Earlier this year — 5th March, to be exact — I took a 24-hour trip to Berlin just to see Death From Above 1979. It sounds crazy, I know. But… I’m crazy?
To be fair, I had gone from London to Cologne/Bonn just to see an old high school friend, so it didn’t seem a stretch to swing by Berlin to see a band I’d spent much of my adolescence obsessing over. I “found” them only a couple of months after they split up, and didn’t think a reunion was ever going to happen, let alone more than once.
After my U-Bahn ride towards the venue, I was intercepted by a tall woman asking for directions. “Sorry, I don’t speak German,” I said, and was surprised to see a smile spread across her face. “Neither can I,” she replied, “not very well, at least”. It turned out that we were both looking for Postbahnhof, where the gig was located. And so we became fast friends, bonding over beers, drags of smoke, and our shared love of DFA.
I tend to make quick decisions about people I meet, and I don’t often miss the mark. Or at least, not by far. Kobi’s “bastardised accent”, as she calls it, betrays her Australian roots and the best part of a decade spent in London and Europe. She no longer says “yuuu-rope”, rather, referring to the continent as “your-ope”, and calls 3G “day-ta” rather than “dar-ta”. We didn’t hang out long. After a few post-gig drinks I wandered back to the hostel to resume rave plans with some English brothers I’d met earlier.
I think we all need friends like this. And the courage to make friends in this way. Many people were perturbed to hear that I was going to Iceland Airwaves for a whole week with someone I’d “only known for a few hours”. Whilst we had kept in touch, it wasn’t like we had developed a deep and constant web-based friendship whatsoever. Merely the occasional “hello” and my all-important “I’m coming back to Europe, are there any music festivals you reckon I/we should go to?”
In a time where technology is increasingly geared towards connecting people with one another, it’s become a lot harder to meet people organically, in person. If Kobi had relied on Google Maps from the outset, we wouldn’t have crossed paths and discovered that we were very compatible wingmen. And if I had then resorted to being “social” on my phone for the walk to Postbahnhof, we wouldn’t have driven in blind darkness in search of Iceland’s northern lights.
And oh, Iceland, and Airwaves! More to come.