This part of the town is not a town, it's a war memorial, former barracks stretching out for miles in all directions. Old barracks used by the German kaiser, then the nazis, then the US army, framed on several sides by streets that are named after major World War I battles and turnpikes. On the other side of the turnpike, more barracks, built by US forces after World War II, cemeteries, gas stations, a gardening superstore, a circus, and a unique combination of a Kentucky Fried Chicken with a Pizza Hut restaurant, complete with a psychedelic plastic playground castle. Here, the past of the town sits amidst the present like an unburied corpse.
Aptly, some bands are playing on the premises of the old barracks tonight to promote an album called Zombies of the Stratosphere. The air is thin as you walk towards the venue across the wide unlit spaces between the dark masses of the military buildings with this girl by your side. The girl is called Christine, the place is called Canteen, probably because it used to be one. Inside, no uniforms are worn, but the darkness of the outside setting is continued except for some lights at the bar. Few people are there, but the sense of anticipation looming over the empty dancefloor is dense and mixed with doubt if anything living will be able to creep out of this chilly swamp of a Wednesday night.
Several people around you start to feel progressively un-alive as their hunger increases. After having missed the Logan Brothers' set because you had left for half an hour to have pizza of sorts and corncobs at the Kentucky Fried Hut, you come back in time to see the second band, Superzero. They are faceless for lack of stage lighting, only a beam of green light aimed at their testicles and a chain of little lightbulbs wrapped around the bass drum make their silhouettes stand out against this dark place of the earth. Their 60es-influenced sound makes it rather plausible that they may in fact be the Kinky Zombies playing the stratospheric hall of fame long after debanding, although in the light of Lester Bangs' eyewitness account that no good band ever went to heaven, this may just as well be purgatory, as they are pretty good.
Following the pizza intermission, more wormholes and more purging effects are about to perforate the evening as Thorsten Propeller and the umlaut go onstage after having asked you to take some pictures of their set with their camera. You hand the camera to someone else as Christine starts to feel sick and needs a cab to get home. After having left her at the dividing line between the region where cabs will go and the zone of black matter in which the club continues its orbit, you get back the camera. It prevents you from seeing for the next twenty minutes or so until you realise that somebody switched it from photo to video mode. Now, when you're taking pictures, you are in fact making movies without noticing it. After you packed the camera's memory with lots of useless fragments, thus making it a memory pretty similar to your own, you eventually dive into the intense, tight punk rock-inspired music with which Thorsten Propeller and the umlaut are trying to turn the darkness of the club, the darkness of the outside world (where the barracks may in fact be streching out for more than just a couple of miles), and the darkness inside our hearts and heads into white light, white heat and White Man In Hammersmith Palais.
Even as the audience zombie-walked out toward their early workday beds, two enthusiastic girls managed to get the band to play another Ramones cover. As they had run out of songs they'd rehearsed, they just improvised Sheena Is A Punk Rocker with just drums, bass, vocals and some surprising harmony vocals by Deke Logan. After all these holes and blanks that had punctuated the evening, this was the point where it felt as if something precious was created by re-inventing something familiar, the point where the situation was so alive with musical presence that it exorcised the demons of the past, made the zombies present come down from the stratosphere to breathe some more substantial air and become live human beings again, and made a future suddenly seem entirely possible.