Across the Europeverse: Leipzig, Germany
For most of the month of October, Arts Desk contributor Justin Moyer and his band, D.C. modern rock quartet Edie Sedgwick, are touring Europe. Here is his latest dispatch.
We leave Berlin for Leipzig—normally a 90-minute trip—and are met with a one-hour traffic jam. A trip that should take two hours takes four.
The Leipzig venue is called “Lola Bar”—a former strip club on the outskirts of town next to a field. The stage is surrounded by mirrors and has a stripper pole. People smoke inside. Promoter T. welcomes us, but must leave early. After many years of concert promotion, he has become the assistant director of a play—a new experience for which he has boundless enthusiasm. The play's script is based on interviews with 20- and 30-somethings and, in English, is called The End of the Self-Awakening.
TEOTS-A is presented as an installation. Rather than sit in seats and watch a bunch of actors onstage, the audience wanders around the theater and discovers the actors, who often improvise. This sounds like a cross between Bertolt Brecht and the haunted castle in Brigantine, N.J., that burned down in the 1980s; or, as I tell T., Richard Linklater's Slacker and Waking Life, but he is not familiar with Richard Linklater. Promoter T. does say he may be able to get our band tickets to TEOTS-A. This sounds exciting, but T. disappears before we can finalize this plan. In lieu of theatergoing, we eat “pumpkin pasta” cooked by T.'s friend. Unexpectedly, this pumpkin pasta is the best meal I’ve had in the past six months.
While eating, we are joined by Band G., another American group sharing the bill. This is disconcerting. On one hand, it's a relief to practice my English on native speakers and compare experiences in the Old World. On the other hand, I am encountering a competitor in the cutthroat global music-making market. I must ask: Is this American band more popular, making more money, or armed with a better schtick than mine? Since Band G. are neo-hippies from California, I must also ask: Do these laid-back, blissed-out, carefree, kindly souls have the same neurotic need for public recognition that I have? After some obligatory small talk, I am relieved to learn that Band G.’s guitarist, like me, wants to talk about flight costs, van rental, record labels, booking agents, and guarantees—not aesthetics. I make 250 euros at the show and sell about 100 euros worth of merchandise.
After the show, we return to Promoter T.’s house. T. bemoans the breakup of my Previous Band A. This lets me expound on a favorite theme: If Previous Band A. Was So Great, Why Didn’t Anyone Buy Our Records Or Come To Our Shows? T. quickly points out that more people came to Previous Band A.’s Leipzig show in 2007 than Current Band E.’s Leipzig show in 2009. I must take refuge in dubious rhetoric: That Band I Used To Be In Was Great, But We Broke Up And That’s Okay.
Later that night, I contemplate sleeping under a kitchen table, but decide to sleep in the van instead. It’s the end of the self-awakening.