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.