In this diary, we transport you back to a time called ‘August’. Things were different back then: temperatures were in the 10s, rain fell almost constantly, and we nursed ourselves on cheap beer, fighting off the inevitable onset of a dark, frigid season.
So very, very different.
i) it is accessible only by bus, which means transport is free
ii) it’s not Schönefeld
Check-in is as swift as a döner through the gut, and soon we’re sipping on warm beers in the boarding lounge. When our flight is called, we pluck our pfand meekly from the tip jar as the bartender watches us sternly, lips two wilting currywurst.
We land safely in Dublin Airport; Sean informing us that “crosswinds” are not angry bends, but in fact gusts that blow sideways. Like yer ma.
We drive to Sean's granny's house. Whiskey appears and then disappears. Tom tells as story from his teens that begins with a girl in yoga pants, ends with her corpse, and is about one sentence long.
Sausage rolls, a roast chicken, cured meats, cheeses, wine, beer, champagne, Guinness (naturalich), and a cake bigger than Lisa's head await us. We gobble, nibble, prattle and chatter, then fall into bed.
Day 2: August 23rd – The Hut, Dublin
We traipse around Dublin, catching some of Last Days of Elvis’s session at HearOne where Maggie guests on vocals. Afterwards, we tumble into a pub and catch up with our sound engineer for the tour, Rosella.
We meet the Montauk Hotel gang at The Hut. The Abortion Rights Campaign crew and Voices for Choice arrive soon after. Eilis stations herself at the door, zines in hand, ready to push any wandering misogynists down the stairs.
Montauk Hotel play a blinder set, with Shell Dooley’s guitar work Pavlov's Dogifying every guitarist in the room into a slobbering mess of admiration. The rest of the show is a lark, with longtime friend and official Party Fears Dancer, Fintan joining us for Rep. Voices for Choice bring half the room to joyful tears before Last Days of Elvis take the stage and close out the night.
Day 3: August 24th – McHugh’s, Belfast
We park ourselves at McHugh's, hiding from the beautiful, blowy Belfast weather behind a wall of pints.
Aaron and Robert of Chord Blossom arrive, together with total babe, Feargus of Susie Blue. “It’s interesting you planned a tour during summer holidays when all the students are off,” says someone. We smile like we’re holding in farts and shrug: YOLO.
It’s a quiet crowd, but a good one, so we can't be too bummed out by the low turnout. Maggie drinks a hairy stranger’s Guinness, sits on the floor and talks briefly about masturbation. We laugh, her brother does not.
Beauty Sleep shepherd us back to their various gaffs. Eilis, Andrew and Maggie stay up and drink with Cheylene and Ryan. Cheylene falls asleep with an unopened tin of Harp Premium in her hand.
Day 4: August 25th – The Van is Here & Leith Depot, Edinburgh
We pick up the van. It's approximately a bajilllion times bigger than we thought it would be. Our drivers do well not to shit themselves at the site of it, especially since they’re both Australian and liable to spew filth at any time.
We park near the venue, get some takeaway. Boom! Andrew has a bottle of Buckfast. Boom! A group of teenage girls are fighting or crying, or maybe laughing. We don’t know, but we’re all scared. Scotland, we are in you.
Mondo Fumatore meet us at the venue, sans Endai sadly, but all smiles nonetheless. Rosella gets us set up quickly and Mondo kick off the night. The crowd is amazing and the room fast becomes a boiler room of sweat and accents. We finish off the night with a dance party shortly after Andrew prematurely wanders off the stage forgetting he had another song to play.
Day 5: August 26th – MacSorley’s, Glasgow
One of the biggest nights of the tour. Andrew’s hometown and once terra firma of Sean and Maggie, the audience is full of friends and relations. This makes the absence of a working drum kit or amps all the sweeter of course! Long minutes of chaos ensue, and the good people of the Classic Grand eventually save the day by lending us equipment. Despite the shaky start, Glasgow ranks highly: rowdy, warm and wild as expected.
We get back to Andrew’s pal’s apartment. Drinks and smokes, smokes and drinks. Lisa eventually has to carry a saturated Justin up the stairs. Glasgow has been good to us.
Day 6: August 27th – Wharf Chambers, Leeds
Wharf Chambers is a lovely venue; red brick, trains passing overhead, the waterside a few minutes away. The staff are darlings, as are Avacet.
‘It’s strange you guys planned a tour during the uni holidays,’ someone says. We guzzle our drinks, smiling at them over the rim with our eyes as we attempt not to crush the beer from the plastic cup.
Yes, drink is drunk. Tom becomes a wild man who is louder than everyone else in the room, regardless of whether they have a mic or not. The drive to Manchester is noisy and long. ‘Music soothes the savage beast,’ says Jason, reaching for his phone to put on SunRa and his Arkestra. Eilis, sober, grinds her teeth to stubs in the driver’s seat.
Day 7: August 28th – Fuel Cafe, Manchester
We start the day with a big breakfast and head into the city to explore, arriving at Fuel Cafe to soundcheck.
Someone leans towards us, ‘It’s really weird you guys made the tour during–’
‘Shhh,’ we say, pressing a finger dusted with pickled onion Monster Munch to their lips. ‘Just enjoy the mystery.’
Another glorious sweatbox and another active crowd who bounce around and get silly with us during songs like ‘In the Band’ and ‘Späti Love’. A couple of drunk chaps ask if they can play a set next, because they loved our set so much(???)
We say things like, ‘Oho!’ and point finger guns while simultaneously moonwalking away from them and back into the shadows.
Maggie, with her injured hand, goes ahead with the first group and the rest of us follow.
Klaxon! Disaster strikes!
Justin’s hand has been closed in the van door! We put frozen veggies on it and call the best thing in the world, the NHS. We’re told it should heal up in a few days. Lisa throws open the doors to her considerable personal pharmacy, giving Justin some painkillers. Rosella offers to jump in on guitar, making her our third super-sub.
Lisa and Eilis go to bed nursing their very nice and whole hands.
Day 8: August 29th – The North Bar, Rhyl
Van parks, door opens.
‘Me name’s Muscles!’ declares Muscles, a squat man wearing black-out shades. ‘I just beat the crap out of some lads down there for slapping a girl!’ Teenagers – not connected to the slapping – stalk past. He punches a boy’s shoulder: ‘Alright short-arse,’ he says to the literal child.
We ‘haha!’ and ‘hoho!’ awkwardly while toeing the door shut and drive away. Locals direct us to the tastiest Fish & Chips, which we hit up presently. Maggie emerges with three scratch cards and a pickled egg.
We go to the beachfront and are set upon by terrifying, aggressive seagulls who clearly despise feminist rock. Justin flees while Lisa’s eyes fall upon the unholy lights of the amusements arcade. Inside, fivers are exchanged for pounds are exchanged for two pence coins. We lose Lisa to the allure of the Penny Pusher.
‘Just one more,’ she says. ‘Just one more.’
‘No, Lisa. Come with us. It’s for your own damn good.’
The North Bar is a bar. Inside are energetic young men who shout at you the many things running through their heads such as, ‘Play Queen!’
We do not play Queen.
But we do play a show and woo the men like sirens do sailors in the briny waters of the Irish Sea. That is to say, we eventually empty the bar save for the members of Bluff who faithfully watch us and then play a set that swells hearts and makes three quarters of Party Fears wish they’d started a band younger. They’re cool.
We stay at the event organiser’s house, and stumble out into the predawn light with gluey eyes and a long old drive ahead of us. Inexplicably, Jason has acquired a cat at some point during the night. They part ways quietly.
Day 9: August 30th – Gwdihŵ Café Bar, Cardiff
Cardiff, you gorgeous beast. We stay in a hostel, each with our own bed for the first time since the beginning of the tour. Bones creak as toes are stretched from beneath crisp, white, freshly-laundered sheets. We nap like the pile of hairy hangovers we are.
Freshly napped and showered, we make our way to Gwdihŵ which is a word best left unsaid by non-Welsh speakers.
In what charts as one of our favourite shows of the tour, Gwdihŵ is a dream of a fiercely female crowd, great support from Carolines and especially Charlie Says, and a rare boozy night for Eilis. Maggie disappears up a chimney during the show and almost makes the news when plaster crumbles down around her. We wrap up our set by inviting all the women in the room on stage and smile ourselves silly the whole drive back to the hostel.
Day 10: August 31st – The Old England, Bristol
Bristol is a beautiful town, pies are on the menu, and the sun is shining bigly. The Old England is a nice old pub tucked away down a narrow street with a Salvation Army on the corner. We rummage and rampage, Eilis emerging with a glorious sweater she’s very proud of and will tell you about if you ask her.
Approximately minus three people watch our set and do so angrily. Or at least we think so. Maggie attempts to cajole and is ignored. It’s hard to tell though as the stormy expressions change not a jot. Luckily, a metal band from France follows us. A host of still-angry but now engaged gig-goers stomp into the stage room. They look at us like we’re wearing unicorn onesies and pissing glitter, which we aren’t but wish we were.
We console ourselves by eating Mexican food and preparing ourselves for the long drive to London. Which turns out to be about three hours longer than the original long we'd assumed it to be.
We drop off our dear sound engineer, guitar sub and friend Rosella.
Day 11: September 1st – The Last Day with Last Days of Elvis
It’s time to say 'ta-ra' to tour buddies and total babes, Last Days of Elvis. Sean and Andrew were stars throughout the tour, taking Maggie's on guitar and generally being babes. We celebrate with a few pints in Luton town. Jason rolls up a spliff in the pub and is subsequently rejected with several others. Tom secretes himself with us girls and escapes expulsion like the rakish devil he is!
We go for Thai, some of us being stupid enough to order a hot-as-fuck curry after 10 days on the road. Thank God for British plumbing.
Goodly byes Last Days!
Day 12: September 2nd – The Final Gig, Loud Women
It’s Loud Women day! The day the entire tour was built around!
Justin’s hand is back in almost-working order, pedals are packed, glitter adorned and excitement flying!
The DIY Centre for London is immediately wonderful, with the Loud Women organisers greeting us at the door with massive hugs and assumptions that we are in a band. Feminist rock high-five!
Our set is at four o'clock which gives us enough time to chow down on some of the tasty eats and soak up the atmosphere. And it’s beautiful: smiles, glitter, body-paint, shaved heads, unshaved pits, the young, the old, the we don’t know. Artists everywhere and so many smiles.
When it’s time to play our set, we’re buzzing. Sound-man Mark is a gem while Cassie rescues resident knucklehead Maggie by lending her a power supply. Our set flies past, and we try not to be too sad when we don’t have time to play ‘Rep’; the song used on the promotion video of the event. Maggie disappears into the crowd one last time for ‘In the Band’ and Eilis, Justin and Lisa punch out the final notes of the tour.
When we step down from the stage and weave our way back to the bar, a little girl is waiting for us. We’re the first live act she’s ever seen. She tells us she plays the bass, grabs a record and a tee, and probably has no idea how much she made our day, our week, our year.
Eilis and Maggie say bye to Lisa and Justin who fly back to Berlin, and then fall upon the Red Stripes. Dancing to GUTTFULL as they tear up the room is a perfect end to the tour. A room full of people smiling, dancing, fighting the good fight in whatever small, strange way artists and fans can.
That's what it's all about really.
When can we go again?