Rawk & Quorn Rolls
My esteemed colleague Ingrid Dalhe and I recently made the trek to Walton-On-Trent to play the mighty Bloodstock festival's New Blood stage at the behest of the lovely Mark Makin.
It's odd. The prospect of hours in the car on a hot day doesn't fill me with dread when I get to travel with frickin' Batman! The best thing about gigging with your friend with whom you also write, is that when you get stuck on the M-fucking-25, oh and you WILL get stuck, it's not wasted time. We've thrashed out some of our best ideas while sitting bumper-to-bumper wishing all sorts of sweary indignities on the idiots clogging up "our" road in front of us.
We've sometimes thought about making a podcast of the conversations we have to and from gigs, but then quickly remembered that that level of swearing, moaning, offensiveness and from me, herculean amounts of bitching, are probably not a fantastic way to show us in our best light (would be funny though).
The purported three hour trip took nearly six, and after chomping on our packed lunch (gotta have a comedy road-trip packed lunch people) we left the hotel and arrived backstage a Bloodstock. Something wasn't right, things felt, squerfty. Ingrid sometimes talks about her time in Norway's Jesus Revolution on stage and as we got out of the car behind the huge tent we were playing in, a demonic torpor bit the air and she started to look genuinely worried. The fear was infectious because at that point the noise coming from the stage sounded a lot like what I imagine a nine pig butt-plug testing session set to thunder-drums would sound like. If all the pigs really didn't want to be testing butt-plugs. And had really small bums.
There was a genuine tension backstage. I felt like Edward Woodwood in The Wicker Man, but with a much more convincing accent. It was then I realised that I had the only acoustic guitar on the entire festival site and a chill struck me in my very marrow, a sinking dread the like of which I hadn't felt since "Trade Negotiations" were mentioned in the opening of The Phantom Menace. I felt fate had conspired, and I had been anointed with a responsibility to not only protect my friend from the satanic hoards, but also win the hearts and minds of the armies of darkness massing before us. My weapons? An old acoustic guitar, a golden voice of hilarity and hope, sexiness, oh yes, I always pack my sexiness, and the sincere belief in my humongous talent (that and the fact we'd only have to be there for under an hour and hey, what's the WORST that could happen?!). Ingrid at this point was pacing a rut into the grass and as I tried to recollect any holy incantations I could from various shit 70's horror films, a tour bus spooged its metal payload right in front of us.
There, stood in full blood-stained leather armour, were the band who were on before the comedy. I don't recall their name but it was something like KILL ALL COMEDIANZ, and it was at this point I could definitely hear a church bell toll thirteen.... The atmosphere turned Baltic....
Mark Makin arrived and instantly had great hair, Ingrid backed away and started smiling to placate the evil, making a crucifix from her frozen tears and I fixed them with my best heroic ageing camp singer glare....
The band didn't outwardly flinch, but no doubt rocked by my long-lashed flutter-onslaught trouped off to destroy the universe with their evil and left in their wake a short blonde woman in a biker jacket with an expression that was waaaaay past grumpy. Super narked if anything.
Was this the master of puppets? The true evil behind her squeal-throated, fret-wanking underlings. Was this Beelzebub!? She took a step closer to our huddled throng of bravery and great hair and spoke.... "Alright? Would you mind moving your car? I've been driving all day because those silly buggers only forgot their bloody merchandise didn't they! I've been back and forth to Wales TWICE already and I'm gagging for a pint." It could have looked like I was crying with relief when in fact my tear-ducts were cleverly producing holy water in case this tussle got biblical, but I gladly, and very bravely got into the car and unblocked her van so she could go and get a Hobgoblin Beer of her choice.
It was at that point, after re-positioning the car, getting rid of all the excess holy water I had produced and eating an entire packet of Softmints in one gulp I emerged triumphant and was hailed by my friends as the chuffing hero I was.
But I had no time for plaudits and lavish blandishments, I had a show to open, so as I strode toward the stage I was confronted with a sweat-drenched KILL ALL COMEDIANZ. As they filed past me, the bass player was bemoaning the fact that the blood was really hard to get out of his leather armour. His soft Welsh brogue touched me and I generously shared with him my knowledge and expertise pertaining to the waterproofing of leather using boiling bee's wax I'd learned when I was forging leather hilts for single-stick combat (actually true).
This was met with a flurry of thanks and a warm handshake that I like to think helped keep the lid on hell that night and kept all of the Earth's inhabitants safe until President Trump gets in and nukes North Korea.
My set was a joy to perform. They were an attentive, sweet and boisterous crowd who seemed to really enjoy me mincing about and generally being the human equivalent of glitter. One man even ate his dinner in the front row (pizza and a kebab) and the remaining couple of thousand lovely metallers sang along and laughed and generally made it all rather spiffing.
Ingrid then went on and had an equally great gig and we retreated to the backstage area like two spent skyrockets of awesomeness.
That day taught me a lot about comedy. A lot about travelling with Batman. And it also taught me to never judge a nu-metal viking raiding party by their blood-soaked, leather-clad ferocious cover.