Au Revoir Simone, Paris, 2012
Au Revoir Simone. Photo by ΛΦΠ - Eigenes Werk (CC BY-SA 4.0)

Red Sweater Days

March 3

Jessica swears that Julian and I were salivating, and she was disgusted. Less because of our drooling (we were not!) but because the object of our attention was wearing unattractive baggy rolled up jeans with that oh-so-flattering red sweater. I mean, how COULD we ignore the jeans?

I had never heard of Au Revoir Simone before, this girlband out of Brooklyn, New York with their three keyboards, flower-power long hair and what Julian describes as their “soft-focus” sound. But Jessica and I have been out to quite a few music events in just the past couple of months, and I’ve come to trust Julian’s music taste (and those of his friends, by extension).

So off to Bastard we go.

Bastard is a tight little club space in Prenzlauer Berg, on the hip Kastanienallee and next to the equally well-known Prater Garten.

At least, it is well known to some. When Ingo suggests we meet there just the night before, I sound like a hick with my “where’s THAT?” cluelessness.

It turns out that I had been there once before for a drum-n-bass dance night with my coworkers. Um, I will censor out the events of that evening to protect the not-so-innocent. Let me just leave it with “good times were had by all.”

Bastard had a nice little club feel when I was there then. But tonight, it is packed wall-to-wall with people out to hear Au Revoir Simone. Maybe some were also there for the opening act: a too-cool-for-school Berlin group called I Might Be Wrong. Baggier jeans, Beatles-style hair cuts and a singer who refuses (simply REFUSES) to smile. (She read somewhere that smiling is NEVER cool.)

The babes of Simone must have skipped that lesson. Thank god. And Ms. Red Sweater doesn’t just smile.

She beams.

Drooling or not, Julian and I enjoy every minute of the spring-day-and-bubble-gum sound of our winsome threesome. It is not that all the songs are light-hearted. The song they dedicate to their “best friend in Berlin” is about a breakup.

They apologize for that, which makes me laugh.

Jessica rolls her eyes.

March 14

Jessica is teaching an English class tonight, so it is just Julian and me at the Lido for Console. Neither of us had been to the Lido before, but it is just one block from my favorite Italian restaurant on Schlesisches Strasse and, after dinner, Martin walks us there.

I have walked past this place a hundred times and not seen it, I exclaim.

Well, they are not always open, Martin coolly replies.

The Lido is not Bastard, thank goodness. Although brimming with people, there is still room to breath. (And, later, I’ll find, to twist and shout.) While not exactly cavernous, the room’s high ceilings suggest an almost dreamy vastness.

When Console starts, that’s what I do. I close my eyes. Dream. I imagine then that I will open my eyes to a room emptied of people. Ok, maybe a sole bartender remains. And the heat of all those bodies still radiate. But the flesh — of guests, band, and even Julian — is swept away like so many sand castles on the shore.

It is just me, the vastness and the gentle pull of the music.

It helps that Console leads with a couple of tracks that are heady like that. But they don’t stay there. I am back in the filled hall, Julian is near, and the music is throb throb throbbing. A few people hold out– stare at the stage, listen intently, drink their beers.

But the rest of us are caught in the flow. A turning, dipping, whirling mess of our sweat and cries.

What joy this!

And I know it. Just know it.

The walls are pulsing.

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