Sunday 27 February 2011

Preview: the week ahead (28th Feb - 6th March)

While March is going to be fairly mellow for live music in Berlin, this first week has some real gems lined up for us.

Cloud Nothings at Levee Club: American indie pop on Wichita and quite sweet at that. It's their only Germany date on this tour.
Tyvek at West Germany: classic punk rock on In The Red. I say: wild dancing and possibly some swearing, too.

Crocodiles at West Germany: I was oh so disappointed when I found out that Crocodiles are playing at C-Halle in support of White Lies. I love Crocodiles, especially live, but I wouldn't go to C-Halle to see them play to an inappropriate audience. Luckily, some genius thought of letting play a late night concert at West Germany. I'm well excited and up for stuff! If you like Ganglians, Crystal Stilts and sorts, you should join us on Thursday night.
Maserati and Günther Schickert at Lido: Maserati play tight instrumental post-rock. Think of a more groovy version of Mogwai. They are supported by Günther Schickert who plays psychedelic experimental music, you may know him from his former band GAM or his spacy Krautrock release Samtvogel from 1976. I think this is definitely worth a visit.

Yuck at Comet Club: indie noise rock the way we played in our bedrooms in the mid-nineties. I think Yuck are one of those underrated bands. Dinosaur Jr and Wavves fans listen up.
Family Battle Snake, Nothing and Noem at Bei Roy: If you're up to some noisy stuff you probably want to go see Noem, Nothing and Family Battle Snake this Friday at Bei Roy (the former Raum 18). Noem are a Berlin based band and play raw noise rock. Nothing are some sort of hardcore supergroup featuring members of Mönster among others.
The reason I would want to check out this concert are Family Battle Snake from Athens. They have very little to do with hardcore and punk and play drony ambient noise. If you like experimental stuff and are into bands like Time Life, Double Leopards or Wolf Eyes, you should give this a chance.

Tu Fawning at Comet Club: theatrical slightly melancholic music with at times unusual instrumentation from the alternative mecca of Portland, Oregon. This might be interesting live.

Saturday 26 February 2011

Review: Former Ghosts + Terror Bird

First review for the blog and first show in the "new" Levee/ex-Bang Bang Club for me. Not much changed besides the name so no big surprises there.

I didn't know much about Terror Bird before their gig so I also didn't have great expectations. They surely had a difficult stand when they began to play in the half empty club. The duo played synthie and beat based wave pop, often reminding me of Zola Jesus, and thus fit quite well to Former Ghosts. After all they didn't really excite me. I liked the music and I think I could definitely like their records but it just didn't work live for me that evening.

Following up were Former Ghosts, which is Freddy Ruppert's (who you probably know from This Song is a Mess but so am I) current project. Jamie Stewart from Xiu Xiu supported him live and seems to be more or less a permanent member by now. I already saw them at their last Berlin gig with Xiu Xiu and Zola Jesus at Festsaal Kreuzberg and even though I liked it back then, I also had the feeling that they could do better, as they seemed a bit lost on that big stage. Well they did.
Musically Former Ghosts play dark and wavy synthie pop, often compared to bands like Joy Divison. They started with one of my favorite songs from their last record and continued surprisingly dancy and catchy. The set then got more and more noisy and experimental, reminding me of Xiu Xiu live performances (not surprising though, with half of Xiu Xiu actually playing on stage) and
towards the end they managed to deconstruct nearly every poppy and catchy approach. They probably also left a good part of the audience somewhat deranged. The gig was definitely much more intense than the one at Festsaal so I'm glad to have seen them again but in a smaller, more intimate setting this time.

Review: Pttrns + Make Out! + Young Hare

 There is nothing like a Pttrns night. I truly mean it.

First of all, Pttrns had brought two worthy support acts along. Young Hare do a synth-sample-indie-guitar-thing and don't really play my kind of music but they are good at what they do. They also had fierce competition that night - chapeau!

Make Out! could well advance to become my new favourite band. I'm a fan of Mika Miko as well as Erase Errata and Make Out! remind me of both those bands. Of course this is largely attributed to the female vocals with voice effects but also musically, this group shows strong similarities. Now since I'm not particularly fond of plain copying, you just have to trust me when I say that Make Out! are very individual in music and presentation. I believe I wasn't the only one last night who was very impressed with their set. I hope they will return to Berlin soon.

Pttrns somehow manage to get better every time I see them. I might even go so far as to say that they are my current favourite live band. Whoa!
They have grown from the original three to the current four member line up and the extra percussion just ads that much more fun to a band which already features an aweful lot of percussion in their songs and performances. Add to this an audience which has been equipped with percussion instruments by the group and you get a dance party frenzy as it could only happen at a Pttrns gig. They mainly (or only?) played songs from the album, hence known to the crowd, and they didn't switch instruments around quite as much as they used to. Thus they have perfected the performance of those songs and it pays off: very professional yet super fun.
I have often wondered whether Pttrns would be on a big indie label with the kind of success that Radio 4 or !!! have gained if they were from US or the UK. But one can only speculate on those things. For now, I am ever so grateful that these lovelies come over from the west to play in our cold town every now and so often.

The Tanzwurst DJ team played dance classics until the early morning and we danced and laughed and just didn't want to go back home. This night should have never ended.
And to think that we can do it all again tonight! See you later.

Monday 21 February 2011


In my memory, this is the best gig I ever went to: The Mae-Shi at West Germany in 2008. My memory might be distorted but it's definitely a gig that anyone who was there will treasure in their hearts for a long time.

BTW, the mayhem at the beginning is the audience under one big parachute. What a good idea. They really knew how to get the crowd involved by singing and shouting with the audience, by walking through the crowd, etc. So much fun!!

Saturday 19 February 2011

Preview: the week ahead (21st-27th Feb)

I was ill this week and haven't been to any concerts. But I have convinced J. to join me in making the most out of this little blog baby. A success story I'm excited about. Anyhoo, this is what we might be doing in the next week.

There are a couple of things on Monday that I'm not fussed about enough to write a spiel on them. Look at the calendar. I just wanted to point out that there is something going on before crazy Friday hits us.

Friday is another one of those days where it's almost impossible to decide where to spend the evening.
Pttrns at Schokoladen: Such a darling band! Pttrns have been one of my favourite bands since they started pretty much - I even tried to convince them once to play for my birthday. They would have but I never celebrated the birthday. Oh well. Anyway, anyone who was a the Pttrns/Shokei gig at Schokoladen the last time will be as over-excited about this one as I am. Cannot wait for Friday!!

Tephra at Cassiopeia: Here is the problem. Musically Tephra are probably geniuses but just not up my street. However, the guys in the band are the sweetest and I would really like to go see one of their outstanding performances this week just for that. Pttrns or Tephra? This is tough.
Konono Nº1 at Berghain: And to make this even harder, there is a real gem coming to Berghain on Friday, too. African music is not getting enough recognition in Europe and here is a rare chance to see a groundbreaking African group at one of the most stunning venues in Berlin. Still can't decide?
The National at C-Halle: Then I should throw in the largest of the four gigs this week (did you even notice I put them in order of venue size??). I am not that fussed about The National even though I can appreciate their work. But I know that J. loves them dearly, so they should get their special mention this week, too. If you can ignore the venue and the audience, you should give The National a chance for they are good song writers and performers.

Pttrns at Klub Der Republik : If you didn't get in last night or missed them for another reason, here is your second chance. 
MEN at Comet Club: I already mentioned this gig in the series of previews for 2011 as this is one of the events I really look forward to this week. The performance of JD Samson fully convinced me last time round and I can't wait to see her with a record in tow. Comet is cosy and I am not certain if you can still get tickets for this or if it's sold out but if you do have a way of getting in, do it.
Former Ghosts at Levee: I appreciate the whole concept of Former Ghosts. His music sits very well in the 80s New Wave genre but adapted to fit the 00s, dark and dancey. The videos and artwork scream current US independent music, fashion and art and I like it. Though I'm slightly concerned by the priority alcohol takes in his videos. A bit eerie. But so is everything about Former Ghosts. Clever.

Carusella at Köpi: Köpi is such an odd venue for this gig and J. actually thought I'd made a mistake when I entered the concert venue. But I've checked it and Köpi it is. I'd consider Carusella a classic rock band and to me, they sound like a female fronted Queens Of The Stone Age. That's very attractive. You can probably go to one of the above two gigs and still make it to Carusella, given how late things start at Köpi and given how affordable gigs are here.

Monday 14 February 2011

What's in store for 2011 - Pt 3.5

Although there are quite a few really great concerts in the near future (like Former Ghosts (February), Maserati (March), Boduf Songs (March), Kolter (April) ......) I have to point out how excited I am to finally see LOW, one of my all time favorites, again. They play at Lido in May, not quite one of my favorite locations but I'm really looking forward to this nevertheless.

Speaking of "not my favorite locations": I actually like the Schokoladen but I hate it when it's packed and it definitely will be when Forgetters, Blake Schwarzenbach's newest band, play there, also in May. I'm quite excited to see them!

Oh and hi, I'm J., I like it here.

What's in store for 2011 - Pt 3

More exciting concerts coming your way and, surprise surprise, half of them are in April. That’s just going to be one busy month.

MEN (February) – I’m quite worried about this one. JD Samson’s project played at Festsaal last time, giving a solid performance, and it was packed. This time, they are performing at the much smaller Comet, so I am certainly going to get my ticket this week.

Battles (April) – I have been waiting for this one! Despite having parted with one member (Tyondai) recently, Battles return to Berlin to promote their forthcoming album release. They are playing as opener for Electricity In Our Homes.

No Age at Berghain (April) – OK, so it’s no biggie that No Age play in Berlin because they do so once a year. But I think No Age at Berghain – that’s a big deal. A must-go really.

John Maus at HAU (April) – I was really disappointed when the gig at West Germany was sold out and people were actually queueing on to the street when I arrived the Halloween before last. So the joy when reading that he is finally returning to Berlin and playing a decent size venue. Unfortunately, this gig is coinciding with The Kills gig. Tough one, for me at least.

Zs (April) – we are getting excited about this experimental group’s forthcoming Berlin appearance. Be prepared to queue to get in and be stunned by an extraordinary performance.

Nisennenmondai (May) – this group is so to my liking: girls doing it in an experimental albeit dancey way. Cannot wait!

Chain And The Gang (June) – our favourite political preacher and party animal is returning to town. We are ready for another late night instalment on the dance floor with an ecstatic audience. Yum.

I want money

There are so many good gigs happening soon, I'll never be able to afford them all.

Sunday 13 February 2011

top of 2009

today, i stumbled upon a top of the year live gigs 2009 list that i assembled on facebook once. :)

1) Health
2) Foot Village
3) Battles
4) Patterns
5) Finally Punk
6) Mahjongg
7) Joe Gideon & The Shark
8) Vivian Girls
9) Art Brut
10) Gregory and the Hawk

2009 certainly was a good year for live gigs. i'm still glad it's 2011 now.

Review: La Sera

I like Monarch. It's cosy yet clean and I love the window front which allows a view over Kottbusser Tor. There is the drawback that depending on where you are in the audience, you may not be able to see the stage due to Monarch's asymmetrical layout.

Friday night, Monarch was packed for La Sera and I believe some folk may have experience afore-mentioned problem. The sound was OK though and with its nice big bar, everone enjoyed themselves regardless I think. 

Musically, La Sera delivered exactly what was expected and the audience reflected this. Twee pop with some rock influence played by likeable people. It was a nice gig, albeit not one that will stick in my memory for years to come. And thus, everyone stayed after the gig, enjoying the cosy atmosphere. Why go anywhere else?

Saturday 12 February 2011

Preview: the week ahead (14th-20th Feb)

Maybe I'm lacking some information here, but I only have three gigs in my calendar for this week? Oh my, why not.

Oh No Oh My at Café Zapata: Sweet indie pop. Café Zapata is an unusual venue for this one but don't be deterred by going to an unfamiliar place. If you like your indie music to be twee, this is for you.

Burn Pilot at Schokoladen: From Bielefeld? Really. The sound of this three-piece really reminds me of Bad Brains; I'm not sure if this is what they were going for.

Kayo Dot at Levee: This is slow-building experimental music from New York. To me, this is more art performance than music per se but who's to tell which is which. Levee is the new name for the Bang Bang Club. I don't know why.

Tuesday 8 February 2011

Review: Gravenhurst

As you know, I'm an avid supporter of West Germany. But I am not certain if this was the right venue for the performance of Gravenhurst.

He played without band and for me, that calls for a seated venue. His music is just so quiet, at times melancholy, and then again, so sweet you could feel spring coming. I think that I would appreciate this type of music more if I was sitting comfortably in a theatre or similar instead of feeling my feet getting heavier by the minute.

West Germany was also sold out very early on in the evening and thus, if you didn't catch a space upfront you didn't see very much of Nick Talbot or were able to hear his inbetween speeches. To begin with, people at the back were whispering in order to avoid annoyance to those who tried to listen. But as the night progressed, it grew louder at the back with people hanging out at the bar. 

I understand the gig was organised last minute and for this, it was very well organised. Otherwise it wouldn't have sold out. I also think that the sound was amazing and therefore, the music carried across beautifully. I felt my mood adjust to the music the minute I entered the concert. So I do consider the evening a success and I'm very glad I went and were able to attend Gravenhurst with such a small intimate crowd. But I do think that in future, when he returns to Berlin, maybe with a band, he needs to play at a larger and more appropriate venue. Until then, I shall dream on to the music of Gravenhurst, a talented songwriter if there ever was one.


For those of you who are travelling to gigs by bicycle, I have been made aware of a brilliant Berlin based website that let's you determine your best bike route with many options. I love it.

Sunday 6 February 2011

Preview: the week ahead (7th-13th Feb)

Still recovering from CTM or up for more? We've got a laid back but mixed week ahead:

Rivulets + Aidan Baker instore at Bis Aufs Messer: Aidan Baker for the third time this year? It looks like the man has taken a liking to Berlin. This time he is performing an acoustic set. Rivulets is also one man, Nathan Amundson, who plays less experimental but not less pretty music with an acoustic guitar, in the vein of Songs:Ohia and similar. Unmissable. 
Again, remember to be on time at Bis Aufs Messer - gigs here start very punctual as they are a store in a residential area.
Gravenhurst at West Germany: You may as well take the U1 and head straight from Bis Aufs Messer over to West Germany, where you can listen to more beautiful mellow tunes by Warp signee Gravenhurst. Ideally, the event should be seated but I am not sure if this is going to be the case at West Germany. Perhaps consider brining your own seating. And some money - chances are that you will want to purchase a record for home listening.

Twin Shadow at Comet Club: If there is one thing I'm not good at it's guessing how many people will attend an event. I would have thought Comet Club was a tad small for this one but then again, I might be totally off the mark. Twin Shadow is a one-man-pop-project from New York and plays 80s wavey pop, somewhere between The Human League and The Boomtown Rats, with a distinct lo-fi sound. Good for shoegazing but good for dancing, too. I prefer dancing.
The Replacements cover evening at Schokoladen: I love live cover evenings and Schokoladen is presenting two of these in one week. Yay! The first one is this one, with a mixed line up of local bands covering The Replacements songs. Sing along and go wild. moved to and merged with Saturday's Pixies cover night

La Sera at Monarch: Oooh, in-crowd listen up! Katy Goodman of Vivian Girls is playing with her solo project this Friday. It's pop and what else would you expect? Monarch is small, so show up early. This is going to be one of those gigs that people reference two years on in order to appear cool and "in the know". I earnestly also believe that this Friday night is going to be very cosy and sweet when we listen to pop music while overlooking Kottbusser Damm from steamy windows, a drink in hand.
Trip Fontaine and Blood Robots at Kastanie: Head over to Kastanie tonight to listen to some emo core à la early Jade Tree. Trip Fontaine please with very dancy poppy tunes nestled into a post HC setting. If this was 1996, you would meet a lot of guys with beaded necklaces, backpacks and baseball caps at this show. You get the picture. They are supported by Berlin locals Blood Robots, some sort of all-star HC rock band. Sweet.

Pixies live cover night at Schokoladen: The second live cover evening installment this week. Hooray. Everybody loves the Pixies and let's hope some cover bands tonight have made an effort and eaten many donuts in preparation for their Frank Black impersonations.

Tuesday 1 February 2011

CTM this week

OK, I'm posting this a couple of days late and I sincerely hope that you didn't miss Sleigh Bells at Festsaal yesterday because of this. Here are my picks for this week:

Tuesday to Saturday
Regenwald 2011 at West Germany: This is a contemporary re-interpretation of David Tudor’s series of compositions from the 1970s entitled “Rainforest” but it's also inspired by the work of John Cage. I got a preview at the Gay Beast gig. All the objects used in the installation have been found out in the street and have been enhanced with sound features. The opening is tonight and then, it's on for the remainder of the week from 6pm in the evening. (free entry)

Tuesday to Sunday
Cinechamber at HAU2: A video project installation that among other things includes a moving floor and high-standard electronic sounds. A surprise live performance is expected at 6pm on Sunday. At 8:30pm on Sunday, there will be a grande finale with a live performance by Scion and Paul St. Hilaire. (€7)

Wednesday to Sunday
Loud Luggage/Booming Luggage at West Germany: members of experimental group The Haters will perform music with amplified suitcases every night at midnight from tomorrow until the end of the week. Sounds interesting. (€5)

Deconstructing Dad (film) at HAU1: A film about the musical legacy of Raymond Scott. His son will be there for post-film conversation. (€12)

KTL at Festsaal Kreuzberg: Sunn O))) fans pay attention - this is the man's other project. They once played in support of The Locust and I honestly wasn't particularly impressed. But years have passed and I guess this drone experiment should be given another chance. Then again, I'm not big on Sunn O))) either. Difficult one. (€15)
MIT, Goldpanda and others at Maria: danceable genres are combined to get your feet moving on Friday - Post-Punk, No Wave and electronics. (€18)

Zombie Zombie plays John Carpenter at Festsaal Kreuzberg: This is the must-be event at this year's CTM I reckon. French Disco = süper. John Carpenter = god of some sort. Together? Oh boy. Extrem dance action - who needs to go to aerobic this week when you can go dance at Festsaal? (€15)

Full Blast at HAU1: Free Jazz and Noise on a Sunday night, 5 mins from my house. Yum. (€13-18)