Changeover Tunes: Rock 'N' Rolling In Cologne
The organisers of the bett1HULKS Indoors and the bett1HULKS Championship in Cologne were brainstorming how they could make their tournament experiences special in the lead-up to the events. They saw Jimmy Fallon’s in-house band ‘The Roots’ and thought there was room for something similar at their ATP 250s.
That led to one of the most unique entertainment experiences on the ATP Tour.
A band called ‘The Swag’ has performed live music during changeovers, jamming out to keep fans watching from around the world — and even the players — entertained during the 90 seconds splitting intense competition.
“We think this kind of perspective creates a new atmosphere for all — spectators and players. We bring two events together to one big picture of sports and entertainment,” said Ernesto Galarza Bello, an event and marketing consultant for e|motion group, which operates the tournaments. “The players love it. We got good vibes only as [their] reactions.”
Noise or entertainment during changeovers is common, but having a live band has impressed the players. Alexander Zverev won last week’s bett1HULKS Indoors and is into the semi-finals of the bett1HULKS Championships, so he has spent plenty of time listening to and enjoying the music.
“I think the band is quite good. I’m actually looking into some musical connections I have to help them out a little bit, because I’ve actually enjoyed them,” Zverev said. “I think they’re very good. I think the singers are very good. They have a mix of everything.”
‘The Swag’ is a seven-member band from Berlin comprised of musicians who play alongside other artists when they are not performing together. The MC is Rapturous Apollo Helio, King Solomon is the male vocalist, Sera Kalo is the female singer, Philipp Roidinger is on the keyboard, Stefan Fuhr plays the bass, Jan 'Stix‘ Pfennig mans the drums and Sugarbear plays the guitar.
“They have a very good female voice, they have a very soft male voice and they have a great guy that can rap, what band can’t have that?” Zverev said. “I enjoyed it a lot so I’m actually trying to help them out a little bit.”
Momentum is crucial in tennis and sometimes halting another player’s momentum can make the difference between winning and losing a match. Felix Auger-Aliassime, last week’s finalist in Cologne, said having the band has helped his mindset during tough moments.
“I’m not a big listener to music before matches, it kind of sticks in my head,” Auger-Aliassime said. “But I like what you guys are doing on the side. It keeps me happy when things aren’t going so well during a match.”
In addition, the ATP 250s started the bett1 Sing & Dance Contest, a talent challenge that has taken place on certain days 30 minutes before the start of the matches. Different talents have taken the stage with ‘The Swag’ as players have warmed up on court.
If you’re watching action in Cologne from home this weekend, don’t turn your attention when the players take their seats for the changeover. Balls might not be struck during that time, but the right musical chords will be.