It was the summer of 1994, and I had just arrived in the former East Germany as an exchange student with wide eyes and open ears. This was to be the first great experience of my life, and as a teenage punk rocker from the Pacific Northwest I was looking forward to plenty of beer and heavy lessons in Communism. Never mind that my hosts were actually ex-socialists and the beer was served at room temperature — at least the music was rockin', right? Wrong. The soundtrack to my awakening, I soon found, would be strictly trance.
I had forgotten all this until recently, when I listened to a few tracks from ATB, possibly the most successful producer in the genre's history. His music — ubiquitous in dance clubs the world over — took me back to the innocence of 1994, in the days before drugs entered the East German scene and turned most of my happy-go-lucky, glove-wearing trance buddies into coke-sniffing acidheads and gabber freaks bent on week-long binges and mad nightmare rants at the political machinations of Eric Honecker. But that's pretty heady stuff there, people. In the end, the music is what matters. André Tanneberger — a.k.a ATB — and his signature guitar riffs would come along slightly later, but as a messenger of the times he was right there with us in the car. His second album, Movin' Melodies, was blasted through the windows of countless Trabants on a mass migration to and from the clubs which dotted the East German countryside.
ATB and his ilk were the innovators of a new sound, and it came to Europeans on a wave of newfound freedoms and considerable changes in their world view. The Berlin Wall had just come down and the Soviet bloc was making a last, futile stand. Germans from both sides were heading out to clubs in unprecedented numbers, and the radio waves were filled with electronic pulsations and the inventive samplings of people like Paul van Dyk and Marusha. The dance floor was crowded with the offspring of devout socialist workers who garbled the nonsensical lyrics of a legion of DJs who were themselves often unsure of correct English usage.
And now ATB is coming to San Antonio. If you go to the show (and you should), just look for me: I'll be the one dressed in full Young Pioneer regalia, cradling the speaker as I sob over a warm bottle of Lübzer Pils, slowly drehende 'ne Tüte.
10pm, Saturday, August 24
$15 presale, $25 VIP
Club Fuel, 1305 East Houston