A weekend in Berlin made me realize the Austrian composer wouldn’t have turned 27 in this city today.
The musicians of the band OMG Schubert in one of their more quiet moments Photo: Clara Borchmann
Schubert was a small, ugly gnome, manically creative, excessive in his emotional outbursts. At least that’s what Justus Wilcken, guitarist and singer of the band OMG Schubert, claims, who gave the final concert of their first tour at Berlin’s Kulturhaus ZK/U on April 12, 2019. Wilcken and pianist Konstantin Dupelius translate the old material into a darkly epic, equally manic now: The tall, not at all ugly opera singer and actor Wilcken lets us in on the inner lives of the narrative selves. Next to him, his colleague Dupelius bends over various digital and analog keyboard instruments with eyes widened with enthusiasm and makes us dance.
Visuals by Wilhelm Rinke stage German male heroism with irony. At least that’s how I interpret it when a photo series of potted plants is shown on two individually recorded screens to "Mein Schatz hat’s Jagen so gern." Then again gloomy psychedelic fractal branches, and to "Ich ungluckseliger Atlas" a long-legged beauty in mountain shark dress. Finally, a pixelated 3-D animation of the singer himself, naked.
Is this too much, I ask myself. Is this supposed to be the prototype of the contemporary hero? Feelings burst out of Wilcken, he "shows weakness," quivers at times as if on the verge of tears. The male ideal image is questioned by showing these extremes and an identification with various protagonists of Schubert’s songs is allowed. Whether it is the rejoicing wanderer, the miller longing for her treasure, or the lover in the throes of death.
Switch off the head
Franz Schubert created close to 1,000 works in his short life; he lived to only 31. If Schubert had lived like I did this weekend, he would probably have been 27 at most and "Das Wandern ist des Mullers Lust" would have been his most complex song.
OMG Schubert – "Atlas"
"You proud heart, you wanted to be happy, infinitely happy. And now? What is now? Now you are miserable, so infinitely miserable"
On Saturday I wake up and yowl painfully. My back hurts and I want to do nothing for as long as possible. Luckily I’m with B., he’s inspiring in these things. Later, when I return to my own shared apartment, I want to pursue my serious project for the weekend: Head Off. So I watch an episode of "Sex and the City" and suggest to T. that we could go out on a date again, experience another really stupid situation. Her response, "I’m going out for a minute to buy some vitamin B12."
Later I visit B. at a concert job in the Maze, a kind of concert club pub in Kreuzberg, and am pleasantly surprised. Actually just wanted to say hello, but Kelvin Jones sings beautiful songs and the atmosphere is full of love in the small room.
Teenies on coke
The intellectual highlight of the weekend follows. Somehow I end up with T. and company in the tourist dance hall Ritter Butzke on "der Engtanz", as they put it, as if that were a common term. What’s really behind it: Teenies on coke, love floor trash and Pfeffi shots.
On the way home, I can’t get the refrain of "Atlas" out of my head: "You proud heart, you wanted to be happy, infinitely happy. And now? What is now? Now you’re miserable, so infinitely miserable." And I ask myself again: why? Because then the hangover the next day is so much fun. Suffering is sometimes an entertaining main occupation. It was already very fashionable in the Romantic period.
So on Sunday I follow B. like a broken wobbly dumbbell to a friend’s parade. The mood rises and thoughts begin to take shape again. Five of us work around in the living room with Beach Boys and Nico. This weekend was as strange and changeable as its soundtrack.