Monday 31 December 2012

Preview: the week ahead (31st Dec - 6th Jan)

Late and predominantly for those of you who still don't know where to venture tonight, here is the gig preview for this week. Short and sweet.

New Year's Eve
Hot Jumpin' 6 at Auster Club: Garage'n'Roll to ease you into 2013. Petticoat on and dance the night away.
Ampl:tude at Schokoladen: If you missed these electronic weirdo poppers last night, here is another chance, plus DJs and fireworks. Cosy, traditional and ever so nice every year.
Burning Man New Year's Eve party at, Urban Spree, Revaler Str. 99: C* choice of NYE entertainment. This is going to kick ass so hard. Six, yes six, fabulous bands: Camera vs. In Zaire, Anklepants, Jimmy Trash Orchestra, Bikes, Fredovitch One Man Band. All of these have been featured on the craze before one way or another, so I won't bore you with details. Let's just say Kraut and Garage rock are the predominant genres. There is also going to be circus type mayhem and pagan rites and food and 10, yes 10, DJs from all over playing music from all over. Meet C* there to celebrate into the new year with style.
Peaches at White Trash Fast Food: I suspect that this is booked out but felt like telling you about it anyway. The lady is rocking the last WTFF NYE at their current Schönhauser location, before the wacko burger bar meets venue is moving to Treptow soon.

New Year's Day
Gemma Ray at Volksbühne: The New Year's Day Volksbühne concert is an institution and a wonderful one at that. Last year, we marvelled at an amazing performance by Austra. This year, retro pop chanteuse Gemma Ray is performing and promises another sweet night. If you like April March or Holly Golightly, you will most likely enjoy this.

BDYBLDNG, Young Hare and Big Eater at Kastanienkeller: Again, all of these have been featured on the craze before, and I have to do my hair for tonight, so no great details. Just search our site - you will find lots of information on these groups. Especially Big Eater really impressed me the other day, so that alone is worth the visit to cosy Kastanienkeller this Saturday.

Saturday 29 December 2012

one more thing to do

If you haven't got anything to do tomorrow evening and are interested in experimental music, maybe this is something for you:

Schrein (featuring two Datashock members plus Bastian from GTUK/Sun Worship), Cotopaxi from the Netherlands and Indias Indios are playing at Pony Royal (Siegfriedstr. 12, near S-Bahnhof Hermannstraße) in Neukölln. The show starts early (entry at 7pm and starts at 8pm), here's the facebook event page for more info.

Musically this will be somewhere between experimental electro-acoustic and drifting ambient drone sounds. See you there!

Thursday 27 December 2012

J.'s top of 2012

So for the first time ever I kept notes during the year whenever I attended a show that I thought was especially good. I don't want to sort them in a particular order but let's just say the first couple of shows on the list were my definite highlights. All in all this was a very good live concert year for me, I hope the next one can somehow live up to that...

  • Codeine, Festsaal Kreuzberg: My definite highlight of the year. One of my favorite bands, absolutely great show and an evening spent with friends.
  • Beak>, Berghain Kantine and Bi Nuu: One of my bands of the year. I absolute love their record(s) and the shows were both very good.
  • Deerhoof, Festsaal Kreuzberg: Seeing a band for the third time over some years and still be blown away, you know they just do something right.
  • Death Grips, Festsaal Kreuzberg: They're hyped for a reason, very intense show and amazing band.
  • Black Dice and Silver Apples, Festsaal Kreuzberg: Awesome show somewhere between sick and weird, dancy and crazy. 
  • Carla Bozulich, Ausland / Evangelista, Berghain Kantine / Mysticats (Carla Bozulich, Aidan Baker, Jhno), bei Roy: Three different projects of Carla Bozulich, every one a bit different but also very good in it's own way. Hope she/they will be back soon.
  • Father Murphy (+ Mysticats), bei Roy: The nicest guys and an evening with two bands that were simply amazing. 
  • Excepter, West Germany: I was really looking forward to finally see them live for the first time and I was not disappointed afterwards.
  • Peaking Lights, Festsaal Kreuzberg: A band that's musically very good + has a cool attitude towards the things they do = good concert.
  • Liars, Festsaal Kreuzberg: Another example of a band that I already saw a couple of times but that still keeps on being just great.
  • Dagora, bei Roy: a total surprise, very free jazzy experimental stuff and I was blown away of how good they were. Sadly there were hardly and other people attending the show.

Wednesday 26 December 2012

C*s top of 2012

The other day, when doing another gig hopping night, a friend pointed out (insert sarcastic tone of voice here) "what a tough job you have got". What can I say? It's been another fantastic year on the Berlin live music circuit and I am a nerd and I never want to miss out.
My discovery of the year was definitely Dead Skeletons and king of show was Dirty Beaches, in my view. There was so much greatness playing in Berlin, I have not even attempted to whittle it down to a top 10 - I try every year and it's a pointless affair - but have settled for a top 20.  

This may also be a good point in time to hand out my prestigious Venue Of The Year Award 2012, which Festsaal Kreuzberg wins with no competition. Thank you for endless hours of great bands, great sound, great people, and altogether greatness.

1) Dead Skeletons at Kater Holzig (September)
2) Dirty Beaches at Kater Holzig (February) and at West Germany / The Maze (September)
3) Moon Duo at HAU1 (November)
4) U.S. Girls at Monarch (November)
5) Black Dice at Festsaal (September)
6) Austra at Volksbühne (January)
7) Liars at Roter Salon (June) and at Festsaal (October) 
8) Doomsday Student at bei Roy (October)
9) Refused at C-Halle (April)
10) Prinzhorn Dance School at Berghain Kantine (March) 
11) tUnE-yArDs at Festsaal (February)
12) The Spits + Hunx & his Punx at Festsaal (May)
13) Wooden Shjips at Festsaal (June)
14) DIIV at Monarch (August) 
15) Deep Time at Schokoladen (September)
16) Peaking Lights at Festsaal (June)
17) Villagers at Astra (October)
18) King Khan & BBQ Show at Festsaal (September)
19) Quintron & Miss Pussycat at Kater Holzig (October)
20) Dope Body at West Germany (October)

I was also a lucky girl and got to see some of my musical and style favourites of all time, which do not make it into my top list, purely because of the scale of those shows and the professionalism that goes into them, hence the lack of energy and personal inspiration. But I feel like giving them a shout out here anyway, because all of them delivered and got me emotional just seeing them on stage. I bow to you, Patti Smith. I bow to you, New Order. I bow to you, Jack White.

Finally, I travelled a little and my gig highlights here were:
Strange Boys and Reigning Sound in LA
The Kills in Lisboa
Moon Duo in Lisboa

Yes, I seek the thrill of live music, be it in Berlin or abroad, and I feel compelled to report to you every time, even when a night has gone wrong. Raise your glasses: here is a toast to talented musicians, dedicated booking agents, hard-working promoters, supportive labels, focussed managers, and clever press people. Because, like it or not, without the machinery behind it all, we would never get to see those fantastic gigs that we do. May 2013 be another year in which we suffer from chronic sleep deprivation but feel inspired for it!


Monday 24 December 2012

Preview: the week ahead (24th - 30th Dec)

Guess what?! There is not an aweful lot to preview this week. But a couple of things are getting us excited anyway. We are not called The Craze for no reason.

Matula and Diane Parker's Little Accidents at Tiefgrund: Two band playing melodic emo punk stuff, one in German and one in English. Think of Get Up Kids like bands. If that's your stuff, you'll probably want to visit this show.

Die Liga der gewöhnlichen Gentlemen and the Groovy Cellar at Schokoladen: The new band from Superpunk's singer and guitarist, they sound like a medley of 60s music and poppy The Kinks or something like that. Support are the Groovy Cellar. Stylistically in a similar vein but a bit more indie pop.

Ampl:tude, Double Deuce, Ziemlich Einfach and Gewalt Disney Team at Grüner Salon: The "The Day Before Party" is going into its third year and I for one would not miss it for the world. You are getting revved up for New Year's Eve (NYE) and then there is a party already where you meet all your friends, try out your NYE outfit, see fun bands, and just generally have fun without the pressure of NYE. It's just one of those things I look forward to all year. The line-up is solid this year: In addition to synthie fun group Ampl:tude, I am especially curious about Double Deuce, a supergroup featuring Toby Goodshank and his sister, and Ziemlich Einfach, The Chap's Johannes von Weizsäcker's solo side project. Party party! And then do it all again the following night.

Saturday 22 December 2012

C*'s wish list for 2013

Annually, when the year draws to its end, I start thinking about what bands could or should come through town in the months ahead. Some of it is wishful thinking, some artists have already been rumoured to make an appearance, and some gigs have even been confirmed. You never get everything you wish for, but here is my wish list for 2013 Berlin gigs. C'mon Santa, pleeease, I promise to be good.

Fuck Buttons

Lightning Bolt
The Chinese Stars
Foot Village
Civil Civic

Dirty Beaches (can't get enough)
Dinosaur Jr. (19th Feb - alright!)
Cold Showers

Rocket From The Crypt (2nd Apr - yeah baby!)
Los Crudos

U.S. Girls (again again)
Dead Skeletons (must see band of the year!)
Total Control (missed their apparently amazing gig this year)

More likely than anything though, dozens of great bands will come through town and I will  have never heard of them until the week they play and I will fall in love again and again. That's what usually happens and it's why I love live music as much as I do.

Tuesday 18 December 2012

PTTRNS. Alright!

Not only have we just received word that one of our favourite groups, PTTRNS, are going to release a new album, Body Pressure, in 2013 but the record release party in Berlin will take place on 20 April at bei Roy. We are excited. Alright!

Review: The Soft Moon + Dracula Lewis

Ok ok, I should have written this review immediately after the gig at Festsaal, or more importantly, before the same line-up played again a week later at West Germany. I am sure by now the word has spread and anything I can tell you will bore you, given you have either seen it or heard all about it by now. But you know what? I am going to tell you about it anyway. Just because that's what I do.

We write different types of reviews on The Craze. There are those that we cannot wait to tell you about and the rant comes easy. There are those gigs that do not warrant a lot of words, where there is not that much to tell even if they were good, and those are usually our quick reviews. And there are those that are kind of hard to write, mainly because there was a big hype about the gig and we are not sure we are living up to it or we just didn't get it. This gig fits in this last category.

The hype about the Soft Moon gig was unbearable. Weeks before, people would talk about nothing but and this at a time when there were 7 concerts a week worth going to. Admittedly though, I absolutely love their album and was truly looking forward to the gig. As a nice bonus, Dracula Lewis, Souterrain Transmissions' latest signing, was going to perform and I hadn't seen him yet. So yes, I was looking forward to this night, especially since everybody was going to be at Festsaal tonight.

Saturday 15 December 2012

Review: U.S. Girls + Slim Twig

I totally have favourite artists. My punk rock adolescence heroes taught me that having heroes is unpunk. Yet I cannot help but admire those that create art and music that touches me. And frankly, I don't see anything wrong with it either.

Ever since I saw Megan Remy perform under her stage name of U.S. Girls at Madame Claude back in 2010, I have been an admirer and avid follower of her career. Ms Remy touches me because she is a serious sound artist but she is also very female. She never gave the impression of having to compete with men in the male-dominated genre of experimental music. Instead, she would look like the college girl next door and do her thing. And move people along the way.

Then, earlier this year, she signed to Fat Cat Records and brought out a pop album. There is no other way to describe it. It has got that distinct U.S. Girls sound of dreamy, echoey vocals, of tape-looped sound samples and of superb songwriting. But her sound has become that little bit more digestible for a mass market, if the market listened up. This not only intrigued me - who would have thought she had that much pop in her - but it also made me love her as an artist that little bit more. I appreciate a good pop record and part of me wants my favourite artists to do well - something a lot easier achieved when writing music that not only nerds will listen to.

Friday 14 December 2012

Preview: the week ahead (17th - 23rd Dec)

No rest for the wicked. One week until Christmas week and yet the calendar is not entirely empty, as one might have expected - there are still gigs to go to, things to experience. Wild and wonderful.

Masha Qrella and Normal Love at Ritter Butzke: Female singer-songwriter pop songs and for fans of the genre a must.

Graveyard at Columbia Club: What happens when you listen to too much Black Sabbath, if that's even possible? Well, you start a band and sound like Graveyard. And why not?! Very good fun.

Sally Dige and An:Idea at King Kong Klub: Dark wave electronica with 80s sounding female vocals. Very en vogue just now, ain't it?
Don Vito and Contravolta at Schokoladen: Maybe gig of the week. Read our review of the wonderful spazz noise trio Don Vito when they played with Doomsday Student, be at Schokoladen for 7:30pm and have your minds blown. Yeah!

The Magnificent Brotherhood at Schokoladen: These guys pop up in Craze previews every now and so often. Nice 60s type garage beat music. If you enjoyed White Fence at West Germany, then show up at Schokoladen tonight, nice and early.

Patrik Fitzgerald at Marie-Antoinette: 70s punk poetry legend Mr. Fitzgerald makes an unexpected appearance in Berlin and this might just turn out really, really good. We'll be there.
Peter & The Test Tube Babies at Lido: British old school punk rock and makers of one of my favourite punk songs ever (Blown Out Again). Yeah!

Human Abfall at Tiefgrund: Another candidate for gig of the week. Good German punk to have a jig, too. Think Abwärts and the likes. Party!


Berlin Festival headline act announced

True to their tradition of recent years of steering away from being a rock'n'roll festival and towards pop heaven, Berlin Festival's headline act for 2013 has just been confirmed as being the reformed Blur. But hey, it's Blur! Blur, hello?! I am well excited. 

The other two acts that have been confirmed are Turbostaat and Pet Shop Boys. And there is going to be an electro-dance-rave club in Hangar 2 in 2013, for those who need it. 

Read our review of the 2012 festival.

And enjoy some Blur to celebrate Damon & Co coming to Berlin next year.

Thursday 13 December 2012

Review: Mission of Burma

Mission of Burma's band history is somehow interesting. They came together in 1979, were active for only four years and broke up in 1983 after having released only one EP and one full length record. They reunited again in 2002 and have released four new records since then with the help of Bob Weston as additional member and sound engineer (yes, the Shellac Bob Weston). Their active years and releases had a huge impact on later bands and notable musicians, ranging from Fugazi to Sonic Youth or the Pixies, who all mentioned them as important influences. That being said, I have to admit that I not once listened to any of their newer (post reunion) records and only knew their 'original' material. So my expectations were a bit mixed, but since many bands lately proofed that 'reunions' don't have to go wrong, I was also rather excited to see them.

I imagined Festsaal Kreuzberg to be packed and sold out this night and made sure to arrive on time so as not to miss anything and also to be able to secure a good spot. So we arrived at Festsaal Kreuzberg and it was far from full, in fact it looked pretty empty. I was a bit surprised but since it was still early, I didn't think much of it. 
The opening band, Delta Love from Berlin, of which I had never heard before, started shortly after I entered the room. They are a guitar and drums duo that plays a very lo-fi and noisy version of something I'd call delta blues rock, so their name did fit indeed. They reminded me of some other lo-fi bands, think of a bluesy and dirtier sounding Woods including heavy reverbed vocals and guitar. I actually liked what they did but it didn't work for the whole set, so I watched the rest from the back. They finished playing and a sort of lengthy stage rebuild for Mission of Burma began.

Wednesday 12 December 2012

Quick review: Scritti Politti

Frankly, I did not know what to expect. Naively, I was sort of thinking of oldish men playing slightly slowed-down versions of songs they played in the late 70s and early 80s. I expected outdated haircuts and some form of punk / wave attitude towards the crowd, if you get my gist.

If this was a gameshow I would have just lost the jackpot. Bam! What we got was a kick-ass fantastic band consisting of members of mixed ages and a gentleman who didn't look his age at all but who you would have definitely associated with the folk genre rather than either punk, new wave, or big hair pop. No gimmicks on stage as in no fancy lighting, no projections, no nothing. Interesting.

Apart from a couple of older numbers - they actually started their set with the biggest hit - the material played mainly spanned the past decade and included quite a few songs from the rap album and a few from the reagge influenced records. As mentioned above, this band was tight and clearly enjoyed performing. It was heart-warming to watch. The crowd was middle-aged and up for it.

The best thing about the evening, really, was frontman (only permanent member and sole songwriter to be precise) Green Gartside's humour. How this man ended up as a musician and not a stand-up comedian is beyond me. I was almost waiting for the songs to end so that I could hear another of his stories (loved the one where he was given Joni Mitchell's guitar in a hotel in LA and felt compelled to use it, so wrote a song - might as well), his jokes, or just his remarks that would set the room into fits of laughter. Absolutely wonderful.

So yes, to summarise, I was slightly disappointed with the choice of songs being performed but delighted by the actual performance of them and inspired by the man Gartside - fresh, young, funny and overall likeable.

Monday 10 December 2012

Review: Crime + Big Eater

New front for Marie-Antoinette
This night could have turned out disastrous. E.D. Sedgwick's flight was cancelled and with that their Berlin performance. Temperatures had taken a dip. The million dollar question: "Were people going to show despite all this?"

Well, as it were, the night couldn't have gone better. Of course it wasn't as packed as if E.D. Sedgwick had played. And of course we didn't hang around outside in the freezing cold. Of course not. But the musical offering was sterling, the crowd party-hungry and loyal, and almost everyone there knowing each other. I was reminded of those days when gigs were from my friends for their friends - a social happening you couldn't miss or you were the only one who didn't get the inside jokes weeks later at the dinner party.

I have a massive soft spot for Al Burian. Not only do I value this gentleman as a person but also as a great performer. Not many are this good at living the old punk attitude "I don't give a f**k" in this day and age without doing a dated street punk thing. Mr. Burian is a normal looking bloke who just loses his mind once a microphone has been handed to him. This holds true for his readings as much as for his musical endeavours. Big Eater, his latest project, was new to me. They have been very active these past few months but I had not managed to go see them play yet. But I have got to say I am very impressed. Rhythmic post punk from the three piece onstage while Al goes nuts at the crowd off-stage. I am sure a few people in the crowd were intimidated and that's what it's all about, isn't it? To challenge you, to move you, to question and push yourself. They have a couple more shows lined up - go see them while they are still underrated.

In case you have not been following this blog, Crime is a project by Mika Risiko of Sissters and Sarah Adorable. Very dance and electronically driven, and as such fitting in with a lot of the current rave trend, their punk rock roots remain evident. What they do is not new by any stretch, but these ladies are good at it, their songs being catchy and dancy. And this is what people at Marie-Antoinette did this night. The minor sound issues experienced could not stop those who were up for a good time. Crime like people and people like Crime, so wherever this duo appears, smiles and moving hips ensue. 

 A very easy and fun evening with nobody sad they had showed up despite the absence of the original headliner. Btw, a replacement headline act to please dance-hungry folks had been recruited in the form of Butterclock. However, I was too exhausted from a long week to make it a dance night, in case you wonder why there is one act missing in my review. 

Preview: the week ahead (10th - 16th Dec)

OK, so I preferred wandering through the snow filled streets of Mitte over the weekend instead of writing a preview for you. Screw me. But what's a girl to do when the concert season will just not end but run into late December? Augen zu und durch! Here is what is up over the coming days. Mostly classics that is.

Cheap Time at White Trash Fast Food: Garage punk with a grunge influence from Nashville, Tennessee. Really quite good. Fun.
Matthew Shelton and Geordie Little at Madame Claude: Folk singer-songwriter Mr. Shelton will delight fans of the genre at Madame Claude's campfire session tonight. Beautiful stuff you cannot miss really if this is your cup of tea as much as it is mine. Australian-turned-Berliner Ms Little is supporting. Yum.

Converge at SO36: If you appreciate some good ol' HC every now and so often (remember that Unbroken gig?), then Converge, boygroup of the genre, should be your choice this Wednesday. This is going to rock so hard but don't pout when you have your drink knocked over by a bunch of crazy kids. Meet me there! Cannot wait!
Mission of Burma at Festsaal: For a band to have been around since the 1970s and still be cool and relevant is some feat. Mission of Burma not only manage that but they also continue to pioneer the post-punk genre over and again. I first got to listen to these folks when I was a child and my mum was listening to Mission of Burma. These days it's my friends who play their records on repeat. Expect a review from J.
The Raveonettes at Bi Nuu: This duo gets the hearts of indie kids racing. Like most groups in our preview this week, the band has been around for some time now, yet manages to stay relevant and new. The venue is rather small for a Raveonettes show so show up early and dance the night away to their indie pop pearls.

Die Nerven and Big Eater at Monarch: Dark wave noise group Die Nerven are playing a relatively small show at cosy Monarch. And another chance to experience Berlin locals' Big Eater (review of their gig at M-A here). This is going to be good and should be your choice for this Thursday.

Pollens and Meta at Antje Öklesund: The event PR text reads: "They’re masters of captivating, interlocking African rhythms and dazzling, intricate vocal interplay among their well-oiled, gender-balanced, six-person lineup." Doesn't that sound exciting to you? Well, it does to me. Basically, Pollens of Seattle are the kind of group that do something you know (indie dance) and then jumble it up in a way that you have not heard before (minimalist, rhythmic). Reminds me a lot of Heart It Races by Architecture In Helsinki - as if Pollens had taken the concept of the song and made a band of it. I like, a lot.
White Fence and V Mac at West Germany: C*'s gig of the week. Fantastic 60s garage beat inspired night at West Germany. Don your best teadress, do you hair, preferrably with grease, and dance the night away with us. Yummy yum.

Dark Dark Dark at Bi Nuu: The stunningly melancholic tunes of Dark Dark Dark (the name really fits) will be an absolute perfect match to the snow outside. Thee soundtrack for a cold winter, a heart-break or just if you want to relax and let your thoughts drift. Highly recommended.
The Blank VRS and Sunflowerstarfish at Madame Claude: A combination of experimental dance music and industrially influenced dark wave is what The Blank VRS excel at. In the small and dark setting of Madame Claude, this gig could really turn out very special.
Redd Kross at Magnet Club: Rock legends Redd Kross, having influenced a host of indie rock outfits (musically and in fashion), finally make it to Berlin again, getting the classic rock and indie rock crowds into a frenzy. This is going to be oh so good.

Sunday 9 December 2012

Review: Full Blast (Brötzmann/Pliakas/Wertmüller) + Chris Corsano/Clayton Thomas

I was excited before this one. Not only to see Chris Corsano again but also to see Peter Brötzmann live for the first time. In the end this was an intense evening that showed how versatile "free jazz" can be.

When I arrived at Festsaal Kreuzberg just a few minutes after 9pm, Chris Corsano and Clayton Thomas were already playing, so Festsaal again stuck tight to their schedule. But I didn't miss much and was able to easily make my way to the front and watch the rest of the show. 
I saw Corsano and Thomas performing as a duo together a year ago, also at Festsaal (review from that show here), so I sort of knew what to expect. But some things still turned out very differently. 

This time, they played to a totally different crowd, probably just because the target audience for an indie/experimental evening like the last one (supporting Nisennenmondai and Oneohtrix Point Never) totally differs from the one for a "free jazz" show like this. And I think it's rather safe to estimate the average age of this night's audience to be significantly higher than the shows that usually take place at Festsaal Kreuzberg. Also, in a certain way, this felt like the most, let's call it ordinary, set-up I ever saw Corsano perform in.

Quick review: The Jon Spencer Blues Explosion

Oh my godness. Guitar godness that is. Jon Spencer called the crowds to Festsaal and they came aplenty. No snow could deter these folks. Festsaal was sold out and boiling despite minus degrees and inches of snow outside.

And they got rewarded. With great guitar madness, ridiculously good rhythm and a fantastic sound. The man Jon Spencer, having aged a little like we all do, still knows how to delight the masses with his fusion of blues and garage rock, as well as rocking out skills to die for.

When he came on to the scene in the 90s, people may have laughed (while strangely enjoying themselves) but 20 years, on the concept has proven to be traditional enough for old school blues and rock'n'roll enthusiasts but wild enough for the kids. With his indie label background he is a household name, has influenced many, and his mere presence gives comfort to those who have dabbed in indie music for as long as we have. But it's the wild rock'n'roll parties that this man and his crew will always get the most credit for.

And so Festsaal turned into a hotpot of sexy rock guitars, blues vocals, and intense loudness altogether, with an appreciative crowd shouting along and some troublemakers, too. What a night!

Thursday 6 December 2012

Review: Beak> (again)

Beak> paid Berlin a second visit for the year and after I was so intrigued by their show in July at Berghain's Kantine (read the review here) and also by their newest record, I did not want to miss this chance to see them live again.

This time they played at Bi Nuu, a venue I somehow knew but had not visited yet since it got renamed from Kato. I think they now form some sort of partnership with nearby Lido but I don't really know more about that. I only had very vague memories of the place, since my last Kato visit was a Weakerthans show in 2006. Also I did not remember the venue to be that big and also not that, let's call it "professionally" looking. In a way it has a pretty unpersonal touch but I guess if you run a concert venue for a living you have to make compromises. For a venue of that size I have to say I've seen worse and I didn't feel totally uncomfortable. Although the entry price of 17€ also wasn't exactly on the cheap side.
Without former Bi Nuu experience I had no idea of when their shows start, so when I arrived somewhen between 9.30pm and 10pm I had completely missed the support band. Good to know for possible future visits. At least I didn't have to wait long, as Beak> were already on stage and more or less ready to start playing. The room was pretty full and at first I was stuck at the back and it took me some while to elbow my way through this huge mass of people not willing to either let me through nor do anything besides standing, staring and/or loudly talking to each other. I somehow managed to come closer to the stage and at least I felt a bit less annoyed there and was able to enjoy the show.

Tuesday 4 December 2012

Soft Moon at West Germany tonight

If you planned on watching Sewn Leather at West Germany tonight read this! The Soft Moon just posted on Facebook:

Due to circumstances beyond our control, SEWN LEATHER will not be playing West Germany tonight, they say, the show must go on! So in true community spirit, THE SOFT MOON will now be playing
a special live set instead! Come on down and join DRACULA LEWIS and THE SOFT MOON as they end their Euro tour in true DIY style. The Berlin way! Doors at 9:00 pm!

Monday 3 December 2012

Preview: the week ahead (3rd - 9th Dec)

The first snow - depening on whether you are 9 or 34 years old, this is either extremely exciting or rather depressing. Luckily, the calendar has not yet gone into winter hybernation. In fact, there is, once again, such an offering as to give us constant worries that we may be missing out on stuff if we are not out every night of the week, which we are not. First World problems, for you, on The Craze:

Lower Dens at Kantine am Berghain: Lower Dens = Jana Hunter with band: Wavey music with a good beat and Miss Hunter's deep but melodic vocals - special to many people and a highly anticipated gig.
Les Trucs and Cat'n'Guyen at Schokoladen: Les Trucs do what I call "Nintendo noise". It will probably blow your mind and challenge you, but hey, that's what we are here for. Be there for 7:30 pm - it's Schokoladen

Tim Hecker and Monolake at HAU1: Pitchfork gave Tim Hecker their highest ranking, so naturally, we are intrigued. And it turns out that this is indeed interesting. As J. put it nicely: "creepy ambient drift music for those who like postrock without the rock". Monolake = dark minimal electro, at times in a cut up collage style with a lot of ambient samples, probably appealing to fans of Pantha Du Prince or to those who want to like Autechre but then find Autechre that little bit too challenging.
BEAK> at Bi Nuu: Beak> is a UK based band featuring Geoff Barrow from Portishead, who also plays in Anika (review of their last Berlin gig here). They play experimental and dubby music and are pretty much awesome! For fans of Anika, Excepter, or Peaking Lights and for J., who went in July and still hasn't stopped talking about that gig.
The Pyramids at Roter Salon: No, of course the 1960s surf rock legends are not playing at Roter Salon this week. Sorry if we got you excited there. But these guys have been around some time, too, since the early 70s to be precise, playing psychedelic jazz with African roots elements in a respectable fashion. It's quirky yet rocking and certainly mind-expanding. Be there if you want to see legends in action.

Zammuto at Kantine am Berghain: Fans of The Books listen up! The band's very own Nick Zammuto is performing with this solo project and it's weird and wonderful. Drum heavy with electronica elements and vocals that sound like Japanese computer games from the late 80s.  
Sewn Leather and Dracula Lewis at West Germany: J. and my favourite genre must be "weirdo noise with electronic bits and jazz influences" - it's what gets us well excited. And oh what surprise, that is exactly what Sewn Leather do. They convinced the crowd at bei Roy last year and they will kick ass this Tuesday, too. Dracula Lewis is doing his mystic slow dub and the Soft Moon guys, who are throwing this party in the first place, will be your DJs for the night. C*'s gig of the week.

Jeremy Jay and Oum Shatt at Ritter Butzke: K Records protegé Jeremy Jay is making another appearance in our town, gracing us with his pop pearls. Why this man is not a superstar is beyond me - musically pleasing to just about anybody, he is also a sterling performer. This is going to be special, be there!

Peter Brötzmann, Marino Pliakas, Michael Wertmüller and Chris Corsano & Clayton Thomas at Festsaal Kreuzberg: besides Beak>, this is J.'s choice for gig of the week. Chris Corsano and Clayton Thomas alone got me excited enough to be looking forward to this show for a while now. Their last appearance at Festsaal Kreuzberg was pretty amazing, read about it here. The main act forms around Peter Brötzmann, after 40 years of being active as a musician still one of the most influental musicians in what you could call new music and free jazz.
Adrian Crowley and Cyann at Monarch: The melancholic tunes and deep, warming voice of Irishman Adrian Crowley are the soundtrack to many people's rainy days. Beautiful and relaxing, he brings to your home the quality of a big hug, a woollen throw and a hot cup of cocoa, all the while making you that little bit sad that actually feels good. Many are exremely excited about this gig, and rightly so. Let's hope it's raining, or even better, snowing on Thursday, so that you can look at Kotti in through Monarch's windows while Mr. Crowley's voice will embrace you.

The June Brides + MJ Hibbett & The Validators + Eddie Argos & The Lo Fi Punk Rock Motherfuckers + Michael Knight at Marie-Antoinette: The June Brides should be known to fans of 1980s indie pop, bringing to you that typical British sound reminiscent of the time. They are still going strong, giving a rare performance at our cosy Marie-Antoinette this Saturday. With them, there will be sterling, predominently British, support line-up, for example Eddie Argos of Art Brut fame and his friends. Party of the week - expect some serious late night dancing to 80s classics and the likes.
Crystal Castles at Postbahnhof: Truth be told, I am a fan. Not only do I love their collaborations, e.g. the one with Health. I love the musical concept and the results of this group. Coolness to the max, yet so punk. The gig is sold out, and I think rightly so. The last time I watched them was at Maria years ago, and it blew my mind. This is going to be grand, so if you have a way of getting in, do it!
Chinese Man at Bi Nuu: It is not often that we feature live DJs on The Craze. But how could we resist when someone combines jazz and electronica in such a skillful manner? Chinese Man is a master of electronica, with not just jazz but hip hop, funk, folk, and experimental elements thrown in. A maze ing.

Eine Welt aus Hack are presenting their THEE AUSSTELLUNG II and again and they have put together a pretty special program. Matana Roberts, saxophone player and improviser on Constellation records will perform live, there will be a theatre play and a movie. Also there will be "something else" and something else is always nice! 

Pinback and Will Simson at BiNuu: Pinback regularly visit Berlin to play concerts while on tour. Yet I still haven't managed to actually attend one and I always ask myself afterwards why. They come from the surroundings of bands like Black Heart Procession and Three Mile Pilot and if you are into that, you'll definitely like what Pinback do. 
The Jon Spencer Blues Explosion at Festsaal Kreuzberg: Jon Spencer is still going? What? Yes sir! And word on street is that he is as great a dancer as ever. Oh, and the music rocks, too. I am old enough to remember when he first hit the indie scene with his blues, funk and garage mix, uncommon in indie music then, but these days the word legend is probably appropriate. Many people have been influenced by the music of Jon Spencer and his Blues Explosion, as much as by his performing manners and skills - think James Brown meets Johnny Lydon. F'real.

Tuesday 27 November 2012

Quick Review: Nicoffeine

Ah, it's always good to explore new parts of Berlin's culture. Well, Neukölln isn't really unknown territory, but have you ever heard of the small basement place called Boom!? I hadn't, so I was pretty curious when someone gave me the flyer to Nicoffeine's show on Saturday there.

Nicoffeine is part of this late 90s till now West German noiserock scene around the (maybe) well-known label BluNoise and their mastermind Guido Lucas, who played in and recorded thousand of bands. To be honest, I only discovered Nicoffeine last year when they released their 4th album Lighthealer Stalking Flashplayer and I had missed them everytime they played in Berlin since. Argh!

So, I found myself in rural Neukölln in a fuzzy cliché party basement sitting on a comfy couch and missing out the opening act Grow Grow. The few things I remember were a powerfull bass sound and an overacting singer/guitar player. Nevermind.

Only a few people stayed when Nicoffeine started their set and it was loud. Screaming loud right from the beginning. A guitar, a bass and a drumset played by old dudes and I loved it instantly from the the first tune. Described as blend of noise, drone, no wave, sludge, psychedelia and avantgarde, they crossed every border. Their performance I reminded me strongly of Japanese act Les Rallizes Dénudés, with the feedback giving guitar, the pumping bass, and the jazzy drums. 

After finishing their set, we took our bikes home happy and with ringing ears and discussed the importance of Musikhaus Bading and the political issues of Futurism. The whole night was the best possible way of spending a Saturday night. 

Oh baby! U.S. Girls this Friday

I don't need another incentive to go to Monarch this Friday, really, I am excited enough as it is. But that ain't enough for Megan Remy, oh no. She has just released this self-directed video for "Slim Baby". Oh baby, oh yum!

Preview addition: Scritti Politti

Even though I have known about this gig for some time, we somehow missed adding it to the calendar and subsequently it did not make this week's preview. 

British left-wing post-punk band Scritti Politti are performing this Thursday at HAU1. I have been told that recent performances have been really good. And who really knows how many times they will return to Berlin in future. Head on over, enjoy one of their energetic performances, all the while getting a music history lesson on experimental post-punk and 80s synth pop and be able to say "yeah, sure I went to see Scritti Politti" to your grandchildren one day. I mean, they used to tour with Joy Division and Gang of Four but then played inspiration to so many big hair synth pop bands!

Monday 26 November 2012

Quick review: Zombie Zombie

Zombie Zombie - what a band! 

I am not even sure "band" is right term for this project, which really consists of an electronic music equipment nerd and two ridiculously talented drummers. The group looks like a bunch of jazz musicians, which I am sure they really are, like in real life. But they create dance music unlike any other. Of course you could loosely categorise it with !!! (Chk Chk Chk), Radio 4 or Battles. Or you could admit that they do a thing of their own that is unique.

What sounds great on record, is absolutely amazing live and the only way to truly experience their music. There are no pre-programmed parts played from a MacBook, while someone pushes a couple of keys with it. No sir! This is all created live, with tons of knobs and buttons and a joystick - yes, you read me right. Meanwhile, the two drummers go an a coordinated, coreographed drumming frenzy the way I have maybe only seen Foot Village manage to perform. It is not only hard to stand still - in fact nobody at Festsaal did - the performance is also extremely pleasing visually. 

To add to all this amazingness, Zombie Zombie have that certain French oh la la. Though I am absolutely aware of the cheesiness of this statement, I know no other way to describe it. Neat, arty, nerdy, anarchistic and cute. You know what I am saying. 

After my dip into the Wild Nothing gig earlier that night, Zombie Zombie managed to absolutely blow me away, make me shake vigorously and kicked my ass, all the while putting a smile on my face with their undeniable sense of humour. Magnificent!

Quick review: Ariel Pink's Haunted Graffiti

I experienced a déjà-vu yesterday when the same crowd from that John Maus gig showed up Festsaal to give that same amount of admiration to Ariel Pink, yet again failed to actually celebrate (with) the band. It made me wonder where these people that you never see at gigs suddenly emerge from and seemingly spoil an otherwise amazing show for me.

Bitterness aside, Ariel Pink and his band was in top form and possibly at their best I have seen them to date. The show was well thought out, yet punk, with the entire performance being filmed on a camcorder and projected live on to the backdrop screen. In fact, the first two songs, the band played on stage, while Ariel Pink was only visible in projected from on the screen. And the impact when he then made his entrance for song three! Wow. He actually sang among the crowd most of the time, turning to the band in the same way as the audience. Alt-pop with a great sound in a punk setting for the people. It was grand!

Spot Mr. Pink

They played for almost 1.5 hours and a large array of their material. He gave us all we wanted - now if people would have gone nearly as crazy as they did at Lovelite or Marie-Antoinette, this could have turned into this year's number one party. But somehow, that last spark that makes people lose their minds just didn't ignite. A great shame but, still, another fanstastic show at Festsaal - venue of the year, hands down!

Sunday 25 November 2012

Review: Deerhoof + Chris Cohen

Finally, a Deerhoof show again. I was looking forward to this for some time and even the fact that I didn't really get into their newest record did not bother me at all as I knew from previous shows that they're an awesome live band. And again, they confirmed that fact.

I arrived at Festsaal Kreuzberg just after Chris Cohen started to play, so I quickly made my way into a decently filled room to check him and his band out. I had not really listened to their stuff before, I just knew that he used to play guitar for Deerhoof for some time. What he played with his current band did not really impress me. It was very fluffy and catchy indie rock music and, for me, it was probably just that little bit too fluffy and catchy to be interesting. I would not exactly call it boring, but there was nothing that really struck me as interesting. I watched a couple of songs and although I could not really make out which band(s) their music reminded me of, I still had the feeling that it somehow sounded familiar the whole time.

After some time of rebuilding the stage awesomeness ensued. Deerhoof started to play and I immediately knew this would be more than good. The sound was great and the atmosphere in the audience was buzzing. 

I still have no idea how they do this, but Deerhoof manage to combine so many seemingly not combinable aspects and everything forms this entirely consistent thing in the end. There are these tiny and cute melodies combined with frantic drumming. There is Satomi Matsuzaki's high voice combined with mean and heavyily distorted guitar riffs. There are song parts that are noisy and dancy at the same time. And although every record they release sounds different to the ones they released before, it still sounds like Deerhoof in a way. 

Saturday 24 November 2012

Preview: the week ahead (26th Nov - 2nd Dec)

This week's preview is not quite as crazy as those of the past few weeks. It's not that there is too little to do in this town this week, far from it, but we have stuck to the gems in the calendar. With so man exciting events lately, we felt it was a good idea to go back to basics: gigs that get our hearts racing. Yup.

Plaided and Just Friends And Lovers at Schokoladen: Fettkakao is a label from Austria that has been making waves in the twee indie pop scene for a while. And both bands can be categorised in that genre. Think early Kill Rock Stars / K Records and some Austrian charme. Early night, as in Schokoladen.
Nick Waterhouse and The Allah-Las at Lido: Some good oldschool rock'n'roll and soul from Los Angeles native, songwriter, and producer Nick Waterhouse. However, it's The Allah-Las I am excited about on this bill. 60s inspired rock'n'pop à la early Rolling Stones. Definitely for fans of Strange Boys, etc, and very good. A treat. Unfortunately, the gig is sold out, so you may have to turn to Kleinanzeigen or show up hopeful to get in. I reckon The Allah-Las my be worth it.

Oh No! Yoko and BDYBLDNG at Tiefgrund: Mathcore meets indie rock when Canadians Oh No! Yoko play. Quirky and clever. Support from locals BDYBLDNG.
Toy at Comet Club: Definitely a strong contender for gig of the week, that is, if I wasn't so obsessed with U.S. Girls. Anyway, Toy, the British rock band, not the German pop one, don a 70s rock look but play indie rock the way indie rock should be and sounded in its hayday of 1993: Fuzzy, rhythmic and melodic, making shy boys sway while staring at the floor and extrovert girls dance wildly on the half-empty floor of the indie disco. Grunge revival - take a chunk of this! They are one of the best bands around at the moment. Regardless of whether you listened to Dinosaur Jr. too much in 1990 or if you were queuing to see Diiv for hours earlier this month, make sure you do the same to Toy.

Stanley Brinks at Schokoladen: Now here is an exciting gig we only found out about a few days ago. Safe to say, our hearts beat faster instantly. Stanley Brinks, of Herman Düne fame, is releasing his new album, celebrating it in style at Schokoladen (as in at 7 pm). Melancholic pop with clever lyrics that make you smile. Don't miss out! You could even be gig hopping, as I will when I treck over to...
Peaches and Jolly-Goods at Festsaal: The lady has been so busy with theatre productions and the likes, we actually haven't been treated to the teaches of Peaches in a gig setting in a while. It looks like it takes Missy Magazine to organise a party. I am a big fan, I am not going to deny that, and an admirer. This woman has done a lot for us females, realise it or not. And in such a dancable fashion. C'mon! Jolly-Goods should get a few people out to Kotti, too. And then there is the worthy cause of supporting Germany's only real women's magazine...

U.S. Girls & Slim Twig at Monarch: Gig of the week. Read my review from two years ago and find out why I love this artist. Also, the new album on Fat Cat is so incredibly good, I absolutely cannot wait to witness the new material live. For fans of Austra, CocoRosie, John Maus, Jeans Wilder. A cannot miss kinda thing. Slim Twig is the perfect collaboration, too. See you there! 

The Chameleons Vox play Magnet again: This reincarnation of the Chameleons is pretty close to the original band from the 80s. I saw their last show at Magnet and I was very impressed, take your chance to hear these amazing songs live! Without the Chameleons, bands like Interpol, Editors and comparable would either never have existed or at least not sound the way they do.
Sven Kacirek and Piano Interrupted at Radialsystem V: Sven Kacirek is a drummer and percussionist who could loosely be categorised as jazz, however, he has collaborated with Kenian musicians, among other projects, and endeavours to progress his sound continuously. Very impressive. Piano Interrupted is one of those "it does exactly what it says on the tin" kind of cases. It is melancholic jazz piano, very beautiful, interrupted by other elements of the trio. Meet Norman there for an evening of amazingness.

Friday 23 November 2012

Line-up change tonight at M-A

Y'all, E.D. Sedwick's flight was cancelled and the band will not be playing at Marie-Antoinette tonight. However, Crime are still going to perform and are well worthy your attention. Also, Butterclock has been found as replacement act and should please the dance-hungry among you. See you later!

Thursday 22 November 2012

Quick review: Wild Nothing + Grey Television

I successfully gig hopped again the other night, going to see Wild Nothing at White Trash before heading to Festsaal for Zombie Zombie. This seems to become a regular occurence in my life. This town can really kill you.

White Trash was packed, I mean absolutely rammed. It may have been the fullest I have seen it for a gig. There is clearly a buzz surrounding Wild Nothing, and as I have previously mentioned, I believe it's deserved. 

But first things first: Grey Television, locals to Berlins with an ambition, played a full set of Notwist and Radiohead inspired music, accompanied by seaside projections. It was a very relaxing affair, which got the audience excited and at ease at the same time. During the crescendos of some of their songs, it did get a little close to melodramatic bands like Coldplay for me. However, this makes them more commercially digestible and might just work in their favour. It is interesting to see where they will head with this.

Note to DJ: AC/DC absolutely rocks but an entire album is not the appropriate soundtrack for a packed Wild Nothing gig. 

Wild Nothing, a name so often mentioned in music nerd circles, is actually a relatively young man, who looks like your typical college lecture attendant. You would never guess that this young gentleman writes the most encompassing pop songs, heavily influenced by independent wave music of the 80s and indie pop music of the 90s. Every song is instantly recognisable yet not boring and draws you in. The record has been a firm favourite of mine of over a year now - I just cannot get enough of it. Live, a band in tow, it sounded exactly like the record but maybe lacked energy a little. I attribute this to a packed White Trash, which is the perfect setting for Wavves or Thee Oh Sees but definitely struggled to paint the adequate setting for dream pop à la Wild Nothing. Still, I really enjoyed his voice, as I always do. 

I made my exit early to get to Festsaal, just in time for Zombie Zombie...