Growing up in Zurich Switzerland, I got to travel in Europe much more than I’d appreciated as a child. On family trips, I’ve been to numerous cities in Germany/Austria/Italy/Switzerland/France and more, getting to experience some of the great scenery and lifestyle, which are distinct to the cities (not necessarily the country).
However, Berlin wasn’t one of those cities. This was unfortunate, as I was always curious to see Berlin for several reasons:
1. My grandmother was born and raised there. She lost many family members in the war, and I’ve heard numerous stories from her experiences about her since I was a child. Unlike many Jewish people who survived the holocaust, my grandparents did visit Berlin every few years because they still had friends/family there and because that is always part of their home (as painful as it was).
2. Berlin’s rich history.
3. Berlin has been somewhat of an “it” place in the past few years. I’ve heard a lot of the hip crowd talking about what a fun city it is, and was always intrigued.
In January 2011, my wife and I bought tickets for the Foo Fighters/Band of Horses show in Berlin. It was truly my wife’s doing (though I offered it) as I’m almost never the one to impulse-buy a plane ticket.
I’ve been listening to the Foo Fighters since 1995’s debut, and have always seen them as a stadium act – too big for the small venue crowd with their massive sound and showmanship. They’ve had so many rock anthems, so many great guitar parts to play, and some of the best/funniest musicians in the world.
Regarding Band of Horses, this band must be in the top 10 played bands on the Jekyll and Hyde show. We spin their records quite a lot at home, and had “No One’s Gonna Love You” at our wedding.
The added bonus to the 5-day trip was the fact that we’re going to meet some of our best friends in Berlin – Martin and Sofi Centerman from Sweden, and Cyril Treichler from Switzerland. Martin, Cyril and I went to school together in Zurich, but since graduating in 2000, we’ve managed to see each other only a handful of times in the past 11 years.
Maybe it’s because I’m getting to be an old fart, but Berlin as a city wasn’t nearly as great as I expected it to be. The main attractions (pubs/clubs) weren’t something better than I’ve seen in Tel Aviv (and that’s not to glorify Tel Aviv at all). The Architecture was interesting historically, but not nearly as impressive and beautiful as that in Italy. I do like Germany as a whole, but Berlin was a bit of a disappointment as a city. An amusing thing we experienced was that we were constantly told every place was “a 3 minute walk” away from us (an hour walk later, we took the train).
We did, however, have a great time. Seeing my good old friends was amazing. What I love the best about certain friendships is that you can always pick up from where you left off.
The Foo Fighters/Band of Horses concert was just one hell of a memorable event. Cyril, Martin, Natalie and I were still in line when Band of Horses started playing at o’clock – with about 90% of the audience still outside the venue due to slow security. 3 songs into their set, we were all in, running as “No One’s Gonna Love You started playing. It was really moving to see them live, which is not something I experience often in rock shows. The Foo Fighters were a spectacle that just won’t quit. With their last explosive album, Wasting Light, their concert was 100% ear-candy. They all give one hell of a live show, and it was really satisfying to a music nerd like myself to see Pat Smear back with them. One of the obvious highlights was Lemmy Kilmister of Motorhead (Indeed, God, who was previously interviewed on the Jekyll and Hyde Show) performing “Shake Your Blood”: a song penned by Dave Grohl for his solo metal album Probot.
A few beers, some really great food and amazing friends: Natalie and I loved every minute of Berlin, and wish it could’ve been about a month longer.
*** On an unrelated matter – The unbelievable interview we’ve done with my favorite band, Gas Huffer, will be split into 2 shows. The first of the two will be aired this week. I wouldn’t miss it – I don’t think there’s ever been a show with this many laughs.