Thursday, November 29, 2007

Concerts to the Max

This past week has been rather ridiculous with shows. In the past 8 days, I have to been four different concerts: Die Ärzte, The Donnas, Die Fantastischen Vier, and The Hives. Two weeks ago I was also at the Kaiser Chiefs, but I won't really go into that because I was by myself and didn't take any pictures. To say the least, they were all very different. So just a quick review and some photos (but you can see all of them on my Flickr page) from this week:

Die Ärzte (The Doctors) are a German punk band from Berlin. They rock. The show was in the ginormous Kölnarena, which holds about 40,000 people, I think. Despite the monstrous venue, it was still a fantastic show. They played a mix of their old and new songs for three full hours and no opening band. Granted that I do not know a lot of their music, I had a good time with Kari and her boyfriend who came down for the show. Unfortunately, our seats were way up high and pretty far back, but even so, awesome time.

On Saturday, I went to go see The Donnas with Christian at a small club called Underground, which has a capacity of 350 people. Quite the opposite of Kölnarena! I'd like to point out the fact that this show was my 50th concert ever (I think). If it wasn't my 50th, one of the 4 this week definitely was. The Donnas were amazing and the new songs are killer. Of course, I was the most psyched to hear "Take It Off" since Stiny and I named our radio show after it. It was weird because the Donnas would say they were playing something "old school," which meant it was from the album Spend the Night (which came out in 2002). They played nothing off any earlier albums and only "Fall Behind Me" off of Gold Medal. I was a bit surprised to realize that I am an "old school fan," but proud of it. Oddly enough, the majority of the people there knew only new stuff off Bitchin'. Slightly sad that they only played for about an hour and a half, but nonetheless, that hour and a half was fun. Definitely better than when I saw them perform with Jet on Halloween a few years ago, except for the fact that they played no super old school songs.

The following day, Sunday, was back in the Kölnarena to see the German hip-hop group Die Fantastischen Vier (The Fantastic Four) with David and Zach. They're pretty much the Beastie Boys of Germany. Anyhow, the show was definitely really well thought out with lights and background and well, just plain frickin cool. I knew way more songs from Die Fanta Vier than from Die Ärzte, so I think I enjoyed myself a lot more. Not to mention our seats were much farther down. Die Fanta Vier also played for a long time (about 2.5 hours) and played a lot of old songs, like "Geboren," "Der Picknicker," and "Hausmeister Thomas D." Favorite songs of the night had to be "Take It Back" and "Was Geht." All in all, I have to say that the show was so good, in fact, that I think Die Fanta Vier are definitely in my top 5 arena shows, definitely over Madonna. One encore they did had a stage come down from the ceiling and then three of the four came out and rapped on it. Pretty sweet, if you ask me.

Finally, to top it all off, I saw The Hives tonight. Now, I've seen The Hives before, and they rocked then, and they still do. I managed to squeeze my way to the front against the barrier, which was really fun, but at the same time, not super fantastic because I got super squashed. It is interesting, though, that I felt really old in comparison to everyone else there. All of the girls were really flat and not curvy at all, and a high school student hit on me (sort of). The other thing is that I wasn't in the middle of the action like I was 3 years ago. That's when you know I'm getting old(er), when I think to myself, "I'm getting too old for this shit to jump around with teenagers." The show, of course, was indescribably amazing. Pelle really knows how to work the crowd into a frenzy (literally), his brother Nicholas Arson has the craziest expressions (and yet somehow they are kind of sexy), drummer Chris Dangerous is way hotter than I remember him being, and Dr. Matt Destruction and Vigilante Carlstroem rock really hard. The first three definitely have the hot rocker thing about them. (The other two are just not my type) Unfortunately, I had to go to this show alone because nobody wanted or was able to come. (Hence the high schooler hitting on me...sort of.) Despite this fact, I rocked my ass off and must say, The Hives win for best show of the weekend/month/year.

On a completely different note, I don't have to worry about finding an internship anymore because I found one, woo! It's with a German company called, which is a subsidiary of RTL, the biggest entertainment channel in the country. The website is unfortunately inaccessible within the U.S. because it's blocked, but to put it simply, it's YouTube for Germans, with music videos from Sony BMG (they have a contract), some stuff that Americans would consider soft-core porn, etc. I'm really excited about it because it'll be a great opportunity to learn about new media, woo.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Christmas in Köln Kommt (You like that alliteration?)

Christmas in Köln (and the rest of the world) is fast approaching. One difference, however, is that Christmas goods have been available here to buy since about mid-October. At home, we have Halloween and Thanksgiving to keep the Christmas stuff off shelves a little longer, though not by much. The one thing, however, that makes Christmas here way better is the traditional Weihnachtsmärkte (Christmas markets), which are getting built up in almost every free space around the city. I've already been snacking on Spekulatius (ginger bread cookies), but soon I'll be able to enjoy Glühwein, the smell of baked goods, and Christmas lights everywhere in the markets. Here are some pictures of the Christmas markets being built around the city:

This will be the Christmas market in Heumarkt. Only on Sunday was it full of people celebrating the beginning of Karneval season (which I didn't go to because of the pouring rain), and soon it will be full of people looking for Christmas gifts, drinking Glühwein, and snacking on warm baked goodies.

Here is the Kölner Dom (Cathedral) with the Christmas market being built up. I wonder if it will beat the Berliner Christmas market around the Kaiser Wilhelm Gedächtniskirche for being pretty. The markets open up in about two weeks.

On a different note, the locomotive drivers (uh, conductors? Lokführer in German) have been striking on and off here since we've gotten here. The reason is that they want to get paid more, which I don't blame them before. Without going through a long explanation, it's been a little inconvenient for people who take trains everywhere, especially if they are living in the eastern part of the country. Today I went to the main train station here in Köln and it was a lot emptier than normal. For one, the platforms were almost completely empty, even though about 70% of the trains were running here in Nordrhein-Westphalia. For another, I only saw one train on the tracks. And lastly, the Service Point's line was a little longer than usual. I can only imagine what it's like in the east. And some pictures from the train station today:

This is the train station from the outside. Usually people are rushing in and out and the plaza in front of it is full of people. I went at around 2 pm, which is obviously not rush hour, but at the same time, is a pretty busy hour for the train station.

All of the trains that say "Zug fällt aus" means it was canceled. Luckily a lot of the trains in Nordrhein-Westphalia were still running. In the east, it's probably just lines of "Zug fällt aus."

Here you can see how empty the train station is. The platforms are usually full with people waiting and the tracks usually have a train approaching, leaving, or standing. It's almost like 28 Days Later, but just not so extreme.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Germans Are (Generally) Really Tall

Ok, so the title for this post might be a wee bit obvious. However, it pertains to the fact that I hate it when there are a bunch of really tall guys (and girls!) standing in front of me at a concert. I went to see the Kaiser Chiefs by myself and somehow, I wound up behind at least 10 people that were all 5 feet 10 inches or taller. I thought perhaps that my observation two years ago at the Franz Ferdinand show was just nonsense because we got to the show late. I thought, hmm, maybe all the tall guys are standing in the back because they're being courteous. No, that isn't the case. Germans are generally really tall, so it seems, or at least, the ones who always go to the shows that I go to.

To comment on the Kaiser Chiefs' performance, I must say, I was a bit disappointed in comparison to the last time I saw them. However, this probably has to do with the fact that I saw them my first time at the Stone Pony and that has a capacity of 775 people. The venue I saw them this time, E-Werk, has a capacity of 2,000 and I think the effect is that the lead singer did not have as much energy as in the smaller place. Not to mention, I went to the show by myself, so that always has an effect on how I enjoy it. Anyway, all that said and done, it was a very fun show from the aspect of the band and music.

On the other hand, there were some really annoying people in my area. If I were to make the rules for going to concerts, this is what they would be. Call me mean, but damn, I'm coming up to my 50th concert, so I have some sort of backing to it.

Concert-going Rules According to Me

1. Hey, tall people. It'd be nice if you stood all together and let the shorter people in front of you. I'm not necessarily saying that they should all stand in the back, but tall people should group together and fight it out which tall guy (or girl) gets to be in front of all of them. Then all the people under 5' 10" can stand in front of the taller people.

2. Concerts are not a place to make out with your significant other. I don't care if your special song is being played live. It would be much appreciated if you did not make out and block my view or someone else's view. Also, stop grabbing your significant other's butt/boob/hip/etc. Think of it this way: It makes it that much easier for someone else to cop a feel.

3. If you have long hair and put it in a ponytail, be aware of what you do with it. Even if it's not in a ponytail, be aware of what your long hair is doing. I hate being at a show with a girl in front of me with long hair jumping around. I do not like having your hair in my face. How do I know you don't have lice or something crawling on your head? Also, a mouthful of someone else's hair is just nasty in general.

4. If you can't jump or clap to the beat of the song, please stop jumping or clapping. You're just going to screw up everyone else. Plus, you're just going to look silly jumping/clapping on the 1 and 3 instead of the 2 and 4. (If you know what I'm talking about, awesome. If not, hopefully you just do it because jumping/clapping on the 1 and 3 is just unnatural.) If the song is not in 4/4 time or you don't know what I'm talking about, just jump/clap to the downbeats and make it easy on yourself. Yeah, thanks.

5. If you push/kick/shove/punch me, you are fair game to be pushed/kicked/shoved/punched back. Simple as that. Just because I am smaller does not necessarily mean I can't push/kick/shove/punch back. Oh, and that goes for being a girl, as well. Everyone is fair game in the mosh pit.

6. Stop staring at me because I am the only Asian (or oftentimes just plain non-Caucasian) there. What's the big frickin' deal?

But yes, for now, I think this is a good list of concert-going rules.

Also, I'd like to comment on the fact that Germans love clapping. I've noticed that quite often at concerts or on television. Germans love clapping to the rhythm of the song, although tonight, there were a lot of people who didn't know how to keep a steady beat. Christian and his sister commented on this, too, but honestly, Germans will clap to anything, whether it's a slow ballad, an upbeat dance theme, a loud rock song, or Volksmusik. They will clap their hands off to a-n-y-t-h-i-n-g. In the U.S., I feel like not so many people clap willingly. I know I definitely went through a phase in life where I thought, "Wow, clapping to this song is an old people thing to do." Maybe that's just me. But seriously. Germans. Clap. To. Everything.