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The drive from Piest’any to Bratislava, the capital of Slovakia, is less than one hour. We kill time in Piest’any at two different bowling alleys. At the first, I manage to break 100. During a second game at a second bowling alley, I sleep in the car.

The venue in Bratislava is “Sub Club.” Sub Club is aptly named; it seems to be the dungeon, or at least the former basement, of Bratislava’s most famous castle. Promoter K., a disciple of an ideology I’ll call “Punk Isn’t What It Used To Be And, Even If You’re OK With That, I’m Fucking Pissed,” has been booking shows for “over 25 years” and welcomes us passive-aggressively. What follows is a very thinly fictionalized version of our initial conversation:

Me: Thanks for the show.
K: I think no one will come.
Me: Oh.
K: Do you want some muffins? They’re vegan.
Me: Sure.
K: I am so happy that you have been able to come to play!
Me: We really appreciate the show.
K: Too bad it will be shit. Everything sucks these days.
Me: …
K: Do you want some vegan apple strudel?
Me: Sure. [Chewing.] This place is cool. It used to be connected to the castle?
K.: No. This castle is shit. There is a better castle in a different part of town.
Me: Oh.

Promoter K. is right—-with no local band on the bill, only nine people come to the show in the freezing pseudo-basement of the famous castle in the country my band has never played in before yesterday. Still, he pays us 200 euros, and we sell about 50 euros worth of merchandise.

The next day, we visit the “better castle”—-or, more accurately, the ruins—-recommended by Promoter K. Devin Castle is set amid lush, green hills on a misty hillside overlooking a river. I think of the scene in the Led Zeppelin movie The Song Remains the Same where Jimmy Page (or was it Robert Plant?) rides a horse around the English moors and saves a damsel in distress.

It’s unbelievable what rock bands got away with in the 1970s. Can you imagine if Britney Spears made a movie where she rode a horse around a medieval countryside? On the other hand, I guess Britney Spears made Crossroads. But on the other hand, Crossroads was an underrated film with a compelling plot directed by Tamra Davis. But on the other hand, there were no swordfights in Crossroads, or damsels in distress—-unless you count Britney herself.