When I lived in Berlin, the German music channel played a lot of Finnish music. A lot. So much so in fact, that if people heard you speak German at a bar, they’d assume you were there for whatever singer was currently in style. Germans would move to Helsinki in hopes of meeting their idol. I heard of one case where the person was terminally ill, found out where her idol lived, and walked to the singer’s place. That one actually broke my heart. Standing outside of my favorite place, I overheard a German woman in her mid-to-late thirties tell a group of fellow smokers that she had just arrived this morning to see her favorite band in concert, and was in her way back to the airport to catch the next early morning flight. With Germans it really is all or nothing. As anyone who is familiar with WWII can attest.
So it came as no surprise that a German told me her sister was in town. This particular German had named her cat after a Finnish singer’s favorite beverage and had all of his albums, but no, she was not a fan. Her sister, however, was after a different band. Sunrise Avenue. She and a friend had traveled to Helsinki just to see them in concert, and either the friend or a girl they had met had followed the band around all the cities in Finland. I’d admire that level of dedication if I hadn’t seen the downside of it. Once, on New Year’s Eve we were on our way to a party at someone’s house. Meeting in town with another friend seemed logical. Except we were both running late, and the fireworks were about to start. Neither of us wanted to be caught up in the middle of it. So I asked a friend of mine who was working if we could hang out in the bar until the worst was over. He knew we’d behave, so he let us in. I went out for a smoke with him, and witnessed how he told several German girls that he couldn’t let them in, because it was too full. Apparently a famous name was there. They kept pushing and shoving, accusing him of being aggressive. When all he did was block the door and tell them they couldn’t come in.
“It’s like that at Sunrise Avenue concerts,” the German acquaintance told me. “Mass hysterics.”
I always wondered if at least part of the reason for their popularity in Germany was due to the singer being half-German. Until a Finnish friend told me a few years ago that “they’re hugely popular among Finnish women in their mid-thirties.”
To this day I don’t know if she was pulling my leg or not.