This Wednesday, the stage of the GeyserHaus offers a chance to use the open air season before it is time to get the scarves out of the wardrobes. Before September sends chilly gushes of wind, the musicians behind the Get Well Soon Big Band promise a musical highlight – shivers down one’s spine guaranteed. After all, the band’s latest album, The Horror, explores human abysses and fears.
A Renaisssance man
Konstantin Gropper, the head of Get Well Soon, is a very dedicated artist. It is no wonder that the singer and multi-instrumentalist was hailed in the British music press as “German Wunderkind” of the indie scene when his debut album, Rest Now Weary Head You Will Get Well Soon, came out in 2008.
On this self-produced album, the then 25-year-old had recorded all instruments (brass, strings, guitars, percussion) himself and already showed off not only his talents for arrangements, but also his wide knowledge of pop culture. More or less hidden in the songs were references to David Bowie or the beloved Czech-German Christmas classic “Three Wishes for Cinderella.” The string of albums that followed feature cross references to philosophers, books, films, and other musicians.
Needless to say, he has a few soundtracks for films and series in his portfolio as well, just to mention the most current example for the Netflix series How To Sell Drugs Online (Fast), which he wrote and produced.
A penchant for covers
Gropper’s veneration for other artists even led, in 2014, to an EP ironically called Greatest Hits, which consisted of six beautifully arranged cover versions, among them “Careless Whisper” by George Michael. It also featured a haunting rendition of Elton John’s “Rocket Man,” which was the sole musical reason for which I watched the eponymous biopic of the eccentric English performer.
For the 2014 tour, Gropper even let fans vote which one-off cover they would perform live. I was delighted that my favorite, Pulp’s “Disco 2000,” was chosen. Another innovative feature of the tour was an online singing competition for each city on their timetable. The winner was invited onstage to sing their favorite song of the band accompanied by the musicians.
For the latest album, The Horror, which came out last June, Gropper was inspired by his nightmares in three instances. He says that he does not frequently dream of anything spectacular, but when he does, he loves to work whatever fragment he can remember into a song. Musically, he opted for an orchestral vibe and put together a big band for its performance. He also invited guest musicians such as Ghalia Benali, Kat Frankie and Sam Vance-Law, whose 2018 debut album he produced.
Vance-Law also plays the first violin during the Horror tour, and is thus able to join Gropper at center stage when they perform their duet “Nightmare No.2 (Dinner At Carinhall).” The lyrical base for the acoustically lighthearted number was a dream in which Gropper was invited over by Nazi war criminal Hermann Göring.
For the opening concert last August, Get Well Soon chose the rather apt elegant setting of the Elbphilharmonie. The glamorous look of the band was only broken in one instance, as one of the performers entered wearing trainers, a pair of white shorts and a T-shirt. His task for the next song, “Nightjogging” – a song denouncing toxic masculinity – was to support the percussion section by rhythmically stomping on a box of gravel. A bewildering sight in a building meant for classical music.
The choice of this venue also had one major drawback: surely many people were there for the prestigious, controversially expensive building; not for the band. Thus, not knowing their repertoire, many started to clap at the short silent parts of songs such as “Marienbad.” Later on during their tour, Gropper decided to preempt this awkward situation by filling the dramatic pauses with mercilessly fuzzy guitar noises.
Can’t wait to see what they have in store for Leipzig…
Get Well Soon Big Band
Where: Parkbühne GeyserHaus, Kleiststraße 52, corner with Baaderstraße
When: Wed 14 August, 8 pm; doors open 6:30 pm
More info on the venue’s website