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*
*Supporting Tall Ships