Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Sisters are doing it for themselves

When I was working as a journalist on the 1997 edition of Dour festival (where they forgot to put me on the list so it took a lot of persuasion, frantic conversations through walkie-talkies and finally the need to cut up my bus subscription so that they could make me a photo pass) I heard the following story from a volunteer who was working at the backstage.

One of the headliners that year was new wave veteran band the Sisters Of Mercy. Well ,they're not really a band ; it's just a singer that doesn't know how to sing, a guitar player of limited ability and a monotonous tape loop. But still, they did have a hit or two during the 80s and this, combined with an uncanny ability to make truly horrible covers of good songs, does make them legendary in a somewhat perverted way. And, being a bunch of over-the-top old twats, they revel in their faded glory and tend to behave like the superstars they are manifestly not. For starters, upon arrival, the Sisters said that they refused to play until it was entirely dark. This somewhat upset the time schedule of Dour festival, it being July and all. They also demanded a dressing room that was entirely isolated from the rest of the backstage and they generally behaved like assholes.

He won't thank you and he's not serene

And of course, they also had some very specific food demands. I'm not sure what it was that they wanted, but it might have included lots of (black) beluga caviar and a teppanyaki of roasted bat. Anyway, as their designated personal assistant -a hapless volunteer girl- was bringing them their food, she went to singer Andrew Eldritch and humbly asked him what he wanted to drink. Upon which the old bastard, completely ignoring her, blankly stared at some point in the distance and breezily said: "Don't talk to me, talk to my manager."

I still have some Sisters Of Mercy vinyl and CD's lying about here so if anyone needs some stuff for target practise, feel free to send me an email.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

All quiet on the Blunder front?

You might have noticed that we haven't put any new stories online for over a week. Well, the reason -the culprit if you will- would be you. Yes you. As we said in our Blunder statement: your stories are the stuff that keeps this blog going, because we're not going to make them up (even though that IS a tempting thought). So, please, send them to us pronto. You can do so by sending them (preferably with a few pix) to

Friday, August 11, 2006

Take the next copyright, then turn left

Yesterday, Undercurrent and Guerilla organised a little concert of German / Japanese electropop band Pitchtuner. It was a very last-minute kind of thing, as we had a lot of trouble finding a venue and ended up in a metal/gothic shack in the centre of Antwerp. This resulted in several bewildered regulars (electro? pop?), a total lack of stage lights and a PA-system that had seen better days (probably when the Mongol hordes were still roaming the European plains). The latter resulted in the concert starting way too late and as there was a curfew, the band could only play for about half an hour. But all of this is -sadly- nothing out of the ordinary. What happened earlier that evening, however, was.

We had made arrangements with the booking agency that Pitchtuner first had to come to our place for dinner, and afterwards we'd all go to the venue for the soundcheck and so on. At about the time the band was due to arrive, they called us saying they had arrived at the venue. We quickly explained there had been some misunderstanding and that they were supposed to eat at our place first. The band said they'd come at once. At this point, we were getting a bit worried as time was already running out and we feared Pitchtuner would have a lot of trouble finding the way from the venue to our place, the Antwerp road system being what it is. But to our surprise, only a few minutes later the door bell rang. "Wow, those guys definitely have a good sense of direction!", we thought as we opened the door. Upon which four persons entered our house. Nothing strange about that you think? Well, it is if you know that Pitchtuner is a threesome.

There are three of them, right?

We figured it must be their driver. Not. The band figured it was either someone from the club or else a friend whom we sent there to help them out. Not. After a lot of discussion and several raised eyebrows, we -being utterly clueless- finally turned to the guy asking who the hell he was. It turned out - brace- that he was someone from the Belgian copyright organisation Sabam, whom you have to pay whenever you organise a gig without getting anything in return (unless you're Madonna). He explained that he had been waiting for us at the venue for several hours -god only knows why- and that when the band turned up, he offered to show them the way to our place. But he never told the band just who he was - even though he claimed to us that he did. But hey, as he was here now anyway, maybe we could oblige him to fill out the paperwork? Well, we didn't have much of a choice, did we?

At any rate, this was the first -and probably only- time Sabam actually did something good for us, because if it weren't for this guy, the band would have arrived way too late for dinner and our time schedule would have been entirely corrupted. So thank you Sabam!

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Global Dispositioning System # 2 (the navigation system strikes back)

The Balkan country of Slovenia can boast two contributions to contemporary music: industrial band / movement Laibach and Tekton Motor Corporation, whose gimmick consists of sampling Formula 1 racing engines into their beats. Slovenia used to be a part of Yugoslavia and it's the only republic that managed to secede from the federation without any serious bloodshed. There has never been given an explanation as to why Slovenia managed to escape civil war, but Bart Dujardin -manager of the Je M'en Fish indie collective- has finally provided an answer: the Serb troops simply couldn't find their way into the country.

Normally preferring to organise events from behind the safety of the desk/computer, I decided in April 2006 to hurl myself into the half-adventure, half-holiday event of touring with 2 bands, mainly as a photographer. The last concert was in Italy, but we first did some gigs in Germany and Slovenia and Italy as well. This story is centered on Slovenia and our mission was to boldly tour where no man has toured before. Well, actually, one of the bands already played 3 concerts there in 2005 and they told me the country was like nothing we'd seen before. Anyway, at some point we were somewhere at the fringes of Germany* and we asked people if we'd already crossed the border, they would mysteriously smile and say that "we would notice once we entered Slovenia".

Lesson 1: When looking up travel information on Slovenia, we couldn't count on websites like ; they didn't even bother listing the country. But since it's relatively small, we printed out some maps from the internet and hoped for the GPS system to do its job. The latter turned out to be a mistake. Once we were in Slovenia and we moved inland, away from any border (first Germany* and later Italy), the GPS acted as if we were driving on Mars. The phrase "Recalculate...route..." haunts our deepest memories to this day. The funniest moment came when we were driving on a patch of straight highway and the GPS confindently stated that we had to "drive 4 kilometres, then turn 180 degrees". This sounded spectacular enough for a change. Unfortunately, after about 3 kilometres, it 'recalculated' again (and subsequently decided we had to be completely somewhere else altogether, of course). The countryside was vast, green and above all, not inhabited, so no luck on that part as we couldn't ask for directions.

Well, this is a South-African road sign because we couldn't find one from Slovenia, but you get the idea...

Lesson 2: Be sure not to rely too much on Slovenian signalisation. Just as an example of what to expect: somewhere along our drive through the countryside, there were some heavy road works being done. The result was a traffic jam which stretched for about 7 or 8 kilometres (and there's not a lot of alternative roads to be had in Slovenia). In Belgium, there would be crisp-clear road signs stating the usual information (Drive 30/h, buckle up, etc). But not in Slovenia. When we stumbled on this traffic jam the first road sign showed us a smiley. Not a smiling smiley, you see, but one that was in a clear state of depression (it either showed a bottle of antidepressiva or a gun to its head, I can't quite remember). Road signs like this popped up every 500 metres, an on each the mood of our poor smiley gradually lightened, until at the last few kilometres the smiley was happily jumping around on the sign, finanlly looking like as if it was high as the sky on the last one.

Lesson 3: Expect the unexpected. What is deemed a club here in Belgium is obviously not the same thing in Slovenia. In 'Metelkova City', there was not one part of a building that was not filled to the brim with artwork of all kinds, outside or inside of the buildings. Playing a live show there was literally an eye-opener alright.

'Metelkova City' Is it a club? It is art? Or is it just strange?

* Blunderpop note: the country must have been Austria as Germany doesn't have a border with Slovenia, well not since the end of World War II at least.

More Je M'En Fish here.

Monday, August 07, 2006

Burning Blunder

Last night, Blunderpop was featured -with an interview no less- on Belgian national radio Studio Brussel, more specifically on 'Brandend Zand', hosted by Lux Janssen. If you have a lot of spare time, you can listen to the entire show here. We're in it somewhere...

Friday, August 04, 2006

There's no way you can really win a rock contest

Ken Veerman (aka SimpleSongs) has "decided to dedicate my first anecdote on Blunderpop to everyone who's ever had the guts to organise a gig, no matter how badly the previous one went. Because it's simply too easy to pick on the guys who are putting together a show, even if they mess up slightly (or not so slighty, but that's not the point)." So he sent us this story about surreal line-ups, veggie poultry and the unfairness of getting free booze.

Having organised a load of gigs myself for the Antwerp underground combo Undercurrent, I've witnessed our own so-called 'experienced' promoter make the most ridiculous mistakes ("Are you telling me you can't even put chicken stock in a vegetarian meal?" "Erm, no". "Shit, you reckon they'll notice?") and all I've learned is that experience is more about 'not panicking when the shit hits the fan' than about erm … 'wiping shit from fans'.

"Is that fan clean?" (picture by Thomas Bartosik)

Rock contests are a popular thing it seems. There's all kinds of reasons (some good, some bad) for this: the audience gets to see five bands in one night, if a band sucks, it's only on stage for about fifteen minutes so it's easy to retreat to the bar for the time being and ignore them, there are no fees to be paid to the bands and every band brings along its own -albeit sometimes tiny- legion of fans.

I remember this rock contest last year which had five bands competing for two awards. First of all, there was the typical 'professional' prize, where a jury of often dubious expertise (any musician who once played in a one-hit wonder and went downhill ever since can be in it) chooses the 'best band of the night'. There was also a public award ('which band was most popular to the crowd on that particular night?') so every visitor received a polling form which they should fill out and hand back to the jury after the last gig.

SimpleSongs @ Kaaiman (picture by Brook Williams)

The following order in which the bands were to play was decided at random. Now, having five bands on one night is a logistic hell, so starting early is wise. There was however quite a stir when it turned out that the first band on was supposed to play at 7.30 pm whereas all the leaflets, posters, press stuff etc clearly mentioned "doors 8 pm". As you can imagine, this took the chances of that first band of winning the public award well into the sub-zero area (and almost beyond the Kelvin scale).

To top it all off, the band who had to play last went to the jury to complain about… (brace) the free drinks that were available in the backstage. Their argumentation being: "we'll be totally drunk by the time we're supposed to go on stage." The band saw this as 'unfair'.

More SimpleSongs here.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Danish Butter Rookies

Anne-Mette Bak from Denmark sent us this story about the Roskilde festival. Danish people just love FKK and streaking but they'll also be quite happy to use any evidence whatsoever in this regard just so they can take the piss out of any poor soul that happens to be caught in their nudist web. So be careful whenever you participate in Roskilde's annual 'running naked' contest.

I discovered your awesome site through the Roskilde community website, and saw that you were looking for festival stories. I love festivals and the many fucked-up things you experience at them. I am just a 'normal' visitor who for some reason always ends up in some very weird situations. Allthough this particular story is not about me but about a guy I know.

Every year the Roskilde festival has a 'naked run race', something everybody goes to see. I go to a fairly small college (about 400 students) and most of us go to Roskilde every year. The joy of going to a small school can also be your worst nightmare, because it's nice to know everybody but on the other hand it's not so nice when everybody also knows about you and your screw-ups. Some poor first-year guy learned about this 'social control' thingie in a very sad way...

Ready, set, go !

At the time, he had not started college yet, but while he was at the Roskilde festival, he decided that he should join the naked run race. So he did. He had a great festival and returned safely home. About a month later he started college. In Denmark, it is custom that the 1st years go through a lot of humiliation and traumas during their first couple of months. The students of the 3rd year have the honour of being the dickheads who get to soak the 1st-years in water, put birdseed in their bags, humiliate them at assemblies in front of the entire school etc. All of this is because the new students should not think they are equal to the 'old and wise'.

So this guy is going through his daily traumas. He -sadly- is the guy that everybody knows and therefore there were quite a lot of 3rd years trying to figure out how we could humiliate him. Then one day on our way to school while sitting on the bus we took one of the free newspapers they distribute on our public transport and started to read the backpage (which is being written by comedians) and there, on a picture that takes up half of the page, is our guy - running very much naked in Roskilde mud. A few hours later, a huge load of this particular newspaper was scattered all over our school. We ended up not having to do anything to ruin his first few months at college, he did it all on his own. Need I say more apart from the fact that he didn't attend the race this year? Hehe...

And the winner strips it all...