We’ve had an exciting weekend in Berlin.
On Friday night, we went to a concert of a kind I never thought I’d attend. PC’s former Australian teammate, Joel, plays bass in the band, Hands like Houses. I was going to describe their sound as that which a 14 year-old Erin would have angsted out to, but wikipedia informs me that their genre is, post-hardcore. They are currently on tour with a couple of other bands that tend more toward the metalcore side of music. Not generally my thing.
In preparation for this heavy, rattling show, we sought out dinner at the famous Mustafa’s Gemüse Kebap. Regularly voted as Berlin’s best döner, and regularly avoided by me on account of its consistently long line. Mustafa’s is very close to the concert venue, so we had a good excuse brave the line. Along with new BRV teammates, Rob and Francesco, we patiently waited and were rewarded with a legitimately gourmet döner.
They stuff it with marinated zucchini, eggplant, potatoes, and peppers, top it with feta cheese and give it a little squeeze of lemon. Pretty darn good. I won’t go out of my way for it, but when in the neighborhood it’s worth it.
Ok, on to the show…
The headliner’s name was, ready for it?: Bury Tomorrow.
Perhaps you can already imagine the crowd in attendance. So much black. This was one of my favorite shirts. A dream catcher ending in nooses. poetic.
Hands Like Houses came out with a great set. A particular favorite was their punk rock cover of Natalie Imbruglia’s 90’s hit, Torn. In chatting with Joel afterward, he informed us that each band got to choose their pre-set music. For example, Hands like Houses requested some Linkin Park directly before they came on. The pre-set music for Bury Tomorrow kicked off with Wrecking Ball. This was followed by other pop hits such as Shake it Off and Anaconda. It is a great joy in life to watch a large man wearing a shirt which reads “Watching You Writhe in Pain” shimmy to Taylor Swift.
Eventually the headliner emerged, and….there was much screaming and headbanging. Totally fun for about two songs. This obviously NEEDS to be their next album cover.
On Saturday, I started back up with my old job teaching English at an international school. I was clearly nervous.
Now to the best part.
On Sunday, Germans and many others around the world celebrated the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall. In 1989, after waves of protests all around Eastern Europe, East Germany’s government concedes the inevitable, and announces that East Germans can now cross the border to West Germany unimpeded. Within a few hours, East Berliners pour over and through the wall, including a young Angela Merkel. Literally overnight the city and history is changed- just as it was in 1961.
To commemorate the anniversary, a ‘lichtgrenze’, or ‘light border’ was created. 8,000 balloons were placed along 15 kilometers of the path of the old wall, and huge screens playing real footage from 1989 were placed in various locations around the city.
For each of the 8,000 balloons, a sponsor was chosen. Some of them had personal histories with the wall, and others, like Kawika were chosen for their connection to the new, unified Berlin. BRVolleys had Kawika, Felix and Sebastian each man a balloon. We joined them at their spot in Mauerpark along with thousands of others celebrating freedom, unity and healing.
The whole week leading up to the event, stories of families torn apart, lovers separated, hardship, and also triumph were everywhere in the media. Sebastian and Felix were born in East Germany, and their families have vivid memories of Nov. 9, 1989. Standing with them Sunday night was humbling.
At the signal from the mayor of Berlin, Mikhail Gorbachev, and other dignitaries, the first balloon was released from Brandenburger Tor with the Berlin chamber orchestra playing Beethoven’s 9th symphony. One after another, the balloon sponsors stepped up and released their balloons into the night sky. It was beautiful.
Take a look here.