I arrive in the UK late Friday night and I am kind of peeved I can’t go straight to the pub, bars close early around here. Instead I nod off on the train and tube rides from Gatwick to North London where my friends Paul and Chris are at an Airbnb. The trains end up taking longer than the flight from Ljubljana. I’m living in Slovenia and they’re back home in California. We come to the UK for music.
I arrive in the upper-middle class neighborhood and we talk a bit before bed. Tomorrow there will food, music, and arguably too much beer.
I wake up before the others and head to a cafe for an English breakfast. Eggs, hash browns, beans, pork, and sausage are served with plenty of toast. I drink a flat white and enjoy my breakfast slowly as the rain begins to drizzle outside.
Heading to Stokes Newington, a trendy part of town with many restaurants and pubs lining the charming streets, we take the tube to an abandoned church where Chris will perform at a festival called Dronica. We hang around for a while, meeting the organizers and getting a feel for the venue. Then it’s time for lunch.
Chris saw Nando’s on our way here, and he is excited to try it. I haven’t heard of it, but I end up loving what they have to offer. Serving Afro-Portuguese style roasted chicken in hot sauce, you choose either boneless or on the bone with your preferred level of heat and sides. Being myself, I go for the second hottest and order my chicken on the bone. A beer and some rice on the side, and you are good to go. England has a reputation for bland food, but here in London you can get whatever spice you’re looking for.
After a delicious, spicy lunch it is time for the show. I watch Chris and others perform while drinking beers. A few performances stick out. Kuro is a two piece string band with a synthesizer and loops used for textures. Part neoclassical and part drone, the orchestral sounds are coupled with obscurity. The duo is dark, unsettling, and beautiful. Dead Space Chamber Music plays in a similar style with cello, guitar, and vocals that are sometimes looped. Gothic, medieval melodies and strings drenched in effects converge into a dark ethereal mood.
More acts play and we drink more beers. By the time we’re ready to go, Chris, Paul, and I want to continue drinking. We walk over to a nearby pub and get hammered talking about the night, London, and past stories of debauchery. At this point, Turkish kebab is mandatory.
Taking the bartender’s suggestion, we stumble through the streets passing other soldiers of Saturday night. With a line out the door, we make it to The Best Turkish Kebab, and I’ll tell you, in my inebriated state it really is the best. We buy more beers from the gas station and wait for the food while drinking on the street, which is gloriously accepted tradition here. Shwarma kebab, french fries, cabbage, and hot sauce all stuffed in a tortilla, it is savory, spicy drunk-ass food that is just what we need to sop up the beer from the evening. We Uber back to the guesthouse but I don’t sleep until I pack my bags, hit the tube, and get on the bus to Glasgow . . .