There’s a skinhead bouncing over enthusiastically to my right, alternating between the three-thumps on the chest Sieg Heil and holding his Absurd t-shirt talismanically over his head. I’m staying put because he keeps barging into the people surrounding him with all the grace of a bear dancing on nails and I’m angling for an excuse to punch him. He suddenly pours the remains of his beer over his head and I leap like Tom & Jerry’s racist caricature of a housekeeper to avoid getting my clothes wet. In that age old battle between my natural inclination to pussy out and my foaming self-righteousness, the former inevitably chalks up its latest victory. My beer-sodden, Jew-hating comrade-in-mosh surges forwards into the crowd and punches a girl in the back of the head, reiterating that fundamental marriage between being a nationalist and being a violent idiot.
I really wish I’d punched him. This is like Chamberlain’s appeasement of Hitler all over again, and this poor waif is Czechoslovakia. A bouncer appears (the Soviet Union) and he calms down, and I didn’t even get a Battle of Britain (and subsequent moral high ground) out of it like I planned.
Anyone who read my last Watain ‘review’ and struggled to understand sentences of more than five words or sentiments clouded by irony will probably not only amazed that I went to see them again, but went all the way to Romania’s oppressive, chaotic capital of Bucharest to do it. Just to reiterate, I don’t hate Watain or black metal, I just hate people who take both of those things far too seriously and there’s a distinct lack of that, Nazi aside, just a whole lot of kids in various unkvlt t-shirts who have poured in from as far away as Transylvania and it’s really hard not to be moved by their simple enthusiasm. My buddy for the evening (I was over to stay with two friends, who were both busy promoting the actual show) was a lovely girl called Elena, who it transpires is sixteen years old making me a possible candidate for the paedophile register. Not because I said anything, but just because I exude raw sexuality like Russell Brand suggestively consuming a banana dipped in yoghurt. Elena plays guitar in an atmospheric black metal band and wants to be able to sing like Tarja Tarunen, which is why she’s taken the subversive and controversial step of being one of only a dozen people in this venue who aren’t smoking like a parked car in Burnley.
She’s not even a massive Watain fan, she’s come mainly for Melbourne meatheads Deströyer 666. That’s a six hour bus journey from the Carpathians (Transylvania in fact, this friendly schoolgirl is approximately 80 times more black metal than a pouty anus faced acolyte with a bulletbelt and a purposefully overwashed Archgoat t-shirt), through winding mountain roads where the driver insists on trying to overtake into the face of oncoming traffic (the two crosses hanging from the rear-view mirror and endlessly foil icons pinned to the dashboard speak in deafening volumes about his driving style) just to see a support band. In all seriousness, when did you last do that? When will you next do that?
Sluice some of the bullshit that comes with buying into the lifestyle aspect of being a part of ‘the scene’ and embrace your base unpretentious love of things that move you, and then go act on them.
Apologies for the uncharacteristic sincerity, back to talking shit on people I’m too scared to criticise to their faces. Ortagos, who I totally missed in London being unwilling to endorse their black metal thongs, fill the stage with lasers and smoke, and don matching cybergoth vests like they’re Assemblage 23 or some shit. Rubber trousers and absent dance beats aside, Ortagos deliver spectacularly. Similarly Deströyer 666 seem heartwarmingly humbled to be here, and though they continue to play the same song about six times, it’s hard to fault them when being in a city most would pass over as some provincial shithole brings them so much joy.
Ah, mocking Watain, that’s much easier. As we’re queued up to enter, Eric Danielson (sorry, E) wanders past making me instantly aware of three things: 1) he’s very short, 2) he smells like he’s shat himself, 3) he looks a bit like Dani Filth. OHYEAH, I WENT THERE (again). Watain = Cradle Of Filth. The band arrived at the venue six hours late, having stopped off to find fresh pig heads to tie to their trident stakes, which to me instantly screams ‘Lord of the Flies’, the book, rather than lord of the flies, the malevolent demon. They attempt to charge their plush tourbus but plug the wrong something or other into the wrong something else, blowing out a powerline and bringing a couple of cars of notoriously stupid policija round to kick up a stink.
With a venue that meets their ridiculous criteria they do look good, impressive even, Eric probably has a midget riser to bound up like a hamster. Flanked by flame, and helpfully bloodless so I didn’t have to break out the cannily prepared Vicks inhaler, I’ve got to give them some sort of grudging, backhanded praise… Oh, wait, sudden reprieve. They’re playing a venue decked out like a church, called fittingly the Silver Church, and they completely fail to say anything cheesy about desecrating it or holding a black mass, instead relying on the exact same stage banter they used in the UK three weeks earlier?
Yes, that’ll do. I’m still laughing at you Watain.