KONKHRA: The Israel 'Reality Check Tour' Report

KONKHRA mainman Anders Lundemark has sent us the following report from the band's recent tour of Israel:

"After confirming our involvement in this festival we did get some calls from family, asking us what we were thinking. In Denmark, nothing much happens, so if there is something happening in Israel, preferably a suicide bombing, it gets prime time on the news here, at 6, 7 and 10 spiced with blood and guts. Well, we were promised that this would be a walk in the park, and that security would be tight, with doubled checkpoints coming into the festival area. Good enough for us, we packed our bags.

October 15, 2003 - Traveling

"At the Copenhagen airport, we checked in to the Olympic Airways flight for Athens, with a smooth 8-hour layover before our connecting flight into Tel Aviv. The promoter and ourselves had been looking everywhere for better tickets (especially the El Al tickets would be cool, because they equipped their commercial flights with a missile defense system), but due to some hanukkah holiday everything was sold out. We got to Athens safe, and started looking for ways to kill some time. Kim and myself hailed a cab, and went to the nearest city. (The airport in Athens is about 1 hour drive from city centre.) After 2 minutes we were stuck in traffic, and the driver started to speak. By god, the guy's breath was unbelievable. What was supposed to be a 10-15 minutes ride down the road, to a little city with some restaurants, turned into an hour and a half in the gas chamber. Once we were there, we got out of the cab, and got some decent chow, returned to the airport and was bored for awhile...

"Then we started seeing orthodox Jews gathering near the gate, and also a couple of tattoed, long-haired dudes, from either ANCIENT or ABORTED — the other bands from abroad that was playing the [Metalist] festival. A great contrast, and the looks on those orthodox faces were priceless, once they saw all of us get on their plane. 2 more hours of flying, and we landed in Tel Aviv. They park the planes out by the sea, and drive people into the airport in buses down there. We were waiting outside the plane for someone who'd fallen behind, and a Jewish lady kicked my briefcase from between my feet, only to turn and give me a look that spelled 'donkey turd' or something. (Orthodox Jews believe that they are God's chosen people, which may explain their attitude towards us.)

"At the passport control we were met by a VIP guide. He took us to the diplomat counter and we got to see some really confused looks on a couple of orthodox faces. We went through without a problem and was met by the festival organizer and his friends. Great people, all smiles and happy faces although they had to pick us up at 4 in the morning. We picked up our gear and went to the hotel in time for kosher breakfast. Crashed.

"October 16, 2003 - Hangar 11

"The [Metalist] festival was the first of its kind in Israel. We got there by 8, scheduled to play around 1. Great venue on the sea port of Tel Aviv. Tight security, they went through our bags again, but no one seemed to have a problem with that. The crowd at the place was going nuts, and there was still 10 or 12 more local bands, before any of the imports could get to work. There was probably around 1500 people in the hangar, and they were the craziest crowd we've seen. They are sicker than the Spaniards and Italians combined, and to us, that is really something. North European crowds are the stoners in comparison to the Mediterranean peoples, but Israelis are just plain nuts. We sat down and waited it out. 1 came and went. We asked when we would be playing and how much delay they were expecting. We were told that 3 would be realistic, and with a shuffle they turned it into reality. ABORTED from Belgium put on their show, and they kicked ass. The crowd exploded. It was just a great pleasure to watch. 3:15, we are ready, the drums are changed and we could start. The crowd had been going since sometime in the afternoon and they still had some juices in them. We were a little troubled by some technical stuff, the right bass drum kept scooting forward, and the toms were cut to three, so Joe had to change his patterns a bit. But for a first show on a tour, we had unbelievable response. Between every song, they chanted 'KONKHRA' from the top of their lungs. Goosebumps. The promoter was right when he promised us, 'You ain't seen nothing yet'. These people have a more stressed everyday life, obviously, and they definitely blew some steam tonight. After the gig I talked to people at the show, and was surprised by some guys who had really taken our old record from '95 to heart. 'I grew up with those songs,' they told me, and they thanked us over and over for coming. Pretty good for a band that Kerrang!'s Dom Lawson called 'one of the best kept secrets of extreme metal' just last week, I thought with self-serving smile. The promoter told us nobody seems to want to go to Israel, especially American bands, so having a metal show with bands from abroad is really something special for them. (fact: more people have died in traffic in Israel since its birth in '47, than in ALL of the wars and suicide bombings combined. Less than 30,000 in total in more than 50 years. Off course there is a risk, but it is minimal. Any bands out there reading, you should look into going, check the Metalist website [www.prod.metalist.co.il] or ours [www.konkhra.com] for email contact, I'll pass you on to the promoter of the fest.). Anyway, we were exhausted and went to the hotel and got some sleep.

October 17, 2003 - Haifa

"Woke up in time for lunch. There was a party planned 1 hour north in Haifa, a meet 'n' greet with free drinks. In the evening Kim and I was driven the 100 clicks north and passed the MAXIM bar on the outskirts. This was the place for the most recent suicide attack on civilians. Closed down, and with a great banner reading 'We will always live together' in Hebrew across the front. It's owned by both Israelis and Arabs. Normal thinking people without the religious bug too far up their asses. Got to the party and hung out all night. Met some more really cool people. Seems that metalheads all around the globe are all down-to-earth and peaceful, we should maybe force-feed some NAPALM DEATH or something to Arafat and Sharon and their likes (Jerry Fallwell too, goddammit, and the neo-conservatist crew world wide, here's some NILE for ya.) On the way back from the bar, we stopped at MAXIM's and met the owner, he was cleaning up the wreckage from the attack that happened only 14 days ago. We were told the story and took some photos. A 'Reality Check' indeed. Once back in my room at the hotel, sound asleep I was back at the bar. Heard the gunshots at the front as the security guy was killed brutally with 15-20 shots from a light handgun. A beautiful Muslim woman in her twenties runs through the only entrance (and exit!) towards me as people around me start screaming..woke up. Confused. Cannot remember the last time I had a nightmare, but will surely remember this for one for a long time.

"October 18 - Sightpeeing in Jerusalem

"Got up around noon, after about 3 hours of sleep, and gave our promoter a call. He promised us a fieldtrip to Jerusalem today, and I wouldn't miss that. A chance to go to the place where most of the religious tension is this world spill over the ancient city walls, like shit from a sucking calf. Got there late, around 5 in the afternoon. Passed hell on the way. Or the canyon that the Old Testament says is where the gate of Hell would be. Our guides told us there is really nothing there, so I was keen on getting a franchise setup with tee-shirt sales, (My friend went to hell, and all he got me was this lousy shirt!) and a really cool looking gate. Maybe Giger could design it, and it would look really cool. Bet I could make ends meet that way while putting some humor into the religious tantrum. We parked outside the old city and met some inhabitants, who'd agreed to show us around. Great people, an American Jew who'd grown up in Pittsburgh, and a girl who'd been studying history for years, with Jerusalem as her specialty. We went through the checkpoint and headed towards the Wailing Wall. There was about a thousand people there because of Shabat. (the day when they read the last page of the Old Testament and start over.) We went all the way up to the wall, where people were very engaged in praying and they kind of spooked me a little. Hard for me to understand how people can get so much into any religion, but maybe especially one that says the world was created by God some 5000 years ago. They just repel any science that states an opposite. Just like diehard Catholics/Christians and Muslims do, by the way. We filmed a little sequence from there, they look like they are banging. We will put some music to it, and have some orthodox bangers on our website. (The wailing wall is the last remaining of the Salomon Temple, the Arabs tore it down and built their Al Aksa Mosque on the site, wherefrom Muhammed went on his heavenly journey and saw Allah and came back with knowledge of the 5 pillars of Islam. They are actually on the same piece of land, and you can't piss on one of them without staining the other. And as for Christianity, the Via Dolorosa is the road that Jesus reportedly had to walk to Golgotha, cross on his back.( a couple of us actually did have to relieve ourselves while retrailing his path) At the end of the Via Dolorosa is the Church of the Grave. It's built on Golgotha and contains the site of the crucifixion, the cave from which he rose to heaven, the stone on which he was embalmed and so forth. You can even rent a wooden cross outside and walk the Via Dolorosa with it on your back! But as we got there they closed. Damn, but there was a midnight service scheduled and we decided to return when they reopened. Killed the time at a restaurant and went back, only to be refused entry. But with some persuasion from our Israeli friends we were allowed in. (They told them we were Christian pilgrims or something.) Once inside, we were astonished with the whole thing. This is THE most sacred place for all Christians, and the nuns practically fornicate the embalming stone. Golgotha was marked with a silver plate where the cross once stood. We touched the rock and took some band photos. The rest of the church was impressive as well. We took it in for while and went back to Tel Aviv to catch our morning plane. Returned to Denmark safely from what was the experience of a lifetime.

"Thanks to Oron and all our Israeli friends. \m/ to the Israeli crowd, you guys were unreal!"

Pictures taken at the Metalist Festival can be viewed at this location. The Metalist Festival web site can be accessed here. For more information on KONKHRA, visit their official web site at this location.


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