Music is My Oxygen: Rammstein “Ohne Dich”

My favourite band is Rammstein, a German industrial group with a penchant for disturbing imagery and lighting just everything on fire. I’ve been fortunate enough to see them perform live on multiple occasions, more than once from close enough to the stage that I feared for my eyebrows. In fact, I took the banner photo that adorns my blog homepage at one of their shows, in Quebec City.

I’ve had a lot of great experiences in and around their shows, but the best from a very long list was also the first, when Ron and I saw them in Berlin in 2009. We actually only discovered them in 2005, right around the time their Rosenrot album was released, and they went on a sabbatical. The timing was good. Unlike long-term fans, who were disappointed at the upcoming wait for new music, we filled the years until Liebe Ist Für Alle Da was released with exploring the band’s back catalogue, including their concert videos.

After seeing the insanity of their live shows, when it was announced Rammstein would be touring to support Liebe Ist Für Alle Da, Ron and I decided we just had to go. Looking at their touring history, we thought there’d be little chance of them coming to Canada, so we hatched a plan to see them in Europe. I joined their ‘online community’ – because apparently the term ‘fan club’ isn’t metal enough – in the hopes it would get us access to presale tickets. Which, as it turned out, it did. As community members, we could reserve two tickets to any one show in Germany. We chose Berlin, partly because I’d been wanting to go there for years, and partly because there’s often something a little extra special about seeing a band perform in their hometown.

Speaking of extra special, I went all out putting together an ensemble for the show. I’m normally a simple dresser. Jeans, band t-shirt, hiking boots. Every day. But I figured if they were going to light the venue aflame, the least I could do was dress appropriately metal for the occasion.

I have never been so accessorized in my life.

The show was fucking amazing. We were maybe ten feet from the stage, almost directly beneath a speaker stack, so loud I could physically feel the sound wave. The pyro was insanely bright and hot. (Although my eyebrows did survive.) I was accidentally head butted when the guy headbanging behind me got too close and brought his head down directly on top of mine. I took a shot of perfumed foam from the pussy cannon straight in the face.

And then there was the confetti.

The end of a Rammstein concert tends to be a bit … chaotic.

At the end of the show, they fired off three confetti cannons – one with gold confetti, one with red, and one with black, the three colours of the German flag. After the show ended, while we waited for the venue to empty, I decided to grab some of each colour as a souvenir. Where we were standing, there was plenty of the red and gold, but the black cannon had been on the far side of the stage, and none of it had drifted over to us. So I told Ron I’d be right back and trotted over to the other side of the auditorium to grab some.

There was hardly anybody left in the auditorium by that time, so I saw the two drunken young German men right away. They had their arms around each other’s shoulders, and they were belting out Ohne Dich, one of Rammstein’s more balladic songs, (and one that hadn’t been part of that night’s show), as they wove their way in my general direction.

I smiled at them, but I was platform-deep in black confetti by that point, so I didn’t pay them much mind. I grabbed some of the shredded paper and didn’t quite skip my way back to Ron – that wouldn’t have been very metal behaviour after all – to show him my prize.

After Ron made some appropriately approving noises, I headed for the exit. I didn’t clue in that he wasn’t walking with me until I heard his voice say from somewhat behind me, “You have some fans.” I glanced back over my shoulder to see the two beautiful, drunken young German men following us, still weaving along with their arms about each other’s shoulders, still belting out Ohne Dich for all they were worth. Except now they were singing it to me.

I can’t imagine why I caught their attention. Perhaps Häagen and Dazs had something to do with it?

So I did what seemed like the only reasonable thing to do at the time: I blew them a kiss. And then I watched with amusement as their forward lurch changed to a sideways stumble, one of them wrapped his spare arm around Ron’s shoulders, and they pulled him along with them, heading vaguely That Way now, their seemingly never ending version of Ohne Dich trailing on the air behind them.

To read more posts in the “Music Is My Oxygen” series, click here.

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