Back in 1996.it was June and I was 18 years old and finishing my highschool. That week on Friday our prom night was scheduled to take place, so my parents gave me some trouble about going to Zagreb, capitol of Croatia to the gig on Wednesday night and returning Thursday morning. But, I managed and adventure was about to start.
Our hometown is only 90 kilometers away from the capitol, but back then the journey by train took almost three hours to get there and unfortunately almost nothing changed even now, I think it still takes about two and a half hours to get there. Us bandits met at local train station, about ten or so of us and rode the train, drinking a little wine, joking and we were all very excited we were about to see one of our favorite hardcore bands play live. The trip was slow, but fun. I remember that somewhere in Zagorje, being Zabok or Trgoviste, my friend Kreso threw remains of an apple straight into railway man˙s forehead while we waited at the train station hehe. Delinquent times, eh?
Upon arriving to Zagreb, our then friend, Pete waited for us at the train station to show us the way to OTV Dom, nowadays Boogaloo where the gig took place. Pete was fine back then, later he turned to be nazi skinhead and an asshole, but that is another story. We were drinking some beer and awaiting to let us in but then we spotted the tour bus and SOIA drummer Armand hanging out so we walked to him, talked to him and Pete Koller and those guys were so patient with us teenage pigs, so down to earth and great. Back then, SOIA had new bassist, Craig Setari just joined in, so no one of us really knew how he looked like since there was no internet or Google back then. So Kreso talked cheerfully to one guy convinced that he was Craig Ahead and even the guy signed his ticket, but later when real Craig showed up, it turned out that the guy that Kreso talked to was really Dutch roadie for the band. Later, all four of SOIA guys signed my disgusting undershirt which was sweaty and on me wearing it, even Lou Koller laughed as my friend told him not to worry because I am disgusting hehe.
Little by little, the gig started and that was the first time I also saw Croatian hardcore legends Deafness By Noise in action and I was stunned and awed by the amount of energy they produced that night. Saw them later tens of times until now and they still rule. The singer Krmpa had some sunglasses with light frames if I remember right and they played all their old school fast material with old school lineup and their show is forever in my heart as one of the best Croatian hardcore bands I saw ever.
The second support band was Pure Stems Pack from Gajnice, Zagreb. I never liked their music. They didn˙t impress me back then when I was a kid, and they didn`t impress me later on when I saw them again. Too groovy, Bruce˙s growling vocals just never worked for me. I remember they played Madball cover at the end of their set and that was the best thing I liked about them.
When SOIA entered stage, I remember the first song was Scratch the surface, the whole club exploded in energy, I flew moshing into four girls and they literally kicked my teenage ass moshing on me, the set list was great, all the old school hits and couple of songs from then not yet released Built To Last album. This band still manages to destroy stages and clubs and festivals with their energy twenty plus years later and hats off to them for that. There were many wounded on that show, I saw a guy with broken forehead, one with broken arm, leg and stuff. Back then, things were pretty wild and dangerous hehe. Later when the gig ended we went back to the railway station to kill couple of hours until our train arrives and had tons of fun back then, drinking beer and laughing. Back then it was still safe there. Couple of years later, Importane center around the railway station became the base and meeting point of nazi skinheads and not really a safe place to be there at night being punk or hardcore kid. Next morning I arrived home and started this hardcore journey that lasts still today as I am writing this.
I didn˙t see SOIA live again for 20 years until 2016.because I was somehow afraid that if I saw them again, they will somehow destroy the myth in my mind about above mentioned gig. But, I saw them twice in last three years and they still are amazing and they still kick ass, so it doesn`t matter anymore. I will use every opportunity I have to check them out again haha.