Less than a year after their debut gig, ace Cardiff band Local Sports Team found themselves invited to headline a show in Riga, the capital city of Latvia. How so? Bassist Tomos explains.
Before Local Sports Team even began I’d had the idea of someday calling an EP ‘Latvia’; a country with which I had no connection, experience, or knowledge of beyond the atlas-confirmed fact that it existed. I just liked the sound of the word: Latvia. The band formed, we scraped together a handful of songs and enough cash to record them, and that nice sounding word again suggested itself.
After the EP’s release, we were almost instantly discovered by Click And Listen It; a music blog ran by an honest-to-God actual Latvian. “Holy mathafacka!” he tweeted, “this is insane!” – we sent him a copy, he reviewed it, we went to the pub and the idea of asking him for a gig in Riga became obvious. We didn’t think it would go much further than that, but the answer came back positive.
Some months down the line, we gathered at Gatwick Airport, slightly terrified that the airline wouldn’t let us board the plane with our guitars. They just about did, and we were soon checking into our hostel in Riga. The beers were cheap, the first one was actually free. We agreed to attend a pub crawl alongside some friendly Brazilians, a Dutch man who insisted we call him Jesus, and his friend with whom Andy had a long conversation about minimal techno. I sang All The Small Things at karaoke.
We woke the next morning with fuzzy heads and dry throats, and ventured out to actually see a bit of Riga whilst we were there. We scaled the heights of a church tower, marvelled at the architecture, Instagramming the city below to heck. We wandered the vast indoor markets housed in former zeppelin hangars. We drank coffee. We got paranoid that the humour in our Soviet font WORK HARD t-shirts might not come across so good. We decided instead to wear tourist t-shirts, proclaiming our love for the city of Riga and the country of Latvia.
It was time to gig. We found the venue, and said hello to everyone. We were shown to an actual dressing room. We were fed, and supplied with a stack of vouchers for beer at the bar. The other bands seemed excited about the free bottled water. We paced ourselves.
Our set went as well as could be expected. People watched us, and some of them danced. I’m not 100% they got the humour in our I LOVE LATVIA t-shirts. We sold one CD. One person asked if he could swap some cigarettes for a copy. We declined. Another asked if he could swap some weed for a copy. We declined. I talked with him about Battles and Let’s Wrestle. The most tedious man in Riga claimed to be the Latvian Billy Idol, and told us for 40 minutes that whilst our music was ‘ideal’ our image was ‘no good’. Grow mohawks he told us, and wear sunglasses. He didn’t see any humour in the I LOVE LATVIA t-shirts.
We spent the rest of the night chatting to the support bands in the dressing room. We were told that our music was weird, but given no clarity if that was A Good Thing. Conversation turned to international topics; the computer game Minecraft (of which I have no knowledge) and the comedy of Borat. We were shown videos of corpses, taken by medical students. We said good night, and took Shane for a McDonalds. He’d been very good all weekend, and he deserved a treat.