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Culture Shock

The German Music Scene Through the Eyes of an American

3 days in Munich. Not enough time to get to know the city, let alone its music scene. Nevertheless, I tried. Welcome to maybe the world’s most informal and inaccurate guide to the Munich music scene.

To get to know what a city likes, it’s best to find out what acts are touring there. I checked public poster boards, subway stations, and billboards to find out what concerts I could find in the area. What I saw shocked me. Coming soon, Nickelback (with special guest Seether), Skillet, Roger Waters. “Is this a nation cursed by Dad Rock?” I thought to myself. It couldn’t be. I pressed on for further information. I saw other posters for classical music concerts, but that made sense, I was in the land Bach and Beethoven after all. There’s nothing wrong with classical music, but it wasn’t something I wanted to venture into; opera and symphonies are far from the Bloomington basement shows I’m used to.

Throughout my journey up and down Munich’s streets in search of music, I was graced by a handful of street musicians. The soothing sounds of a lone clarinet floated through the air around the Neues Rathaus. As people walked up and down Kaufingerstraße to shop, a man sat in the middle playing his piano. In the city stood a statue of Michael Jackson, the German composer, not the beloved pop star, yet the band near it chose to cycle through the King of Pop’s discography rather than German classics.

When I first arrived to the welcoming streets of Munich I noticed hundreds of people wearing Iron Maiden. I knew Metal tended to be a more accepted genre here than in the states, so I thought nothing of it. It turns out that they were on tour, playing a show right near my hotel. I wasn’t able to go, but I watched the aftermath as hundreds of fans poured out onto the streets afterward.

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At this point, I could tell Munich offered a wide array of musical choices for its inhabitants, but I was feeling left out. I had seen street musicians perform, and as good as they were, they lacked the captivation that concerts create. It wasn’t until my walk home from a Beer garden on my last night that I was able to catch a real show. It was 10 PM in Königsplatz. I heard music coming from down the street, through a fenced-off area. It was loud, rough, and German. I thought nothing of it at first, I was too focused on getting back to my hotel, but as I turned the corner to circumvent the closed off area, a swarm of people stood peering over the fence to see the band play.

“Warum nicht?” I said to myself. It was my last night in the city, I hadn’t seen any concerts yet, and now I had the chance to somewhat attend a free show. I stood in a crowd of strangers, peering over the fence, listening to a band unknown to me. My German speaking skills were not good enough to decode the lyrics of the songs, but I understood the punk energy they stood for. By the time I got there they were about done, and I only got to hear a few songs. As they ended and left the stage, I continued my walk back, wondering who I had just seen.

A torn poster hung on the wall of a building. It read along the lines of, “Heute: Die Toten Hosen im Königsplatz.” That was it. I had just seen the legendary German punk band, Die Toten Hosen. Sure, it was from a distance, with a muffled sound and a slightly obscured view, but with that, I was able to find peace, and end my search.


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