May 21, 2024

Nothing About a Few More Things (or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Hate the Airports)


Shit, could this be it?

I’m staring death in the face.

Yeah, it could actually end like this.

Spoiler alert: it didn’t end there. It got worse, a bit later.


Previously on X Files:

– Actually, I’m not from around here. I flew into town for this. I’m from Serbia.
– Serbia? Oh wow! I’m actually trying to get us to play there. I wanted to come to Serbia for so long, but now I have a contact there, so we’re working on it.
– Really?
– Yeah, we’re trying to set something up for July.
– That’s amazing!
– Yeah, man. Trying to make it happen. There should be an announcement soon.
– But even if it doesn’t happen, you will be back to Europe in July? That’s great.
– Yeah, for sure! I mean, we’ll play shows in your area.

As far as Serbia goes, I have to say that a big fat nothing came out of that. But it’s not like I didn’t get my hopes high first and really got going and got personally involved.

A few days after I GOT BACK FROM ZURICH (having first thought that Nicky had Serbia confused for God knows which other destination in Europe), I learned that there’s this Igor guy in Zrenjanin who’s working on bringing Nothing over for a gig in Serbia. That really raised my spirits, I love it when a story comes full circle, when I get to a place where I’ve already been to, just taking another path (obviously, only if it’s by any means a happy place). Vranjković told me about it and got Igor and me in touch.

Now, it soon transpired that Vranjković got everything wrong, as apart from a nice wish, Igor had nothing in the way of making that Nothing show take place in Serbia. He most definitely wasn’t Nicky’s famous contact in the country, and maybe that guy never really existed. No problem, we’ll make reality the way it soothes us. Of course, when it’s about me, the road to making a wish come true is somewhat lovable but completely amateurishly conceived: why don’t I try to organize a concert?

“Hi, remember me, I’m that guy. Yeah, I know it’s not supposed to be done this way, but a couple of us have this great idea of organizing a Nothing show in Belgrade. But in order for us not to appear as total amateurs, I would just like to know a few details first, such as the potential fee and the dates you already have scheduled for the summer.” And all that through the Facebook messenger app. The message remains unread to this date.

Plan B. “Hey, Ivan, could you help me out? Could you write to this agent, as a promoter that you are, and ask him about one of his clients? Yes, I know. Yeah. Yes, I would deal with that, I just need a way in. Thank you.” Mr. big shot agent didn’t reply to a single message from Ivan. In late June, on the other hand, came the full itinerary of the summer UK & Europe tour. Serbia wasn’t on it, neither was any place close by. Oh well, I guess we never stood a chance anyway.

Plan C. What if I took this airplane ticket, for example, yeah, this one, yeah, it does appear a bit short, but if I hold my breath a bit, I just might make it back to the office on Monday morning as if nothing happened. Rich folks cry too. Who you calling rich, fool?

Immediately, I get this playing in my head.[1]

I love Nothing so much. Ain’t no way I’m gonna start bitching about having slept for only just over three hours before getting up at 4 this morning and heading for the airport. I’m on a mission from God.


In Frankfurt there might have been, however, some sort of an inkling of what was to come, where I had an hour between flights, and ended up barely making it. I’ve spent 15 minutes in the bus taking me from the first plane to the terminal, a hundred years at the passport control, and the rest running towards the gate.

Screeching feedback. Nicky in a white T-shirt is standing right over me. He’s doing everything he can with his Jazzmaster to get a more squealing and irritating sound. Fuck, this is gonna be loud. The other three people are also stepping out on stage. Here comes the riff. Full band joins in. July the Fourth. Cobain would be pleased to hear that this type of sound is still around almost 30 years after his demise. Or maybe not, maybe he’d think about doing himself in one more time, realizing that people still wouldn’t leave him alone. The song rocks, literally: in my head I have pictures of some incredibly tall grass being swayed by the wind, and some invisible force cutting it down. There is something inherently sinister in the tone of this song, but I greet it with open arms, by no means worried. And that hypnotizing guitar line in the chorus… I’m not afraid, I’m not resisting, I’ve got no dilemma: I’m with you, let’s go. Patty Hearst had to spend at least a few weeks in confinement before she started leaning towards joining her captors. A couple of bars into this song, and it’s already clear to me that I’m ready to follow Nothing to the end of the world. Happy birthday to me.

Sun is shining brightly over Amsterdam. It’s beautiful at Nataša’s place. She’s explaining to me the things she’s got to take care of during the remainder of day and it soon becomes apparent that my plan to take her out for lunch is a bust. I’m consulting her about the return trip, she’s telling me all about the huge queues at the airport in recent weeks, with people arriving four plus hours before their flights. But it’s OK, I have already checked myself in and have hand luggage only, two hours should do it. I’m off to town a bit later. What was it again, if it’s straat then it’s just a street, and if it’s gracht then it has a canal in the middle? It truly is beautiful here, just as long as I don’t get run over by a cyclist. I don’t really have much in the way of a plan of what to do with myself, but Concerto is always an option. Concerto is a really pleasant old-school record store. Four narrow Amsterdam houses with four separate street entrances, but once you’re inside you realize that the ground floors of the four houses are all connected, only separated into sections dedicated to new LPs, secondhand LPs and singles, second hand and new CDs, and books and comics. There’s an indie band doing a sound check on one of the galleries. I bought what I selected, completely aware that my backpack will be heavier than what I find comfortable, but it’s alright, I’m not planning to do a lot of walking with it. I’m sitting on a bench overlooking a canal, eating supermarket fruit salad. Life’s good.

Vertigo Flowers, let’s go! Last spring in Zurich things got off to a gentle start, as if we were just getting to know each other, no sudden moves, first we go pretty, and then… Whereas here things went hard right away, straight for the jugular. I could hardly wait for the breakdown and the “They’re coming for me” part. I can see Nicky is really into it as well, his body language and moves are telling. The overall impression is somewhat different than three months ago. It’s the same emotion, but the intensity is different. The taste is incredibly strong. And it doesn’t astonish you, doesn’t leave you scared and stiff, as if you were an animal hypnotized by a pair of oncoming headlights. No, it sucks you in. I’m one of them, that’s how I feel.

Time to go. I had a nice rest. There’s still time until the show, but I remembered an ancient truth about the Dutch being a very tall nation and things being bad if you find yourself behind them at a concert and can’t see shit. I’ve been to Paradiso once, it was… It was 13 damned years ago, holly hell. Damn, time flies. Tonight’s show is taking place in the small club upstairs. I bought myself a drink at the bar. Sign of the times: only cards are accepted, contactless till death. I took my drink to the front row, while I still can. The crowd is mixed, there are locals, but also English folks (though they sounded Welsh to me), Americans, all sorts of people. Right behind me is an international group, they are speaking English so I’m listening without listening. There’s a girl with them whose accent reminds me of where I come from. Somebody asks her where she’s from, she replies “Bulgaria”. Haha, close enough. The door to my right opens and out comes Doyle, Christina and a different drummer compared to the previous tour, him too being a replacement for Kyle while he’s touring with Night Sins. They checked a few things on stage and returned to where they came from. There’s that same tech/merch guy/photographer from the last time. The gang’s all here. There’s about 200 people in the room, it’s nice.

It feels like I’m witnessing water being poured out of huge buckets. The sound is massive: crashes, one chord, then another. Fever Queen. The album version is somewhat gentler, like a hug of some sort. Here it feels more like a squeeze. “We’ve only just started, stay”, as if the song says. It’s all a bit strange, all this. It’s really beautiful, it helps so much, but I don’t know if it would be evident for someone standing aside. To me, Nothing is a remedy for all kinds of downs. Especially like this, here in front of me, so loud and with such a strong envelopment. Oh yeah, the sample they played as the intro, a few lines being read out in a few languages, that’s Brautigan’s Love Poem.

Ears are gonna be ringing tonight from this, but let them. It’s over and I’m a bit confused by this what I’m feeling, but what I still am not able to describe with words and rationalize. Instead, it’s time for big decisions. Do I stand in line for merch, or do I wait for the crowd to disperse a bit? Or maybe I go for option C: there’s Nicky making his way to the bar. I’m waiting while he’s chatting to a couple of girls who got there first. Turning away from them, he runs into me, a person standing with a semi-silly look on his face and with hands calling for a timeout, all while attempting to get his attention.

– Hey, I remember you!
– You do?
– Yeah, from, um, last spring in…
– In Zurich, Switzerland.
– Yeah! We ran into you right after we went for a swim in the lake! You’re the Czech guy, right?
– Haha, close enough. I’m from Serbia.
– Serbia, that’s right!
– Listen, if I want to get in touch with you, how do I do that?
– Instagram.
– ’Cause I tried on Facebook, but…
– Oh, I’m terrible with Facebook, try Instagram.
– I wrote a piece about going to see Nothing for the first time last spring, and I translated it into English. It’s not perfect English, but it’s alright, and I wanted to send you the link.
– Yeah, just hit me up on Instagram.
– I also tried reaching out (rather amateurishly) ’cause a couple of us wanted to organize a Nothing show in Belgrade. And we even got serious and had a friend who’s a legit promoter try and get in touch with your booking agent, but couldn’t get any reply.
– Oh, that guy is terrible! I hear that from a lot of people. Was your friend at Outbreak fest?
– Um, no…
– There was a guy from Serbia at Outbreak who showed me his phone with all the unanswered messages he sent to the agent. But anyways, I’m already in touch with a guy in Athens, they really wanna do something. So we’re gonna go through Greece, and then Serbia, Croatia… What else is there? Maybe Czech Republic or something like that. Next tour. This time around we weren’t going to your neck of the woods.
– Oh, wow! Is that, like, this fall?
– No, I don’t think we’ll be back to Europe this year. But next year, for sure. How did you like the show?
– It was great! I really enjoyed it. And it was really loud, too!
– I wanted to make it loud!

I’m buying the stuff I set my sights on, including a hat Igor asked me for. I feel great.

– Hey, I have one more thing I’d like to ask, but if I’m being nosy, tell me to fuck off, OK?
– Sure, man.

And he told me everything. What a great guy, I think we would totally be friends in real life. A crazy head, you can tell, but a good man, good heart.

It feels weird being out after a show with daylight still on. I’ve walked around a bit and chosen wisely where to eat well and plentiful.

Oooh, this is what I’ve been waiting for. We didn’t have this in Zurich. Four chords snare-tom-snare, downfall. Zero Day. I’m not sure what it is, whether it’s from some dropped tuning, or simply because it’s live and loud, but the song appears drearier than I remember it to be. Yet it encapsules me even tighter. The chills from ghostlike howling of Doyle’s guitar… I’m singing the lyrics, rather I’m mumbling something almost inaudibly, except when I turn myself up on the “Light abandons me” part. I raise my glance towards Nicky, he’s singing with his eyes closed. I’m repeating “Emotionless” however many times is necessary. “Empire of rust”. Doyle’s outro finishes the song in a slightly different way than the standard version. Is it more beautiful, or is it beautiful because it’s new? Whatever it is, it works perfectly.

The alarm sounds off at 4:15. Four or less hours of sleep for two nights in a row. Yes, I’m working on self-destruction, but as luck would have it my head doesn’t hurt. Although I’m not sure if I know my own name, but what can you do. Uber is picking me up in a few minutes. My new Turkish friend with a temporary residence in Holland is talking on the phone with a compatriot. The dawn is breaking behind us as we approach the airport. This queue that I’m seeing, he tells me, that’s just people who have to check-in and drop off their luggage, and since I don’t have to do any of that, he’ll drop me off at Terminal 2, so I could get straight to the security line from there. Atatürk would be proud of this successor of his. The screen says I’m to go to gate B27. Like hell I’m getting there. To get to the security line from the terminal I need to follow the signs for all gates A, B, C, and I think D, and those signs point towards… Outside. Right to the start of that huge queue I saw on the way in and that first goes for about 500 meters away from the terminal, then does a U-turn and comes back the 500 meters towards the building. But hey, we’re moving slowly, all under some sort of makeshift tent thing. I’ve got two hours and ten minutes till takeoff. I think to myself, there’s no need to get all worked up over this, I’m gonna make it.

It took me an hour before I finally entered the terminal again. And until I saw that inside, just on the upper floor which was hidden from view when I was there an hour ago, Sodom and Gomorrah await with quite possibly the same amount of people queuing as there were outside. I’m looking for someone who works at the airport, anyone who I could ask if this is really the line I should be in, but there’s no one around. For a brief moment I thought I got the attention of a lady wearing an airport west, but she turned and left. Another guy tells me there’s a priority line upstairs. I make my way slowly with the rest of the people, what can I do. It’ll be OK, it has to.

Fucking hell. That priority line, that one is only for business class. To get in through the little gate, you gotta scan your business class boarding pass, which I obviously don’t have. I’m being explained this by another airport employee. But, I tell her, my flight leaves in 45 minutes. She’s just pointing me back to the main queue and telling me there’s no other option. The line is now zigzagging and a bit further on is a screen saying that from that point you’re expected to wait for 20-25 minutes till you reach the X-ray. When I reached the screen some 10 minutes later, it was saying that the expected waiting time was now 40-45 minutes. Stinking fucking hell. There’s no airport staff left in sight. There are a few of them over where the line forks out to several security check crews, but from my mid-point of the zigzag line (actually, more like one third of it) it’s practically impossible to get their attention, even if I screamed my ass off.

This is now seriously messed up. I’m looking at my watch, pissed off. The line is barely moving. Not all X-ray posts are open. The airport is understaffed. It’s not like I didn’t see a few articles here and there on how airports are in chaos because of staff shortages, but that wasn’t supposed to have anything to do with me, I’m the simplest kind of passenger. What difference does it make, I’m gonna miss my flight. I duck under the line at the point where the queue is making one of the U-turns and come out on the other side, so I could go around and get to one of the attendants pointing folks towards different security check crews. She’s young, Turkish or Middle Eastern by origin. “Madam, excuse me, but my flight is departing in 15 minutes.” – “Sir, get back in line.” – “Madam, my flight is really taking off in 15 minutes, look.” – “I’m not entering into a discussion with you. Go back and wait in line.” – “Madam, I really don’t want to sound rude, but I’m really in trouble. Please, just let me pass through here.” – “I told you, you have to wait like the rest of these people.” – “I understand what you’re telling me, but I’ve been here for more than two hours now. It’s really not like I got to the airport too late and I’m looking for special treatment. But I’m going to miss my flight.” – “I’m not discussing this with you anymore. Go back in line now.” – “Madam, PLEASE. Just let me wait for my turn here.” – “No, go back to where you came from. Everyone is waiting and so can you.” – “I don’t know about everyone else’s situation, but my flight is definitely leaving in 15 minutes.” – “I’m done talking to you.” She’s pointing her hand back in the direction I should go, not listening to me anymore.

Later, I realized that she is actually a piece of shit, who failed to show a shred of courtesy, even to say something along the lines of: “I totally understand you, the airport is a mess, we’re understaffed, everything is running incredibly slow or not running at all, I’m really sorry.” But that came later. Back then I was fixated on “Fucking hell, I’m really missing my flight.”

Fuck this shit. I’m staying here. If I go back to my place in line, I’m definitely missing my flight. If she calls security on me, I’m also missing the flight. But you gotta fight the bastards. Still, she’s only three meters away, and that fact that a few people have in the meantime positioned themselves between me and her now pointing people towards adjacent checkpoints and not looking my way anymore, can hardly hide the fact that I’m wearing a big aquamarine blue T-shirt and that you can spot me from a mile away. But fuck it.

I’ve passed through the security check some 10 minutes later. I’ve collected all my stuff, mounted my backpack, placed the tote bag with a couple of records on the shoulder, put everything else in the pockets, and started running. I glance at a screen running by it. It says there’s an 8-minute walk to all B gates from there. Like hell eight, I ain’t got two left. Run, damn it.

Oh, damn the five kilo Springsteen book in the backpack. And the laptop, and the charger, and all the other junk weighing me down with additional 10 kilos on my back. I seriously need more air. I’m running, but I’m discovering new depths of tiredness. I reach the B terminal with my mouth wide open, gasping for air. I can’t… I proceed to walk as fast as I can. Gate numbers start from there. I need 27. The gates are on both sides, but man, 27, that’s like 13 more wingspans away from here. Another screen that I pass by says that my gate is closing. I attempt to run again to no avail. The legs are simply refusing. Now they grudgingly start to move. But it feels like I’m not really able to lift them, it’s as if I’m just sliding on the polished floor. Man, if someone got a hold of the security cameras footage, they’d die laughing. I’m running, allegedly. But I soon realize that it’s all spinning and that I’m losing signal. Shit, could this be it? I’m staring death in the face. Yeah, it could actually end like this.

Spoiler alert: it didn’t end there. It got worse, a bit later.

Such a wonderful sound. Two chords and a delay which makes everything perfectly late, so you know exactly what’s coming, but you’re completely disarmed, helpless to do anything but to let some sort of a mythical rain come down on you, as only the most peaceful of screensavers run in your head. You’ve surrendered and that’s probably the smartest thing you’ve done since forever. Somersault.

Outside the door the world’s alive
I’ll stay and hide on the other side.

Such a wonderful blue light. A wonderful theme, unique because it reminds you of you can’t even remember or count which favorite bands and moments, except it comes from no other song but this one. And then following a few pedal stomps the rest of the world swoops down on you, but somehow tardily and softly. A perfect soundtrack for an agreeable defeat, agreeable because you have somehow, inexplicably accepted it. On one hand, I’ve never had something more absurd cross my mind. But on the other hand, that’s really how it feels, and it really soothes.

By the way, those two opening chords are the spitting image of the intro to Tehnologija by Block Out.

Just as I was bidding my life farewell, it occurred to me that however you look at it, I was winning. Either I was to turn the corner and actually survive and make it to where I was going, or a collapse was imminent, in which case some kind of emergency service was bound to pick me up and get me the fuck out of there. I managed to get my ass to B27, where the sign now clearly stated that the gate had closed. The airplane is there, but the gangway is separated, and the plane doors are closed. The guy working the gate is just exiting the bridge and addressing a Dutch family of five who are also late, but have arrived there a second before I did. He’s sorry. I’m pleading with him to do something; the airplane is there… Yes, it’s there, but once it closes its doors, that’s it. But he’s telling us to move two gates down where they’ll try and rebook us. It was precisely at that moment that all the sweat I instigated during my run started pouring out.

The Dutch family will somehow get to Bucharest, which was their intended destination, but via Frankfurt rather than Vienna. What can be done for me? They’re gonna put me on the flight to Frankfurt which departs in 45 minutes too, it’s just that the flight from Frankfurt to Belgrade is fully booked, so I’m gonna have to remain on stand-by. That is, I am to make myself visible at the gate there and pray someone doesn’t show up. Oh well, it’s better than nothing. And yes, the guy arranging all this is absolutely aware that we weren’t late on our own fault, neither us nor a dozen more people now behind us, and he’ll try to rebook everyone. See how everything can be pleasant and deprived of a wish to chop somebody’s head off. With a bit of luck, I’ll be in Belgrade at 1:20 PM. I called work to tell them things got a bit complicated. Time to notify the next of kin.

– Flight to Vienna… successfully missed. And it’s probably for the better, I would have probably missed my connection there, it was only 30 minutes.
– Oh, dear god. Always some complications.
– But Nicky remembers me from Zurich.
– Loveisintheair!
– Look, I’ve got a bag of chips, a bit of ice tea, one pair of clean socks and underwear. I’ll last longer than Azovstal.
– That’s what Tom Hanks thought too.
– Tha bitch wouldn’t wait up on him!
– You OK, not too bummed out?
– The day is only starting, let’s go easy on the expectations.
– I’m doing Austria Klagenfurt – Southampton 7-9 PM, so you tell me.
– The captain is now telling is that we’ll have to wait further 15-20 minutes, as only one tug is servicing the whole B part of terminal. I’m probably missing my connection in Frankfurt.
– Hahahaha, spectacular.
– All this because they hate the Serbs.
– Damn straight, motherfucking nazis.

– Here’s the tug, we’re moving in reverse!!!
– Wewanttohavefunandwewanttogetwasted
– I gotta turn myself off, long live Serbia, I might make it to somewhere today.

I know this scream. Well, this is a clear sign of making it in life, when you’re able to recognize other people’s screams. This one belongs to major Kong. Or rather Slim Pickens, when major Kong successfully opens the bomb bay doors and rides the atom bomb towards the end of civilization. His screaming is all that’s coming out of the PA.

– Thank you.

Applause and emphasized cheers. Because five songs in we finally get Nicky addressing us. Two words, let’s not get greedy here. Precisely as much as he could fit between the screams of a deranged soldier and the sound of the nuclear explosion which ensued on the sample. Here comes the anthem of the end of the world. Clean intro followed by the dirtiest and coolest distortion. Famine Asylum. They are throwing in the kitchen sink with this one. No, really, for a band that likes to underline the senselessness of the world we’re living in and which has more or less dedicated its entire latest album to almost a hope that the end of the world is near, the energy with which they are pummeling this song is more than welcome as far as I’m concerned, but perhaps a bit confusing too. Or maybe they know something I don’t. Because, as the song states: “Face the facts: Existence hurts existence.” Actually, there’s nothing confusing about it, everything is laid bare after the second verse and chorus. After all, we’re talking about the band that was printing “We do in all honesty hate this world” on its shirts – a quote from Marshall Applewhite before his and mass suicide of his cult members.

Frankfurt airport, 10:06 – 11:49

– An hour and a half till the next flight, that is to say an hour till boarding time, that is to say there’s no one at the gate counter. I’m off to get myself a bretzel, and then I’m gonna come back and wait till someone shows up. I’m starving, but I gotta be the first in line when a Lufthansa attendant gets here, so I could beg them to put me on the flight.
– (rockon)(rockon)(rockon)(rockon)(rockon)(rockon)(rockon)

– I’m getting a boarding pass. There is a god! I’M COMING HOME!!!
– Yay! Bravoooo!!!!!

– The doors are busted, I and about 6-7 people behind me can’t get out of the terminal and into the bus taking us to the plane.
– Fuuuuuuuuck
– Aaaaaand they are back on.
– Clap-clap-clap-clap.
– Some Joe Blow service guy came over and took one menacing look at the door.

– The boarding pass is being refused at the gate, I still can’t get out. The Lufthansa agent has discovered that I wasn’t really rebooked in Amsterdam, they dropped something, so now it appears I don’t have a ticket to Belgrade. They are trying to solve it. My man made a few calls. …And opened the door for me with his hand. IsthisloveoramIdreaming. Spoilers ahead: I made it to the bus.
– Is it fucking possible? Each step comes with a shock. Are you in the plane? Tie yourself to the radiator!
– I have a recurring daydream that the bitch from this morning who wouldn’t let me through in Amsterdam will show up from somewhere and throw me out of the plane. But here I am, seat 5C, buckled up. From here on I speak no language and I’m not signing anything without a lawyer.
– Superglue your ass to the seat.

The sound of this song… Each time I listen to it something else pops up: the rhythm, the drops and samples before the choruses, or the persistence with which the guitar and the distorted bass are driving the song, like some sort of a subway train beneath some fucked-up city, where you can’t tell what’s worse, the belly of it, or the surface where the life supposedly lives. The theme which Doyle plays through the chorus for instance, it too sounds like some sort of wailing, maybe the sound of the wheels screeching, as the seemingly purposeless train is going through turns (it’s not purposeless, it’s going all the way till the end). Or the stuff that Nicky sings. Say Less. Here and now, there are no details, it’s all one singularity. Or am I standing too close? In any case, they are killing it and it’s loud. If you’re there to not think about anything and be in peace, you’re in the wrong place. All this is just so soothing to me.

Frankfurt, flight LH1406, airplane on the tarmac, 11:54 – 12:27

– We’re not taking off for at least 30 more minutes, the captain just informed us. Somethingsomething airport is slow to load in the baggage, there are some issues with military airspace nearby, we have a new flight plan, but we have an hour and 20 minutes left to leave, after which we lose the permit and the whole process has to be restarted. “It’s out of my hands, unfortunately.
– I can’t believe it! It’s a total hazard to fly anywhere these days!
– It’s a total clusterfuck.

– There’s 130 pieces of luggage waiting to be loaded into the plane, but there’s no ground crew available to do it. The suitcases are left at the tarmac right next to the plane. Our departure slot is running out, so we’ll see who wins.
– Just take off without the baggage.
– I’m with you, I’ve got all my stuff already with me.
– What did you tell the people at work?
– Everything is OK. I’ve been notifying them as this developed. In the end I was told to take a sick day, in order not to stress more than I have to. Now, that should have me covered for today, but the way things are going, I’m not too sure this won’t spill over into tomorrow.

He’s asking us how we’re doing. A guy next to me replies: “Could be better.” – “Yeah.” He’s tuning his guitar and doesn’t look like someone who has prepared a few jokes for this occasion. While looking down at the tuner he’s telling us how it seems to him that everything that could have did go wrong on this tour. But whatever, he’s there with us, that’s what counts. The next song kicks in. Get Well. Musically, this is probably the simplest song we’ll hear tonight, which doesn’t undermine its destructive potential on the psyche. Maybe that’s the point, when you’re halfway to somewhere and can’t decide: perhaps you should go on and demolish everything all the way to the foundation, so that you could build something better. They used to sell cool shirts before, with the captions of “Nothing” on top and “Get well” at the bottom, and a picture of a stack of pills in the middle. They are gone now, all sold out.

There’s gotta be a place
To escape from the rain
But I can’t find it, can’t find it.

Frankfurt, flight LH1406, airplane still on the tarmac, 12:49 – 13:45

– We’re not airborne yet, no staff available to load in the baggage. We’re all sitting in the plane and the captain told us that our takeoff slot is soon expiring. I don’t really know when I’ll get home.
– Nonsense, you don’t have a suitcase, only a backpack. Hopefully things will improve.
– Yeah, but we can’t move until the other passengers’ stuff is loaded in.
– Any idea how long it’ll take? And will they feed you?
– They gave us some water. They only have tiny chocolates left, but they probably don’t want to spend it all so soon.
– Can you get anything to eat?
– I can order a pizza maybe. Or if Peca can fetch me a portion of string beans from Oscar.
– That would be nice.
– Goddamn their Kraut eyes!
– Don’t be like that, they’ve given as a piece of chocolate each in the meantime.
– They can shove them up their asses, to make them sweeter.
– Hold on, we’re moving in reverse.
– Where from?
– From the parking position on the tarmac. I do hope no one is blocking the chauffeur’s rearview.
– Airport?
– In Frankfurt, ideal flying conditions. Children are screaming inside of the plane.
– Ideal for wursts too. Ours or theirs?
– Canonically unrecognized.
– You, keep resting!
– I didn’t have lunch either.
– Solidarity at work.
– Are you still in Frankfurt?
– No, I gave up and I’m over Albuquerque now, where do you think I am?

There’s something charmingly uplifting in some of their songs, which is completely counterintuitive when you consider the whole context or message. This one is totally like that. Downward Years to come. “I’m off to see the firing squad and I’m gonna have such a great time, yay”, everything is just so merry. There, Nicky is waving his right arm so joyfully during that snare part after the chorus, he’s enjoying himself. It’s not only him, there’s also Christina, wearing a bow in her hair and dancing in the middle of the stage, with her bass roughly her size, or a bit bigger. What can I say about this song that I haven’t thought before?

On one hand it really fascinates me how bright everything seems, which is somehow disarmingly inexplicable, considering the layers and layers of depression in their songs. And then again, it’s tough. I don’t know how much chocolate cake I could eat in one go.

Frankfurt, flight LH1406, airplane still on the tarmac, 12:43 – 13:44

– What are the thugs saying?
– They started loading the bags some 15 minutes ago. But I don’t know what happens if we miss the slot. Plus there’s that rule that the flight crew has only so many hours per shift, after which they have to be rotated. Although they didn’t mention this, it’s only me…
– Shhhhhh.
– Yay, we have closed the doors!
– I dare not celebrate!
– Now everything is in God’s hands!

– The bags are fully loaded. But we have missed our slot. Now we’re waiting for the control tower to give us a new one. The captain has no influence over that either.
– AaaaAAAAAAAAA!!!!!!!
– There’s that rule where if your flight is more than three hours delayed, you’re eligible for a compensation. But they would have a field day with me: “Where did you say you started your journey from? Amsterdam? Vienna? Frankfurt? DeKalb, IL?”
– If I were to copy all of your “news” from today and piece them together, that would be the perfect way to explain the full extent of misery that is travel nowadays.
– Move over, Pulitzer.

– Maaaybe we’ll start our engines in 12 minutes. But then again…

– What are the engines saying?
– Hang on, we’re sliding in reverse. There was a raucous applause just now.
– Hahahahaha, fingers crossed!
– I’d sign off at this time. “I’ll see myself out”.
– See you soon! 🥰

Such a beautiful sound. Soundscape for that late afternoon at the seaside which is not even taking place on the last day before the end of holidays but earlier on, but anyways, the melancholy got the best of you and you’re already missing everything you’re seeing, hearing, and smelling. Elegiac passages, unfathomable insinuations in the lyrics (to me at least), but still – you get everything. The end is near. In Blueberry Memories. Doyle is singing harmonies, they are coming out so sweet. The drums are unleashed too. “Paradise is always somewhere, Paradise is somewhere else.” It’s difficult with all those dilemmas in your head to be sure that things cannot be better, that you’re on the right path, don’t touch anything, you’ll screw it up. Both the future and the past always seem to be better than what’s going on now. And you can feel melancholy for worse times, too.

Frankfurt, flight LH1406, airplane still on the tarmac, I don’t know what time it is anymore

– Dude, our stint in Vienna and Zurich is nothing compared to this.
– You should’ve asked for benediction before you departed!
– You’re goddamn right.

– The chief has put it in reverse, here we go. …Somewhere.

“Last one for tonight.” I can hope it’s not all I want, but something tells me he’s not lying. Riveting drum sound and that epic guitar collapse. Welcome to the start of the end of the world. April Ha Ha. Holy shit, what a huge and heavy song. No, really, Doyle’s theme alone is enough to send you to bed, like: “Give up son, you won’t hear or play anything better than this today.” It’s as if the verses are there to soften you up, get you ready for a big sleep, only for you to discover that there is no chorus, as the hypnotizing guitar theme takes you in again. “The storm is heard only by peace.” And how everything becomes so peaceful again and sets you up for the trip down the waterfall into that as deep as it is calming body of water. “Isn’t it strange watching people try and outrun rain?” It’s over and there’s nothing you can do apart from applaud them from the heart. Whoop-whoop, here comes a guitar pick, thank you very much.

It’s over because the music is playing from the PA. We’ll Meet Again, Vera Lynn. Haha, is that the ending of Dr. Strangelove? Genius. The song which made its name as a moral booster during WW2, so much so that at the start of the cold war the BBC had acquired it and earmarked it as a center piece of the playlist to motivate the population for up to 100 days following a nuclear strike. At least that’s what I read somewhere. How cool it is that the film whose ending nobody would survive ends with that song. See you never, speak to you even less. It was Spike Milligan who suggested to Kubrick to use that song for the ending scene.

I’m dusting myself off. What the hell happened? Emotional clusterfuck lasting an hour, that’s what. At first, I thought I could have lasted for another hour like that, now I feel it’s better that I didn’t. These are not your light songs, by no means. I could cue and play all four albums in a row at home, but live it really hits you. It tires you physically and emotionally. It spits you out like that, but you know you’ve been to a huge place and that the experience will mean the world to you.

Surčin (Belgrade airport), 15:19

– I have landed.

By the way, the stuff Nicky mentioned, how a lot of things went wrong for them… It turned out he wasn’t overexaggerating. A couple of days after the show he posted a picture of himself attached to IV in an emergency room somewhere in Belgium, together with a really beautiful comment saying thanks to a lot of people for a lot of things, but also mentioning that it was his second trip to ER on the tour due to indescribable pain from a blown out ribcage and breast plate – consequences of severe pneumonia he’s been fighting for some time. It appears that a six-week European tour only seven weeks following another five-week European tour might have been a tad overambitious. But you gotta make your living somehow. I need this man alive, even if he doesn’t make it to Serbia in the next go-around either.




[1] Opening of Amsterdam, song by Riblja Čorba – Serbian/ex-Yugoslav equivalent to… ugh maybe something like Steve Miller Band, at best.