the trainline steadily wound its way north-west, leading us gently out of moravia and back into bohemia. the landscape pitched and undulated, rose and fell. farmlands, wooded regions, worn symbols of agriculture and industry in successive waves. my head was weary from the lack of sleep, yet the weather had begun to show signs of the springtime, bright sunlight warmly illuminating the landscape beyond the carriage window, willing my eyes to remain open to take in the sights. my thoughts lead me on a path from praha to ostrava to brno, and now built themselves a steady anticipation of returning to the captial and of the show at the mighty final in the evening. i arrived at praha hlavní nádraží mid-afternoon and found myself sat on a bench outside, just taking in the air, waiting a little while for captain david to collect me. after but a short while he keenly emerged from amidst the crowds of folk swarming around the busy scene and we rode the metro back to his residence, but not before stopping off at a splendid bakery to secure some tasty treats to take with tea back at base. a little internet-related activity was necessary before david, veronika and i planned to take to the streets of the captial for the afternoon, that we might afford me the opportunity to soak up more quarters of the city whilst the time existed.
we stepped out onto the street and boarded a tram heading in the direction of pražský hrad, high up on the hillside overlooking the vast ancient city beneath it. the tram-line wound its way through many and various quarters as our path winded on and our altitude slowly rose, and whilst both david and veronika kindly took great care to explain to me many and various pertinent details of the various notable sites on our path through the historical streets. at last we reached our stop and stepped out into what had become the bright sunshine of a spring afternoon in the city, such glorious weather for the time of year. our first port of call was the resturant of david's older brother, who graciously welcomed us and prepared a rather splendid lunch of mozzarella, tomato and basilicum panini's for sustenance. having taken our fill we walked out to find ourselves at the foot of pražský hrad, and how it is a staggering site indeed. it should be noted that both babel fishh and i share a strange grim fascinating with the cathedral of our lady of strasbourg and how i can safely assure both himself and all readers more generally that it has been seriously warned. pražský hrad is absolutely stunning and simply must be stood before humbly at some stage in ones life. we descended the cobbled streets into the malá strana, crossing the karlův most into staré město, past the lennon wall, the národní divadlo; a whirlwind of impossibly beautiful architecture, deep rich history and overwhelming romanticism which lead us forward into the dying light of the dusk and the slowly approaching need to make it to final ready for the show.
in the weeks leading up to the tour, in my communications with david, i was quickly schooled in the immense importance of the silver rocket collective within the praha and indeed whole czech underground music scene. in flambouyant colloqualism they perhaps might be described as the godfathers of the czech scene, orginially making their beginnings in the always strong punk culture within the region but also expanding their fields of influence to encompasses ever-widening circles of high-quality underground music, and quite how much of an honour it was for me to be able to garner their support in my praha show, as well as more general promotional material on their vital website in helping to promote the whole tour. i was therefore very keen to get to meet and shake hands with their mighty leaders, perhaps most-notably the near-legendary aran who is a man of most imposing stature but, as with all great leaders, also a man of very considered words and incredibly kind and warm in equal measure. my only regret of the evening being that we did not get to converse as much as i would have liked, although briefly discussing the outrageous news that they organised the praha earth & mount eerie show at the end of the month was something of a treat to be sure.
still, the other reason i was so excited about the evenings show was in anticipation of the performance of david and veronika within their band nod nod, who would graciously be performing support duties. as we descended into the basement of final and they began to set up their equipment and as the guitars, bass, drums and vocals started to sound out in preparation of the performance i knew something very special was going to transpire, and how i was indeed absolutely blown-away by their performance. perhaps one is best to imagine a mixture of melvins and slint with a devastating vocal to rival even that of winterismyname from the knertz collective. standing in the first line being crushed by their steam-roller of extra-slow sludge riffs was just a wonderful experience and the best live show i have seen in some little while. somewhat stunned by their epic riffery i took to the stage myself and performed what ended up being a really enjoyable set. a little sound issues plagued me, but the audience proved to the most attentive of the tour, really keen to listen to my humble explanations and reasonings behind each song and how i was most grateful. once the show was over we ascended the stairs to collectively prop up the bar until the early hours of the morning, which proved to be the most amusing night indeed. a wonderful mixture of british-comedy-influenced banter and serious philosophical thought; the conversations too diverse and too many to begin to detail in these brief lines. suffice to say the slow somewhat-drunken stumble back to the apartment and subsequent snack-time back in the kitchen proved to be the most relaxing end to a really special evening.
the next morning rolled-around quickly indeed. our pace was to be a little gentler though as david had explained that we would be driving on to tábor that afternoon, which is not a great distance and would therefore be able to afford ourselves a slighty slower pace in preparation of leaving the city. i did not hesitate to fix myself a nice long shower as well as a strong cup of tea whilst the guys put together a really nice lunch for us all. a little online activity whilst david ran an errand or two and then the other guys began a mild siesta which subsequently found me standing out on the balcony just surverying the scene, a beautiful azure spring sky above and a bird of prey circling high within it, dipping and sailing in sublime waves. the air was so tranquil and warm and how, in returning from his errands, david did indeed inform me that it was a really hot sunny day, the perfect day for a nice drive into the south bohemian countryside for sure. we gently gathered ourselves, bid his flat-mates a fond farewell before descending down to the street into the warmest of spring air, locating the car and thinking about the drive back to tábor, and the nights performance at the orion music club. praha had treated me so very well, and how it was a little sad to have to bid it farewell for now, but i am already greatly filled with the keenest of enthusiasms to return before too long.
so, might i extend my most heartfelt thank to all of the wonderful folk who helped to make my visit to praha such a wonderful joy and success in equal measure. to the wonderful david and veronika for their incredible kindness and the staggering nod nod for their unrelntingly epic music. to the whole silver rocket family; aran and petr especially, to honza and marta, ondrej, honza and all of the kind folk who made it out to the show, and all whose names i did not get to learn... til next time indeed!
next report : on the banks of the draining jordan