Hot Peppers and Hot Tempers Tour 2011 aka No Sleep till Plovdiv!

augustus 18, 2011

Hosenfefer vs The Works Balkan Tour 2011

Amsterdam 09-06-2011

As always we meet up the the Jam studios to load in the gear, plug in the GPS and head into another adventure. The road crew is the classic line up of us 4 plus our jefe/hustler Jules and our multi-talented roadie/driver Laurens.

Szentes, Hungary 10-06-2011

First gig is 1200 km away in the region of Szentes, Hungary. After a comfortable 20 hour drive we arrive in the proximity of Szentes looking for the mysterious River Tisza Pub. On the way we meet the first of the many colorful characters roaming the Balkan peninsula. A Belgium/Flemish guy riding his bike through the whole of eastern Europe. When we met up with him he was already on the road for more than a month. Happens to be a roadie for a Belgium metal band this heavily tattooed adventurer was on his way to Moscow. Meeting him with his cheerful demeanor and carefree attitude kind of put our trip in perspective. Moaning about long drives and sleepless nights pales in comparison with his monumental undertaking but then again he didn’t have to put on a show every night…it’s a long way to the top if you wanna get to Plovdiv. But I digress.
After driving around a forest/swamp like terrain for some time we finally locate the river and with the help of some local fisherman also the pub we’re playing that evening.
Our booker is Gabor, an old friend and a bit of a local legend. Besides booking bands Gabor runs his pub/beach resort, builds fireplaces, sells all kinds of clothes and memorabilia and is water polo referee in the very competitive Hungarian league. And that’s not half the story…To get an idea of the surroundings best think of the movie ‘Southern Comfort’ (dir. Walter Hill 1981), but with the locals turning out to be a lot friendlier then the murdering Cajuns in the swamps of Louisiana. The first thing that caught our eye is that all the houses, sans the pub we’re playing, were build on 3 m tall poles. It’s a necessary precaution since the water level can rise violently.
The dinner is the inevitable goulash that’s been cooking for hours next to the pub, and Gabor treats us to some palinka (local moonshine). It’s pretty heavy on the throat but we can’t but not oblige to his generous offers. The opening band are the Living Dead army, self proclaimed Hungarian horror punk pioneers. Heavily tattooed and distorted they blast thru a short and fast set including some compulsory Misfits covers.
Then it’s our turn. It’s always fun playing outdoors, and we get a cool response from the crowd, although they don’t really pick up on my in between song rants. The party of course continued into the wee hours marinated in more shots of different kinds of palinka…

Belgrade, Serbia 11-06-11

On to my home town of Belgrade where we meet with our friends from Hosenfefer, with whom we will be sharing the stages for the next 8 days straight. After a short refreshment at my dad’s place we head down to the Klub Ladja, a very cool boat on the Sava river. Its actually almost next to the one where we played last year. There’s four bands on that night with Hosenfefer doing 2 sets because the notorious PsychoSonic Boris is also present. The very first band on the bill are What’s on TV Mama from Zagreb, Croatia. Cool guys and an excellent garage trash band! Then its PsychoSonic Boris & Hosenfefer time. They start with an epic cover of Guitar Wolfe’s ‘Dead Rock’ sung by Boris in fluent Japanese! The scorching garage punk set closes with a revved up version of the 13 Floor Elevators classic ‘Your Gonna Miss Me” and where Pero, their regular singer, joins in. He takes over the vocal duties and it’s as always its a sucker punch of a show blasting thru classic Hosenfefer material as ‘Knife in my Back’, ‘KM’, ‘Get back in a Hole’, Too Stupid to Rock’ and new songs like ‘I Met you and Died’ and ‘And then Death Comes’. Their set culminates in a blasting rendition of the Dead Boys’ classic ‘Sonic Reducer’ with me and Boris joining in on vocals.
Then we’re on. Love playing as late as possible and having the crowd warmed up. Its a special feeling playing in front of your friends and family the more so that you don’t get to see them that often. Shout outs to Ljuba, Dario, Aca, Bane, Mare and all the other friends that showed up and of course my brothers Draza and Peca who together with my dad were our hosts in Belgrade.

Timisoara, Romania 12-06-11

Our first time in Romania. We meet our host Casian in the city center and go looking for some food. Timisoara is a beautiful and vibrant city but the glue sniffing kids on the streets remind you of how economically challenged and utterly hopeless a lot of the people are.
The venue we’re playing is more of a practice space annex squat called DIY atelier. There’s a nice crowd for a Sunday show and the atmosphere was promising. Both bands get a great response from the crowd. A drunk half Serbian half Hungarian guy is especially vocal in his support and another girl invites us to come back next year and play on her wedding anniversary! I get one of the coolest complements with somebody comparing me to Ian Dury, not because of the physical resemblance of course…
After the show we score a gargantuan amount of booze, which is criminally cheap, and head to our sleeping place where we again party till dawn. A note to the curious, if hung over don’t mix water soluble vitamin pills with Rakija! Big thanks the folks in Timisoara for their hospitality!

Negotin, Serbia 13-06-11

It’s time to go back to Serbia, but that proves more difficult the we could of imagined. Just after we pass the border we get a call from the Hosenfefer guys that they won’t allow Draza, the bass player, back into the country because of visa issues. They have to drive to Bulgaria first and then enter Serbia from there. Another problem arises from the fact that Pero’s, their singer, visa for Bulgaria isn’t valid until a day later. So we drive back to pick him up and hope that rest of the guys will make it on time for the show. The gig’s been booked by our good friend and Negotin native, Nemanja the editor of the excellent ‘Last Breath’ fanzine. We go to his place where his mom really goes out of her way to give us a traditional Serbian welcome with kilos of grilled meats and of course the inevitable rakija. The show is at great looking little club called ‘Cinema’ that’s decorated in cool movie posters ‘Taxi Driver’, ‘Clockwork Orange’ etc and the owner Lucha is a great guy and a big rocknroll aficionado!
Still waiting for the rest of Hosenfefer to make it, we’re on first. Great turn-out for a Monday night gig with a very special guest being Vlada Panker, an ex-Amsterdammer and a true legend in these parts. It turns out that the gig is on the day of his 47th birthday (you wouldn’t believe it if you see him ladies) and he confirms his reputation as a punk rock hell raiser!
Finally, the Hosenfefer guys show up and give an extra pent up show venting all of their frustration into their furious set.
We make a lot of friends after the show, it’s a vibrant little town full of rocknroll teenagers of all ages! After a fabulous breakfast, again courtesy of Nemanja’s mom, we’re off to Kyustendill, Bulgaria.

Kyustendill, Bulgaria 14-06-11

Our fist time in Bulgaria, and after hearing the stories from the Hosenfefer guys are expectations are high. On the way to Kyustendil we pick up one of our bookers Liubo and his friend Valentin. Liubo is a 70ties glam/punk worshiper with encyclopedic knowledge of rocknroll and Valentin is another battle scarred musical veteran. In Kyustendil we are greeted by another of our bookers Emile ‘Menta’ Hristov. One of original Bulgarian punk rockers he’s a larger then life character! We’re again served up humongous amounts of meat and alcohol but are warned that it’s just an appetizer and that after the gig we’ll have a full fledged BBQ!
We’re on first, and the small but appreciative crowd is already cooking before we even hit the first note. Again the crowd is a mix of young and all and everybody is having a blast. Then it’s Hosenfefer’s turn and for them its a triumphant return and the place goes nuts!
After the show we have a great party where local DJ Long Evilo spins the coolest tunes ever recorded and of course there’s tons more grilled meats and spirits!

Plovdiv, Bulgaria 15-06-11

No Sleep till Plovdiv! Something we’ve been chanting during the whole tour, its just has a great ring to it, and it was partially true thanks to the non-stop partying and long drives. Well in case of our Bulgarian hosts it was true, period. Liubo, Menta and Valentin stayed up all night drinking and were up for more and accompanied us on our trip to Plovdiv. Turns out this ancient city is one of the oldest and most beautiful places in whole of Eastern Europe! Also nicknamed Paris of the Balkans, its full of Bohemian cafes, cobbled streets…the Works!
Before the gig we hit a local authentic restaurant for a memorable dinner. My fellow Works-a-holics and the road crew take it easy and order tons of salads and greens to detox a bit from the amounts of flesh we’ve been consuming the last few days. On the other hand me and the Fefers order the monumental ‘Bradrs’ (Bulgarian phonetic for ‘Brothers’), 2.5 kilos of mixed grill and additional vegetables (eggplant, mushrooms…) all stuck on an iron pitchfork and flamed on the spot! Delish.
After another honest to god meal we were off to the club. A great place called Microphone, it sports a very cozy terrace and has a great sound system. Both bands really killed it, and it was wild with a very decent turn-out for a working day. We did a special encore, requested by Liubo, of the Groovies classic ‘Teenage Head’. After the show, and before we hit a very comfortable hotel we had a great after party with local rocknrollers including Blaza, a Serbian expat living in Plovdiv. Blaza is, among other things, a rocknroll pioneer of the Belgrade rocknroll scene of the sixties and the seventies and a translator from Arab and another 10 or so languages. Not to mention on of the biggest bookers of the whole of the Balkans (anything from Whitesnake to Ceca…).

Kumanovo, Macedonia 16-06-11

We bid farewell to our crazy Bulgarian buddies and are off to the 5th country of our 9 day tour, Macedonia. We arrive at the border and this time Fefers cross without any problems but unfortunately we stumble upon the worst scum of the earth piss of shit border cops you can imagine. A stupid bitch working the border starts insulting us in Macedonian but tones her dumb mouth down when se realizes I can understand her but her cocksucker of a colleague decides he’s gonna bust our balls instead. He flat out refuses entry to the country because we have a EU rental car. Of course its a non-existent law but this scumbag just got a hard-on so we have to figure out a way to smuggle our asses into the country. We call our bookers and they get a station wagon cab to pick us up at the border. We have to bid farewell for a day to Jules and Laurens for a day and hope they can cross into Macedonia a day later at another border entry.
Our booker Marko and a local cab driving buddy of his Tony arrive with a station wagon cab with a plastic boat on top of it. We somehow fit the backline and pile ourselves into the car but then the customs moron starts to bust our balls. He wants the insurance papers for the backline, which are with Jules in our van and are also registered in his passport. We try to negotiate our way out of the situation in every legal and semi-legal way, offering to make an estimation of the value, write it in our passport etc but to no avail. Then Tony, the cab guy gets a genius idea. He asks the customs guy if he knows a certain Goca who use to work there before they fired her ass on account of taking bribes. The guy start to scan his memory and then Tony drops the joker, Goca, the one who sucks dick for 10 Euros at the local bar. Oh that Goca-screams the customs guy-of course I know her! The laugh and banter for another few minutes about the famous Goca and other local hookers and we’re safe on our way to the beautiful country of Macedonia. The landscape is beyond stunning, not unlike southern Serbia its full of hills covered in beautiful forests with rivers and wells all over.
We safely arrive in Kumanovo and go for a last minute bite to a local traditional restaurant called ‘Baba Cana’ (Granma Cana). It turns out to be one of the best meals of our lives, bar none. The Macedonian cuisine, not unlike the Greek one, is a mix of the Balkan Mediterranean and oriental tastes. So apart of the omnipresent paprika, parsley and onions there’s chili, cumin and other eastern spices. The salad features mouthwatering feta cheese but the piece the resistance is pork 4 or 5 ways. Cured, smoked, oven baked its just melt in your mouth tender and bursting with flavor. Its a criminal shame we had to chow it down so fast with the gig being just in over an hour. Eternal thanks to Jakim for bringing us to the genius Baba Cana restaurant!!!
The show was at a cool Agora pub run by another great dude and rocknroll nut Sasa. Pretty much packed to the rafters the only shame was that its set up as a lounge so people tend to sit or stand pretty passive during the music. Regardless there’s very cool energy and we both get a cool response and make new friends after the show.
After a great burek (crunchy pastry filled with goat cheese and optional spinach) breakfast, we eagerly await the news from Jules and Laura of their run for the border. At around noon the good news arrives, apart for being thoroughly searched for drugs they pass the border without anybody asking anything about the car papers.

Skopje, Macedonia 17-06-11

The penultimate show of the tour in the impressive capitol of Macedonia. The club and the hostel we’re staying in are both near the old city fortress dating back to the Byzantine times. Its a gorgeous part of town with parts of it heavily populated by Albanians and Turks having a real middle eastern feel to it. Interchangeably other parts are full of impressive orthodox churches which are the birthplace of the Slavic culture in the whole of the Balkans. Its already the high of summer over there and the temperature is over 30 Celsius which adds to the Mediterranean/oriental vibe of the place.
The show is booked by Vladimir of ‘Kur’ and ‘Totalno Opustanje’ both bands also on the bill. The club is ‘La Kana Bar’ and its perfect. We get some seriously good cevapi next door and the fun can start. First up are ‘Totalno Opustanje’ (Toatal relax) and play a chaotic good time rocknroll full of good vibes. Their set lingers on a bit and finally its Hosenfefer’s time. During the break between the bands everybody fills out into the street, a good 150 of them, understandably so since its 30 plus degrees and you can’t smoke inside. The shitty thing is they stay outside during the Fefers set, we of course feel terrible for the guys and I convince the bar dude to at least turn the music down on the street so they come back to the club. That helps a bit but its still pretty deserted inside. Demoralized the guys play a short set and hit the booze right away. Then its our turn, and knowing we have to pull out all the stops we decide to plug in and walk out on the street and force the crowd back in. Gilian and Rogier climb on the tables outside and I tell the folks that after traveling the length of the continent we won’t settle for playing to the bar crew, I also threaten to take my clothes off but I guess that’s not the strange part…In the end we pull it off (thanks to the Fleshtones for showing us the way) and get a pretty decent number of them back in for a high energy show!
‘Kur’ close the show to a full house and we end the evening carrying the line up on foot back to the hostel because the fortress is not that car friendly. As I said earlier it’s a long way to the top of Skopje…

Novi Sad, Serbia 18-06-11

Last show of the tour, and it didn’t disappoint! Booked by the top dude Mladja drummer/vocalist of Ragman a great surf/garage combo the show is at the premier place in town CK13. Also on the bill are the hispano punk rockers the bilingual Frisco-ers La Plebe. Veterans of numerous Balkan tours they have a sizeable following and for the Fefers Novi Sad is a bit of a musical second home. Add to that that some of my friends from Belgrade also showed up, it promises to be a mother of a show. Before the gig we meet up with an old friend Bane and take stroll in downtown Novi Sad. A beautiful city in a Austro-Hungarian style it was that more packed and vibrant because of an outdoor film festival that was starting the same day. The streets were absolutely filled with dolled up beauties hitting the streets looking for a party. But I digress…Back at a club we gulp on a home made bean soup and then its showtime!
Back with the Fefers is PsychoSonic Boris and they do their fantastic double set of two-fisted alcohol fueled hate driven punk and fuckin’ roll! How about them peppers!
We of course go all out with our set and the crowd goes wild with plenty sing-along’s and butt shaking moves!
La Plebe also deliver a furious dose of horn-driven punk rock and and end this great soiree in style. It’s time to say goodbye, with Hosenfefer going back to Mitrovica in the south of Serbia and my guys going back to Amsterdam while me and my miss Nugent, who came down to last day of the tour, going on a short and well deserved holyday to the beautiful lake Ohrid in Macedonia.
As always after hugging the hell out of each other, we not only vow to do this again but also to bring the Fefers to Holland in 2012. Stay tuned…