vibes of Berlin, we all were feeling a little down in the dumps. The owners of the venue keep a flat in downtown Stuttgart above a café for the bands and DJs who play at the club. I don’t want to knock it too much because our hosts from the venue were two wonderful and loveable dudes, but in the words of one of them, the flat had not changed for decades.
Starving and tired, we ventured out into the city looking for a bite too eat. Unfortunately, we hadn’t met up with our guides, so we failed pretty miserably in our restaurant choice. Even though I picked two simple items, bruschetta and a minestrone soup, it was some of the most wretched food I had ever had. We were kept company by dozens of black flies swarming around our booth in the empty restaurant. This didn’t help our spirits as we returned to the flat to catch up on some sleep. There were four or five empty bedrooms, but I refused to sleep alone out of fear, and the three of us cuddled up in one bed together and fell asleep watching DMT: The Spirit Molecule, a documentary I recommend. This video became our lullaby for the rest of the tour.
Exhausted from airports and late nights, and missing my girlfriend, it was very hard to feel positive about the night ahead after the morning we had. However, first impressions are often wrong and Stuttgart became, in my opinion, the best gig of the tour.
We woke up from our naps alive and met by Ky and Christian, two of the owners of Rocker 33. These were two rad dudes, incredibly friendly and easy to talk to and hilarious in their own ways. They took us to an old school Swabian restaurant called Weinstube Widmer-froehlich in the heart of the red light district. This was the best meal of the entire trip hands down, and one of the best meals I’ve ever had. The interior was beautiful with warm, wood panels everywhere. A real gem.
After dinner we went to Rocker 33 to DJ. This was inside a giant abandoned government building much like Berghain looks on the outside. We wound through hallway after hallway, through various back doors and empty rooms as the muffled throb of the music drew closer. We arrived inside a giant empty club painted black floor to ceiling and lined with bleachers made out of empty black milk crates on both sides. Ky informed us that this was the big room, and that we were playing down the hall in the small room. We went through another couple doors and entered the smaller area. The vibe was intense and I immediately started dancing. I didn’t give a shit. Everyone was dancing with smiles on their faces. James, Max and I played the majority of the evening, and I can’t really describe the high I felt off the atmosphere while we played that night. The room wasn’t huge, but it was packed and everyone was dancing, whistling and chanting weird shit the whole night!
We returned to Berlin to play a venue called Asphalt, which was down in the financial district under a hotel. A lot of our Berlin friends scratched their heads over us playing here, but the money was good and allegedly the club had a world-class chef and restaurant where we were going to have dinner.
In the main room at Asphalt there was a large event and the entire atmosphere was pretty bizarre. It felt very Russian mafia meets Meatpacking district in NYC. We all got a kick out of people watching some of the clientele who were wearing lots of embroidered button downs and pants with nonsensical messaging on them that said things in English like “VINTAGE YACHTING” or “PRIORITY.“
I left early and got a special walking tour of Berlin at night that I will never forget. After so many clubs and planes and cities in a day, it was unreal to see all the old architecture lit up and move at a slower pace. It doesn’t hurt being able to sip a beer in public while you walk either.
THE AUTOBAHN. The next morning we taxied to the airport to pick up our Mercedes wagon rental for the five-hour drive to Munich. What followed was one of the most harrowing five hours of my life. Kraftwerk and the Autobahn driving culture had made the highway one of my “bucket list” to-do items, and I’m very happy to say I did it, but I wasn’t prepared for the intensity of the experience. Word to the wise: if you want to drive in the fast lane you don’t need just any Mercedes. Every punter in Germany has a Mercedes or BMW. To compete and survive the ordeal, you need a cock-of-the-walk $300,000 racing number, and not the family wagon we had rented. We were running late and trying to make time so it was turbo all the way. Going upwards of 120 mph with men in gull-wing Mercedes coming up on your tale like a freight train, flashing their lights and forcing you to let them pass was hair-raising to say the least. I was riding shotgun and exhausted. Every time I started to fall asleep, I would wake up to the jolt of a fast pump of the breaks and be face to face with the back of the car in front of us. I kept wondering, "What happens if you crash at this speed?” I imagined myself being liquified on impact.
There was one moment that broke the constant terror we felt. Riding a ridge that ran along the Autobahn was a man completely naked atop his bicycle. We all had a huge laugh. In America you would be arrested, but this was Germany and no one gave a fuck.
Munich is beautiful, but feels quite posh. The Louis Hotel in Munich is the nicest hotel I have ever stayed in. When Max and I checked in, we were told that we had been upgraded to the suite. This room was bananas. Max and I joked that on the floor plan, our room took up most of the floor. I felt like we were on our honeymoon. The room was ENORMOUS and had a separate wing for the toilet and walk-in closets. There was also a second bathroom with two enormous showers, one of the walk-in, stand-and-fuck variety and one more traditional shower with jacuzzi tub. The suite also had two balconies, a Mad Men style “Gentlemen’s Bar” we couldn’t afford, and the most comfortable bed I’ve ever slept on.
We spun at the famous Bob Beamon Club that night and it was another one of the highlights of the trip. James, Populette and Bicep played all night and we had a blast. The designers of the club did a splendid job. The booth, the acoustics and lighting are world class and the club is heaven for DJs, just check the Internet.
Next week Part III of III: London