My Super Dobro Time in Austria by John Bills featuring Eric Wiedemann and various other hilarious characters.

Posted on May 3, 2012


So I went to Austria for the weekend. I had only ever been to Austria for a total of 6 hours, in 2007, so what I was going to see as a solid mystery to me. (Rhyme). As I boarded the night train from Beograd, I played around with images in my mind as to what Austria would even look like, and whether it would just be Germany but camper. And by that, I mean I drank a beer and flitted in and out of sleep, being consistently woken up by border guards and heat/cold. The train got into Villach at 9.08, and the omens were immediately dobro as I bumped into erstwhile chum and general awesome man Eric Wiedemann practically on the platform. Unplanned time keeping is pretty superb. We navigated the station, up the stairs into Villach itself, and one thought immediately struck my under nourished brain.

Mountains are awesome.

Yes, mountains are awesome, and if there is one thing Villach (and Austria it seems) has in abundance, it is mountains. Literally, they are everywhere. To say I was enchanted by these bad boys is an understatement. Wow, beautiful. After a brief walk around the town (also beautiful) and a quick respite at chez Wiedemann, we headed out to the river at around 2pm for some quiet river beers. Although I had seen the man merely 3 weeks previous, it was good to see the Wideman and catch up, and also to find out that the man had a solid understanding of pub games. This would come in handy. Indeed, the evening quickly descended into a night of competitive pub games, whether it was Bills vs. Wiedemann on the darts, Bills and Wiedemann vs. Austrians in Fusball, or even Bills vs. Wiedemann vs. a load of Austrians in dice. Of course, by the time the dice were being thrown I was a bit worse for wear and had absolutely no concept of the rules, but I’m pretty sure I shouted more than everyone else, and thats what pub games are about right?

After a solid sleep and some mandatory Nuggets, we boarded a train to Salzburg the next day, in anticipation of the evenings Red Fang festivities. Whilst the first train and bus featured nothing of any real note (other than me making a fool of myself by telling someone we played dice with them the night before, only for me to be completely wrong), what awaited us on the final segment of the journey was a fine surprise. We settled into the compartment, only to be joined by a rather pretty young lady, a pretty young lady who would come to be known as Separatist Italian Girl*. If there’s one thing more awesome than a pretty young lady, its a pretty young lady who can tolerate, and even regale, fools. Separatist Italian Girl did this with aplomb, and as the conversation flowed I think both myself and Eric experienced the feeling I can only describe by pointing you in the direction of Baz Luhrmann’s hit movie, ‘Romio and Juliet’. This girl was positively superb. As the train pulled into Salzburg it became increasingly obvious that this was the end of the road for this whirlwind three way romance, and sadness was felt on all sides, except for maybe Separatist Italian Girls side. As we made our way out of the train, it was at this precise moment that I noticed the absolutely titanic, monolithic, gargantuan sweat patches that had somehow smuggled themselves into my pits. Not cool, not cool at all.

So we got to the hostel, settled in, sat on some steps and met some folk. There seemed to be a large group of young-uns about, and we sidled into a conversation with these pups. It turned out we were talking to none other than Estonian (new wave) Post Grunge sensations, DefRage! No, me neither. Solid guys, but possibly the worst sounding band I heard all weekend. By possibly, I mean definitely. Still, very nice boys indeed, especially the guy who had seemingly broken himself in half the night before. After some schnitzel and terrible service which resulted in no tip, we met up with Eric’s former work chum, Martina (solid girl), and headed to Salzburg’s RockHaus (translation: Rock House) for the mighty Red Fang.

After a particuarly forgettable opening band (Saliva Tooth? Sativa Root? Sheeva Boot?), we were treated to the smooth southern tones of PLANET OF ZEUS. Sounding all the world like Pantera covering the Black Crowes, these guys were awesome, and had an absolute solid understanding of half time. Impressive showing, to say the least. To anyone who says that the violence, disorder and general mess that Greece is in confirms it as a failed state, I counter with Planet of Zeus. These bad boys were followed by Black Tusk, who played fast and played hard. Top live showing, but I get the impression they had one song, all be it one song played consistently well. And fastly. And hardly. I was baying for the Fang at this point, and the Fang certainly did not disappoint.

After a slow-ish opening, the band picked up brilliantly in time for the crowd to pick up, with ‘Night Destroyer’ and ‘Malverde’ proving the pick up. ‘Wires’ was gargantuan, ‘Good to Die’ is still one of my favourite pop metal ditties, and everyone knows how awesome ‘Prehistoric Dog’ is. An encore of ‘Hank is Dead’ and my personal favourite ‘Throw Up’ (complete with mega half time danger chord outro), and its fair to say that these boys know exactly what they are doing. A second straight solid night, which couldn’t even be ruined by the appearance at the hostel of a seemingly feral Dominican girl. Disturbing.

Back to Villach the next day, for what was supposed to be a quiet relaxing day, with maybe one beer, but of course the idea of one beer just does not exist, so we ended up playing more pub games with more folks. We had a great competitive game of pool with some solid Serbs (featuring an awesome track suit and some great competitive fouls), and then some more fusball with Austrians. We lost the match, but we made friends, so does that mean we won the war? No, because we made friends with our defeaters, so technically the war was a draw. We made more noise though. As the night drawed to its natural conclusion, I realised that I had learnt two facts about Austrians. The first is that Austrians are awesome. The second, is that they make terrible, terrible wingmen. To all wingmen out there, you don’t approach it with the sentence ‘Excuse me, this hilarious welshman thinks you are hot’. Not cool, not cool.

There was more hilarity the next day, in particular Brendan the Irish Stereotype (I’m a hardman, I drink a lot, look at my green top), but I fear that if I write any more I will wee myself, and that isn’t cool. All in all, a proper solid weekend, Eric is a top chap, and I look forward to revolutionizing the hostel industry with you, or at least losing a lot of money in the process. Dobro.

*Seperatist Italian Girl, if you read this, I don’t think you are a seperatist, unless you are actually one, in which case that is cool too. Hi.