Friedrichsplatz, Lazaristenkirche, 2009
Listening to Richmond Fontaine leads to daydreaming yourself away to the American West. The five-piece band from Portland formed around singer-songwriter Willy Vlautin, who is also an acclaimed novelist and thus knows to write songs that have a certain depth in storytelling. Richmond Fontaine’s musical portraits of troubled lifes, that take place somewhere between Nevada, Oregon or Mexico, have enthused more and more people outside the US (some even say that the band, rooted in a vast country tradition, have actually made themselves a bigger fan crowd overseas than in their home country); However, when Willy Vlautin and Dan Eccles perform „The Boyfriends“ and „We Used To Think The Freeway Sounded Like A River“ on this mild October afternoon in a rather unexcited sedate setting, their music easily takes you on a poetically rough and bittersweet journey that does not lack a sense of humor. „I ain’t like that“, the male protagonist in „The Boyfriends“ complains. He was on his way to bed with a girl, when he is interrupted by the appearance of her young son. Willy Vlautin interprets the The Boyfriends’ wails in front of an elementary school and squints in the fainting sunlight.
Friedrichsplatz is a small and quiet square in Vienna’s 15th district that is most frequented by kids dropping out of the school building on the northern side. Apart from the youngsters there is not much hustle under the shady trees of Friedrichsplatz. It is situated in a residential area between Westbahnhof (Western Train Station) and Äußere Mariahilfer Straße, which is the more multicultural extension of the city’s main shopping street. The 15th district is the most ethnically mixed neighborhood in town, but due to cheap rents and some lively streets it slowly gets more popular with young people and students as well. Since the Wombat’s Hostels have settled down in the area you will also see loads of backpackers from all over the world in this edge of town.
For all those who arrive in Vienna from the west by train, Lazaristenkirche will be one of the first impressions they’ll get from the city. The church is located right opposite the Western Train Station on Neubaugürtel and with its 68 metres high tower hardly to overlook. Built from 1860 to 1862 for the religious order of the Lazarists – a catholic order only for male – by architect Friedrich von Schmidt (who also planned the impressive and far better known Town Hall), the church appears in neo-Gothic style and is consecrated to the immaculate conception. Just nearby the Lazarists have built a monastery as well. As there are many more impressive churches and cathedrals in Vienna, Lazaristenkirche will not end up on many tourists’ schedules; but in case you are around it might well be worth a short visit.