My (re)immersion into Austrian culture these past two years has at times been slow and steady and other times a bit like being thrown into the deep end, only instead of being expected to swim, in this case you’re expected to consume your blood volume in schnapps & beer and still be able to waltz around on a dance floor (even though you can’t even waltz to save your life when you’re sober).
When it came to local films and music it took me a while to get into it, mostly because of the language barrier obviously. I only finally got cable TV a few months ago so I could watch local news and a select few local programs that I like, and really just to make a more conscious effort to watch German language programs.
But now that I’ve had some time to experience and appreciate the local music scene (I suppose it helps if you can…you know…understand the language and lyrics 😛 ) and even found myself a favourite local band, I felt like this would be a good time to give a little shout-out to some of the local artists who I’ve added to my music collection & playlists, or whose live performances I’ve attended here.
J.J. King – Austria’s Very Own Elvis Presley
The first concert I ever went to in Austria was an open air event by J.J. King a.k.a. Austria’s number one Elvis impersonator and quite the local celebrity in Upper Austria specifically. I really wasn’t sure what to expect when my cousin told me exactly what kind of gig it was that she was taking me to but I was happy to get out of the house and in for a pleasant surprise. Both J.J. King and his band were awesome and really know how to entertain a crowd. Plus I do like Elvis’ music and it was nice being able to rock out and sing along to songs you know the words to.
Fun fact: J.J. King actually came in 4th at the World Elvis Impersonator Contest (yeah apparently there IS such a thing) in Memphis in 1996, and that’s where he picked up his stage name since the Americans had a hard time pronouncing his real name – Jürgen Höchtl. 😀
I stumbled upon Wanda after someone shared their latest music video on Facebook. The band name sort of rang a bell and I vaguely remembered seeing a few posters around town promoting an upcoming gig of theirs. What really convinced me to click on the video though was the title of the song, “Bologna”, since Bologna was the first city I visited on my solo trip to Italy last year and it’s a place that still holds very fond memories for me.
The song was catchy and the music video and lyrics were…different. I loved it.
I looked up some of their other songs on Youtube and I was hooked. I knew then that I had found my favourite local band.
I immediately tried to get tickets to their gig in town only to find out it was sold out. It turns out they had actually just finished touring sold out shows in Germany and all their upcoming Austria & Switzerland gigs were already sold out too! I didn’t realise how popular these guys had already become.
As luck would have it I managed to score a couple of tickets last minute from someone who couldn’t attend and so I took along a couchsurfer from Spain, who was new to the area and had gotten in touch with me about hanging out. I think the fact that we both had such a great time that night at the gig, despite her not really understanding most of the German lyrics, says a lot about how good the band really is.
To quote Vienna Würstelstand, Wanda’s music tastes like a mix of “Indie rock/pop, strawberry & beer stained carpet”, which seems like a pretty spot on description to me. There’s just something about their weird, catchy tunes about incestuous cousins and break-ups that makes you want to sing along and I’m looking forward to the release of their next album and future gigs.
Special Mention – Julian le Play
A special mention to Julian le Play, the singer-songwriter who my sister fell in love with during her 3 month stint here in Austria after constantly hearing his songs on the radio I assume. So this one’s for you little sis. My very own anchor so to speak.