Saturday 31 March 2012

Review: The Shins

So c* and I got lucky: we were invited to see the Shins play at Huxleys. I had never been to a concert there before and since I'm not really keen on large concert venues I was a bit worried. At least it turned out better than I had expected.

I always thought of the Shins as a good band, especially as one of the few "indie rock" bands worth listening to. Nonetheless I kind of lost track of them over the last few years for no particular reason. What I liked about them was that they wrote good songs. Their records were full of detailed melodies and fluffy vocals. They never had those typical and lame indie rock 'verse-chorus-verse' sing-a-long songs. They wrote songs that were much more complicated but nevertheless always catchy at the same time.

And that's where my problem with this concert was. We are talking about a quite large sold-out venue and I have to admit that despite being sold-out, Huxleys was surprisingly comfortable. But the sound was kind of typically large venue bad. It was relatively muddy and I think my biggest problem was that it was more the sound of a rock band, than a sound that I would have found suitable for the Shins. I mean a ROCK band sound with big punchy drums and with pumping bass. I also think I would not have missed the additional keyboards and percussions if it hadn't been there. The sound wasn't very differentiated and it kind of drowned all the fluffy detailed melodies that make the Shins special to me.

But anyway, what was left was a good band (I have to point out the amazing guitar player, I think she saved a huge amount of the songs with the way she played) playing a huge amount of "old" hits I could still relate to and which I still liked. They performed a very unpretentious and solid set, accompanied by quite nice lighting and visuals. Time passed quickly and after an encore of three final songs they left stage, having played almost an hour and a half.

We hung out for a while afterwards, finding out all about the album cover, which we had been intrigued about, and just spending some quality time. It was mighty late when we ventured home. The concert hadn't fully lived up to our expectations but the Shins are a nice band and it we got a pleasant enough evening out of it.

Tuesday 27 March 2012

cooking with Earth

We are extremely excited about the Earth / Mount Eerie gig on Saturday, have bought our tickets and everything. Yay.

In the meantime, we shall be cooking with nettles, as suggested by Earth bass player, and Mount Eerie collaborateur, Karl Blau:

Quick review: Duke Spirit

OK, so a whole while ago I was invited to see Duke Sprit at Columbia Club. It was rather enjoyable. The Club was nowhere sold out but those that were there were proper fans, dancing and singing. I didn't expect that, to be honest. 

Duke Spirit have definitely popped up their music a bit. It's more classic pop rock now, rather than the darker bluesy stuff they used to do. Which is a bit of a shame, but understandable. And they have the look and attitude to go with their new style. It works, even if it's not entirely my thing.

Btw looks, that was a lot of hair on that stage. Every band member had a different extravagant hairstyle - afro, hippie long hair, hipster quiff, you name it - and was displaying it with all their might, running hands through hair regularly. It was a lot of fun to watch.

We all spent the evening afterwards with the band down in the catacombs of C Club. The evening was pleasant enough and we were glad we'd gone when we walked home fairly early that Saturday night.

Monday 26 March 2012

Preview: the week ahead (26th Mar - 1st Apr)

We are running a bit late with the preview this week and we apologise. But not to worry: You haven't missed anything yet. And there is a lot of good stuff on this week that one could potentially miss. But that's what we're here for - to make sure you have a good time around town.

WU LYF at Bi Nuu: If you like your synth pop à la MGMT and Coco Rosie (and I realise we don't all do) this is a rare chance to see this heavy pop group in a relatively cosy setting. Believe me, they play much bigger venues elsewhere.

Daniel Menche and Sudden Infant at West-Germany: two great experimental noise acts share the bill on this one. Both somehow dark and a bit harsh. If that's your thing, you know where to head on this Wednesday. If it's not, there's plenty of other stuff to see.
the Shins at Huxleys: I've never been to a show at Huxleys but the Shins would be sort of an appropriate reason to try it out. There's not much to say about them you won't already know... one of the few "indie pop" bands that are actual worth closer examination.
the Chap at Berghain Kantine: c* is a fan of The Chap, weirdo intelligent dancable indie act, but for complicated reasons will not be at this gig but seeing the Shins instead. For everyone else though, if you can still get in (I have no idea), go to this and jig the night away.

fnessnej, ampl:tude and Paper Planes at about:blank: fnessnej = really good fun electro dance punk music. supported by local heroes ampl:tude, doing a similar thing. an evening for those who have a sense of humour and like to dance.

The Great Park and Holly Mae & The Painted Room at Madame Claude: Stephen Burch is bringing his melancholic folk music and poetic lyrics to Madame Claude tonight and it's going to be extremely sweet. Go see!!

Earth, Mount Eerie and Ô Paon at Festsaal Kreuzberg: What a nice line-up. Phil Elverum's post Microphones band Mount Eerie alone would be well worth another visit of Festsaal Kreuzberg. Combined with Earth this promises to be an awesome evening.
Here's a new Mount Eerie song from the forthcoming album to get you in the mood:

Polite Sleeper, Des Ark, Sissters and Jason & Theodor at Monster Ronsons: End of Des Ark and Sissters Europe tour gets celebrated at this Mini Festival. Check what we wrote about both of them before and add Polite Sleepers nice indie folk and Jason & Theodor to the bill. Sounds like fun.

Friday 23 March 2012

Berliner Festspiele "Musik-Film-Marathon"

Oh, this sounds pretty interesting. The Berliner Festspiele show some great movies about music, musicians or just featuring interesting music.
Check out their website for further info (also available in english). Here's a direct link to the music film program.
Here's a small choice of movies I'd recommend watching:
  • Mi. 11.04.: GESANG DER JÜNGLINGE and HELICOPTER STRING QUARTET (both with music from Karlheinz Stockhausen)
  • Fr. 13.04.: THE DEVIL AND DANIEL JOHNSTON (great documentary about the somehow sad and interesting life of Daniel Johnston, his music and his mental illness)
  • Mo. 16.04.: WHAT THE FUTURE SOUNDED LIKE and  THE ALCHEMISTS OF SOUND (two documentary movies about early electronic music; both with an introduction and discussion from Wolfgang Seidel, free entry!)
  • Tue. 17.04.: KRAUTROCK – THE REBIRTH OF GERMANY (pretty good documentary about Krautrock, a must see when you're into music from Neu!, Kraftwerk, Can, Amon Düül,... ; also with an introduction and discussion from Wolfgang Seidel, free entry!)
  • Sa. 21.04.: ONE11 AND 10 (John Cage's first and only movie, expect some crazy 94 minutes!)

"The end of an era, on becoming anachronistic, aging jammers , gentrifying the underground & breaking up the band"

Chloe from Aids Wolf wrote an interesting article about "The end of an era, on becoming anachronistic, aging jammers , gentrifying the underground & breaking up the band."

Read it here on her blog:

Tonight: Volcano The Bear

For some reason, please don't ask why, we have only just found out that the amazing Volcano The Bear are playing at KaterHolzig tonight. You like weird? You like atmosphere? You like cool? This is for you. Highly recommended indeed.

Check out the details on the facebook event page or on the KaterHolzig website.

Thursday 22 March 2012

Quick review: tUnE-yArDs

This was only the third time I went to see tUnE-yArDs in concert and there will be many more occasions. Because this lady rocks and amazes, over and over. Her performances get better every time, her song-writing skills develop with every album release, the musical influences reach further with every song. 

There are reasons Merrill Garbus, genius behind one-woman project tUnE-yArDs, has seen such success on the back of this album, especially in the USA and England. Not only are her songs innovative yet catchy, challenge people but also move them with their minimalism and expressionism, but she is also extremely likable - a big personality to fill the gap on the pop music circuit. We have been missing big personalities; we need them to draw us into their world yet have us in awe. 

Festsaal was dancing, Festsaal was clapping, singing, shouting, smiling. A grand night that lived up to expetations and topped them. She does it time and again. We love thee, tUnE-yArDs.

dig the digger

J. sent me this last night and absolutely made my day!
Btw: The Diamond Road Show is coming to Monarch on 30 May.

Monday 19 March 2012

Preview: the week ahead (19th - 25th Mar)

So there is this nice spring weather topic. I'm not going into detail on that. There are also some pretty cool concerts to be visited this week. So I'm just going a little bit more into detail on these:

Rocky Votolato at Magnet Club: I didn't even know that Rocky Votolato is still around. You know, the guy from Waxwing. I always considered him one of the better indie singer songwriter guys. I have no idea if I'd like his newer stuff, but I think this could end in a nice Tuesday evening concert at a shitty club.

Okkyung Lee at bei Roy: this could be something if you're into experimental/free jazz music. Okkyung Lee is a cellist living in New York. She plays a solo performance this evening and in addition a second set together with three other musicians (further info here). Okkyung Lee has performed with a variety of other notable artists, so if you're into John Zorn, Thurston Moore, Carla Bozulich (Evangelista), Chris Corsano... well just check this out, it's gonna be good!

Child Abuse and Staer at Schokoladen: As I just experienced, searching for "Child Abuse" on Google doesn't get you that far when you're looking for that band. It also feels a bit weird to like Child Abuse on Facebook. But whatever, they're not only worth a "like" but certainly also a visit to luckily ongoing Schokoladen this Thursday. Child Abuse play pretty chaotic and noisy hardcore. Think of an experimental grindcore band between the Locust and Aids Wolf. As usual: remember to be on time, it's an early show!

Prinzhorn Dance School at Berghain Kantine: This will certainly be good! Prinzhorn Dance School is a duo from England play dancy minimalistic post punk. Think of a mix between Antelope and The Fall and you maybe won't be that close but probably in the mood to get yourself to the Berghain Kantine.

Father Murphy at bei Roy: If you missed Father Murphy's last concert couple of weeks ago, this is your second chance in a way better and suitable location than before. Father Murphy play some rather weird but also great music. It's hard to describe but think of Xiu Xiu in their more experimental phases, add some surfy guitar and some industrial noises and you get a slight hint. There are some more bands playing, check this site for further info and something to listen to.

*and as usual: check out our calendar on the bottom of the page to see what else is going on this week.*

Wednesday 14 March 2012


On short notice but nonetheless: there's some more cool stuff this week. If you have nothing to do this evening and are in the mood for some ambient experimental drone stuff, you might want to go to NK. They've got a pretty nice line-up including Nadja and two other projects (Off the International Radar and Portraits), both featuring some great musicians like Jefre Cantu-Ledesma and Bill Kouglias. All of them got featured here before and I'm pretty sure this is well worth a visit.

Also there's some pretty interesting free jazz stuff going on at Altes Finazamt tonight. See the complete line-up on the facebook event page, if the Chris Corsano/Clayton Thomas Review from before got you interested you might visit this one, as Clayton Thomas is also taking part here.

And last but not least, bei Roy is waking up from it's winter sleep and opening again. They have an opening party this Saturday with Canadian/Berlin based electro pop duo Trike and DJ Marcelle. Check their website to see what's up next.

Sunday 11 March 2012

Preview: the week ahead (12th - 18th Mar)

The Berlin calendar seems really free jazz driven this week, which isn't always my thing, but J. likes it and a lot of people do. For everyone else, there is the following:

Pontiak at Jägerklause: Thrill Jockey protegés. Clever. Noisy at times but mostly just rhythmic and pleasing, changing direction within songs. I've always had a soft spot for these guys. You should go. It's the best gig on offer in Berlin this week.

Matt Elliott and Zun Zun Egui at Kater Holzig: Matt Elliott = Quiet, dark and melancholic folk music. Beautiful. For fans of Black Heart Procession. Zun Zun Egui = poppy post-punk. Fun.

Sun Worship at Metalheads exhibition, Gestalten Space: This photography exhibition by Jörg Brüggemann looks fun. For the opening event, our favourite local black metal band is performing. It's an early gig. See you there at 6pm!

Thursday 8 March 2012

Happy International Women's Day!

Forced prostitution. Denial of basic rights. Threat. Inequality. A long way to go.

In the meantime, here is one of the great women of our time, performing in 1976. She's playing in Berlin this summer btw.

Wednesday 7 March 2012

Review: Sleigh Bells

I have been told that on their US tour, Sleigh Bells played all the same venues as The Kills. In Berlin, The Kills comfortably fill Columbiahalle. And Sleigh Bells? They couldn't sell out Festsaal tonight. We were astonished.

But what to do if you are used to big American concert venues and you end up at cozy Festsaal? Simple: try and turn Festsaal into just that - a professional concert house. A double-decker nightliner on Skalitzer Str. required a no-parking zone. A note forbidding all pictures and video filming greeted us at the entrance. Walky talky tech guys onstage. Security outside the backstage door. A rap CD instead of a local DJ starlet. The full works. It bordered on the ridiculous.
On the upside: a mellow, predominantly British audience, surprisingly small-built (as in hardly any tall people) and, I assume, big bar takings for Festsaal. A drink took 20 minutes of queuing.

When the band came on, they were accompanied by a lot of strobe lighting, which was utilised throughout the entire set. And that's the kind of band they are: a strobe light band. A rock chick (think 80s Nena) on vocals, two guys on metal guitars, a drum machine, and a whole lot of strobe lighting.

Musically, we are talking about a mix between Metallica and a slowed-down Crystal Castles with a hip hop beat. It sounds a little dated and reminds me of my crossover teenage years in the mid-nineties. The musical performance was not helped by an atrocious sound mix. Feeding back vocals, too much bass - the band's own sound personnel obviously struggled.

So what did I make of it all? It's fair to say it wasn't my cup of tea in the first place. But I never expected it to be this poor. Sure, the girl knows how to rock, and sure, people loved them. But really, with all the hype surrounding the band, I was hoping for something with more substance. Give these people Atari Teenage Riot. Let them taste real subversiveness. This commercial in-between just doesn't cut it for me.

I am writing this as the group is playing its encore and as I am leaving Festsaal.

Sunday 4 March 2012

Preview: the week ahead (5th - 11th Mar)

In a fit of stupidity, I managed to burn the palm of my left hand last night. hence, typing is kinda difficult now. Means to you: a minimalistic preview.

Sharon van Etten and Aidan Baker at Grüner Salon: I like concerts that combine bands that don't just play similar styles of music. This is one of these. We already wrote stuff about Aidan Baker in the past. He currently resides in Berlin and also plays in Nadja. His solo work is kind of comparable to that, he plays instrumental ambient post rock mostly with just a guitar and foot pedals. Sharon van Etten plays melancholic indie folk acoustic guitar music but she does it really good. Check out her video below, if you like that you know where to go on Tuesday.

The Drums at Postbahnhof: Indie starlets that I love because they are putting the cool back into indie wave music. They would have emerged as superstars had they been born 30 years previously.

Damien Jurado and Find Local Concerts at Comet Club: Damien Jurado is definitely one of the better indie folk singer songwriter guys around. He released quite a bunch of records since 1997 and I don't know all of them, but his latter releases are all pretty neat. Unfortunately this takes place at Comet Club, but well...

Me Succeeds and The Dropout Patrol at about:blank: Hamburg-based electropop-trio Me Succeeds versus local indie stars The Dropout Patrol.
Tindersticks at Volksbühne: I really like the Tindersticks and if you are into melancholic indie music with deep voice and that extra pinch of pathos, you'll like them too. Think of bands like the National and you get a pretty good idea what they sound like. You can watch them again on Thursday if you miss them on Wednesday.

Duke Spirit at Columbia-Club: Theatrical English indie rock in a big setting. C* has been invited to this and will report back.

A Hawk And A Hacksaw at HAU1: For fans of Beirut. Folky duo, traditional style. You will love.
Ceremony, The Lost Rivers and The History Of Colour TV at Marie-Antoinette: The spectrum of 90s inspired music at M-A tonight: post-punk & shoegaze fuzzy indie.
Lazer Crystal and Câlin at about:blank: Thrill Jockey protegés Lazer Crystal play dark wavy dance music with a distinct 80s sound. French duo Câlin do drum-heavy electro pop. End your week dancing!