I had all but given up on attending the exclusive, winner/invite-only Depeche Mode concert at Berlin’s Funkhaus. If you’d known me twentysomething years ago, this would surprise you, as I was not known for giving up on most things, let alone the chance to see such an exclusive show, the unofficial first of the Global Spirit Tour.
But even though I’ve been in Berlin nearly three years, I still don’t have the connections I once enjoyed in Los Angeles and New York, and my German is still so bad that I can’t charm my way into VIP sections as I once could. So I resigned myself to spending that Friday night celebrating St. Patrick’s Day at Badfish, my usual Prenzlauer Berg haunt.
And then, the day before the show, I got the email. I had to clean my glasses because I didn’t believe what I was reading.
I’d not only been granted tickets to the show, I’d been chosen as the first fan of Depeche Mode’s Facebook Takeover.
For those of you outside the Devotee circle, this is a contest, hyped since early 2017, in which one fan each day for a year is chosen to produce the content for the band’s Facebook page. I’d filled out my application months earlier and prodded several of my other Moder friends to do the same, but none of us had heard anything. Then the scheduled first day of the Takeover came and went, and no winners had been announced. I’d begun to think that perhaps they’d had second thoughts, that the applications they’d received had convinced them that allowing their rabid following to post on their behalf was a very bad, terrible idea.
But there it was, the pixels on my screen declaring that I had been chosen. To say I was ecstatic is like saying that Dave likes to shake his ass now and again.
I received the email Thursday night and my posts had to be submitted for approval by the next day, the same day as the concert, so they could be published Saturday. I had some work ahead of me.
I spent much of the night working on my posts, which had the very limited length of 300 characters (not words — characters, including spaces). My enthusiasm would have to be severely curbed.
After letting the posts marinate (as I refer to letting my work sit overnight so I can review it with fresh eyes the next day), I worked on them some more before sending them off at the eleventh hour for approval. It was nearly showtime by then, and the venue was in a far-flung part of town I’m unfamiliar with, so I sprung for a cab.
The Funkhaus is by far the smallest venue I’ve ever seen Depeche play in, although I was a tad disappointed to find it was far bigger (and thus less intimate) than I’d expected. I’d hoped it would be more along the size of the very exclusive Duran Duran show I’d finagled tickets to in 2004, which had one hundred attendees, tops. But there were already three times that many attendees already at the very crowded (and un-air-conditioned) Funkhaus. And since I’d arrived just before the band went on, there was no hope of getting close to the stage.
But then I spotted the wall of photographers. Back when I covered music for AOL, I had been one of them, and I knew that they usually were allowed to stay in their choice location only for the first three songs. I parked myself right behind them, and once they’d packed up their gear, I slipped right into their spots, giving me a prime view of the whole stage.
The Funkhaus show was being live-streamed (see bottom for full video), so the band was in top form, energized at being back on stage for the first time in three years and ready to prime their ever-fanatic following for the upcoming tour. Dave in particular seemed thrilled to return to the limelight, as evidenced by his trademark chicken strut and the number of times he proudly showed off his retina-burning red shoes.
The show had me more amped for one of their tours than I’d been in years — even more so than when I cut short my trip to Fiji and went straight to the Hollywood Bowl after an 11-plus-hour flight. I began calculating how many nights at Badfish I’d have to miss so I could afford a few extra shows.
The next day, I woke ready for my takeover, which started in the early evening, due to the fact that the organizers were back in my hometown of Los Angeles, nine hours behind Berlin. As each post went live, my Facebook page blew up with friend requests from people I’d never met but, in some strange, DM-universe way, I felt I already knew them. For the most part, the reactions to my posts were positive, although of course a few trolls had to toss in their two cents now and again.
In between waiting for my posts to go live (once I submitted them, the LA team then handled the actual posting), I responded to the deluge of comments, feeling somewhat like Lucy trying to manage the ever-accelerating candy line. During the eight-plus hours of my takeover, I took one fifteen-minute break to leave the apartment and forage for food before returning to my screen until nearly 2:30 in the morning.
In case you’re interested, here are the five posts I did that day (you can click on each to view them on Facebook):
- Introducing myself
- Berlin Telecom gig
- Depeche Mode-related locations (part of my Depeche Mode map)
- Depeche Mode fans make the best friends
- Hansa Studios
- Book announcement
I have to admit, I’m glad I went first, not just because one of my friends now refers to me as “Fan #1,” but because, as I’ve already discussed with Fan #2 (also a Berliner), with each new fan who posts, it becomes harder to come up with original content. I can only imagine what it will be like for fan #300.
But that’s the great thing about Depeche Mode fans: We’re a very supportive lot. I’ve already seen some repetition of themes, and the comments remain ever upbeat. We’re also a community unlike any other I’ve found, ready to welcome other Moders into our fold on first meeting. I’ve noticed similar behavior with other bands’ fans, but not to the level of Depeche Mode’s, which makes me even more honored to have been chosen to kick off the Takeover.