1st of August 2021 marks 40 years since the release of Falco's first single, Ganz Wien.
Where did the song and the pop star come from? We want to make some cultural archaeology, and take you back to the atmosphere of that hot summer of 1981. Before the fame, glam, drugs, who was Falco, why was he necessary, and how did he change the scene? We will open up the context of where he came from, the atmosphere in the city at the time - a declining city, with the oldest population out of nine Bundesländer. The scene was fairly grey, small and went early to bed. There was not so much avant-garde thinking. In fact, Ganz Wien was banned from Oe3, because of the line, 'Ganz Wien ist auf Heroin'. It was shocking, just like its singer.
What were Falco, his gang, and Drahdiwaberl rebelling against? Was everybody in Wien on heroin? Why did the young Hans Hölzel quit studying at the Conservatoire? What was his mum like? Where was he living? Which bars were central to the scene? Which other pop music was in the charts? Why was he dressing so differently to his contemporaries? The 1980s look strange to us now, but in many ways, Wien was still in the 70s at that stage. In that sense, it is even more astonishing that this so 80s of singers should emerge so completely from a dull scene, with his filmic looks, acting and sound. Who were the other electronic pioneers? And when did Hans become the asshole we later read about?
What was his relationship to other musicians, and who influenced him, but just as importantly, how did it feel to walk around in Meidling, Margareten or on Schwarzenbergplatz in those days?
Ganz Wien has become a slogan used in many contexts, including by Stadt Wien for the Donauinselfest in corona summer 2020, with their touring red bus. It is one of his best songs, and appeals to people who are not fans of his later, bombastic electropop. It remains fresh, and was recently covered by Der Nino Aus Wien. Even rap stars' Kreiml & Samurai (also from Wienzeile) nodded to him with their Ganz Wien last year. We will look at which other songs were popular that summer, to give some context, what was on TV, who was active in politics, and which were the important shops, but also mobility, education and the media scene. This is a storytelling tour, and we look forward to you sharing your stories of life in Wien, and reactions to Falco. He generated many stories.
The tour will be honest about Falco's many problems, and if it was a coincidence that his chosen name has the world 'alco' inside it? At the same time, dying young adds a lot to a rock star's legendary status, and is rare in Austria. He was spectacular, glamorous and a world star, always thinking big and ambitious. And yet there is a softness, vulnerability and melancholy to his early songs, which was lost with the fame and America.
Underground and engaged, with an easy ability on several instruments, his musicianship is underrated. In dying young, he joins a long list of colourful lives ending too soon, from Amy Winehouse to Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin to Kurt Cobain.
Yes he was an egotistical divo, but having chuzpah and an iconic sense of theatre is a central part of being a rockstar, from Sinatra to Beyonce, Liam Gallagher to Anna Netrebko. We don't want modest, friendly, boring celebrities. They don't stick in the memory.
This is Whoosh's and Eugene's second tour about a single person, after Otto Wagner, and next year, a third will follow, looking at another pioneer, Hedy Lamarr. There are several ways these two, Hedy and Hans, connect: they were both West Wien performing pioneers, died within two years of each other, both in North America, and are both in Zentralfriedhof, changed their names, and were both too big, too egotistical and too spectacular for Wien. They both had complicated relationships with their home town, but referenced it in their work. And they both pushed to the limits of acceptable taste, using new technology. Schwarzenbergplatz was home to Hedy, and location of Rock me Amadeus video.
Eugene is interested in this subject because he is a DJ, a neo-Viennese, but also an 80s kid, much influenced by that moment.
We want to recreate the atmosphere of that hot summer and look at how he emerged from a subculture, was necessary and made sense at that moment. It is a piece of social archaeology. At the end of the tour, in the spirit of Falco, we will have a drink together inside the Falco bar on Schwarzenbergplatz, to share stories and make new friends. Please join us.
Wir freuen uns sehr über die finanzielle Unterstützung der Wirtschaftsagentur Wien und über die Förderung von Wien Tourismus, der Mobilitätsagentur und diversen Mediengruppen (inklusiv ORF). Außerdem sind wir stolz, dass wir in die Initiative Reparatur der Zukunft aufgenommen wurden, eine Kooperation von Ö1, Forum Alpbach, Ars Electronica und Akademie der bildenden Künste Wien.