I’ve met Chirstos a couple of years ago. I think he was on tour with Despite Everything and we met in the venue where we booked their show. Christos is a photographer from Athens and one of the most genuine guy I’ve ever met. Here’s his underground guide to his hometown: Athens!
If you’re planning to tour Greece… this will be helpful ;)
Good luck booking your shows!
Athens is the the city I was born in 1970. It’s the capital of Greece. Use to be the famous city-state that gave the world the idea of Democracy.
The city under the German occupation saw it’s population getting smaller for the first time in it’s recent history due to extreme poverty and lack of food. Many of the Athenians starved to death and the municipality was picking up the corpses from the streets to bury them in mass graves.
As soon as the occupation ended a civil war started and Athens was the epicentre of the fights between the Communists and the right wingers followers of the King etc. The city was divided in half with barricades and there were a lot of casualties in both sides. After there was an agreement between the opposite parties and some kind of stability the reconstruction of the city started. Internal immigration flooded the city with cheap labor so the construction companies could built all the ugly apartment buildings you can see today with no plan in a state of total anarchy and corruption.
What was a city of nearly a million people became metropolis of 4.500.000.
Today Athens is a unique mixture of multicultural neighbourhoods, refugee squats, addicts shooting drugs in the middle of very busy streets, prostitution, expensive cars passing by homeless people that made their “home” in the heart of the city. Extreme poverty is back within a large number of the Athenians and you see people picking up from dumpsters as tourists are passing by.
The history of the place, the musicians that played there and the attitude of the people running it. During what we call the crisis years lots of Greek musicians shared the stage or headlined a “big” stage. If you headline in Gagarin you are made.
It’s hardcore DIY venue. With the hardcore DIY attitude. In a hardcore side of the city. Used be the infamous Katarameno where lot’s of punk rock bands started playing. Peio (Despite Everything) was one of the people that run the place back then and Jack (Despite Everything) donated the mixing desk.
Handlebar / Vicious Cycles
What can I say about this place? DIY punk shows on the street in front of the bar or in the bike shop when the weather is rainy (nearly never). Worths a visit even if there are no shows just to get a beer and soak in some Athenian downtown adventure.
For me it’s the best punk rock band in Europe. If they were born in the UK or the States they would be huge by now. There is this great mix of commitment attitude and talent that distinguishes them from a whole lot of bands in the scene. And when you see them play live. Ohhhhh man ….
Pure raw energy. Great musicians with a loyal following that grew over the years into something incredible. They can easily play their ass off for three hours and the crowdsurfing just doesn’t stop. Pure riot or as they prefer to call it Pirate attitude.
When you meet the band offstage you are surprised by their kindness and low profile attitude. But man when they get on the stage they fucking rock, well you know what I mean. I’ ve spend also a few days with them on the Balkan roads with them on tour and they are some great people to tour with I tell you.
Well they operate as one guy but I would say Seitan Bookings. The guys behind Despite Everything they book shows and house people they are taking them around the city. You can’t go wrong with them.
The falafel in Vathi square
Original middleastern fallafels dirt-cheap and a few tables to sit and have a beer with it.
Nikitas tavern in Psirri
You can have a choice of vegan or meet dish. Cheap honest cooked food or grilled meat. You can sit outside or in the entrance of the adjoined apartment building. Cheap and the beers are cold year round.
Kostas souvlaki, Agia Eirini square.
The best souvlaki in Athens. It’s so popular it only opens for lunch and not on Sundays. No tables just take away. Still there is always a long waiting line. And it’s worth it.
SYD Records STORE. Psyrri.
A relatively new store carries most of the greek bands records and merch. Plus it’s not a business, the owners do it to support the local scene. You can have a beer from Barrett, next door while searching for a souvenir from Greece.