Monday, October 26, 2009

Darmstädter Hübsch

On Saturday a few friends I encountered in the neighborhood were excited, telling me about a "must see band" called Darmstädter Hübsch. The group was appearing the next day on Sunday, 25 October 2009 at the FEELGOOD FESTIVAL 10 JAAR, the tenth year anniversary of a music festival and benefit held each year at a popular nightclub in Alkmaar. The proceeds are then channeled into local charities and non-profits, making everyone feel good.

The well known club, VICTORIE, is located in the Binnenstad at Breedstraat 33 and it frequently draws large, mixed crowds, especially on weekends. Their website says that VICTORIE, "In the heart of Alkmaar, is a place where everyone goes wild on the dance floor, stories are shared and exaggerated in the upstairs café, talent is developed and performed, and above all, there is a feeling of musical freedom that you can share with friends." In short, it's an entertainment extravaganza!

My friends said I really should see this group and they invited me to go along with them. During the summer we listen to a lot of live music in Alkmaar, because nearly everyone is into music, plays an instrument or sings in a vocal group, and because music is playing every where, in the town squares, in the streets, on sidewalks, in the concert halls, and on most occasions it's free. So, respecting my friends' suggestion, I committed to going with them to FEELGOOD to experience the phenomenon Darmstädter Hübsch.

As expected, the concert went crazy, deafening cheers from the crowded dance floor, when the group launched into its headliner song 99 Luftballons. "99 Luftballons (German: Neunundneunzig Luftballons, 99 balloons) is an anti-war protest song by the German band Nena from their 1983 self-titled album," states Wikipedia. "An English version titled 99 Red Balloons, with lyrics by Kevin McAlea, was also released on the album 99 Luftballons in 1984 after widespread success of the original in Europe and Japan. The English version is not a direct translation of the German original and contains somewhat different lyrics."

Wikipedia continues, "Nena was a German Neue Deutsche Welle band, best known for their 1983 hit 99 Luftballons. The band was formed in 1982 when vocalist Gabriele Kerner came to Berlin with drummer Rolf Brendel, her boyfriend at the time. There they assembled the other members of the band, which took its name from their lead singer’s nickname (a corruption of the Spanish for “little girl”), which she had acquired as a toddler during a family holiday to Spain."

The the music and performance by Darmstädter Hübsch of the song were incredible. A catchy tune, thought provoking lyrics, the song tells the story of 99 balloons that "are mistaken for UFOs, causing a general to send pilots to investigate. Finding nothing but child's balloons, the pilots decide to put on a show and shoot them down. The display of force worries the nations along the borders and the war ministers on each side bang the drums of conflict to grab power for themselves."

As a consequence, a ninety-nine-year war results from an otherwise harmless flight of balloons, causing devastation without any victor. The singer in the song walks through the devastated ruins and finding a single balloon lets it loose, watching it fly away.