In this Crazy Tour Stories segment, the rock ‘n’ roll band, Tankus the Henge, shares one of their crazy stories from being on the road. You can check out their story and stream their performance of Rock, Paper, Scissors, after the break.
So just bear in mind that this happened in four and a half days.
We’re hightailing back from ten shows in France and Germany in the van. Seven of us. It’s dark, rainy and the wind is gusting so hard it’s pushing the van across the road as if an invisible giant is toying with a Matchbox car. That last section of France has no cats-eyes or. streetlights and we’re late as usual. We’re screaming to the Channel Tunnel, regularly hitting 95mph, and we make the crossing with minutes to spare. The next day we’re rolling into the kaleidoscopic, psychedelic theme park which is Boomtown Fair. We have a ‘night off’ which is the first in about a week, with our show the following evening complete with huge fire cannon, bonkers audience, and a stage invasion by NOLA’s own “Dirty Bourbon River Show” at the end. Then we’re away, escaping out into greydom, howling past the dead-eyed commuters slumped at their steering wheels, eyes on their phones. The compass is set for Broadstairs Folk Week, which feels like a mistake, but if you’re gonna make a mistake, make it properly. We set the fire alarm off almost immediately, to the frustration of the exasperated venue manager, hit the stage, burn the preconceptions and we’re back on the road 25 minutes after the encore. We have just over an hour to get back to the Channel Tunnel for the 3am last crossing of the day. The journey takes 55 minutes, and the short trip under the sea is a welcome respite from, well, everything. Back on the Continent, after ‘visiting’ the UK, we’re due onstage in Italy at 9pm. The 14 hour, 950-mile journey is going to have to be done only stopping for fuel. On the way, something happens to the starter motor. We manage to get the engine going, but it’s a risk to switch off again. We’re fuelling up at gas stations with the engine running, grabbing pizza and coffee and here we go again, out onto the Mad Max Italian road network. The last hour of the journey is up a mountain, through a single lane, hairpin tunnels that climb over 300 metres. We’re taking it easy in the van, as the roughly hewn rock walls are only just big enough to take the van. Behind us is a line of six or seven cars, all leaning on their horns. The road is so dangerous, and we had no idea what was coming.
Our show up the mountain that night was preceded by a fire performance with home-made flame throwers brandished by utter pyromaniacs, setting light to a giant hooded demon which transformed into a towering phoenix. All our equipment is set up and ready to go on the main stage inside a tent. Suddenly there’s a commotion inside. A flying tongue of fire has landed on the roof and is burning a hole through the canvas. Crew members are scrabbling for ladders and fire extinguishers, and we’re getting ready to take instruments out of the tent, fearing the worst. Then our intro music plays and we’re on. The fire blows itself out, and the audience is blissfully unaware.
Offstage, we’re introduced to our host who will put us up for the next two nights. A shaman, barefoot, dressed entirely in animal skins, bones through his nose and feathers ornamenting his head. He speaks only Italian, and gestures to us to follow. He guns the throttle of his SUV and spins us away into the night… x