Curse Ov Dialect • Tour Diary 2007

In late 2007 the Australian hip-hop group CURSE OV DIALECT embarked on a European tour. I joined them, bringing an all-new A/V show. Curse’s DJ Paso Bionic unfortunately couldn’t join this tour, so we captured him scratching the backing tracks on a two camera shoot in Footscray, incorporating his stage prescence, scratches and fx into time-locked visuals. The resulting pixelated DJ was present and detached for the duration of the tour, a phantom friend looking over the group from a video projector’s eye view. The show ran off my first generation macbookpro, external usb soundcard and the very competent VDMX software. The tour was a challenge mentally and physically, not to mention the attacks from small-town fascists, cross-border stowaways, easyjet powernaps, autobahn speeding and soviet superclubs. Intensely lived time with friends and strangers. Great times.

The following is my tour diary, intermittently emailed from promoters apartments and train stations to my friends back home. Compiled in one large blog chunk for easy digestion and reflection after-the-fact…


listening to piped in italian pop
the sign says ‘the best italian regional cuisine’
changi airport, singpore

eight hour wait until the flight to athens
find a shower then hit the pool bar
the very ballardian experience of cocktails on a pool deck as 747s land around you
wrinkled dutch tourists take a dip
heavy metal ready for lift-off
coffee eventually killed off my caffeine headache
smell the jet fuel and sweet tropical breeze at dusk

a serene sense of peace
knowing that most of the stress has taken place in the lead-up to the trip
now is only to enjoy the experience as it careers madly out of control

the plasma screen in departure lounge is showing a promo for a japanese thriller ‘NIGHTMARE DETECTIVE’

arrive in athens and find adam and earl waiting for me
first gig in thessaloniki
a blues club with a small stage large screen and air conditioning
soundcheck goes smoothly
a boy of six challenges me to a fight in the street
eat a souvlaki from a fast food chain called GOODYS

first act begins and i am suprised to see fans moshing
these kids are pogoing, windmilling and slam-dancing like a punk show

an altercation with a russian man sloshing in vodka occured just prior to the show
we were told afterwards through an interpreter that the guy had a gun and said:
“if i dont like it i will kill you”
we will never know if he was a psychotic criminal or a pissed up importer/exporter from vladivostok
we take the stage and things are going well
after intial shock of seeing curse ov dialect the audience is excited and getting into it
the vodka-man later stumbled to the stage and shook our hands
he must have had a great night

another show this weekend in an underground club in sofia, bulgaria
our hosts are kids that live out in the suburbs
smoking weed in the park and sharing the latest hip-hop mp3s
these kids are helping us navigate the visa process for belarus and avoiding dodgy taxi drivers


speeding buses through narrow mountain passes
overtaking oil tankers, speeding past cement mixers
two visa-less british backpackers get turned away from the border

first show in a stainless steel outdoor super club
something like ibiza in boronia
moving lights, water feature sculptures on steroids
some kind of crass glamour going on here
second life super club is located next to hardware store and petrol station

we perform on macedonian independence day
borce has his wall hangings of macedonian revolutionaries ready
gig goes ok after the crowd’s initial shock and bewilderment
we play before a macedonian jurassic 5 and a croatian 50 cent

day after we watch a 1988 michael jackson concert on cable tv in macedonia
our hosts prepare baked peppers, chilli chicken and egg cabbage salad
cats on rooftop, wild dogs on street

change scene to lake ochrid, macedonia’s lakeside resort town
eating lots of meat in macedonia
haiduk mixed grill makes guts churn
hills, trees, very beautiful yes yes
walk to a roman ampitheatre, samuel’s fortress, orthodox church on lakeside

borce’s cousin found an ancient goin coin
he keeps it in the plastic film of his cigarette packet
he asks me to find a website that can identify his treasure
he is telling borce about digging for gold around macedonia and becoming wealthy
cousin shows us his secret map of mount olympus on a napkin
he says there is buried gold there
he gives his secret serviette map to borce

we leave lake ochrid for a long train ride to thessaloniki, greece
arrive at one am
the two am train we were meaning to catch is booked out
heart-attacks, palpitations, cold sweat
we have a very short connection to make it to our flight in athens
tempers flaring, everyone on edge
with the help of a macedonian agriculture student and
two aussie backpackers we take a bus in the morning

a worried night of delirium in the all-night bus terminal cafe
black coffee, spanakopita, cable tv, bored workers
well-dressed old man sitting in the corner is a senile greek colonel sanders
stray travellers sleeping on their possessions
the aussie backpacker girls are on their way to meet friends in croatia
the dalmatian coast is lovely this time of year apparently
at seven am the cashier opens
with bleary eyes, breath of cheesy pastries we finally get the tickets
triumph and gladitorial conquest
raising the tickets to the sky as we return to our small table

arrive in athens and find a cabbie that drives at 140kmph to the airport
after the biological slow-motion of the night before this ride is sensory overload

three hour flight to riga
get off the aluminium tube and meet the promoter
gig in two hours, do set up, rest for an hour
playing at club depo a subterranean underground club
punk, hardcore scene
curse ov dialect can fit in many places

morning after the show two girls that were hosting us decide to stow-away in our coach

with no-coffee zombified brain cells we watch this brazen duo jump in with the baggage

our new friends are coming with us to estonia in the cargo hold
we are in disbelief, somewhere between exhilaration and dread
they emerge unscathed five hours and dance together in the carpark

estonian gig took place in a venue called ‘who looks like johnny depp?’
still unable to find good sound on this tour
venues dont seem to value booking a sound mixer
sometimes we dont have onstage monitors
we do it ourselves and get a acceptable outcome

getting back to riga the girls tried the same tactic
a double-decker bus and two coach workers prevented their entry into cargo hold
we say fragile farewells and hope they can return safely
after arriving in riga their friend tells us they have made it past the border
talking to the latvian border police
weaving a story that they lost their passports in estonia
canny girls

arrive in belarus
soviet factory making tractors
impressive marble subway facade
nescafe blend 43
hyper inflation $50000 banknotes worth ten dollars
bold concrete soviet architecture
our show is in a big nightclub that has staged boney m, nazareth and scorpions
support act is an experimental russian folk act using traditional instruments and voice
belarus crowds go off
screaming, dancing, moshing, clapping
this neo-soviet isolationist dictatorship knows how to party
night after the minsk super club we take a slow train to baronovichy
play in a concrete box that used to be a boxing training complex
first time i have seen stage divers at a curse ov dialect show
lighting desk is operated by venue owners’ three year old son

last show is at a soviet discotheque
‘house of national culture’
heroic farmworkers, folkdancers on the walls
stained glass mosaic soviet memorobilia
complete failure terrible gig
disorganised organisers and incompetent engineers


borce was busting for the dunny at baranovichy train station belarus
after barely making it to the toilet in time the only paper at hand was the secret map
immeasurable mounds of gold treasures down the pipes


arrive in krakow
imperial city
first capital of poland
medieval architecture
untouched by twentieth century bombs
pirogi (dumplings), gulabi (cabbage rolls) polish specialties for lunch
and the first of many vodkas

we go on a tour of nowa huta
a soviet-era giant factory and city

we tour the area in two beaten up trabbant motor vehicles
our tour guide is viktor
racing ‘trabbies’ down polish highways
our brains still sloshing in wybrowa vodka

small underground club called ‘the beautiful dog’
gig goes very well – more vodka
it’s the most drunk i’ve been on the tour
i forget the video cable i installed in the venue
keep dancing with strangers
and forget about it
stumble home
a few hours sleep then a train to innsbruck austria
behind sunglasses

meet the austrian promoter
iranian-austrian MC nomadee
eat a farsi-strudel in downtown wien
car to innsbruck
small provincial town
on the autobahn we see accident after accident
flaming mercedes
smashed passenger coaches
golf hatchbacks screaming past our van at 180kmh

arrive in innsbruck
a left-wing venue and social centre
a pink neon sign above the bar reads ‘no theory, no revolution’
i duck out after set-up to get some food
walk past some dodgy australian themed bars
when i return to the venue the promoters usher me inside quickly
eye spy with my little eye something beginning with nazi
five black-clad dudes are approaching the venue at speed wearing balaclavas
i am the last man to get inside the place
a heavy steel street bin is thrown through the window
i feel the brush of broken safety glass against my back
rocks get thrown through the remaining windows
crowd is screaming and moves deeper inside

the gig goes ahead after an hour
this venue has had attacks by fascists before
our set is blistering and full of energy
energy ramped up to boiling point

later we hear that the goons involved in the attack were arrested

we pack our bags and head to our flight
the only way to get there is by a friend of the promoter
we drive in his mini-van to munich airport
a pianist two weeks a month and a taxi driver the other two weeks
we have lynchian conversations about classical pianists and kangaroos at 3am
arrive half broken but alive in munich
board the plane to dusseldorf
arrive in dusseldorf and get a train to tilburg for a show at three pm
the following day
almost shattered by tiredness
we do the gig
half-enthusiastic crowd
mostly forgettable

during our stay in amsterdam i make a presentation to sandberg institute

discuss my work and meet others who are here to commence an MFA in the netherlands

severely dislocated experience
leave the next day to get to switzerland
all shows in switzerland were succesful
very responsive crowds and great production
stayed in a regal mansion now squatted in lausanne
played in an abandoned winery in neuchatel
one of our best shows
after the gig the bands and friends entered giant empty wine tanks
making music in the reverberant chambers that once housed thousands of litres of wine

french gigs are all fantastic
from le confort moderne in poitiers
a large venue with art gallery, zine library and restaurant
to a parisian barge on the seinne decked out as a venue
french crowds go nuts for curse ov dialect
adam was inadvertantley punched in the face by an ecstatic fan in the front row
now nursing a purple eye


another visit to greece
an easy jet to the moonscapes surrounding athens airport
a quick spanikopita and yoghurt drink with the athens promoter nikos
then on to a train – an all night express to istanbul
crusty bunk beds and tour odour
past the border and the see military everywhere
behind the green foliage we see tanks and bored gun-toting kids in uniform
change trains, present passports and continue
while waiting for the passports to return there is time for one band fight,
two cheese and meat sandwiches and a conversation with a greek musician heading to turkey to buy traditional instruments
after 20 hours of train travel we hit the outskirts of istanbul
a gigantic city that sprawls and sprawls
late night open air seafood restaurants
ancient city border fortifications
wide open bay and mosques

arrive at the hostel
we are in taksim
the red light district
in the first evening we sit down to eat at a traditional street diner

see a fight erupt between nightclub bouncers and a cocky young adult

turkey lost to greece in the football tonight
breakfast of pide and ayran yoghurt drink
curse of dialect is sitting in a pide salon at eleven am in istanbul

the first show is at a large multi-level club in the center of taksim
the lighting man / dj is playing hard techno
itunes visualiser on the bar’s plasma screen
this is a last minute gig for curse due to another gig being cancelled
curse plays to a hand-full of punters including one sean healy from melbourne

the days are spent exploring the city and drinking the strong red tea
borce buys a zurna woodwind instrument to play on-stage
adam buys a marionette to use on-stage

the nights are spent going to bars and clubs in taksim
borce and daryl narrowly miss a shootout between police and a bagsnatcher
30 seconds saved them from running headlong into a gun fight
we have a tea with the cafe owner downstairs who witnessed the action
on to another club, a rooftop bar that is playing macedonian brass wedding music,
euro-latino dance music and obscure one-hit-wonders from the nineteen-eighties
wander up the street and join a posse of night owls cheering on a busker playing an amplified string instrument
the small amp is cranked and makes the strings so much more ear-piercing
the crowd is dancing and cheering
and then more crowd arrives
and then a street cleaner arrives
drops his disheveled cart of plastic containers and joins in
dancing better than anyone else
this lasts for five minutes and everyone slowly moves into the night

late night food up the hill
a man is bleeding, standing, barely conscious
red blood dripping on the cobbled stones
arms outstretched and covered in blood
the liquid is pooling on the ground
the slits on his arm appear self-inflicted
he stumbles and falls
a crowd controller takes him by the wrist to another street
the interaction looks more like detainment than help
our promoter tells us the day after that self-inflicted wounds in public is pretty normal

on the night of our last show the PKK kill 14 turkish soldiers in the east
the country goes into mourning – nobody shows up to our gig
we leave turkey directly after the performance
our taxi driver asks us if we have seen the film ‘madagascar’
he sings the song ‘i like to move it, move it’
it is a one hour drive with conversation and laughs through the warm night

arrive in cologne and go directly to the venue
this week is one of our most hectic on the tour
seven days in a row – across germany and france
autobahn station wagon 200kmh

we survive the shows and make new fans
the last night of the tour is in hamburg with BLEUBIRD
a rapper from florida living in berlin who raps about kurt vonnegut, ‘bad’ johnny halliday and arnold swarzenegger

we finish the bottle of absinthe and stay in the club until morning
this monster tour has come to an end
it is difficult to switch off the inertia from the tour
i am expecting to jump in the car and find the new venue, promoter, sound guy
instead – it is time to depart
leaving the guys in hamburg
a mutated limb that has to be hacked off
i get on the train to amsterdam and am still numb from this immense tour

eight weeks
thirty shows