A whole day with Glasperlenspiel on their Light and Shadow tour through Germany. We accompanied them backstage for one day on February 17 at the FZW Dortmund.
Glasperlenspiel and the crew: a perfectly coordinated team
Glasperlenspiel, the band centered around Carolin Niemczyk and Daniel Grunenberg, are on their tour with a packed 40-ton truck, which has to be unloaded, and numerous cases that have to be pushed into the large concert hall of the West Recreation Center, where video walls have to be set up, wired and all instruments have to be positioned in their places.
A 7-man and -woman crew that is well-coordinated ensures that everything runs smoothly and efficiently. Each of them knows what to do at any one time.
Their smooth teamwork was evidenced just recently in Bremen, where they showed up on time at 12 noon the next day in Dortmund and started setting up. An hour later, everything was in place and most of it was already wired.
Gradually, the musicians rolled in and moved into their backstage rooms. Carolin has an assistant for her make-up and is made up in the “girls’ backstage” area.
The atmosphere at this point behind the scenes is very relaxed and calm.
Sound check – a short sound check to provide great sound
The actual sound check then begins at 3 pm. The whole band arrives at the stage 10 minutes before the sound check begins.
I wonder whether that is always the case? Where’s the cliché rock ‘n’ roll or the pop star attitude?
None of that attitude is on display with Glasperlenspiel. Everyone is incredibly disciplined, nice and very accommodating. It is easy to see that “this is not their first rodeo.” The way everyone pitches in makes quick work of everything.
All instruments are checked and all settings are saved on the mixer. A brief vocals check and a few songs are tuned. “The in-ear sound is super good today,” says Daniel enthusiastically. The sound check takes 30 minutes.
Holly, the production manager of the entire show, later tells me that it actually took a long time today. “Most of the time it only takes them 20 minutes to finish with everything.”
I, however, am rather surprised at how fast and smoothly the sound check went.
Behind the scenes/ the calm before the storm
Carolin and the band retire to the hotel for a few hours after the rehearsal. Daniel stays in the backstage room, sits down at a table, opens the laptop and…. “Hey Daniel, could I bother you for a minute?” Daniel: “Yeah, sure, come on in.” “Are you working or is this more a bit of private time right now?” I ask him. Daniel: “Exactly; actually I’m always on the job getting things done as I can when I have a spare minute. There are some things that always need to be taken care of. I usually prepare social media postings or answer emails.” We chat for a short time before I make my way back to the stage.
At this point, the video screens and a few spotlights are still being checked and tested. Are all the lights on; are there any pixel errors? The pyrotechnics are also being prepared. There are tons of streamers being fired into the audience tonight.
I make the rounds to see what’s going on. It is very quiet backstage and in the corridors. Even the catering area is quiet.
The band KUULT, which is just arriving, fronted for Glasperlenspiel at the concert in Dortmund and is fronting for them here. Similar procedure, arrive, unload, set up…. Sound check. Here, too, everything runs very smoothly and in a relaxed atmosphere.
I also retreat briefly, capture a few more moments with my camera, sit down in the catering area and start writing this report. I have my Bose headphones on and enjoy the quiet they provide. But I’m not alone for long. The Glasperlenspiel lighting technician sits down next to me, unpacks his laptop, and puts on his Sony headphones. I immediately recognize that these have a quiet function, too. We glance briefly at each other, nod and, grinning appreciatively, are joined together in our two “quiet worlds.” Today, however, I lack the calm to hold out for long. This report doesn’t end until this evening after the concert.
The last backstage preparations are starting
Around 6:30 pm, things start getting a little more restless at FZW Dortmund. The band comes from the hotel and there is food in the catering area. Everyone sits down together and gears up for the show.
Radio NRW shows up at 7:45 pm to interview Daniel and Carolin. I wait until they are through and take a minute to get ready for my interview, which is supposed to be right afterward.
Meanwhile, the guys from KUULT run past me and head toward the stage. They open the evening on time at 8 pm. The hall is filled with concert goers.
Just a few minutes later and I am interviewing Glasperlenspiel in the same space. The “girls’ room” has to serve for the interview and the next 13 minutes belong to me and my questions about things that have been left behind a thousand times and which quirks Daniel has.
The interview with Glasperlenspiel
Angelina: “I read that you two come from Stockach on Lake Constance?”
Carolin: “Exactly, I am from Singen. Daniel is from Stockach
Angelina: “I have to tell you that I was in Stockach for the first time last year, and that was over Christmas. And what I saw in abundance was apple orchards. An amaaaaaazing number of apple trees. This brings us directly to my first question: “What is your favorite apple variety?”
Carolin: “Hey, I like that, nobody has ever asked us that before. I think that’s great. I would say Jonagold. That’s the kind my grandma always buys.”
Daniel: „I like Elstar. I think Jonagold and Elstar are the only two types of apple that I know.”
Angelina: “Do you have apples on your catering rider?”
Daniel: “Nope. Well, it says fruit, but not any special kind. It’s more like “seasonal fruit.”
Angelina: “What else is on your rider that absolutely has to be included?”
Daniel: „Red Bull“
Carolin: “And white wine. And we like local specialties, too.”
Angelina: “On this kind of typical tour date. The crew arrives, unloads your 40-ton truck and starts to set up. You get here…what is the first thing you take out of the car?”
Carolin: “When I get out, I definitely grab my purse. I then consider whether I need my suitcase or whether I’m still going to the hotel. I get ready in the hotel or backstage – depending on how far away the hotel is. Then when I go backstage, the first thing I do is head to the catering area. Get some coffee and have a bite to eat.”
Daniel: “I always take my backpack with me. We are always writing new songs on the road or have lots of ideas. I always have my laptop with me and as soon as I think of something or just want to continue working on a beat, I always have it right there at hand.”
Angelina: “What’s been left behind a thousand times backstage?”
Daniel: “My MacBook power supply! I think Apple is as rich as it is because I’ve had to buy one sooo often.”
Angelina: “And they are always forwarded on to you or how does that work?”
Daniel: “Somehow they´ve always disappeared in a mysterious way..“
Angelina: “What’s your funniest backstage experience?
Daniel: “Oh, that was when we were first starting out. We were on tour for the first time in 2011 and there was a station in Vienna in a club I think 40 people fit in there. We were there with the Nightliner and you won’t believe it, but the toilet and shower were one and the same. I’ve never seen anything like it in my life.”
Carolin: “That was our first Nightliner experience. You get up in the morning and just want to take a shower…. Uhhhhh, yeah…. Well, it’s not exactly funny.
Daniel: “Right, but today we can laugh about it.”
Angelina: “If you had to write a line of text about backstage rooms, what would it be?”
Carolin: “A bit like a surprise egg, you never know what you’ll get. It is always a little different and can vary a lot. You pull up, get out and you never really know what to expect.”
Daniel: “And it’s not just in clubs where it’s like that. In 2015 we played an entire stadium tour as the frontliner for Helene Fischer and every day was a different experience.”
Angelina: “Do you have any rituals before your performance?”
Daniel: “Absolutely. I read – I think doctors developed this ritual that they did before they operated. You stand there like this for five minutes: Chest out and take time to center yourself. They found out that if they do that, they will be more capable, more efficient. I said that I thought it was totally awesome and we made the whole band do it. And indeed…before we go on stage, we always stand there with our chests out for five minutes and usually listen to some energetic music. It actually works. I heartily recommend it.”
Angelina: “Carolin, does Daniel have any quirks?”
Carolin: “Yes, absolutely. Daniel is always very perfectionistic. Everything must always be on point and completely correct, even during production. When we release a new album, that means that Daniel hasn’t slept for three nights in a row again; the main thing is that everything is perfect by the album drop date. Otherwise, Daniel can work himself up into a rage. When Daniel gets into something, there is no period and no comma. And he drives way too fast.”
Angelina: “One last question. If you weren’t the band’s musicians and you could be anyone in your crew, who would you be?”
Carolin: “Well, I think I would do artist support, everything else is just too technical for me.”
Daniel: “I think I would be the man at the front behind the mixer because I would just want to. Sometimes you have real challenges there and I would have fun getting in there and messing around with it.”
The 13 minutes fly by with the two of them. We laugh a lot and they tell me some exciting backstage anecdotes.
The concert can start now
Before the performance, it is time to briefly shut down, change clothes, renew lipstick and wire up. Showtime is at 8:45 pm.
The sound, as well as the light show, is a fantastic audio and visual experience. The entire audience dances and sings along from the very first song. Both Glasperlenspiel on stage and the crowd are obviously in a good mood. All the fans look exuberant.
After the first pyro-cannons, the entire hall ceiling in the FZW is full of streamers. Thanks to Holly and my set list, which he gave me before the show, I was able to plan the CO2 boosters and streamers into my photography, and one or the other of my photos will capture the story of a wonderful concert.
Right now, though, it’s just a matter of enjoying the moment and the show.
Every wonderful day comes to an end
A long, very exciting day is over. After the concert, I give the band and the entire crew a short breather to thank them for this really great day. I say goodbye around 11 pm. Now it’s time to go home, where numerous photos are waiting for me, a 13-minute interview needs to be written down and this backstage story put into words.