Rock & Pop – An exhibition in the Zeche Zollverein in Essen

Yesterday – on 19.02.2017 – I visited the exhibition “Rock & Pop im Pott” in the Zeche Zollverein in Essen.

The Ruhr region looks back on a long intensive music tradition of different styles.

From punk, wave, rock, jazz, pop, hard rock, heavy metal and techno, many bands have shaped the music, the club scene and the culture of this densely populated industrial Ruhrgebiet in recent decades. Bands such as Herne 3, The Cashiers, Grobschnit, Extra Wide and artists such as Herbert Grönemeyer, Nena and Phillip Boa sprang from this lively scene as well as established concert institutions such as the Rockpalast with its legendary Rockpalast nights in Essen’s Grugahalle.

The makers of the exhibition in the Zeche Zollverein have set out to present a representative cross-section of 60 years of music culture in the Ruhr area. A very exciting idea. Apart from the fact that I am naturally enthusiastic about this topic, I find the venue of this exhibition very great. Old factories and coal mines have always attracted me.

So, after we had moved through assembly lines and huge coal sorting machines, we stood in the stairwell down the path in the said exhibition.

Here, the atmosphere of the huge factory buildings was linked. You could already hear some audio about the music of the epoch exhibited. Short music examples of different artists could be heard here. Fittingly, a small info about the music and its musical-historical classification was projected on a wall by laser. For me that was a very good start to the exhibition.

There are different topics in the exhibition itself.

  • Rock ‘n Roll
  • Beat
  • Music + politics
  • festivals
  • Krautrock
  • punk
  • Metal
  • Ruhr-Pop
  • Techno
  • Hip hop
  • Consumer electronics
  • music equipment
  • The sound of the Ruhr area
  • dance
  • Fashion
  • music industry
  • Events

These topics are outlined by a prologue section (before Rock came to the Ruhr area) and an epilogue section (Rock and Pop Forever). I find this concept really exciting. Through prologue and epilogue interfaces are linked to earlier times and to the present.

In the Prologue, for example, the development of music culture in the Ruhr region since the beginning of the 1930s has become jazz (with the styles Swing, Dixie and Skiffle), Central European music traditions (folk music, operetta, chanson, revue theater) and pop music all the way to rock ‘n’ roll 1950s described. In addition to many influences of foreign music such as the black rhythm and blues from the South of the United States, the ragtime, Charleston, foxtrot of the 1920s, the “Folkwang School of Music, Dance and Speech” (today: Folkwang University of the Arts) is the nucleus of the Music in the Ruhr area.

In the epilogue section you can hear excerpts from interviews with musicians, music managers, media entrepreneurs and event organizers from the Ruhr area. Here I found particularly exciting the interview with Prof. Dieter Gorny, the chairman of the board of the Federal Association of the Music Industry and can tell because of his musical career and experience interesting things to the current music market.

What exactly is curator Christoph Schurian formulated as follows:

“The interviews are about the music scenes in the Ruhr area today. How do artists and entrepreneurs describe the present and the structural change in the music business? What are the latest trends in the industry, how are festivals, clubs and discos developing? So what does it look like, the future of >> Rock and Pop in the Pott <<? “

I am not normally the type of exhibition visitor who reads many texts on the spot and looks at interviews. The topics were so well prepared, well formulated and provided in many places with matching (easy to recall) audio samples that I did not notice how time flies. In all the exhibition areas I could discover and rediscover many interesting things. Photos, records, instruments, clothing, concert reports, band and person portraits in the historical context.

Often I had the “Oh yes it was so” or “Oh, I know that too” – experience. For example, the Philips cassette recorder “WEL 3302”, which we discovered in the late 1970s in a “junk box” in the attic of a friend. Or the memory of the cool jukeboxes, which we were also able to experience live as a teenager in many pubs. I always thought that was very cool as the picking arm caught and laid a single. Then the quite loud crackle. Real cult.

Issued is a copy of the company Bergmann: The model “Symphony 80” from 1957.

Of course, describing the individual exhibition areas in detail breaks the editorial framework of this blog. I recommend the wonderfully designed catalog for the exhibition >> 60 Years of Music in the Ruhr Area <<. This is great designed. All topics of the exhibition are worked up super: a great piece of music history. (Link to the publisher below)

After gaining an overview of the exhibition and having read, experienced and heard a lot, I see a logo I know at the end of a corridor. My heart opens.

As a teenager, I joined pretty much every Rockpalast night with my friends in the early 1980s. It was not always easy, as we only had one TV and I and my buddies occupied the living room all night long until late at night. We often fought against fatigue after the first two bands and experienced the last band with “matches in our eyes”. But it always worked. The music has always won.

The Rockpalast section in the exhibition was a real little celebration for me. Many memories of concerts (in front of the TV or even live) came up. Among other things, tour posters of the Rockpalast concerts and nights were exhibited. Man, that was very exciting. I can still remember the cool presentations by Alan Bangs and Albrecht Metzger.

As I am browsing then the poster of the 11th Rockpalast Night from 16 to 17 October 1982 “falls into my hands”. Man, that was cool back then. The line-up was fantastic and connected me with music I had not heard before (LITTLE STEVEN AND THE DISCIPLES OF SOUL, GIANNA NANNINI and KID CREOLE AND THE COCONUTS). Beside the schedule and some pictures, the catering lists of this concert night hung on the wall next to the show, which I found really exciting. A circle closes … really crazy. (Little Steven already had Japanese tofu on his wish list at the time).

For me and my family it was an exciting and inspiring day in the exhibition and in the Zeche Zollverein. I’ll definitely come back and dive deeper into the mining history of bygone days.