Vans Shop ‘I Predict A’ Riot
Words: Guy Jones
Photography: Reece Leung
Boarding the prestige form of transport that is the Eurostar to embark on our media adventure from London to Amsterdam to cover the yearly stoke provoker that is the Vans Shop Riot finals, I joined a short queue for the on board toilet. “Say what you like about Vans but they sure look after you.” I said out of context to the nearest humanoid.”Too right” the man replied in a broad Yorkshire accent, “My brother’s been driving vans for nearly half his life and they’re reliable as owt.” I shook his hand and we went our separate ways, although I was secretly hoping he too would be there to cover the competition for some manner of vehicle magazine.
Once in the Dutch capital, top bloke and honorary Leeds legend Tom Van Den Hoeven linked us and navigated us through one of the least-likely-to-kick-your-head-in cities I’ve had the pleasure of being in. Often going through life smart-phoneless I always have great respect for anyone who metaphorically wipes my arse and Tom was a wiping machine all trip, along with George Osbourne, Reece Leung, Will Harmon, Val Bauer, Will again, Kev Parrott… well anyone who could tolerate me really.
With Vans being off the wall, we thought we’d think outside the (shoe)box (or another equally shit unfunny pun some wanky nothing company would use before they blow all their budget on imported sparkling water) in regards to covering the event. We knew that there were another 20 media outlets there to do the same thing, which obviously got us hyped as the majority are now close friends of ours (whether they like it or fucking not!) and there’s a nice unwritten union of respect for another.
However we thought we’d try a slightly different approach (outside the shoe box ref.) and try and cover the skatepark comp outside of the skatepark itself with a street mission with the very sensual Val Bauer, who I had the pleasure of meeting for the first time on this trip (big fan). I thoroughly enjoyed this as Val’s skating and personality is always on point. We also found time to do some guerrilla marketing by placing magazines in take-a-book leave-a-book stands and in the baskets of unattended bicycles. I offered some to civilians wearing Thrasher but I feel they were the type of people who wouldn’t waste time reading a mag with a measly one syllable. Some of them got Vague stickers on their back, other people too as we find it funnier than it probably is, but who’s fucking arsed ay. We all like to have a laugh!
The street skate angle of covering the competition held at Noord skatepark was good but seeing as we’d been given free, travel, accommodation, food and drink it would be quite rude if we didn’t pop down to the facility in question. Which to be fair is one of the better skateparks I’ve had the pleasure of chatting shit to people I admire in. We saw some sweet stunts and had a good level of laughs before we were ferried away by coach to an art show courtesy of the one and only Jacob fucking Ovgren (big fan). The show was potent to the highest degree as was all the artwork he did for the whole Vans Shop Riot. In fact I think everyone should buy his prints and make him lots of money as well as Mike O’Shea and any artists featured in Vague ever.
Anyway I think the excitement of all the visual stimulus had a similar effect on everyone else as well as everyone’s endorphins were significantly up provoking an 8 person table football spin frenzy which was a bit like the national lottery draw but with a sporty mosher twist.
Doing a magazine that has relationships with powerhouse brands like Vans within the skateboarding world you learn a lot of trivia, seeing how things work from the inside, know what I’m saying In this instance I had no idea that there was external funding from the Kaiser Chiefs and the naming of the competition is a reference to their 2005 hit single ‘I Predict A Riot‘. This is actually just a tax escapade for the bands off shore bank account in Wigan, controversially in land, but the band obviously aren’t strangers to not playing by the ‘rules’.
A lot of people assume that each issue of Vague is printed in the thousands, but they’re wrong. To save money we only ever print one mag per issue and the rest are covers with absolutely no content in. People who have ever read the publication have shared it with everyone else before one of the Vague squad take it back swapping it for a fake with just the front and back cover and the text from Peter Andre’s Autobiography. The real and only print of each issue is then safely stored in our off shore bank account. Not in Wigan but that one Bob Marley, Tupac and Biggie live on, wait come to think of it, don’t they live in Wigan?
Heywood Ward is usually our international affairs journalist, being the same height and BMI as Reece, so it always looks better when they walk into a room together but also he definitely is more coherent than me and far less annoying. This was reiterated when ever I’d greet someone and they’d ask where Heywood was. followed with an account of how much they loved him. I confided in Kev Parrott who told me that he had similar situations when working for Sidewalk, but the Heywood being other legends Ben Powell and Andy Horsley. I love Ben and Horsley obviously, but can also not deny my love for man like Kev Parrott, always a pleasure! Especially when combined with star of ‘This Time Tomorrow‘ and Free Mag legend Will Harmon, lot of love for that G as well! Did you know his first gig was Public Enemy age 11 and we both lost our Lost Art pin badges on this trip. Him in da club, me getting off at Loughborough Junction, the last hurdle of my journey home.
Anyway back to past present. On this occasion maximum lej Andy Horsley was here and I couldn’t have been more hyped. He was flown in VIP to judge the competition. He also was thinking outside the shoe box (last one) in regards of how to judge the comp. Rather than stagnant numbers the UK skateboard documenting champion took a more cryptic route and I’m not entirely sure, but I think he may have swallowed the piece of paper he was using afterwards as to not have it stolen by any other media outlets. Regardless he has a new album coming out called commotion in the car park inspired by another form of competition I witnessed regarding 2 Dutch homies battling it out for alpha male status in the smoking area Noord skatepark. Homie Dennis won and was very hyped on himself before Leon Walton took him down a peg with a swift right arm victory, before Horsley schooled everyone in and around the park by beating Leon. The night before Manhead had insulted my supple wrists so I thought I’d step up and try and arm wrestle Leon, thinking he would be tired and the chances of me winning would have gone up 2% in the bookies. He won then I got challenged by another media mogul. Needless to say after we finished I couldn’t debate Josh’s accusation, I do have supple wrists. He made a wank joke but I feel that it’s too crude and NOT TRUE, so there, fuck everyone.
After having a harsh dose of modesty induced into myself I boasted to the victor that I had worked 60 hours in one week 2 weeks prior, which I may have mentioned once or twice to everyone I met…each time I saw them. Fuck it it’s probably my proudest achievement. I can reference it in years to come when it’s overly apparent I’m a work shy middle class wanker who’s painting his white colour blue in a rouse to be more proletariat. Forgive me Alexei Sayle! But enough about me, you ever see Rob Maatman skate in real life? Insane. And speaking of Rob, the Burnside support was next level, football hooligans in skateboarding. Yes fucking please. I’ve read ‘Away Days’ I know the score. They seemed to have a Dutch equivalent to Brian Blessed with them as well.
In regards to the competing shops there must have been an admin error as Flatspot the skate store where photographing, videoing and making notes on the event, whilst the Dutch magazine Flatspot were sweating their tits off shredding every obstacle. I liked the way they either didn’t question it or were too embarrassed on behalf of whoever made the mistake to mention it. Well to be fair if I hadn’t overheard FBI discussing it in the portaloo (very clean I may add) I wouldn’t ‘t have noticed either. Anyone else meet Chizel man from Flatspot?
The competition was wild, almost like warfare. Stunt burgers everywhere with the media getting right in there, sacrificing everything for the glory. Reece suffered a board shoot out into his ankle instantly bruising and swelling the fucker. Anyone who says skateboard documentation isn’t dangerous is a liar and in my eyes a thief! Sirus was legging it around fisheye like a deranged but very stylish and sound goth colonel who still hits the front line because they’re the best in the business. I felt guilty not putting myself in direct danger like them but Vans had a lot of free beer to supply and I didn’t want to look unappreciative in front of them. Anyway who’s interviewed someone mid comp run, I’m not a raving lunatic for Christ’s sake!
I looked around and saw other credible skate journalists interviewing big names. I thought I’d do my bit and met Jacob Ovgren, who I am obviously a big fan as afore mentioned, to discuss the Swedish postal service, medieval graffiti and cocks engraved in sand stone. Needless to say we are now secret best friends and I think he’s cool as fuck! Speaking of competitions in Amsterdam, remember when Dave fucking Mackey (huge fan) won that best trick with a gap lippy (footage in Blueprint – Lost & Found credits), how fucking incredible was that? Speaking of Blueprint I got to see a Blueprint spray heart board in action but unfortunately it snapped on a nollie tres down the stairs by an assumed local ripper.
Later on whilst reminiscing about the 60 work week I had a few weeks back at a vinyl finishing company I met Quartersnacks top 10 star Doobie (big fan). We discussed our mutual adoration of Charlie Birch and Denis Lynn and the thought of these 3 together gave me a fresh dose of serotonin, imagine not just the antics but the medley of noises these 3 incredible humans would create together. He hooked up an uber with Pfanner (big Pfan) to go to the Vans after party at a hip little joint called ‘Sexyland‘. This is where everyone could finally relax, much like I did after my 60 hour week. Lots of laughs ensued and all the crew where there, it truly was a glorious moment. Everyone had shredded, laughed and inscribed a memory.
It was then after telling the 67th person and the gorgeous Val Bauer once more that I realised that my good friend Curt O’Dell worked 67 hours the very same week. I laughed to myself looked around at all these fabulous people having a great time, close people I knew before and new pals I’m stoked to have met. It was a sterling time indeed. Then Foghart- Slow Ride kicked in and the credits started rolling.
Cheers to Vans and everyone who didn’t punch me in the face, you’re all fucking alright by me!
VANS SHOP RIOT FINALS – 2019 AMSTERDAM – Quick Re-cap Video