It was John Darnielle’s dirty, fizzley, basement-boom-box recordings that first trained me to turn a deaf ear to scrappy guitar and to love music that did little more than tell a damn fine story. The Mountain Goats’ early recordings are the music that macheted the way for what would come into my headphones after: anti-folk. (They are also partially to blame for the folk punk, but that’s another story.)
After a two-hour train ride and ten minutes in the car, we were standing outside of Café Central in Weinheim and the first notes of Mambo Kurt’s set were there to greet us. Inside the medium-sized pub was sardine-can full. On a raised stage behind a wood-paneled electronic organ (a so-called Heimorgel), sat Mambo Kurt, and he was singing Slayer.
The crowd, sweaty and enthusiastic, were dancing like this was the best dance music they’d ever heard. People swayed, people jumped, people sang along, and people stage-dived. And Mambo Kurt sang ABBA, Slayer, Stevie Wonder, Dr. Albern, die Kassierer, and a whole bunch of German pop songs that I’d never heard before. The crowd went wild. I watched skeptically from the side of the room.
After last week’s post about how Germany as a country is unexpectedly well-versed when it comes to BBQing, here’s another post about a thing that Germans are great at, but that isn’t really associated with them – yet.
And that thing is: festivals. Now, when people hear the word festival, they tend to think immediately of Woodstock (USA), Glastonbury (UK) or maybe – if you like your peace-and-love a little more recherché – Roskilde in Denmark. What a growing number of people across Europe are starting to associate with the term, however, are names like Watten, Hurricane, and Melt – some of the continent’s biggest festivals and all of them taking place in Germany.
Two weeks ago, a friend asked me if I wanted to work at this year’s Echo award show. The Echo is the most important German music award, and this year’s artist line-up was impressive: Rihanna, Depeche Mode, Gossip, and the list goes on. In charge of the backstage area, I coordinated when the artists go on stage for their performance. I had a 16-hour day ahead of me that was planned by the minute. Here are the most important moments of the Echo 2010:
8 AM: Arrival at the Messe in Berlin, this year’s location for the Echo. Even though the Award Show only starts at 8 PM, my work-day begins 12 hours earlier.