Waaaaayyy back in February (a hundred million years ago at this point), when we first heard that there was the possibility that we could be moving to Germany, Mike established a clear priority: “we should go to a concert while we are there; that would be fun!” Well, yes, that would be fun. I wonder what it is like to go to a concert in another country? I wonder what it is like to go to a concert where everyone speaks a language you barely understand? What is different, or is it exactly the same?
While racking my brain to come up with an anniversary present that Mike would like (hardest person to give a gift to on the planet, in case you were wondering, because he just doesn’t want very much), I remembered his goal of going to a concert. A little while later, after exhausting a few tour sites, I found a set of concert dates that Radiohead had scheduled for July had been rescheduled to September. Golden! We would not only get to experience a concert while we were in Germany (and I’m relatively sure that there will be more), we would get to see Radiohead! (Redemption for me: we’d gone to a Radiohead concert once before, in the dark ages (literally in the 1st year we were dating), and I had been MISERABLE the whole night. Everyone has those nights, and I knew it wasn’t Radiohead, but I felt like I needed to exorcise that demon from my past.)
Anyway… We arrived in Berlin and wandered around a bit before making our way to the venue called “Wulnheide.” Just a couple of days before the show, we’d realized that it was an outdoors venue, so I’d worn tights and a jacket and a couple of layers. We had to change trains once, and looking at the crowd (almost all people around our age +/-, all dressed warmly (but sharply or interestingly), Mike said to me, “I wonder if we are all going to the show?” The guy standing near-ish to us decided to answer, “Sure are!” Whoa! At this point, it is almost eerie to realize that everyone around you is speaking English! British English, American English, whatever! It is English! I haven’t really felt all that confident that I could talk about the people nearby, because they may understand what I’m saying a lot better than I understand what they are saying, but it is weird to have that confirmed! 🙂
Exiting the train, we still didn’t know what to expect. Or after we’d walked, and walked, and walked through the woods. The venue itself is nestled a good walk inside a woodsy-park. There were children on the playground, day-hikers, all sorts of things that were completely unrelated to a concert! The deposit on bottles made for a few people to run a little business on the side, collecting people’s used bottles. There were a number of food and drink stands (please read: Würst and Bier stands) along the way, but very few bottle collection points (and bottles are not allowed past the ticket checking area in Germany, either; natch one for things that are the same). So the lady who had grocery carts and trailers was doing a valuable service, in addition to collecting a nice sum of bottles to return.
Aside from checking our IDs to prevent scalping (I assume), entering the gate was largely the same as entering a concert in the US. The stadium itself was set up with general admission down in the center, on the floor, and then general admission in the rafters. We were able to get pretty good seats about halfway up the rafters, very near the center. Due to the general admission-ness of our ticket, Mike wanted to get there early, so we were there about an hour and a half before the opening band. So was the majority of the crowd. We were also in time for the rain that opened for the opening band. And the pretty, pretty rainbow!
Fortunately, this allowed me to notice some of the differences between concerts in America and this concert (not wanting to take for granted that all concerts in Germany are this way…).
Once the show started, it really was amazing. I can understand that not everybody loves the same music, but I feel like it is very hard not to appreciate Radiohead.The music is almost ethereal, while still being moving enough that Mike says he can’t listen to too much Radiohead at work because he gets too much pent up energy. It is very complex, indeed, but altogether lovely at the same time.
(of course, this does not include the story about how I got lost during intermission and had the nastiest Asian noodle box of all time, so awful, in fact, that I couldn’t even eat the second bite, and then almost had a total meltdown because I couldn’t find Mike and I was cold and scared and it was dark and there were tons of people everywhere; but then I found him and everything was ok and there was still fun to be had! I hope that the take-away here is that it doesn’t matter if you have a total meltdown in the middle of thousands of people as long as you get yourself back together in time to have fun!)