There and Back Again – A Groupie’s Tale

By Alex Johnson

 

Let’s talk music. Whether you have lived in Maastricht for a while or you’re relatively new, there’s a decent chance that you have heard of the city’s greatest Rock and Roll export…. The Ride. It’s difficult to sum up what The Ride gigs really are and difficult to do them the justice they deserve and practice so hard for, but I’ll do my best.

 

I ended up going to this event after buying my ticket in a drunken state at the band’s most recent Shamrock ear destruction, in exchange they played one more song before ending their set. €10 a ticket for 3 minutes of music didn’t seem expensive at the time, this is a drunken decision that one does not regret. So, let’s paint the picture, Saturday 9th December, The Ride have organised a bus for the screaming, South-Netherlands based groupie students to accompany them to Bonn for the gig of their lives. The top prize for toys2masters, the competition they entered (and got to the final of), was €40,000. The parliament of screaming fan-gals and fan-guys were set to board the “party bus” to Bonn around 15:00h. Given that it was a Saturday, some of us were shaking off Friday night or even still carrying some of the intoxicants in our blood streams. “Party bus” had the answer, there were a few crates of beer plus whatever the Ride-alongs had brought with them, mostly wine….and more crates of beer. It’s remarkable how much liquid a troop of Rock & Roll Suicide groupies can drain down their throats during a 2-hour trip on an autobahn. Despite a sing along to “Eye of the Tiger” and the bus driver occasionally interrupting with “sit down please”, the trip was pretty smooth. The only obstacle was one that I think most should have predicted, after consuming a few litres of booze the bus users discovered that their bladders weren’t as strong as their livers. The queue for the toilet was long, consequently most of us held it in and found a bush or tree to give a dousing upon disembarking.

 

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Moving swiftly on! Bonn, the birthplace of Ludwig van Beethoven, not that he and The Ride have all that much in common. But it’s interesting none the less to see the progression that North-Western Europe’s music scene has taken. After a brief and sexless marriage to the question “where are we going?” we managed to find the gig hall. Naturally the first thing we did was to spark up cigarettes and charm the locals, one member even attempted to liberate a beer from a gang of extremely passive Germanic gig-goers. After being hand stamped and admitted, we found ourselves in a lobby fit for Napoleon with ill-fitting rock and rollers, one of whom was wearing a t-shirt with “Jesus was a tit” printed on the back. It was a bit of a contrast to say the least. After purchasing refreshments from the cash only bar we wiggled on to the concert. An explosion of raw energy coursed through our flesh leaving us hungry for The Ride. Our eyes adjusted to the light and we were soon yelled at by the rock and roll chick who introduced the bands as they colonised the stage. “All the way from Maastricht…..The Ride!”. The loyalist Limburg mafia roared in unison as Branimir, Michel and Piet took to the stage. The smell of spilled beer mixed with the raw anticipation only live music can provide, we wanted rock and The Ride obliged by raising the curtain with “We Ain’t”. Hendrix-haired singer and guitarist Branimir kissing his microphone and sporting an unbuttoned shirt revealing…all, Piet thumping on the bass, swaying back and forth in a power stance that Malcolm Young would have been proud of and Michel rhythmically thrashing his savagely beaten drums like John Bonham and Kurt Cobain’s lovechild. With the band rocking and the crowd well lubricated with booze and sweat, the night was in full swing. Our bones shaking to the pounding of Piet’s bass and our ears open to the magical combination of Branimir and Michel feeding each other into a manic frenzy of screaming guitar and explosive drumming. The fuse had been well and truly lit, the over 1,000-strong audience was on the verge of going off like a World War II sea-mine. The final song proved to be the catalyst causing this explosion. Catchy number “Pumpin’ the Crowd”, caused this author and most of those around him to completely lose their cool. Mosh pits, strangely aggressive hugs and application of beer to faces began to take hold. The Maastricht army had now fused with an equally fanatical group of German The Ride supporters, the inevitable result being a firecracker of chaos and compressed energy, this fusion screamed rock and roll. It speaks volumes of the crowd’s involvement that the camera man wasn’t sure which dance troop to film. In the end he wisely chose to turn around and film Branimir pulling a Hendrix and playing the guitar behind his head. The Ride had delivered what was promised and more. Once they had finished most of us realised we were out of cash, a bit of an issue in a cash only bar. So we proceeded to the nearest McDonalds to wolf down some chips and then onto the next pub.

 

The journey home was a bit of a blur if we’re being totally honest. But take it from an army of devoted fans, if you have a chance to see The Ride in Maastricht then you should turn out and support. Go! Before the opportunities are spent. Superb bands like this don’t come through Maastricht too often, go and see them. See them and be inspired to pick up that filthy guitar you bought during a creepy Christmas market in Prague. See that dusty keyboard in your room and plug it in. Pick up and play those bongos that the weird stoner left in your house last weekend. Let’s start a musical revolution in Maastricht while we piggy-back on the success of The Ride. Enjoy The Ride and see you at their next gig! Viva la musica!

 

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all pictures © by Stefan Wiedel / toys2masters

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