It had been a while since I’d been to a good punk gig. I was especially psyched about Rancid as I had started listening to them when I was just 15, as a recommendation from my older brother.
For the next few years they became the band that really lifted me and made me feel good about all the crap that school could make you feel bad about. I could only dream about ever seeing these guys in the flesh. Cam my brother would text me lyrics when he was out on the piss and say ‘one day Sis, that’ll be you and me’.
So the day when he posted the advert for their upcoming show in Cologne on my Facebook page saying ‘Let’s go’ I didn’t hesitate for a second, responding with an exhilarated YES!
We planned the trip. Cam would fly to Köln and I would take a couple of days off work and head down for the gig. Then Cam would go and venture round Luxembourg before making his way to Berlin to stay with me for the weekend. I was glad to be able to show Cam around as well, he had been to Berlin with his wife the year before and wrote a long rather disapproving email of his experience here. I was determined to shift his point of view.
The weekend before the concert my boyfriend and I tested out the fabric paint we had bought. I thought that we would be able to easily stamp a white piece of fabric with a cut out shape, but it didn’t work out so well. In the end we decided to sketch directly on to the fabric. We printed out a well known Rancid picture and the iconic Rancid stencil font and my very talented boyfriend did a great job of replicating this using a ball point pen and going over it with a toothpick and the fabric paint, then we filled it in with colour. I was set, I had the perfect band shirt and it looked pretty authentic!
Cam and I managed to get a bit lost on our way to the gig and I wasn’t able to fully catch the very fast German of the gas station attendant but picked up on the name of the right tram stop we had to get to. Once we were there we bought a couple more beers from the Spätkauf (dairy/convenience store). Drinking beer while walking down the street still a novelty for us both, Cam kept asking ‘Are you sure we’re not going to get stopped by the cops for drinking on the street’.
The price of the beer was another happy discovery at just 80cents for a decent can of lager. We walked back and forth between the venue and the Spätkauf a couple of times, sat outside on concrete pillars and had some good old drunken sibling conversations before making our way into the venue. Cam was determined to buy a Rancid Cologne Germany T shirt but unfortunately there were only generic Rancid tops for sale. He bought one anyway to stuff into his pocket and help keep his cell phone in place during the inevitable undulating activity to follow. We got a couple more beers from the bar and waited anxiously for Rancid to begin. All of the pre beer caught up with us though and Cam couldn’t hold on, we both anxiously looked at each other knowing that they could start at any minute. In the end he rushed off and of course as fate would have it Rancid came on a couple of minutes later. I wanted Cam to be there with me for the thrill of hearing their first song in their set. Then he tapped me on the shoulder and we both started moshing together with huge grins on our faces ‘When I got the music, I got a place to go!’
We were all the way at the back and felt like children in line to see Santa Claus. I determinedly grabbed his hand and started shoving my way through the crowd, resolute about getting as close as I knew I possibly could without being trampled. We got to a pretty good spot past the middle of the crowd and stayed together for a few more of our favourites which we excitedly yelled the lyrics out to each other. Then inevitably Cam kept moving forward, I followed him amidst the tearing and pushing of the other human bodies around me, determined to stay with him, but the closer toward the stage I got the more terrifying the crowd became and the smaller and frailer I felt. I knew I should pull back, so I moved back a couple of meters and lost Cam, but felt a lot safer. It was still in awesome experience hearing all the old songs and just letting loose and going crazy along with a bunch of strangers. Feeling the sweat of about 20 other people you have never met before being smeared against your bear arms, and face is all part of the elation of being in an incredible concert.
I remember at one point feeling stupidly emotional because the songs had been such a big part of my life for at least 10 years and I felt like I wanted the guys to know how much they meant to me. I felt like the people I was sharing the experience with felt exactly the same way, and all of these songs meant something to them too. The English words of these songs resonated so much with native German speakers and they knew all the words.
It was a really special experience. At the end I made my way back to the platform we had started on and looked out into the crowd for Cam, I didn’t even see him approaching right before my face. We met up both ecstatic and full of euphoria sharing our experiences. Cam had almost caught one of the drum sticks but missed by a centimetre.
We made our way home, limbs aching and dehydrated but buzzing from one of the best gigs we’d ever been to, and we had seen it together.