When I got back from seeing Rachael and Meg in Italy, I didn't have a whole lot of time to relax. The day after I got back, I immediately had things to do- namely, go to a concert of my favorite German band, die Wise Guys! The Wise Guys are an a-cappella (or, as they call themselves, Vokalpop) band and sing mostly humorous songs and a few love ballads. I first heard them when I was studying German at Davis and have been using their music as one of my main means of practicing my German outside of classwork. So when I found out in January that they would be coming to Berlin at the end of March, I knew I had to go. I called my friend Katy, the only other person I knew who listened to them (yeah, okay, I have weird tastes in music) and she was on board.
I headed over to Katy's apartment Sunday afternoon so we could have dinner before the concert, and then went over to the concert hall. The concert was to start at 20:00, and the entrance was at 19:00. We hoped that getting there at 18:30 would be early enough, since we really didn't know how many people would get there early to get a good place. We ended up getting there at just the right time. Some people were already outside waiting, but about five minutes after we got there, the crowd had grown and was now going down the street. Amazed at our luck, we waited patiently (okay, Katy did, but patience has never really been a virtue of mine) for the doors to open. And, true to German ways, they opened at the stroke of 19:00! After some confusion at the door ("I don't care what your ticket says, whether you're an adult or student, I just care you have a ticket!") we made it inside and went straight over to the merchandise table. There was one t-shirt I really wanted but wasn't sure they would have, one that says, "Es ist nicht immer leicht, ich zu sein," but sadly, the didn't have it. But! they did have a shirt with the lyrics to their newest song "Facebook," so I bought that and immediately put it on. Katy bought a tote bag, I checked my jacket, and we made our way to the front and tried to find a place to stand. Yes, stand. The entire concert was standing-place only, which meant there were no reserved places, so we wanted to stand in our "place" as soon as possible to be as close to the stage as we could get. And then, for the next 45 minutes, it was just a waiting game.
The Wise Guys came out on stage and started singing the title song from their most recent album Klassenfahrt, to the loud cheers from the crowd, and just about everybody was singing along, including myself. After the applause ended, they immediately launched into, "Ich hab' geträumt," one of my favorites from the album. Dän started speaking, introducing the group (like they needed an introduction!). And then, in order to introduce the next song, he started saying how everybody has fears. For example, he has a fear of flying, which is ridiculous, because he has to fly so much in order to go to concerts in different cities. He then talked about how one of the guys has a fear of spiders, and as they were in the car driving to one of their gigs, a spider came down from the ceiling and he screamed. "Wir sind die Wise Guys, aber vielleicht sind wir die vier Wise Guys und ein Wise Mädchen." And when the band went to donate blood one time, and one of the others was so afraid of needles that he nearly fainted. Sari had such a guilty look on his face and immediately started pointing to Eddi. Finally, Dän wrapped it up and said, sometimes fears make great material for songs, and they started singing a brand new song. Since I couldn't sing along, I pulled out my camera and snapped a few pictures.
Things slowed down a bit afterwards, as Dän started explaining the inspiration behind the following song. He had received an email from a girl a few years ago, asking him to write a song about a kid whose parents divorce. When he replied back, he said he couldn't write one well enough because he had been fortunate never to experience that, and maybe she could tell him her story. The next email she sent him is almost exactly the song that is on the album Klassenfahrt, but Dän changed everything from first person to third person and named the song after the girl, Lisa. It is such a touching song that, when I first heard it on the CD, I cried, even though I couldn't understand the words very well and, fortunately, my parents are not divorced. And so, even though I'm sure just about everybody knew the words, nobody sang along and instead just listened to the story. There was also no cheering after the song was over, just enthusiastic yet polite applause.
Eddi finally took over the mic and tried to get the crowd to pursuade Sari to do his coveted hip-swing, which he absolutely refused to do. Too bad, I would have loved to see that! Ferenc started singing "Mein neues Handy" which, although they never say it, I'm PRETTY sure is talking about the iPhone and always makes me smile.
Soon, the lights dimmed, and Eddi went out to introduce the "Soul Sprotte" (Nils) and "MC Deutschmark" (Sari), who performed their rap about William Shakespeare's Hamlet. They continued singing from their recent album with "Latein" and "Das ist der Hammer", the second of which Eddi mixed up the verses! He played it off like that was the plan the entire time. Unfortunately, the confused faces on the four singers behind him gave him away! Dän got up to quickly say how the next song was new, but we've all heard the words before. With that, Sari started singing "Deutsche Bahn," which basically complains about all the troubles with the nationwide train, including their inability to speak English properly. "Sänk 'ou for traveling vis Deutsche Bahn." After that, they went to one of their older songs called "Jetzt und hier." Through all of the previous songs (besides "Deutsche Bahn") I was singing along, and so was the girl I was talking to earlier, who seemed very surprised that I knew all the words. Told you I could speak German!
The next song was "Schlechtes Karma," which got LOTS of cheers from the crowd, since it involves Sari, Eddi and Nils doing hip thrusts and cheesy dancing. Nils then broke out into "Mit besten Grüßen," a beautiful song about falling in love. Dän got back up and started talking about the next song they would sing, another brand new one. He said deciding who would be the lead singer for the song was difficult to figure out. Ferenc couldn't sing it, as the events the song talked about passed for him a long time ago. Nils could possibly sing it...in a few years. Sari couldn't sing it because nobody would believe him. It eventually came down to him and Eddi, and Eddi started singing: "Scheiße, Scheiße, Scheiße, Man, ich glaub', ich werde 40."
Once "Scheiße, Scheiße, Scheiße" was finished, Nils started his unmistakable beatboxing. There's only one song he does vocal percussion for, so we knew it had to be "Jetzt ist Sommer," the group's break-out hit. I was afraid this was the end of the concert, but it wasn't! Because only after the song was over did Dän say, "Leider ist das nächste Lied unser Letztes." He then started throwing out his appreciation to the sound crew, the lighting technicians, just about everyone. Finally, they started singing their last song of the program, "Am Ende des Tages." They finished up, everybody cheered and screamed for them, they took their bows, and left the stage as the lights went down.
But it wasn't over! The crowd started shouting, "Zugabe! Zugabe! Zugabe!" trying to get them to come back and sing more. And they did! They came back out and sang "Radio," one of my favorites (and, according to interviews, one of theirs, too). Again, everybody sang along, louder than any of the other songs that night. They took their bows again and left the stage, to the crowd already shouting, "Zugabe! Zugabe!" Why they would sing ANOTHER encore, I don't know, but I wouldn't complain, either!
Sure enough, they came out and started singing "Sing Mal Wieder" which, while not one of my favorites to listen to on the CD, I was hoping they would sing during the concert. Why? Whenever they sing it, Eddi does musical improv with the audience as a call-and-response. He would sing a measure of some random notes, we would sing back, and so on and so forth. And then he did something I had heard of but have never seen. Eddi jumped in place while singing a note, trying to get the audience to repeat it back to him. It took a little while, but we finally caught on. He then jumped to the right and sang a note one whole step lower and got us to repeat that. After jumping between these two notes, he went up one whole step, and we followed along without him needing to sing the note for us! Following his jumps, we sang a tune that everyone around me seemed to recognize, so I guess a common German children's song or something. The five left the stage again, and certainly that was the end of the concert. I joined the others singing, "Hallo, hallo, ich bin dein Ohrwurm, dein Ohrwurm," one of the group's older songs, while waiting for the lights to come up. But they didn't. The Wise Guys came out once more to sing, "Alles in die Luft," a song that basically says that action films should have more explosions. (Like they don't have enough already?) I just have to laugh, as a Californian, because of the bridge of the song. The chorus of the song is just repeating the sentence, "Hier fliegt gleich alles in die Luft!" ("Everything's exploding!") The bridge of the song is, "If you star in a film that often uses this sentence, then you can become the governor of California. Then the path to to the White House is not very long, and you already have a slogan!" Thank you, Wise Guys, for basically summing up California politics in a couple of sentences.
FINALLY, the group left the stage, and the house lights went up. The concert was officially over. But that doesn't mean the night was! Another reason I love the group so much is because they're actually in touch with their fans. The Wise Guys do something after most concerts called, "Afterglow." They come out to meet with the fans, sign autographs, and take pictures. Katy and I wasted no time making the rounds to meet each of them, posters and my camera in hand.
All in all, it was a fantastic night, with great music and a lot of fun. All the excitement definitely made it difficult to fall asleep that night, but it was well worth it.