"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.
It’s been some busy couple of weeks and I still have more to write and more to do then my time allows me to do. That, however, doesn’t stop me from doing ridiculously short journeys like the one I’ll tell you about right now. I have been to London last weekend for round about 30 hours just to watch some bands playing a little all-dayer called Alcopopalooza. Alcopop! Records who make this little event every year is by far my favourite record label - not only because they have a great selection of released records and are truely one of the most creative label I know when it comes to how the releases are “shaped”. They have also Jack Pop as their owner - he is simply great and his passion for what he is doing and the music is amazing and - yes ,I am going to say it - inspiring. And also the love among the bands and the bands have a lot of love for Jack. Whenever I go to an Alcopop Event like Alcopopalooza or the Christmas Party, it’s completely different to a “normal” concert or a “normal” all-dayer. It’s like a family reunion or something.
Just like last year it took place at the Brixton Windmill, the ticket came with a free BBQ, I got lost on the way to the Windmill, the rain stopped more or less the minute I arrived at the venue and the night buses back “home*” weren’t too bad. Same procedure as every year. Well, not music wise.
The day started with five acoustic acoustic acts outside. The first one to play in the little beer garden behind the Windmill was the man himself: Jack Pop. Handsome of face and voice. The eyes turned towards the horizon. I swear I saw rainbows and unicorns while he sang. He was as he said not on the actual line up and a pre warming party. He covered Ace of Base’s “All That She Wants” - if you haven’t heard his version you have missed out badly.
Dexy and his Rock’n’Roll was up next. I keep seeing him playing the White Trash here in Berlin - he and his music would fit perfectly into this environment of rock. Dexy has the charm of the old days but without being antiquated. I wonder how he sounds with his band “The Hand Me Downs” - there are videos and stuff but I guess they are way more rock then a video can show.
The Super Mallia Brothers (aka Warren and Martin Mallia of The Attika State, both played acoustic guitar) were amazing. I love The Attika State and they are amazing acoustic as well. I still wonder why Warren actually bothers to use a microphone. He sings/shouts with so much passion that it is actually useless. he played a blend of old and new songs. I think “Recycle”, “Sound of The Stereo” and from the ThreEPeople “6 Shots” were among them. For me it is still like the first time I heard them - their songs sound like the pure passion for music and it obviously doesn’t matter if the play with a full band or “just” as a two piece. I was sad to hear that their drummer left the band. I heard that very often lately. Drummers are a precious thing (as a friend told me), aren’t they?
And we had a special watcher for this concert as well. The dog on the roof (actual dog on actual roof) was lurking around the corner to see who is making so much noise but he stayed calm. Phew.
Next up was Stephen from Tellison. Quite the opposite of Warren volume-wise seen. Rather quiet and rather wonderful as well. I don’t know too much of their music - I have “Collarbone” at home and love it. And also “Wasp’s Nest” of Alcopopular 3 and “Edith Wharton” from BSM ‘10 Collection but haven’t bought an album until now. I don’t know the reason**. I am sure he played the latter one I mentioned. I will mention him later once more. The little beer garden was crowded by that time. If you haven’t got there during the first few songs there was almost no change to get a spot where you could actually see him (and I am tall).
The last one to play outside was Alexei of Johnny Foreigner with his solo project Yr Friends. It’s was quite different to see and hear him doing a singer-songwriter kind of thing. Since he grew a bread (singer-songwriters do that as he said) his music was pretty good and very quiet. I have a theory: Men with Beard make good music. I have another proof for that.
Pretty much everyone stopped talking when he started to play a few songs because they wanted to listen or maybe they were afraid to be punched by him? Both things were possible.
This is him:
Unfortunately I missed half of Katie Malco's set because I sat outside eating the delicious BBQ and talking to friends (but better then last year where I missed a whole set of I think it was Delta/Alaska for that reason**). She was the first one to play inside the venue and once again I saw her without her band. The third time now. Another artist of that day where I start to wonder how she might sound like with a band. She played a new track which I missed unfortunately and of which I heard just good things. She is wonderfully sassy and I love her when she plays live. In a weird way she reminds me of that ideal world that never exist - not even on tv. For some weird reason I don't know myself I can hear her music in the background of a series like “Dawson's Creek” (like the first two seasons or so) - I mean that as a compliment even if it doesn't sound like it. Back in the days I loved Dawson's Creek. Maybe it's because of the Lisa Loeb cover she plays and belongs into this time for me.
I didn’t take a good photo this year, so I just take one of last years Alcopopalooza to bring some more beauty (I think she is so beautiful!) in this post:
The next band Her Parents were the first band to add some volume to the festival in the sense of being a pretty loud punk band who probably need some more time to grow together - the band is not that old, actually pretty new. They sounded not too bad from where I was (outside, chatting with friends) but not really something I was in the mood in to listen to.
One of the on going themes of Alcopopalooza were new songs - pretty much all of the bands played new songs I haven’t heard yet. Gunning For Tamar were no exception. Among others they also played their new single “Dark Sky Tourism” (going to be released on Alcopop! Records on 6th of August with a beautiful poster created by Lewes Herriot and an usb stick). There was some heavy Alcopop! and BSM beach ball exchange going on while they played. We got them for free with our concert ticket and as you can probably imagine: they were flying around. No head was save.
I just love their energy on stage. And the little keyboard melodies and the shouting. The thing with is band is: I just love them whether they play in a bedroom in Berlin or a club stage in London.There is not a special reason, it is just the whole package. That simple or not.
Jumping Ships played probably just one old song “Bad Outweighed The Good”. Also, they have a new drummer now. Well, “new” - it’s a little bit ago and I just saw him for the first time, so he is just new to me but he did a very good job. The band is in the middle of writing a new album and so we got to her a lot of new songs - some not even 2 weeks old and the upcoming album seems to be a very diverse one but still will be Jumping Ships.
I will just repeat a thing I said just one paragraph earlier: I love their energy on stage. I know how global that sounds and I don’t find better words to put it. They don’t use cables to connect their guitars to the amps or whatever so they can easily come off stage and disappear dancing in the crowd during the concert and be back to sing their words. Their “indie” rock is just lots of fun on stage!
After three years of abstinence from the live stage Sam Isaac came back for one (hopefully not) last acoustic concert. Well, the actual way he says it is “unforeseeable future”. He was accompanied by Sophie of My First Tooth on the backing vocals - she sang also on the 2009 release “Bears” and “When The Lights Went Out”. To be honest I haven’t known his music at all. I think he once was supported by The Candle Thieves before I were into them (there is a video of “Stars” of TCT online I watched like a billion times and I think it’s from the tour). The reason why I have kind of overseen him is probably because he stopped playing live about 3 years or so ago - that is the same time I got into TCT and Alcopop. I didn’t want to check out someone who just stopped. But why did no one told me to listen to his music? He is amazing! Everything is amazing: his voice, the melodies and the lyrics are striking. I love “Red Balloon”. I keep on summing "My Heart is a red balloon/coming up slowly to your room/and I felt right through the glass/covered in pieces of my past" in my head these days. The song can be found on his newest release “When The Light Went Out” (2012).
But what really gave me goosebumps was the bunch of people in front of the stage singing all the lyrics to the old songs at the top of their lungs including Stephen and Jack and Katie and everyone. They all seemed so insanely happy that he played that one show. It was so beautiful to watch!
And last but not least I finally got to see Stagecoach….it took only three years and a few attempts. When it takes so long to see a band live you love so much there are two things happening: You get all excited because you heard how awesome they are live and then you get scared because they might not be able to actually full fill the expectation you have build up over the years. I am happy to announce they have easily outdone all of my expectations. Now I feel dumb for being even scared for the glimpse of a second. They played a mix of old and new song. They played “Ice Age”, “We Got Tazers!”, “Headbangers Ball” and “Good Luck with your 45” among others. There was dancing, singing along, crown surfing, ripping the line to the airing off the ceiling. And there was Alexei of JoFo joining on guitar for the last song (45) and Owen of Elephants (I miss them dearly) “joining” on vocals. Amazement.
I loved the new songs they played - I had been immediately caught by them and doing my little thing I usually call dancing. Stagecoach have released a few singles and EP’s and have sounded quite differently one every single one. I mean they have catchy lyrics and melodies but they started being more Folk Pop went over to “Power Pop” and ended (so far) in a pretty rock direction. Luke (singer of Stagecoach) told me earlier that evening that he likes bands who are growing and changing in their sound with every album and that is exactly what Stagecoach does. Even though he told me into what direction the album goes, I can’t wait until it is finished and to really hear where they went.
There is another thing when you have waited three years to see a band and they have outdone all your expectations: you’re craving to see them again. I think they’re in the studio for the next months or so. They are a band to rather take some more time to make everything right and they want it then write an album in a rush and then it’ll end up being shit. I happily wait until they are finished.
Another funny side note: Apparently I have been to so many Alcopop events (it was the 3.) that another visitor noticed me from another event. I find that quite hilarious because I can’t imagine someone I have never talked to remembers me after 6 month. Anyway, it was the most wonderful evening and I absolutely couldn’t ask for more. I can just highly recommend to go to any of these events. The next one might probably be the Alcopop! Christmas Party or one of the festival appearances in close future (like 2000 Trees and Truck). And another side note: on the way back with the night buses I passed The Spice Of Life and The Silver Bullet. I have been to both last time I have been to London. I have been in The Spice Of Life to watch Matt Emery (solo but he is also drummer in Stagecoach) and The Silver Bullet for the Alcopop Christmas Party. So many good memories….
On a different note/ a tip for you when you’re in London: On Sunday I have been to the Picasso & Modern British Art exhibition at the Tate Britain as my lovely host recommended it to me. I found it quite interesting to see his influence on some other painters like Hockney, Moore, Bacon and Sutherland and their work. One of the most staggering paintings (for me at least) was Bacon’s “Crucifixions” (1933) based on Picasso’s “Three Dancers” (1925). It’s dark and light at the same time. It’s beautiful in a dark way. If you’re in London, go and see the exhibition but be aware that it is just running until the 15th of July.
Hope you had a good weekend, too. I am going to play with my brand new Alcopop Beachball I got on Saturday.
Thanks for reading,
Look at more photos: http://www.flickr.com/photos/_heilewelt_/sets/72157630512213230/
*I call whatever place I sleep at “home”. Unless it is a hostel or a hotel or an airport.
**Maybe I am just an idiot?