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Athens, Greece & ULVER live at Gagarin 2009

GREECE | Saturday, 14 November 2009 | Views [1135] | Comments [1]

Ok, you may have noticed that I quit doing the 'Day 1, Day 2, Day 3' etc. I will now blog every so often as when I feel like doing it. 

Athens, Greece ! Wow. What a filthy city.  I mean, save for the ancient ruins of Acropolis and the tiny tourist trap that's nestled below it, those parts are actually quite nice.  But I mean, wow. um. WOW. Oscar and I had no idea it would be this dirty.

I invited my friend Oscar Von Seth to Athens with me for one reason only: to witness ULVER perform LIVE at the Gagarin club.  Ulver is my favorite band, ever.  They're quite sacred to me, period.  Experiencing this performance by a band that I admire is something like the second coming of Jesus to me.

Now, we arrived yesterday at 3:30pm coming from Berlin, Germany.  The weather is PERFECT here, plentiful sunshine and beautiful temperatures, absolutely perfect I tell you.  Now for all of you who have been reading about my gripes of Berlin weather for the past 3 weeks, this is exactly what I needed, a BREAK.

So Oscar and I take a cab from the airport to Omonia Sq.  The area is very busy with motorcyclists everywhere, they will run you over no doubt about it.  We find an internet cafe, search for a nearby hostel and go about our way to locate it.  On the way to the hostel I recognize Jørn from ULVER standing outside on a street corner in front of a hotel.  My heart skipped a beat as we walk past him and I say to myself omfg, that is Jørn.  I kept walking but kicked myself in the ass to turn around and ask him if he is from the band ULVER.  Jørn seemed not to notice that I barked excuse me at him.  He looked over and then I asked him if he was with the band ULVER.  When he said yes I was like a happy school girl, introducing myself and telling him my story of traveling around Europe and my reason for coming to Athens.  BEST RANDOM MOMENT EVER.  I still can't believe it.

So we get to the hostel and already it looks like a disgusting dump.  It's inside of this building that looked like a jailhouse, the hostel itself looked like some old guy's apartment.  Thank god Oscar was there with me on this trip.  The dude is from Guam, he made special note of this to us, like we cared.  This place was so awful that I am going to skip writing about it because I'm becoming upset just thinking about it.  But then again, we humbled ourselves into taking this place, Athens is shitty as it is so we would go through it just for one night. 

We went out and took a walk around the city center for about an hour, it's wretched. People are shooting up drugs right out in the open, infact Oscar and I witnessed some guy shooting up, a needle into his hand in front of everyone.  People are pissing everywhere, I cannot believe how grotesque the standards of living are around here.  I'm sorry I don't understand but c'mon.

I hardly got any sleep at all, I was up all night. We booked from that place first thing in the morning without even saying good bye. Wow.

So a new day ahead of us, a fresh whole new day and we decided to check into the very same hotel that ULVER are staying at.  Can we say stalker? no, we're not stalkers, I'm just living my dream man.  The hotel is still booked but we can come back after 12 to make a booking so we dropped our heavy bags off and did a little sight seeing. 

Walking down towards the Acropolis and everything seems a bit hectic but normal Athens routine for everyone.  Motorcycles are blazing by the dozens, as well as the cars.  There are these guys who sell this kind of toy made from sticky slime or whatever, they're everywhere, we see them along the way, everywhere.  Not only that but old Greek woman are following you around trying to sell you a homemade shawl that you're mother would love to have.  The street vendors increase twofold and ever more as you approach the more touristy parts of Athens near the Acropolis.  Down under the Acropolis is the posh and clean area, full of tourists and cafes, waiters trying to usher you into their restaurants every which way you turn. Oscar and I had a little lunch there, the salads are excellent, didn't try much of anything else. So we decide to back in the direction of the hotel and check in. The guys from ULVER were outside loading themselves into the van, presumably to drive off to the venue and set up for the show. I waited a little bit until they left, was feeling a bit shy. The doors opened at the venue around 8:00 and the show didn't start until 9:15. It was totally packed by the time the band started. It was at this place called Gagarin in Athens, pretty cool venue, it's small but not the most acoustically optimized place in the world. ULVER finally appeared on stage with a few other people I didn't recognize. They started the show with a track from METAMORPHOSIS, one of my favorite E.P's that they've put out. Their live set had a great setup for a small studio band - a grand piano, orchestra chimes, kettle drums, turntables, a few laptops, guitar, drum set. The LED lights were quite amazing, and totally bright. Kris sang wonderfully, moved around a little bit, swayed with the music but from his body language one can tell that he isn't used to doing live performances at all. I really thought that his vocals could have been mixed in well with the music rather than blurred into the underwater sound of the music - it's not the band's fault, it's the shitty acoustics of the venue. They performed pieces from most of all their albums, including Teachings in Silence, Blood Inside (IN THE RED was the highlight of their performance), Shadows of the Sun, and some others. What was really the icing on the cake was when after they finished they waited about 20 minutes to perform a track from Bertatt for the audience ! it was most awesome !!! Kris's vocals sounded sooooooo amazing and in the forefront of everything else. That's when I thought the music was mixed in beautifully. I believe it was Knut, their old guitar player, who was on stage playing the guitar parts. Anyway, Kris said it was a surprise and kinda random to do this and very much unrehearsed. Overall I'd say that the band did an exceptional job and I am very impressed with the performance and this unique opportunity to witness them live, and also to share it with a friend from Stockholm. Oscar and I stuck around to invade the merch table, I bought a nice shirt and then took a nice 30 minute walk back to the hotel and crash for the night. Yeah, it was an early night for both of us, although I did want to stay up and see the band for a drink. That didn't happen until the next morning :-)



Man,Ulver is the best band that ever existed...

  Andreas Gylve Mar 26, 2010 11:44 AM



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