If you know me, you probably know how much I love coincidences and foolishly interpret them as “signs” coming from some superior power. I am perfectly aware it’s all in my head, but I do enjoy humouring myself and following the paths suggested by these mystical signs I keep on spotting everywhere. This is a story about one of them.
Two weeks ago, over at a friend’s place, I was enjoying a cold afternoon indoors to the sound of some unknown – to me, of course – minimalist instrumental ensemble. Asked who it was and, probably due to its idiosyncrasy, the name stuck with me: Balmorhea. I confess I didn’t think about that music or that band again, until I got my Thursday fix of cee cee. For those of you who don’t live in Berlin, or who do but don’t know cee cee yet, this weekly newsletter hand picks information on what’s happening out and about in Berlin and delivers it to your inbox every Thursday, just in time to drive you crazy with indecision before your weekend. I’ve discovered unknown spots and attended off the grid events suggested by Nina and Sven on more than one occasion, and must say: haven’t been disappointed so far. I’m a sucker for a simple black on white newsletter with pretty images and great suggestions, what can I say.
Well, just a few days after I heard those tunes at my friend’s house, I noticed cee cee was giving out tickets for a Balmorrhea concert at the .HBC and thought: destiny. So I decided to surprise my friend. Incredibly, I won a pair of tickets, but, unfortunately, she already had plans. Well, two free tickets in hand, on an otherwise quite uneventful Friday night – what could I do? The answer was obvious, and after stuffing our faces with burritos at our beloved Dolores and sharing a brownie across the street (we’re disgusting, I know), my boyfriend and I headed to .HBC, the epic 1800sqm arts space housed in the former Hungarian cultural centre, right off Alexanderplatz. After a couple of drinks, the doors to the Kino finally opened and we grabbed two perfect front row seats. The room was full and, a little in delay, as ever in Berlin, the concert began with an intense piano solo. The other five Texans then came in and grabbed their guitar, violin, cello, double bass and drums.
You know how (good) music is much better when it’s live? Well Balmorrhea takes this to a whole new level. I’m not going to bore you with words, because I truly think you have to witness it to understand. Let me just tell you that although there are no lyrics to Balmorrhea’s music, you feel like you watched a movie or read a book after their concert. It’s incredibly intense and you leave with a sense of having almost grasped the stories behind those notes. And the 6 musicians talk, fight and love through their instruments, having moved me in a way concerts seldom do. Add to this their young age, master skills (from the 6 musicians, 5 played at least 2 instruments during the performance) and inspiration from the likes of Beethoven, John Cage, Debussy and Einaudi, and you still have no idea how awesome it is to watch these guys play live. Seriously, if you ever get the chance, do. I know I will.
P.S. for the band: if you should ever actually read this, here go two cheeky suggestions for the title of the first untitled tune you played in Berlin: “Can you hear me?” or “Labyrinth”.