vollehalle live on stage (Michael Bukowski)

Charming A Crowd Into Attention

In January 24th, we had the chance to do a vollehalle gig at SID — “Stadtwerke Impact Day” in the northern German town of Lübeck (‘Stadtwerk’ is a nicely concise German term for ‘municipal energy company’. We can do short and sweet, who would’ve thought?!)

SID is designed to unite forward-looking people in the municipal energy space in Germany, to give them the chance to get together, exchange ideas and knowledge about moving into a zero carbon future, and simply meet like-minded people who struggle with the same issues in an environment that can often be stodgy and conservative. I had met one of the founders of SID — Matthias Mett — at an office party a few months ago. When I told him about our show, he was excited right away and told me we had to do a gig at SID in January.

Being a man of his word, he booked us without further ado.

When we reached the venue on the day, however, we realised that this was not the best place to do our show. vollehalle is not a loud, effect-laden musical revue, or some rock-heavy slam fest … We are a spoken-word multimedia format that needs a captive audience, ideally seated. This room was a large noisy hall with high ceilings; people were standing at their commercial booths, at bar tables or in the middle of the room, drinks in hand, socialising, chatting about this and that. The noise level was substantial.

I was very worried that we’d sink like a lead balloon in this sea of noise.

I found Matthias in the crowd, tugged him by the sleeve and said something like “this may not turn out to be the vollehalle show that you’ve been hoping for … unfortunately we’re not made for this type of noise, or for a standing-room only audience.”

And then Matthias did what I would have never expected. And what only a consumate networking animal can do (which I myself am not at all …):

He worked the room.

He went from little group to little group, from booth to booth, and spoke with pretty much everyone who would listen, telling them that he felt strongly about what we had to offer, and that he expected people to listen to us, and that this was important to him. Once he had done that and it was time to announce us, he said the same thing on the PA system.

And as a result, we could do a show in front of some 60 people who were listening, attentive and engaged with what we had to offer. Sure, the rest of the room — I am guessing some 200 more people — still did their thing and made their noise. But we had an audience and did our show.

Thank you, Matthias. Way to be a great client!


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