We played our biggest show ever, did two gigs in one night for the first time, got some nice food poisoning, and drove home for 16 hours. So all in all, the finish to our wild Serbia and Kosovo minitour was pretty eventful 😀
The last two days of the tour saw us playing in Prizren and Prishtina. We had a blast when we visited Prizren last year, and were really glad to be back. Our friend Alban, who organised our show there, his crew, and the guys at Prizren City Hostel made us feel right at home. Prizren is sort of like the Kosovo version of our hometown Kranj. Surrounded by mountains, full of bars. We played one of those bars.
The original plan was to do an open-air show, but the rain screwed that up, so we had to move into a bar. Playing in bars can be cool, but this one had a rather unfortunate layout for concerts. It forced the crowd to stand really close to us. The crowd and the band were one. The show was nice, but it didn’t get wild like it did here last year. Different bar, different crowd, no afterparty. We were preparing for that afterparty (because of our previous experience), but the bar closed soon after the show and we just ended up taking a large bottle of rakija back to our hostel’s roof terrace.
Fast forward to the next morning (more like noon, but anytime is morning if you make it) and Mak and Jene stagger out of their rooms, still totally drunk. Rakija giveth and Rakija taketh away.
But not everyone’s body recognizes booze as a bad thing. In fact, over the years with this band, I’ve learned that some people feed on it. And both Mak and Jene have been known to deliver their best performances after nights spent in the thrall of that sweet ambrosia. Waking up wasted was not followed by a total hungover collapse, but by two surprisingly happy dudes, cracking jokes. That’s Rock’n’Roll for ya.
We headed for Prishtina without really knowing much about what we were getting into. All we knew was that we should drive to Grand Hotel Prishtina and call the organizer. Which we did. And the dude showed up in a sweet new Audi, looking like a total boss in his suit, and let us know that we are now entering a well-organized enterprise. Prishtina Beer and Wine festival is a big thing. Bigger than we expected. It lasts four days, and every day between 6 and 8 thousand people show up. Because we were playing prime time on Saturday, the festival was packed.
The boss introduced us to Argetim, who would be the guy tasked with taking care of us. And he did his job really well. I don’t know how to describe this guy, other than to say that he was genuinely cool. Argetim has things under control, and he took care of us like we were his best friends. Big shout out to you my brother!
True to the festival’s name, the beers started making their way to us even before soundcheck. And then during, when some dudes from Bavaria came over, handed us beers and blue Bavaria hats, and asked for a photo. Smooth marketing moves, guys.
After the soundcheck Luka and I (I = Jure, the keyboard player) got into a seriously banged up van and went to give an interview at Kosovo National Television, channel 2. This is the channel for minorities, so the program was in Serbian. We were told that we could talk in English and they would subtitle it later, as neither Luka nor I speak very good Serbian. This was not the case.
When we got there we were told that the broadcast was actually live, and we have to speak in Serbian, since it is… well… live. No chance of making subtitles. At that point, I had already had a few beers, so I was loving it, but Luka was a bit more nervous. In the end, we did OK, our Serbian was acceptable, and the whole thing turned out to be way more exciting than we anticipated.
A few hours later we were stepping on stage in front of 8 thousand people. Which is a cool feeling. Our music isn’t really suited for massive commercial events like these, it is more of an alternative thing. So we knew we had to bring maximum energy to the stage if we wanted to get any kind of reaction from the crowd. We did the best we could, and that resulted in a “good enough” concert. It wasn’t mind-blowing, but it wasn’t boring either, and the organizers were happy with what they paid for. These mainstream gigs are hard if you’re a band making 8 minute progressive songs 😀
After our show the stage was swarmed by crazed sports fans. Prishtina had just won the national basketball championship and they brought the trophy on stage. The crowd went bonkers, lighting fireworks, shouting, pulling down security fences. We scrambled to get our gear off stage before everyone steps on it, and had to hurry to our second show of the night.
The second show took place in what appeared to be a bar for badass dudes. Everyone in there looked like they ran a mob family and could kill you without blinking. Seriously badass. The bar even had a guy whose only job was to open the door whenever someone came in our out.
I started feeling strange between our two gigs and slowly realised, that I was not OK. Turns out I got me a nice dose of food poisoning from our lunch earlier in the day. So my thoughts during the concert ran something like this: “don’t throw up, don’t throw up, don’t throw up…. Oh shit, I’m gonna throw up! Finish this intro before you throw up, finish this intro
…. Run to the bathroom, run back, resume playing.” Now I can add “throw up in the middle of a show” to my list of life experiences. Courtesy of Kosovo mushroom sauce 😀
I only ended up missing half a song and was back for my important parts. The rest of the dudes enjoyed the show, they said it was a nice relaxing experience after the really energetic festival gig.
After the show we had to go straight home. So we got into our van and drove for 16 hours. I felt like I was dying from the food poisoning, but the drive was so long that it had passed out of my system by the time we got to Belgrade. But I was ser
iously drained from the experience. The other dudes, not suffering from food poisoning, but not exactly in the best of shape either, also got home completely destroyed. Imagine it: you drink beers all day, play 2 consecutive shows and then drive for 16 hours in crazy ass heat. That’s what we do for the things we love.