Aug Stone

Nick Cave's Bar

A spoken word album full of tall tales and long drinks proves surprisingly moving for Nick Roseblade

In 1999 Aug Stone, and his best friend Andy Shea, decided to go to Berlin to find Nick Cave’s bar. A few years earlier Stone had heard a rumour while backpacking around Europe Nick Cave owned a bar in Berlin. Stone, who is, was, and will probably always be a huge Cave fan wanted nothing more than to drink in his hero’s bar. So, a year later, he convinces Shea to drive from Boston to New Jersey, then fly to Berlin for ten days so they can live it up in Nick Cave’s bar. What could go wrong? Plenty. Nick Cave’s Bar is the story of that fateful trip.

The main body of the album is mostly recorded at a comedy night that Stone ran. The album starts off not with the events of the trip, but with a prologue about how Stone and Shea watched I Know What You Did Last Summer every day for a whole summer. “But I believed in it” Stone says with the kind of passion that would make me join him every day to watch an ok slasher film for thirty-seven days straight. Throughout that summer the pair watched it together, they roped friends in, and it became their thing. “If you wanted to hangout with us, you had to watch the film,” Stone recounts. This also involved watching it over the phone with each other while Stone was out of town for a family function. While the introduction is funny – and it is – it really has nothing to do with the rest of the story, other than introducing us to Stone and Shea, their lives and how they enjoy taking on dumb tasks they make up for kicks. What it really tells us is that Stone and Shea follow through what they set out to achieve.

Like all daft ideas there was a genuine simplicity to it. Fly to Berlin and find a bar. Easy. But pretty much from the start Stone and Shea’s destructive personalities start to come to the fore. They arrive at the airport and start drinking. Heavily. Then on the flight the drinking continues. During their layover in Luxembourg, it goes on. Eventually they arrive in Berlin. They’ve been drinking so long their hangovers are kicking in. Apart from booking the flights they have nowhere to say confirmed, so they head to a hostel where his friend worked and hope for the best. Luckily, they have space, despite it being the middle of the summer. They then hangout at the hostel’s bar asking if anyone remembers their friend or knows about the bar. No one knows either, but they meet some girls and get annihilated on absinthe. Stone awakes at 9pm the following night and their mission has taken a slight detour. The girls are off to Prague and Shea wants to go too. So off they go on another foolish quest. Remarkably they find the hostel that their new friends are staying at but it’s booked up. So they manage to get a room at a hostel down the road. As luck would have it, they see the girls in the bar through the foyer window, but they decide not to meet up with them yet as they’re all sweaty from travelling. When they return the girls have gone and no one remembers them. Eventually they head back to Berlin on a downer. Dejected, hungover, and realising that their break is coming to an end, they still haven’t found the bar or even established if it’s even real. Tthey head home even more broken and dejected.

At its heart Nick Cave’s Bar is a story about friendship and living in the moment. Throughout the story, and the subsequent book Stone wrote, they never act rationally, but they are there for each other when it looks like all it lost. When they arrived in Berlin, they had no guidebook or even an idea if the bar was even real. Instead, they live for the moment – and the next beer. When they go to Prague at no point did they think, “What if it’s the wrong hostel?” or “What about finding the bar first then seeing the girls?”. No, they’re living on pure id. And this is what makes it a fascinating story. It never quite goes the way you hope, but at the same time it pans out exactly as you expect. Stone’s delivery throughout is peppered with weighted pauses and sighs that really hammer home the highs and lows they experienced on their Berlin odyssey. Personally, it hits all the sweet spots I like in live comedy and reminds me, in portions, of Lenny Bruce and his ability to pivot my emotions mid-sentence. The accompanying book gives a more detailed account of what happens, but the end is the same. This is a story about twenty-somethings trying and failing to find something, but maybe finding something far greater instead.

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