Saturday 30 October 2010

Foot Village's new video makes my day

I once stumbled into a Foot Village show at The Smell in LA by mistake. My friend and I had tracked downtown to see Pocahaunted and Experimental Dental School. The problem was that Foot Village were so amazing, we never enjoyed the other two. Everything seemed mediocre compared to Foot Village.
A few months later, last November, Foot Village played at West Germany. This might be a good opportunity to tell you about my love for West Germany. Sure, it's in Kreuzberg and thus not far from my house, and yes, they do have good taste in music and therefore, good bands perform. But I guess those facts can be applied to other venues, too. What I love about West Germany is the atmosphere paired with the audience. The interior is below basic in that it used to be a medical laboratory of some kind and all they have done is knock down some walls. It is still tiled, you still see the bases of the original walls and there are still metal structures hanging from the ceiling. The stage is made of beer crates. The bar is a hole in the wall bascially. But because its owners really care the toilets are always clean, the bar is well stocked and its staff friendly, the sound equipment is good. And they really cater for the artistic needs of its performers. Seldomly do you hear German spoken due West Germany's international audience. The only draw back: a lot of concerts are sold out quickly on the night but there aren't any presales. After missing No Age and a week later John Maus because of capacity issues I actually once wrote an email of complaint to one of the bosses at West Germany but was given back a very warm response. How nice can it get? If you are planning a visit to Berlin, make sure you check for gigs at West Germany in the calendar at the bottom of this blog!

Anyway, back to Foot Village! So they played West Germany and it was not sold out but because Foot Village put their four drum sets in the middle of the room and assemble the show attendees around it in a circle, the size of the audience is not relevant really. The performance was convincing as it was the first time and nurtured my love for this group even further. They are one of the most refreshing bands around at the moment, musically and lyrically. Because their instrumentation only consists of four drum sets and a megaphone the lyrics do matter. You won't understand much of them live, but in the recordings, they support well the energy of the music. I think everybody who left West Germany that night was in awe. You can see a video of the gig here but I don't think you feel much of the energy that was present.

Which leads me to my actual reason for posting about Foot Village today: They are releasing a 7" this month (including tatoos and stuff - go get it!) and
Rob Heppell, a writer and video artist who works periodically in London, has produced an artistically interesting video for this. The political message is not uncommon but his take on it is brave non the less. I just wanted to recommend this to you.


And of course I will post about it should the band come back to Berlin.

Thursday 28 October 2010

Preview: tonight and the remainder of this week

The crazy event filled November is only 4 nights away. Yet, there are a few gigs you may want to consider before we will spend very little time in our houses throughout November.

Tonight, M:Soundtrack at Schokoladen presents another gem: Dosh, an experimental duo on anticon, a label known for quality. The music is pretty chilled out, but far from boring, as instruments as well as electronics are utilised to create dreamish, intelligent music. They are supported by one-man-band Snailhouse from Canada - singer/songwriter material. Recommended!

At White Trash Fast Food tonight, the 80s will relive with spacerock band Farflung from Los Angeles. Noisy, stoner, wavy rock - nothing for the tame. I quite fancy it, actually, I imagine Queens Of The Stone Age would sound like this if they were into 80s wave music. The support comes in the form of Black Land, stoner rock from Italy.

Emozioni from Hamburg play indie rock and will perform at West Germany tomorrow.

Finally, on Sunday, once again Marie-Antoinette is the place to be. The Burning Hell, Canadian indie folk pop of the highest order, and French pop group Coming Soon are turning this evening into a pop fiesta.

I might take it easy this week, so cannot promise too many gig reviews of the above yet. (contributions welcome) However, the gig month of November is starting with Cave, Movie Star Junkies, No Age & Abe Vigoda, Archie Bronson Outfit, Picastro, Des Ark & Sissters next week. I am excited and have my dancing shoes ready for No Age & Abe Vigoda in particular. Cannot wait!!

Wednesday 27 October 2010

Review: The Pharmacy

This was our first test for Marie-Antoinette: What would the venue feel like with a small crowd? Indeed, exactly 19 paying guests had showed up for the short-notice The Pharmacy gig. But to our suprise, 19 were enough to create a good atmosphere and the sound held up, too.
Dure-Mère, the support band from the South of France, supplied some solid postrock, very French with an accordeon. A full hour support set may have pushed people's patience a little but their music was enjoyable.

This was The Pharmacy's last date on this tour and they weren't going to go back home without a serious good bye gift: a wild noisy rock set, including the obligatory trashing of the drum kit. Rock, humour and party. We like.

Thanks to Felix. He took notes.

Tuesday 26 October 2010

Review: Casiotone For The Painfully Alone

Should value for money come into the equation when discussing live music performances? Opinion will differ on this but I for one was surprised when the door money was 10 € for a one-man-band with no support band. Upon questioning this I received the answer that this was his last time on tour ever.

To my regret, I didn't enjoy the gig either. On recording, Casiotone For The Painfully Alone sounds fresh but the live version was less up beat and not very varied. Additionally, the performance was boring to look at.
Owen Ashworth was standing behind a set of keyboards, looking down at those and pressing buttons while singing - kind of like a DJ performance in slow motion.

I suppose die-hard fans who know the songs by heart didn't care. It was Owen Ashworth. He was playing his songs. It was their last chance to experience this. But it didn't convince me, who is fairly new to this artist.

And for this I did miss Sun Araw at West Germany and Geoff Farina at Madame Claude. Let's just hope it wasn't their last tours ever.

Review: U.S. Girls @ Madame Claude

It's so great when this happens: I highly anticipate an event, the tension builds as the gig draws near and then Bang! all my expectations are met.

When I arrived just before 11pm the live music room at Madame Claude was so packed that I couldn't fit in. And this was just the opening band. If I recall correctly, they were Swiss, used video projections as a backdrop and played experimental ambient music produced with an array of tape cassettes.

By the time I had managed to secure a space in the room, U.S. Girls was setting up her equipment and the audience was either sipping beer or sharing joints with strangers. A guy sat next to me remarked that he could feel the excitement before the gig. I agreed.

U.S. Girls' set started rather mellow, with some background singers hiding under the table, but the rhythm picked up with every song. The half seated audience was really getting into the beats while at the same time you could see awe on people's faces at the sounds this single woman was procuding with what appeared very little equipment. The songs were also a lot more danceable than I had expected. Most of all, the "stage" presence and aura that U.S. Girls conveys really hit me. She seems to be one with the audience without actually interacting with individuals.

At a different venue, this may have also turned into a fine dance event. As it was, everybody was either swaying along on stools or standing in the jam packed back of the room. Kreuzberg's cellar venue that is Madame Claude has the right ambience for U.S. Girls but it's a shame that a lot of folk didn't fit in the room to see the band and that those who were inside could hardly move.

Overall, this performance was one of the best Berlin has seen this year and I will treasure the moment for a while to come.

Sunday 24 October 2010

Preview: the next couple of days

After tonight's The Pharmacy gig at Marie-Antoinette, we get some serious lo-fi girl action in the form of U.S. Girls at Madame Claude. U.S. Girls is just one girl, Megan Remy, who uses her voice as much as an instrument as the various forms of samples and drum machine sounds that are part of her songs. Although it's admittedly not everyone's cup of tea, U.S. Girls is innovative and arty and unlike any other performance you have seen and worth your attendance, even if you aren't into the recordings. For fans of Pocahaunted, etc.

Tuesday's offering is a choice between Casiotone For The Painfully Alone at Marie-Antoinette, Sun Araw at West Germany, supported by Hype Williams, or Geoff Farina at Madame Claude. It's another tough call and depends largely on either your taste in music or your mood of the night.
For fans of Karate and Secret Stars, dwelling in nostalgic memories, Geoff Farina is a must. It's fair to say that he has been influential on today's musical landscapes, both with his musical advances but also with the ethics and energy that he has brought along. But I think it's also noteworthy that his recent solo pursuits are very high class songwriting gems with guitar riffs that somehow remind me, and probably only me, of Eric Clapton. Listen for yourself here. See you at Madame Claude if your mood is jazzy and relaxed.
Casiotone For The Painfully Alone on the other hand appeal to electro pop folk willing to dance the night away. No chill out but some serious party is expected of you at Marie-Antoinette. And that might just be the right thing to do when Berlin is grey and wet in autumn. White Corolla is one of their more mellow numbers but a high class video.
Finally, Sun Araw are from Los Angeles and this may let you guess what's coming your way at West Germany: fine psychedelic sounds, somewhat lo-fi but not quite, hippie-music in a modern setting. Also, the current trend in incorporating tribal music into punk and indie music is very present in Sun Araw's compositions. This one is definitely for those of you that enjoyed U.S. Girls the night before, for those that appreciate intelligent music and for those that like to dwell in music as if it was a hot bath. Hear for yourself here what I mean.

And here is one that should definitely get you to consider the U.S. Girls gig tomorrow:

Oh Boy, it's Joan Of Arc!

For someone who spends way too much of her time researching live music calendars in Berlin, I must have been incredibly blind to miss the fact that Joan Of Arc are performing at Bang Bang Club on 22nd November with Love Of Everything. A deluxe Polyvinyl night. The joy I felt when these news struck me! My ticket is pre-ordered and waiting for me at KOKA36.

To get you in the mood, you can listen to a couple of my all-time favourites here and here or view a live performance here, hoping that in Berlin people will dance more and smoke less.

Saturday 23 October 2010


Maybe this playlist I have assembled will help you determine which show to attend on 18th November in Berlin. Or it might just confuse you even more. It's a tough call to make.

YouTube playlist for the 18th November in Berlin

Wavves at Comet Club
Vampire Weekend at C-Halle
Rival Schools at Lido
Les Savy Fav at Festsaal Kreuzberg

I'm going to get into more detail about all of these as the time approaches, but you know, some of these will be sold out, so the decision time is soon.

Tomorrow: The Pharmacy

Originally, The Pharmacy, a recognisable indie-rock trio from Washington state, were to play West Germany a few weeks ago but a series of circumstances lead to a short notice cancellation of this anticipated event. It looks like a spare date was found in their schedule to ensure a Berlin gig could be arranged on this tour after all. So tomorrow, they will grace us with their tunes at Marie-Antoinette.

If, like me, you spent your teen years as an indie kid in a tartan shirt and Dr Marten shoes, listening to The Smashing Pumpkins and Pearl Jam, you will appreciate this more modern version of your northern West Coast indie rock. The Pharmacy also display considerably more humour than afore mentioned groups.

Plus, it's a good opportunity to check out Marie-Antoinette one more time before you will make it your living room in November (see the calendar at the bottom of this blog).

The band will be supported by Dure-Mère, a group that has travelled to cold autumn Berlin all the way from the sunny south of France. I know nothing about this band, so let's be surprised by their apparently experimental tunes.

Altogether, this sounds like a nice relaxed way to wind down the weekend, and in my case, bring the school holidays to an end.

15th Nov 2010 at Festsaal Kreuzberg

Fake to Real

When I woke up this morning, glad that I have finally started this blog, I suddenly remembered that I once got a guest list space at Berghain by pretending to be a freelance journalist. I really badly wanted to see Battles play and had no money and figured that it might as well start off my career as a music journalist. Needless to say the career never took off but the gig was truly amazing. Berghain's Panorama Bar makes for a wonderful concert venue, I was in awe at its beauty, and Battles didn't disappoint. They could have skipped the bad jokes in favour of a song or two more but musically, their performances are inspiring, to say the least. And incredibly good to dance to.

Well, who would have guessed that a year on I do indeed write about music, even if it's in a slightly less sophisticated manner than I had imagined, and not in print.


Friday 22 October 2010

Grass Widow, La Batterie

It was to be my first event at the newly opened venue Marie-Antoinette, which I was pretty excited about. It's under the train tracks near Jannowitz-Brücke and reminds me a bit of a room you could rent for a function like a wedding reception. Nicely decorated with cloth panes on the ceiling and water projected on to the walls, the room is overall very basic and plain. Its layout, one open room, also doesn't allow for privacy or hiding.
In my case, this was very welcomed on this 14th October, since this was one of those events which draws together people from many different walks of life. It was possible to just mingle among the crowd and pretty much talk to everybody that you knew without having to look too hard for your people. Easy socialising which made for a pleasant cosy evening among friends.

La Batterie were the opening band and local to Berlin. The focus of the band is on the drummer who sings partly in French (explaining the band name) and partly in English. The lady is accompanied by a guitarist and a keys player. Although I enjoyed their indie-pop with rhythm changes for several songs, their set was pretty extensive and didn't hold my attention for the entire performance.

Grass Widow, on the other hand, did manage to draw my attention. But I was disappointed nevertheless. Before the gig, these memories flashed to my head: standing at Amoeba, asking if there was a record I could bring back to Europe and Grass Widow being the answer; unwrapping the record back home and listening to it for the first time and liking it. And here I was, at the show and I wasn't enjoying it.
Granted, technical issues were dominating the first few songs. A power cut or similar hulled us in darkness while the girls on stage couldn't continue the performance and when the power came back on, the equipment seemed to take its time. Thereafter however, the actual gig was mediocre and just didn't live up to expectations, possibly due to it being the last show of the tour. The audience didn't get into it, the songs were lacking the energy known from the recordings. Nice pop music to have a drink to, smart ladies to entertain you, but musically not the bang everyone there was hoping to experience. Or so was my impression.

I am still glad that I went and supported one of the interesting girl groups around at the moment and with all the sweet people there and a kick-ass djane, the evening can be considered a success.


make it if you're missing it

For years I have been using the helpful Capeet gig list from Vienna to keep up on my favourite bands and performers touring Europe. Equally, when I visited my former home London this summer, I researched the entertainment options on How Does It Feel's London Gig Guide. It seems to me, Berlin could really benefit from such a list. So recently, I set up a Google calendar in which I list all gigs and other events that interest me or the people around me.

But with all the passion I feel for live music in particular it seemed logical to me to go further than just list gigs. This blog will serve as a medium of previewing and reviewing the live music experiences of Berlin. More people will get involved as this goes on.
If you like to contribute, let me know, and suggestions and gig information is welcome, too.

Enjoy. c*