Obviously, I’ve regularly envisioned the first post-pandemic concert over the past one and half years on a regular basis. Of course you do when you’ve been a dedicated attendee of concerts in the two decades prior to the global shutdown. My expectations constantly changed. I imagined huge mosh pits with my favourite rock bands, people ripping their shirts off, falling into each others arms, throwing drinks, give each other hugs and kisses (with consent!) etc. … I continued to buy tickets for Foals, IDLES and others but as Covid continued to spread around the globe everything got postponed again and again and the vision become slightly blurry. Somewhere in the haze between optimism and imagination I bought tickets for British experimental indie rock sensation Squid only to see this show getting rescheduled as well. So, in the end it was a mixture of the right circumstances that made me end up at a show of the furious post-punk five-piece from Brighton on a cold October evening in 2021. Berlin has just allowed venues and events to go full capacity again by only letting in fully vaccinated and recovered people. It’s not mandatory yet but it’s a necessary tool to somehow increase the vaccination rate (which is still quite mediocre in Germany compared to other countries in Europe). Well, and I think it’s also important to give those who actually took the shot and stick to the rules for so long a few selected moments of relief in an otherwise often harsh time of uncertainty because you never know what’s next with that goddamn virus.
It’s also extremely challenging for concert organizers because every part of Germany and Europe deals differently with the concert regulations. Considering all the post-Brexit madness it’s actually a miracle to witness the show of a British band on that Monday night at Kreuzberg’s infamous punk venue SO 36. I had great shows in that venue, from the already mentioned IDLES to Editors and even old indie favourites Tiger Lou – it’s the definition of a sticky, sweaty concert venue so it might have been the perfect place for the comeback although it can also be a pain in the ass when it’s really packed. After all, it’s been 592 days since my last full capacity indoor show. I mean, I’ve seen live music; I also experienced full-capacity vibes over the course of the summer. I danced without social distancing on a club floor (while wearing a mask); I even attended a festival this summer where it was allowed to party without limitations. And I told you about that already legendary Reeperbahn Festival aftershow party at the Molotow club, right? But still, it’s a different thing when you buy a ticket specifically for a show to see a band of your choice. So, I was a bit excited, needless to say.
A training lesson in social anti distancing
Of course, Squid are a fitting band to welcome back sweaty club events. They are quite physical, very intense and their songs got this almost hypnotic sense of dramaturgy which made this year’s debut album Bright Green Field so extremely captivating. It’s a band that already makes lots of fun on record but is even better when you experience it live. Especially the second half of their 60-minute long set had this extremely wonderful and intense drive – songs like Paddling and the magnificent monstrous Narrator are the sort of songs that make your body shake in an uncontrollable way. It might be these moments I missed the lot over the past 17 months. It was ultimately rewarding, also for the majority of the audience. It was a light mosh pit that manifested itself in the front rows of the SO 36 but everybody appears to be enjoying it. I honestly can’t remember when I last heard such euphoric “Encore”-shouts. Well, but maybe I simply forgot about it.
One thing I was a bit concerned about was the whole social distancing aspect and whether I ended up with a subtle form of claustrophobia. I definitely know people who are still struggling to go back into full people mode. But I had a bit training over the past months, slowly embracing bigger post-vaccination gatherings with friends, first outside, then also in rooms and bars. It still takes around five minutes to adjust, to accept the situation, shake off the fear of the Delta variant in the back of your head and simply embrace the scenery. You can’t control everything. But once you do embrace it it’s a quick return to normal, I have to say, including all the good and bad things that come with it. Of course, the SO 36 was quite packed, you’re constantly bouncing into people as you elbow your way through the crowd. It’s annoying but human. People still talk too much, they light a cigarette when they shouldn’t and somehow somebody taller than you always seems to end up exactly in front of you. But well… isn’t that what you came for? For the physical experience of togetherness?
Because that’s what I also witnessed: smiling faces, affirmative shouting and an overall love for that weird yet intense post-punk/math-rock sound of the five lads that came all the way from Brighton to perform for us.
Of course, it wasn’t that gigantic ‘everybody goes mental’-moment I romantically envisioned back in 2020. This one might still take a few months and a bit training. Well, maybe it won’t happen after all. We’ve learned to live in the moment anyway over the past year. Personally I learned to appreciate these moments and opportunities a bit more and that’s why I simply happy that they are possible again. The upcoming winter might still be a bit confusing and chaotic as the retreat of Covid-19 still feels like a fragile truce but I’m more than happy to adapt to it and embrace every opportunity that doesn’t involve a laptop screen.
And I wish you all to experience such moments as well in any form, no matter where you are.
Don’t ever take them for granted.