In the first part of this year’s Balkan tour, everything was going pretty smoothly, and we were feeling good. Well, that all went to shit basically the minute I finished writing that blog post. We had trouble at every single border on our way down, had shitty attendance at our shows, got interrupted by a police raid in the middle of our set, and drove about twice as many hours as we slept. But the last two days of tour were awesome, so we kinda forgot about all the bad shit and are feeling victorious once again!
BACK TO SERBIA
We planned on getting from Kosovo to Niš at around 5pm, which would give us plenty of time to relax and eat before our soundcheck. Everything was looking good when we got to the Kosovo/Serbia border… where they wouldn’t let us through. Apparently, you can only enter Serbia from Kosovo if you came in the same way. We entered Kosovo through Macedonia, so they told us to go back that way. The irony is that they would have let us through if we had our ID cards, but we only had passports, and that’s a no go, because of the Macedonian entry stamps.
So whatcha gonna do? We turned around and drove an extra 400km. Border customs officers, however, can sense fear a mile away. So the guys at the Macedona/Serbia border decided that they should mess with us some more before letting us through. Like most bureaucrats, Balkan customs officers don’t give a shit about you (with some amazing exceptions). So if you come to the border towards the end of their shift, they just tell you to wait until the next shift comes in, so the other guys have to deal with you.
Long story short, we got to Niš at 22.30pm, immediately set the stage, ate one slice of pizza each, did a quick line check and played our show. 10 hours of driving, major stress at the borders, no food, then immediately playing for an hour and a half. Think we sucked? Think again! Through adversity, Raggalution emerges victorious! This ain’t our first rodeo, after all. After four years of touring, it seems that the real value of these tours is in the mental toughness you gain. It’s like extreme training for bands. If we can get through shit like this and still kill it on stage, then we’re ready for anything.
We played for about 15 people, but Niš was nevertheless one of the best shows of our tour. All that frustration turned into musical powah and the vibe was amazing. After the show we had a lot of fun hanging out at the venue, getting a lot of love from the locals. Fazo and Jene even formed a new band: the Two Man One Man Band.
Our manager booked an awesome apartment in Niš, so we had a great place to sleep and even watched a bit of NBA playoff basketball! The next day we had plenty of time before we had to leave Niš, so we when to the city centre for some lunch, coffee, and a nice walk. I would like to point out that the women in Niš are hot as hell, so it’s a good thing that the local gypsies sold all of us sunglasses 😀
KRAGUJEVAC AND BEOGRAD
Then it was on to Kragujevac. Not really much to say about the gig, we had the same attendance problems that had, by that point, become the standard for our tour, played well once again, got lots of love from the people, and had a nice apartment to stay in. We met some new friends that came up to our apartment for a few beers with us after the gig, which was nice, but I don’t think any of us can remember their names. Can you call someone your friend if you don’t know their name?
The next day, we were abruptly thrown from the apartment by the owner, who needed us to leave by 10.30… something the organizers failed to mention the previous day. So not much sleep for us, but we had already gotten used to that.
On to Beograd then! Since we were playing in a bigger city, we actually had a decent amount of people at the show. There was a local band playing before us, called Besne Gliste, and the thing was shaping up to be a success. Until the police raid came. Rarely in my life have I come across such asshole police officers. These guys were real dicks, not only interrupting our show and searching almost everyone there, but also acting like they were gonna beat the shit out of us. One of our guys even got strip searched! He had nothing illegal on him, so they just let him go, but the experience of getting a light pointed at your naked asshole is still not something anyone would hope for…
This blog post is getting pretty long already (even though I’m really trying to be brief), and there are still three more shows till the end of our tour. So I’m going to stop here and post the final part tomorrow. Things got a lot worse, but then they also got a lot better for us, so stay tuned for the third and final Balkan tour 2017 Raggablog.