The band Milliarden (which translates to “Billions”) first formed in Berlin back in 2013, when Ben Hartmann and Johannes Aue met at their university and connected over music. The two would go on to release their debut EP Kokain und Himbeereis the following year, with studio albums and a touring band for live performances, leaving Hartmann and Aue as the formative core. Now, in 2021, the pair are bringing things back to their origins with a special pandemic-safe and socially distanced live setup: a van designed for intimate concerts played to an audience of one.

Essentially, Milliarden is now a mobile live concert crew in a kitted-out van made to look like a grungy nightclub, with atmospheric lighting, posters, and plastic roses studded to the ceiling. Hartmann and Aue sit behind a sheet of plastic and play a set for the lucky fan, usually running about 25 minutes. After each show, the van is ventilated, disinfected, and reset for the next concert.

German fans can try to win these uber-exclusive tickets by following and interacting with the band on social media. Interestingly, this means that the coronavirus pandemic regulations have actually helped a few people see Milliarden who otherwise wouldn’t have had the chance, particularly Germans in more rural communities absent of the kind of rock venues that look like the van interior.

Prior to this, the band went to smaller towns and played mini-shows in front of people’s houses. Singer Ben Hartmann sees these as opportunities revealed in these challenging times: “A crisis like this one brings so many opportunities that you only recognize once you do stuff. You just have to do it.”

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