"It is wonderful to be able experience art without understanding how it was meant or what makes it good." (Kim Boekbinder said that during an interview I did with her) I might not have the biggest knowledge about music but I have a great passion for it. Passion is what counts.
I live in Berlin, Germany (born, raised and still resident) and this is my personal blog about music and other things that cross my way. Things I love to be exact. And even though I am German and my English is still not perfect, this blog is in English.
I am feeling somehow empty now that I don’t see live music all day long - even though Tunng concert on Monday soothed my post Reeperbahn Festival. They were amazing again and no, I don’t get bored of seeing the same band twice in 48 hours. In fact I have seen my favourite discovery of this wonderful Festival three times within 24 hours plus sitting down to do an interview. It’s a rock band from Canada called The Sheepdogs.
When you see the band that often in such a short time and in such different environments (acoustic, sweaty Rock Club at midnight and rock show at noon), you’ll have a lot of time to see their behaviour on stage. For example singer Ewan Currie loves the limelight. He surely knows how to put on a show and is a bit of a poser but it depends on the environment if it works or if it just seems a bit arrogant - at night it works, at noon not that well. But almost every rock band looks a bit out-of-place at 12.30 pm, I guess, and to ruffle your feathers is part of being a rocker. Leot Hanson seemed a bit not so motivated at times (I think at one point Ewan showed what he has to play during their concert at the Rock Café). Nevertheless they are my favourite discovery because they are so much fun.
The album is way more relaxed and easy going as their live sound but I did enjoy the slightly louder and more energetic versions of their sing-a-long songs. Yes, they are extremely catchy and and very much a feel good band.
When I went to watch their concert at the Rock Café I was a bit early and caught the band who played before them. Basically I entered a hot room full of sweaty people dancing to this band called Birth of Joy. It was a bit of a melting pot those three young Dutch men created that night. Surely the reason for taking off their shirt - but while there are lots of bands where it leaves a feeling of pure posing, with them seem natural. They were an unexpected pleasant surprise, not a band on my list or anywhere near the list of artists I wanted to watch during the festival.
The Sheepdogs weren’t the only Canadian band I enjoyed massively. The Town Heroes delivered a very good afternoon concert in the Hörsaal - so yes, it is actually possible to deliver a good show when the sun is still out. After being to a “classic rock” band who were just boring and somewhat too polished beforehand The Town Heroes were a delight. A very bolshy and high energy rock duo. They are making a lot of noise for just two people especially since the drummer had a dislocated shoulder just 2 weeks ago and gave it all. The only thing that crept me out a bit was the t-shirt of singer - Celine’s eyes were following me where ever I went and in my mind they still do. I hope the next time I’ll watch them the shirt has been burned. Ok, there was some joke behind it: band from Canada playing an event called Canadian Blast wearing a t-shirt of one of the most famous Canadians.
Another rock band I stumbled upon was a bit more psychedelic kind. Death Hawks from Finland played on the open air Stage West. Even though the time (sunny afternoon again, the band I saw mostly at night were bands I new or already wrote about) and place was a bit odd, I enjoyed their set a lot. Besides being a bit psychedelic, the music is also haunting and somehow unagitated. For me they brought a bit of desert feeling into the whole festival. Their album will be released on October, 11th in Germany and I can already confirm that it is great.
In between all these Rock shows I watched some non-Rock bands but I didn’t enjoy most of them. A common scheme for what I liked on this festival was apparently music that could have existed in a different time. My two favourite female artists of this festival created a same feeling in me. As coincidence wants it they played the same stage right after each other. First was Iza Lach and then Sarah Ferri, both accompanied by their band.
I guess because Iza Lach and her band played acoustic, her music seemed a bit more old school then it is when you hear the studio version. Usually she sounds more Pop or R’n’B or some mixture of both. She has a soft, fragile voice - certainly not one made for singing outside, in front of a bus with people running around. However, that’s how I saw her for the first time and her voice is simply beautiful. To me it had something of Audrey Hepburn but in a modern vision that day. When I listen to her music now I don’t really hear that bit any more. Did I just imagine it? I don’t know.
Sarah Ferri from Belgium has power in her voice and some Jazz and Swing influences in her music and I wouldn’t be surprised if some of her musical roots would be the 1920. She mixes these those with modern Pop music and creates a tasty cocktail of those ingredients. Funny sidenote: Her debut album is called - how else should she call it - “Ferritales”.
My attention to the last band I want to mention was drawn to them during their soundcheck. While I was waiting for Rob Lynch* for our interview those guys were on stage trying to get the sound right. From the little bits I could hear there, I just had to come back to the venue and watch them again. The band is called East Cameron Folkcore from Austin Texas. If you would have asked me where they are from that would have been the last place I would’ve mentioned. They are an 11 piece folk punk band (that’s the short version of their musical influences), love singing in chorus, cello, trombone, mandolin and everything you wish for and made most people dance in the very busy Terrace Hill. The cherry on top (which is admittedly the worst phrase to use here… considering who I talk about) are their thought-provoking lyrics. While I am pretty much bored (or over-saturated) of folk-punk band since there are almost always sound the same, these group offer something slightly different. Five different singers, massive sound and what seems like a chaos at some points and yet perfectly arranged.
If you want to see more photos of the Reeperbahn Festival, just click play. The diashow includes new discoveries, highlights (Tunng, Naked Lunch**, Talking To Turtles, Vimes) and some other artists I somewhat liked but didn’t make it into this list.
Thank you for reading,
*Rob Lynch is not a new discovery actually since I know his music for years but I loved to watch and hear him live again. It’s been quite some time since the last time I saw him. That day he also signed to Grand Hotel Van Cleef, a German record label. It made me really happy to see someone I like for so long starting out in Germany. I am really excited for his upcoming album! I’ll let you know more about it when I have it.
**Ok, Ok, the Naked Lunch review is a tad short and thinking about it now it still comes down to I just loved their show and I love their music. What was a bit weird during their show was to stand between camera men who filmed Naked Lunch’s set for TV - the rest of the audience would stand like 3 meters away from the stage. Well, that actually happened a few times now even without cameras. It seems the audience is scared of light as of late or the sentence “Oh, I have seen you dancing in the first row”.
The Torstraße is a street in Berlin, actually it’s a Kiez, a neighborhood, with lots of bars and restaurants and creative people. The Torstraßen Festival took place in several locations spread all over the place. Some “unofficial” locations joined in as well, selling beer on the streets and having bands playing, too. For the official festival were about 32 bands/artists playing in 8 different locations - you see, it wasn’t easy to choose who to see when you don’t know most of the bands. So, I decided to start at one venue where the wonderful Miss Kenichi played and the hop from one venue to the next going west and in the end all the way back to the White Trash. That was a rather fabulous choice if I may say so myself.
The whole Festival started on the evening beforehand with Dad Rocks! playing the warm-up concert in St. Oberholz. It was the second concert of a rather long tour (find the dates at the end) and he’ll be back in Berlin on the 5. and 21. of September - I hope he plays an encore on the 21., I want to hear a Metallica cover so badly. As always I loved his set - I love the complex guitar play, his lyrics, the folk, the irony and all that. Especially “Funemployment” got a lot of plays since I submitted my Diploma thesis and I am still working on a plan on what to do next and it was so nice to hear the song being played live. I think it was actually the first time I saw him on his own. Just a tiny bit distracting was the noise of the bar and talking people in the background.
For the Germans: in case you don’t already have his album, it is going to be released on the 7th of September on Sinnbus Records.
Miss Kenichi started at 3 pm in Kaffee Burger and while she was playing the room got absolutely crowded. A wonderful surprise when you think of the time of day. As always her wonderful, thoughtful songs resonated through my body throughout the whole day and night, like an underlying rhythm to everything I did. The audience was very quiet, listening and seemingly as amazed as I was. You can read one of my little love letter to her over here. I think at the beginning there were some weird technical thing going on, some buzzing or so, but either it disappeared or I was caught by her music so much that I didn’t noticed it anymore. It was probably the latter reason.
Next up was The Townhouses at Gaststätte W. Prassnik, a bar with a very oldschool, slightly rundown charm. The Townhouses is a project of Melbourne artist Leigh Hannah. I am not quite sure if I like him or not. The main problem I had was that most parts of the melodies were played from a computer and he sang over them and played guitar or “made” beats. He has this electronic sound with a lot of layers, fine melodies and such. His vocals were a tad too quiet for me. However, I couldn’t help but thinking about Will Samson who creates his songs with all the layers on stage. That of course needs a lot a patients from both sides - the audience and the musician. The audience was again very attentive. I think I would have liked him a lot more when he would have tried to do more live instead of playing half playback to his computer. Especially since quite a few beats and sounds in the songs seemed to be on loop anyway. I guess I like it when songs are actually played live in full and only the minor part is coming from a computer.
While walking to the next venue, St. Oberholz, I passed several bars, selling beer on the street and having their own band playing in front of it. The festival had something of a street party as well even though the streets weren’t shut.
I’d like to apologize in advance for the next sentences. The singer of Jack Beauregard, Daniel Schaub, is just as handsome as I remember him. His eyes when he smirks are just way too wonderful and even made me forget why I ignored the band for a couple of years*. But putting this rave over his eyes (and beard) aside and being serious again, I can say I like their electro pop a lot. It’s fun and invites you to dance - it is music that generally puts you in a good mood. That’s what I liked about them a couple of years ago and got me right away again. Their music is pretty infectious. Eventually they have me back on their side.
Daniel is playing guitar or bass (certainly not often enough**) while Pär Lammers plays all sorts of things but all of them had keys. It’s so nice to watch them having fun on stage, exchanging smirks and all of that. And watch other people around me being caught by these tunes as well. The St. Oberholz was filled and even the sidewalk was full of people listening.
Next on my list was Norman Palm but when I arrived at the Schokoladen it was full and no one could get in anymore. Luckily I can say now because I went to a venue just one block away called Z-Bar. A cosy little bar with a cinema in back. I found my favourite artist of this festival there. I haven’t heard of Berlin based musician Tristan Brusch before but he was stunning - I just don’t know why it caught with such surprise. He played delicate melodies on this Fender and added wonderful vocals to it. The vocal range he uses is wonderful and pretty nice. I mean he can sing very, very well. Oh, I am repeating myself.
He just added some beats to two of his songs but for me it seemed the words “less is more” were rather fitting for him. That could have been because the beats were just a bit too loud swallowing his vocals and guitar play. His music is so gentle and so is his voice - seducing you to loose yourself in his songs, drift away and leaving you kind of fuzzy. The first song he played was “My House, My Home, My Life” and there is this line stuck in my head. "If you wouldn’t always pity yourself then I would have the chance to pity you…" Don’t know why but I just fell in love. He played an encore, too. Without amplification and on acoustic guitar. Just wonderful.
On my way back east to the White Trash, I has to stop twice. First I had to watch the spectacle Die Orsons*** were making with feather filled pillows. They had a bit of a Frau Holle thing going on - spreading feathers all over the audience from windows of the upper level of the St. Oberholz. I was initially happy that I didn’t went back there or waited when I noticed some younger people being hyper excited about them after/during Jack Beauregard. In addition I really don’t count German Hip Hop with electro beats to one of my favourite things in the world but it was really busy there. So, quite a few people really liked it.
Leaving Die Orsons heading further east towards the White Trash I stumbled over Dan Bodan playing in Gaststätte W. Prassnik. It was as all locations at that time absolutely overcrowded. I stood outside in front of an open window next to the stage listening a bit. I just could see him, crouched on a table and seducing people with his voice. I think in the few minutes I listened to him he melted parts of my brain. He has this schmaltz in his voice you just don’t find very often and which surely should be forbidden (no, not really). He is like a 80’s schmaltz song but good and a bit more Punk as well. I haven’t checked out his lyrics so far but I assume they are not really as sentimental as his voice makes you believe they are.
Leaving him behind I arrived at the White Trash to catch Mittekill which I have so far ignored. It’s the project of Friedrich Greiling. Their music is somewhere between electro and Deutsch (German) Rock - they sing in German. I am not quite sure if Friedrich called the band a rotation band but I am not quite sure if he meant that all members of the live band rotating their instruments or if the members change a lot. I haven’t been listening to them before. I noticed Hannes of Pitchtuner playing with him and I think I saw the drummer years ago with Nachlader. And I am pretty sure I know the bassist from somewhere but can’t recall from where. Anyway, they make music to dance to and lyrics to think about.
The first rows danced, I danced and I still wonder where I should have shouted during the song “Wasser oder Wodka” (engl. “Water or Wodka”) - despite the singer called the audience to do so. I guess no one really knew it as the people didn’t shout too much. Nevertheless the crowd was enthusiastic throughout the whole concert. The set was certainly too short and not only because they still had the time to play two encores but also because Friedrich dropped a comment that they have 6 minutes left before starting the second encore with the song “Schlange”. What can I say? I quite enjoy a band that just uses all the stage time they have to play songs rather doing a short set and then play the encore game. A waste of time game. However, perfect ending to the day.
Torstraßen Festival was super overall. Good people, music and everything - some of the most attentive audiences I have seen in some time, too. Everything was wonderfully relaxed. I really hope it will be repeated next year and the year after and so on because it just fits so well here.
As aleways you can find more photos on my flickr.
Thank you for reading and have a good day,
*reasons don’t matter anymore. I shall better myself and be less of an idiot.
** I love bass.
*** For the English speaking people: “Die” is a German word and means “the”.
Tourdates of Dad Rocks! - I know you want to see him:
02.09.12 CZ – Prag – Rubin Club
04.09.12 DE – Göttingen – Pools
05.09.12 DE – Berlin - Berlin Music Week
06.09.12 DE – Hannover – Feinkostlampen
07.09.12 DE - Menden – Casa-Phil
08.09.12 DE – Solingen – Cobra
09.09.12 DE – Bonn – Das NYX
10.09.12 BE – Liège – L’an Vert
11.09.12 DE – Mainz – Schon Schön
12.09.12 CH – Zürich - Bar Rossi
13.09.12 FR – Lyon – Periscope
14.09.12 CH – Nyon – La Parenthese
15.09.12 CH – Delémont - 200 anniversary Collège of Delémont
16.09.12 CH - Porrentruy - House Show
17.09.12 DE - Münster - Café Muffathalle w/ Rue Royale
18.09.12 DE – Offenbach – Hafen 2
19.09.12 DE – Münster – Telichen & Beschleuniger
20.09.12 DE – Hamburg – Reeperbahn Festival
21.09.12 DE – Berlin – St. Gaudy
24.09.12 FR – Paris – TBC
25.09.12 FR – Rennes – House-Show
26.09.12 FR – Lille – La Malterie
10.10.12 UK - Cheltenham - Frog & Fiddle*
11.10.12 UK - Kingston - New Slang*
12.10.12 UK - Brighton - The Haunt*
13.10.12 UK - Norwich - Sound & Vision Festival
14.10.12 UK - Birmingham - The Rainbow*
15.10.12 UK - Leeds - Brudenell*
16.10.12 UK - Middlesbrough - The Keys*
18.10.12 UK - Glasgow - Art School*
19.10.12 UK - Sheffield - The Bowery*
21.10.12 UK - Manchester - Carefully Planned Festival
22.10.12 UK - London - XOYO*
23.10.12 UK - Nottingham - Bodega*
24.10.12 UK - Bristol - The Croft*
I have been very lucky and been to the Highfield Festival yesterday [friday that was]. Just for one day. Just to see Archive. I don’t have the time for a whole weekend (neither the money). But we (been with a friend and some friends are there for 3 days) went early, so we could catch some other bands as well, look around and have a good time. From the parking lot to the festival area it was what felt like a 45 min walk over the camping area. Still excited we shake hands to go to a full festival including camping and all next year. Well, to not set your hopes high: we realized later again that we actually don’t enjoy festivals incl camping and mud as much as we should. I actually don’t enjoy camping and I don’t enjoy portable toilets and I will never be drunken enough for them (no surprise there since I don’t drink alcohol). Another thing I have with festival is that I love music and concerts and I never have enough energy to enjoy the music in a way I want it to at a festival. (But I loved Berlin Festival last year - it is different because it is not somewhere in the wilderness.) If I could I would spend all day in the first rows dancing as long as I like the music. I decided that except for a few festivals that I prefer to go to regular concerts. They are longer and you can put your whole energy in it. Yesterday was different because we drove back home afterward (2+ hours!) - that was a mediocre decision. Tough drive back. Had to take a little nap. Most bands I saw yesterday didn’t blew me off my feet to be honest (maybe because I was mostly at the back to save energy). First band I saw was Millencolin. I think they are not really my cup of tea.
But they seemed to have a lot of fun and the audience as well. Huge circle pit and all. And then we heard/saw a bit of Glaslight Anthem. They were ok. I might just check out CDs of both bands when I am bored. I am actually quite picky (never seem like that at all I think). We mostly walked around the little festival area during that time (the only other festival I have been is Rock am Ring, much less muddy because it is partly on a race track and much bigger). Today it feels really surreal that I have been at Highfield yesterday. I think the third band Gogol Bordello were a bit of fun, as well not very exciting but not bad as well. Funny mix of instruments and their sound is very interesting. I think if I would listen to their CD or view the concert being front row it would be nice. (I think I could like them as much as I like Flogging Molly who I like.)
And then we went and saw The Drums on the tentstage (tent like a tent of a circus). I thought I like them but I think I was wrong. They didn’t really got me. But we met Dave and Steve of Archive - made me very happy because I could finally say thank you to Dave posting the link to the interview I did with him everywhere on Birdpens online channels. That was really nice, a bit of a boost of energy. I really love his/their music and their lyrics and all. Nevertheless I felt a bit weird to say that. And Steve is one of the nicest people I have ever met. Through we were a bit shy and it took us a few The Drums songs to go to them and say hi. It was kind of funny that the tent pretty much emptied completely after every gig. We made the mistake to hit the first row one band earlier and in addition I din’t knew them before. Kap Bambino - lots of dancing boys in the audience taking photos of a crazy woman who didn’t wear a bra (honestly it kind of seemed for some the reason to take photos-a cliché? Certainly.) and was nuts. Jumping, screaming, beer over her body and head, ripping of the stage and just was nuts. (and her band was a DJ.) While she was charming enough to get the security guys to carry her on her back and constantly helping her on and off the stage you could tell that the men at the side of the stage weren’t happy when she was almost ripping of the back of the stage (black curtains) where the instruments were behind. One of the man made signs to her people that they should stop her. She should have played the last set so she could just destroy everything. I really didn’t like them. I found the way Highfield put the bands together a bit weird (well, the mainstage was better planned I think, most bands on Friday were punk or rock and fitted together). But who am I to judge this?
Archive was next and the last band of the day (tent stage, mainstage was Billy Talent whose songs are all sound the same to me). Their set up took really long but they have a lot of stuff - remember there are 9 of them. When they came on stage it felt so unreal to me. Like a dream. I couldn’t believe that I was standing there. It was a quite small tent. I was first row. It took me a bit to realize that I was not dreaming - more than 8 hours after we arrived at the festival and after we drove there all the way from Berlin. Amazing. To be honest they had a rough start - the mic of Daves drumthing didn’t work and Pollards mic wasn’t loud enough and for a short time it seemed like it would be a stupid concert but I just continued dancing and singing a long. I lost all my thoughts and everything that was wrong and just danced and sang a long and had the best time of all. Their concerts are just so intense and great - I don’t know one band that could keep up with them. Every show was amazing I saw of them - back in 2006 until yesterday. They make me forget everything I carry around in me and afterwards I feel stronger and relieved, sometimes calmer, always better. I have no other band where it is that strong. I think the band themselves got more into the concert as well the longer it went. I guess it must be hard if you have such a rough start to it. I didn’t look up very much (or opened my eyes) but Pollard (I think he rocked out more in the end) and Dave were very into it. Danny looked as serious as always-he is a bit like an animal. Rosko, Maria and Steve were great. I didn’t catch too much of Darius dancing (which is always worth watching). And Smiley was laughing as much as usual-love it, everyone is so serious and in the back you have Smiley who always has fun and is laughing. Here is one of the 4 photos I made (I took my camera out, took them, thought “oh, fuck this” and continued to enjoy myself and did continue to just enjoy myself and the concert):
The funny thing about their lightning was that they had the light quite often on the crowd or from the back and then our shadow looked like the controlling crowds masses. I love how Maria sings “You Make me Feel”, an early song of Archive. I felt so good after the concert. And it still feels surreal. I just realized that I have seen them 3 times in the last 12 month, twice around Leipzig. haha. I hope they will come to Berlin again soon. I miss them and the feelings, the strength and the emptiness they give me.
We had a terrible trip home. I was so tired. I took a short nap, ate lots of food, drank a lot coffee, coke and water etc. The sun was rising when we were almost at the end of our journey. Today I feel very tired and my whole body hurts. So, I will go to bed now.
Have good day and thanks for reading.
P.S. this is my sunday blog which I wrote saturday and I will probably write on another day in future because I never have time on sunday. I write my articles on sunday and go to the gym and sundays are always lost days.