Thursday, 31 May 2012

Quick review: The Diamond Road Show

Let's just say you cannot go wrong with the Digger. Full stop. And the Pencil. Exclamation mark. 

Digger Barnes' new songs are every bit as great as the older ones. He still performs his one-man-band show with perfection. Pencil Quincy is still the master of live analogue projection. We were yet again mesmerised and didn't want this evening at the crowded Monarch to end. 

Read my review from last year if you need more details about what Digger Barnes and Pencil Quincy do in their Diamond Road Show. But let me tell you: somewhere along the line they stole this little girl's heart. And I'm glad for it.

Teenitus Festival = Yummy!!

I realise that Erfurt is a bit of a travel from Berlin. But this line-up looks oh so good, we felt obliged to let you know about this little festival next month. Consider hitching a ride to what will possibly turn out to be the event of the year.

Review: The Spits + Hunx & His Punx

When J. believes Codeine could be gig of the year, I will throw this one into the contest. It was my funnest night out of the year so far, that's for sure. All the anticipation of the previous months (yes, it was months) paid off. What a night!

Ever since Gravy Train!!!! supported Le Tigre in London many years ago, I was a fan of not only Gravy Train!!!! but also Hunx' own project Hunx & His Punx. I am not usually one who appreciates in-your-face offensivness that seems to have no meaning other than trying to piss you off or shock (I mean, really, what's shocking in this day and age??). Whether Hunx' intention is to shock you for the sake of it, whether he sees some message behind it, or whether he is just so crazy that he doesn't even think his antics might be shocking to some, I cannot tell. But I absolutely adore his openly sexual and over-the-top dramatic performances, be it in video or live on stage.

I had actually missed his last gig in Berlin at Cortina Bob and was ever so glad when I heard he was coming back. As the date of The Spits' gig grew nearer, I was actually getting more excited about the support act than about the headliner, guiltily so.

Wednesday, 30 May 2012

Review: Codeine

To get straight to the point, this is a promising candidate for concert of the year. I'm still in awe...

After arriving at Festsaal Kreuzberg and hanging out in the yard for a while we entered the venue and secured premium spots on the balcony. Schneider TM supported Codeine this night and he started pretty soon after we sat down. I wasn't familiar with what he does and expected some fluffy electronic music, for that was what I connected him with. Basically I only knew his remix of There Is A Light That Never Goes Out by the Smiths... Tonight he did something completely different and played his second live solo electric guitar set ever. It was a mixture of postrock style layers of guitar melodies and pretty loud noisy parts that reminded me of something between Sonic Youth and Dinosaur Jr. It wasn't all bad but it didn't really catch my attention and I just found it too "rock".

Being aware of the fact that the room would fill up quickly, we decided to keep our balcony spots and waited until Codeine appeared on stage. They originally broke up in 1994, so I knew that this is another reunion of a band that hasn't been around for quite a while. Nonetheless I had high expectations and was quite excited before the concert.

Tuesday, 29 May 2012


Not that I need to get any more excited about the Liars gig next month, but NPR is also streaming the entire new album at the moment and, let me tell you, it's amazing.

Monday, 28 May 2012

Review: Extra Life

Imagine you went and mixed Devo with Health, two of my all-time favourite bands, and then threw in some free jazz and psychedelic metal guitars. Sounds weird? Well, Extra Life are weird. But so much fun.

When we arrived it looked as if nobody, literally nobody, was going to this show. As it turned out they were watching the Champions League final at Monarch or hanging out on the WG balcony. By the time we returned from Monarch, right on time to see Extra Life take the stage, the room was well filled. It was hot, oh so hot, but it was roomy enough to see and move around. 

I didn't really know what to expect from this gig. Having really looked forward to it, I was still prepared to be surprised. And surprised I was. Each song sounds entirely different, yet each song can be attributed to something I like or another. It's like a band that takes all my favourite styles of music and runs them through a mixer with full force. And admittedly, this works better on some songs than on others. There were those where I was so getting into it I could have just jumped for joy. But there were others where it was enjoyable and fascinating to watch, but wouldn't make my personal top ten. They are that varied in their musical approach.

The gig seemed to be over after a mere half an hour when the band announced their last song. However, they added immediately that this song was going to be so long that nobody was going to be disappointed. This held true, with the song running a good 20 minutes. Insanity.

What a refreshingly innovative band. Yum.

Quick review: Austra

Austra played the Melt Weekender at Astra on Friday. Astra always gives me a hard time. Either can't see a thing or I end up in a position where the sound is unbearable. However, tonight I managed to see and sort of hear a good show. I got lucky so to speak.

Austra were never going to be as amazing as they were on New Year's Day. That show was simply too magical. But they definitely gave a convincing performance as always - these kids are pretty professional at it by now. As usual, the crowd loved their dancy dark tunes and sang along and danced. It was swell.

I didn't stay for the headliner Miike Snow simply because I was too tired. But I did wonder whether they managed to keep up the energy that Austra had revved up among the audience. 

Friday, 25 May 2012

Preview: the week ahead (28th May - 3rd June)

Goodness, we had a lot of fun this week. The weather, the Spits, the ice cream. We wouldn't want this week to end if it wasn't for next week looking like such an amazing week, too. See you about town for sure!

Kolter, Lisa Freieck and Monolith 2012 at bei Roy: This week starts with an interesting evening at bei Roy. Kolter from Darmstadt plays an intense mix of experimental music between drony ambient noise and electro-acoustic improvisations. His music varies from quiet and atmospherical to sometimes louder with hints of beats and structure. If you like anything from Grouper to Godspeed You Black Emperor check out his music! Lisa Freieck does something different, she plays fragile singer songwriter music, mostly just with acoustic guitar and her voice but sometimes accompanied by glockenspiel or organ. Finally, Monolith 2012 will play one of their first shows this evening. Consisting of members of Datashock, Flamingo Creatures, Ben Butler & Mousepad and GTUK they play something they announced as "ritualistic no dance." This will probably get a bit more experimental and I'm pretty sure it will be good!

Young Magic at Comet Club: Carpark Records are really churning them out, those dance-hungry indie-wave outfits. Here is another one and this time it's a more ambient kind of affair. Imagine MGMT mixed with Pink Floyd and underlined with a hip hop beat. Not as druggy as it may sound.

Codeine and Schneider TM at Festsaal Kreuzberg: I've been looking forward to this evening since the Codeine reunion was announced. Yet I'm sure not having to write much about this band. Being one of the first bands of something that got labelled "slowcore" or "sadcore" later on, they made bands like Low, Ida and many more possible. Support is going to be Schneider TM, not one of my personal favorites but let's see.

The Diamond Road Show at Monarch: Another opportunity to see Digger Barnes, voted for as best performer from Hamburg by the craze editorial, and his amazing side-kick, illustrator Pencil Quincy. See our review from last time, in which we couldn't stop praising this outfit, and get your tickets early - this is going to be packed.
Elfin Saddle and Golden Disko Ship at HBC: Trying to describe what Canadians Elfin Saddle sound like is like trying to recommend music to a 12-year-old. You can only ever get it wrong. This group is so different to anything, experimental yes, jazzy at times, yes, but overall just its own genre. If you like your horizon broadened, like to be surprised and yet like to dance and have a good time, this band is for you and hbc the place to be this Wednesday. Support from locals GDS.

Charalambides and Tonstartssbandht at Marie-Antoinette: Ambient, folk, psychedelic, experimental. Avant garde group Charalambides are all this and beautiful at it. This is going to be special. Grab yourself a seat, gaze at the river Spree and listen to these songs in awe and wonder. Not for the impatient among you but for those of you that really appreciate sound for what it is and what can be achieved with it. Support comes from experimental outfit Tonstartssbandht. Highly recommended.

Messer and Out On A Limb at Schokoladen: Messer are a group from Münster who play indie-punk and sing in German, with a really distinct guitar sound and a steady beat, plus some experimental sound scape elements. They are pretty special and you should make sure to be at Schokoladen at 8pm the latest if you don't want to miss this.
Crocodiles and Smart Cops at Bi Nuu: Over past couple of years, Crocodiles have managed to become one of my favourite bands. I always enjoy a Crocodiles song and have seen them live on several occasions, never being disappointed. They just like to rock and so do I, but we all like it with an air of art! Read a couple of my previous reviews here and here. Cute Italian punk rock boy band Smart Cops are going to play their classic rock'n'roll to heat up the room. Meet me there, see me dance.

LA Vampires, Maria Minerva, Ital, Magic Touch and Heatsick at Katerholzig: A dance music frenzy at Katerholzig on Friday night. This may turn out wild and will most definitely get late. I will probably go to see experimental weird dance music group LA Vampires who I have high hopes for and have been looking forward to for a while now. Their collaborations with Ital, also playing tonight, are worth your attention, too. Let's see where the night might take us.

Monday, 21 May 2012

Quick review: Simone White

Last Friday was a sort of experiment. My best friend invited me to watch Simone White at the "new" Crystal Club, which is really the back room at Columbia Club. It was an experiment because I hadn't really heard of Simone White before.

Simone White is a fragile looking lady with a strong voice. Singer-songwriter music for poets and intellectuals. She tells stories in her songs, though all of them are a bit melancholic. If you are into the singer-songwriter genre, you will most likely like what she does.

The gig was split in two, one half with band and the other half as a solo performance. You could say that, overall, the former half of the evening consisted of the new material, the latter of the older songs, which were generally better received by the audience.

The lady played for 1,5 hours straight and I for one would have really appreciated a seat after about a quarter of an hour. Some people squatted on the floor, obviously feeling the weight on their feet, too. It's admirable that she played for so long and gave the audience her all but it also dragged on a bit somehow. This type of music calls for comfortable cozyness.

Anyway, if you are into the genre, check out her older material.

Preview: the week ahead (21th - 27th May)

Berlin is in full gig season. And this week has a lot to offer. And sorry about the late preview, we were busy or something.

Jana Hunter / Lower Dens at West Germany: There is an air of excitement about Lower Dens playing tonight. I cannot tell you how many people have asked me over the past week whether I'm going to see Lower Dens tonight. And understandably so: Jana Hunter's wavey music with a good beat and her deep but melodic vocals are special and many people have been waiting for this gig for a long time. Lower Dens = with band. See you there, yeah yeah! (see the nice video to "Brains" here.)

Obits and Bass Drum of Death at Magnet Club: A serious rocking night at Magnet tonight. Obits = surfy garage rock = really good. Bass Drum of Death = two-piece stoner garage noise = rock'n'roll. Yeah, baby!

The Soft Moon at Bi Nuu: The Soft Moon play heavily 80's influenced dark/cold wave music. Think of band's like the Cure, the Chameleons up to Joy Division and Bauhaus. They combine straight beats with 80's sounding synth and guitar melodies. Definitely worth checking out if you are anyhow into music from that post punk era.

The Spits, Hunx And His Punx and The Black Jaspers at Festsaal Kreuzberg: This is what happened in January which gigs local promoters could inform me about for the year's preview: Festsaal mentioned The Spits and all the other promoter forgot to tell me anything because an email conversation about The Spits and nothing but the Spits ensued and lasted for days. This is how excited Berlin got about this gig four months ago. The time has finally come and this old school punk rock group are going to get Festsaal oh so hot. And not only that but Festsaal has managed to secure lo-fi camp group Hunx And His Punx (of Gravy Train fame) as support. If you missed him at Cortina Bob last year, here is your second chance. OMG - how crazy is this going to be? Cannot wait!

John K. Samson at Magnet Club: John K. Samson is seemingly taking a break from touring and playing with his main band, the Weakerthans, and is playing a solo tour with The Provincial Band right now. If you like the Weakerthans you'll definitely like his solo stuff. He's an awesome songwriter and I'm sure he will be fun live.
Fehlfarben and Camera at Festsaal Kreuzberg: Fehlfarben existed with slightly varying line-up since 1979 and they were one of Germany's most famous New Wave/Neue Deutsche Welle bands, mostly for their song Ein Jahr (Es geht voran). Nonetheless they had many more songs well worth listening to, basically their whole Monarchie und Alltag record is an awesome example of how great New Wave music at that time could be. Together with bands like Palais Schaumburg, Grauzone, Abwärts, Deutsch Amerikanische Freundschaft and many more, they formed a vital music scene that had impact on big parts of music that's hip right now.

Diamond Catalog, Pak, City Hands and Cotopaxi (+DJ Marcelle) at bei Roy: If you're in the mood for some experimental and weird dancy electro stuff, check out bei Roy's bill this evening. There will be several cool live acts and a DJ set from their resident DJ Marcelle who will definitely get you in the mood to dance!
Grimes at Berghain Panorama Bar: This has actually long been sold out. All those hip young persons among you that have a ticket: enjoy! This is going to be amazing.

Neon Piss, Levitations, Tiny Ghosts and Lahar at bei Roy: Somehow the opposite of bei Roy's line-up from the day before, this is a punk/hardcore night with an interesting mix of bands. Neon Piss play a cool melodic mix of lo-fi and garage punk stuff. Levitations are Berlin's coolest all girl punk band. Tiny Ghost are somehow more poppy and catchy. And Lahar play something more like trash metal. Promising Müsli of music and this will definitely be a cool night!

Beach House and Porcelain Raft at Volksbühne: Relaxed and beautiful, classicly influenced pop music, perfect for Volksbühne. If you get into this hyped gig, it's probably worth it.

Friday, 18 May 2012

Review: High Places + Lucky Dragons

I like the idea of the Kopflos Festival that Marie-Antoinette is running this week. It's not a festival in the conventional sense in that it runs over three nights with merely two bands per night. You pay € 12 per night or € 20 for a three-day pass. The line-up is well curated and the newly transformed space is finally getting some sort of house warming party.

I chose High Places because everything that I had heard about them sounded like my kind of thing. Also, Lucky Dragons is a project that celebrates the art of sound scaping unlike any other. This night was going to be something.

Indeed, Lucky Dragons didn't disappoint. The atmosphere was electric and relaxing at the same time, the perfect backdrop of the river Spree through the windows making this moment magical. Absolutely wonderful.

"What do you think about her outfit?" "It's very 90s." "So is the music, 90s techno with some Neneh Cherry thrown in." "True. Good point". My date was right. I had expected something along the lines of Dirty Beaches: music that was written on a machine in a bedroom but that would be performed live with energy and some analogue instrumentation to celebrate both worlds - electronic sounds and live music. But that was not what this duo had in mind. Instead, they had moved their bedroom rehearsal space on to the live stage. Girl singer turns knobs and buttons while singing. Boy drummer hits electronic drums. The songs are very well-crafted pop tunes that work and got quite a few people moving. But that's what it is - essentially elecronic songs. You were longing for a full club of sweaty dancy people and a loud PA. As a live act in a gig setting this didn't really bring across the songs as it could have maybe done. The energy just wasn't quite there.

I am sure the other nights at Kopflos will be interesting, too. So consider dropping in at Marie-Antoinette tonight or tomorrow. Their new layout is swell and you may just be surprised by one of the acts on the bill.

Sunday, 13 May 2012


While researching something entirely different, I came across this fun video of Camera performing at Oranienburger Tor. Yay. This is what I was referring to after the Thurston Moore gig.

Quick review: Lovers + Rat Rat Rats

I warned you, didn't I? This was going to get packed. I suppose nobody expected it to be this packed, given that Lovers played Privat Club a few months ago to 25 paying guests. Yesterday, ten times as many people paid and many had to be turned away. Sold out.
As a result, the gig was a hot, sticky, hard to breath kind of affair. And for some reason I didn't really feel like joining the mob. I stayed at the back, spent time with friends, chatted to the promoter, generally enjoyed myself while being able to breath.

Opening local group Rat Rat Rats got everyone rocking with their unusual punk sound and energy.

Lovers sounded pretty much as they do recorded, maybe the vocals were a little lower, and were dancing along to their songs. But room was scarce. They were at times a little reserved as performers but the audience made up for it. This band is greatly admired by its fans and deservedly so.

A good concert and a wonderful evening. And for a minute we all thought it was summer, it was so hot, but when we descended the stairs to the outside world, we realised that spring was having a laugh and giving us 10°C and wind. 

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

A jam-packed week and we are looking forward to the madness that is Berlin's live music circuit. Now, if spring could just play along a little...

Jason Urick at Madame Claude: Experimental Mondays at Madame Claude can be a hit-or-miss kind of affair. This Monday promises to be special though. Jason Urick creates ambient sound scapes with experimental bits thrown in. You will need to be seated, or ideally lying down, to fully appreciate this. It may then just blow your mind.

Boy Friend and ill winds at King Kong Klub: No this is not the Korean boyband playing at KKK this week. Though we would have probably gone to that one, too. Instead, this is a Texan female two-piece who play chilled out synth pop with guitar effects, and fabric conditioner - very soft. For fans of Pocahaunted and Coco Rosie. Support comes from Australians turned Berlinians ill winds.

Royal Baths and Hellshovel at White Trash: I keep asking myself why so many interesting shows are still being booked at the, in my opinion, awful White Trash. Anyway, that probably shouldn't keep you from going here if you're into the bands and want to support them. Royal Baths play a lo fi version of something between garage and indie rock. Reminds me a bit of a lo fi mixture between Deerhoof and the Unicorns. Hellshovel are another band from the Demon's Claws surrounding. If you're into some garage punk, this is for you.

Yip Deceiver and Hush Hush at West Germany: This Of Montreal side-project is so incredibly funky poppy dancy disco, you wonder how you ended up in that time machine to the early 80s. If you like dancing the night away, you absolutely cannot miss this, you just cannot. Hush Hush complements well with his dance madness. Probably a rare chance to party to this at cozy West Germany. It will be a bigger venue next time for sure.
Woog Riots and Zebra and Snake at Schokoladen: Extremely fun electropop post punk from Woog Riots. Tonight is a tough one for the dance-hungry. Too many choices. This will get you moving though. It just will. Be early, you know the deal at Schokoladen. If it's not sold-out by then, you could in theory head straight to WG afterwards to continue your dance to Yip Deceiver. Good luck, it would make an amazing dance night.

High Places and Lucky Dragons at Marie-Antoinette: M-A is staging its first in-house festival this week. Tonight, day 1, is probably the most anticipated of the four-night Kopflos event. The LA based duo High Places will get everybody dancing with their rhythmic sound, melodies and dreamy vocals. If you enjoy U.S. Girls or Dirty Beaches, you will also like this very much. Lucky Dragons combine art and music in a way few touring bands do. You never quite know whether you are watching a sound art installation at a gallery or band giving an experimental music concert. The bounderies are vanishing with this group. Very intellectually stimulating.

Tsembla and Andrea Belfi at Ausland: This sounds like a promising mix between electro acoustic experimental music and an interesting experimental drummer. Check Ausland's homepage for more details and more links.
Hayvanlar Alemi and Basketball at Marie-Antoinette: The second night at M-A's Kopflos Fest brings us "a killer hyper-colourful improvising psych-rock unit" from Ankara, Turkey. Intriguing and exciting. Support from local starlets Basketball.

The Ex at Magnet Club: If you missed the Ex last year (see our review here), you've got another chance this Saturday. If you didn't miss the Ex last year, you probably should go see them again, anyway. They're awesome! I mean it!
The Feminists, Delta Love and Jimmy Trash at Antje Öklesund: High energy garage punk with a lot of hair from The Feminists. Go rock.
Keep Shelly In Athens and Aniaetleprogammeur at Marie-Antoinette: Kopflos day three. Mellow dance music as we hear it a lot these days. C*s  kinda into this jamming poppy affair and if it wasn't for Extra Life she would probably be seen swaying at Marie-Antoinette on this Saturday. But there is Extra Life. Nevermind.
Extra Life and Touchy Mob at West Germany: Extra Life are rad. They're like a hyperactive and mean version of the Paper Chase. Somehow very dark and edgy noise rock with crazy song structures. I'm excited to see them live! Touchy Mob are somehow the opposite. I saw them last year and they played very calm and almost ambient like singer songwriter music with piano, guitar and a nice voice. I think this could be really cool together!

Thursday, 10 May 2012

Review: Gossip

Years ago, my friend and I were asked to take care of a threepiece from Minneapolis that was playing Ladyfest in London. They were aquaintances of our friend and on their first trip to Europe. They needed companions to keep them company. Needless to say, the two ladies and one gentleman were lovely people and fun to hang out with (though the gentleman was slightly smelly from not showering or changing his clothes the entire tour). We had a good time. However, the group's performance was the really amazing thing about that evening. We had gone primarily to see Bangs, whose KRS mailorder 7" had become one of my favourites at the time, but after the show I was a Gossip convert. The sound was so different, the energy insane with Beth Ditto standing there in a bra only shouting abuse at the NME for slagging off Missy Elliott. The Gossip were very punky then, had a different drummer, hadn't found their trademark sound and look yet. But Beth Ditto's voice was already Beth Ditto's voice, the willingness to provoke was already there and the audience was already in awe of what they saw. These were stars in the making.

Since then, I have seen (The) Gossip perform at Gebäude 9 in Cologne, at Astra and at Columbiahalle. Earlier this week, I added Berghain to the list. Given that the last time this trio played Berlin they sold out Zitadelle Spandau, I felt almost privileged to be given the opportunity to see Gossip at the relatively cosy venue of Berghain. Yum. And indeed my hopes were met when there was no security gap between audience and band, when you could actually see and hear Beth even when she wasn't talking into the microphone, and when the band recognised several of their close friends in the audience. This was a personal, cosy concert for a privileged "few".

Of course, what's a "few" to supergroup Gossip? This gig had been sold out weeks in advance, if not months. The place was packed. Maybe I'm getting old but über-sold out concerts make me feel uncomfortable these days. I like a bit of space to hang out and dance. I just don't enjoy myself the same way when someone is bumping into me every couple of seconds, when tall bears of men push in right in front of me so that I definitely cannot see a thing and when the odour of the room resembles that of the monkey cage at the zoo. I have to like a band an aweful lot to ingnore the madness and the idiots around me (sorry, but Gossip have an odd audience of people who are extremely bored in their everyday lives and this is the one "crazy" thing that they do and they f**king get out of hand).

Wednesday, 9 May 2012

Quick review: Demon's Claws

Well well, what was I expecting? I guess some punky garage rock, a bit of attitude. I was getting: a band that looked like The Kinks and sounded not unlike Black Lips. Very nice!

The band played reasonably long, rocked, kicked some ass on the faster numbers, people were into it (even though there was a lot of chatter during the concert) and everybody was altogether happy. Another successful night at Kottbusser Tor. Joy.

BTW: members of the band play with side-project Genital Hospital bei Roy this Sunday. Recommended.

Sunday, 6 May 2012

last one

AIDS Wolf will play their last gig in Toronto tonight, too far for us poor Berliners to travel to. This band is close to our hearts and we are sad to think that they will not be making their regular appearances in our town anymore. Hope hope new exciting projects will emerge from this.

Saturday, 5 May 2012

Review: Refused

What inspires you? Music? Art? Fashion? People? Friends? When I was 18 and moved to the very far north of Sweden, Refused embodied all of this for me. They were my closest friends but also people who were churning out ideas on music, on art, on fashion, were surrounded by a creative group of young energetic people. I moved to Umeå in October 1996, in time for a mighty cold winter, and I officially moved away in September 1997. Realistically, I had turned my back on this northern Swedish town months before when California had became my second home and other things had begun to inspire me and continue to do so to this day. But Refused and the years I spent with them travelling Europe, bathing naked in the cold rivers of Sweden, visiting their families (who incidentally became my temporary families), throwing fancy dress parties and squatting hotels at festivals have shaped a large part of me and who I am. For years, these sweet boys truly inspired me.

Years later, having lived separate lives, having spent time with a lot of awe-inspiring creative, intelligent people, I had almost forgotten how much these friends had once meant to me. Yes, Dennis Lyxzén (singer) has of course played in several other musical projects and we always make an effort to see each other on his various tours. And yes, David Sandström (drummer) and I had kept in touch, albeit sporadically, over the years. But overall, when other friends in the music industry had referred to Refused as copycats who simply imitated their heroes from the States, I had defended their creativeness, but maybe not enough. Of course, Dennis' fashion sense and dance moves were long inspired by Ian Svenonius (of The Nation Of Ulysses and The Make-Up). And of course, a lot of their musical writing stems from their (then) love for metal HC bands like Earth Crisis and Snapcase. Who was I to argue with that? 

I maybe knew better, knew that that they were the true artists but how do you back up your argument when the band in question is not around to provide proof? And maybe I had only been young and stupid and it had all been a bit of a farce after all? Now, 11 years after the band's demise in 1999, they have got back together to show what they are really made of. Are they just copycats, back together to cash in on a hype created by naive teenagers over the years? Or are they geniuses who saw a new path for punk music back then, a way to fuse several genres of music to something new and powerful? And would that political message from wanna-be anarchists in the mid-90s still hold? I admit that I was sceptical.

My scepticism stemmed partly from the management's decision to bill Refused as part of a fun punk festival at Columbiahalle. Lagwagon, Less Than Jake and Against Me were some of the names on the bill for this one-day event sponsored by an energy drink. We made sure to go late, having been given the stage time of midnight. There was no way we were going to hang around Columbiahalle with a bunch of drunk teenagers listening to Lagwagon (as much as I used to like them when I was 13). We caught up briefly with the band and some friends and secured our spaces in the VIP area of Columbiahalle early. Now it may sound dull and you may wonder why we didn't head for first row, mosh pit action. Truth be told, we were extremely wary of the audience and what this would turn out to be. I'm also very short and would not have had a hope in hell to see anything, even on high heels. Because the VIP area was officially closed and only photographers were allowed in, but a security guard took mercy with us and presumably knew of our connection with the headlining group, we ended up being the only crowd up on the top balcony. Wow, fancy.

Friday, 4 May 2012

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

Now did you enjoy that weather? Did you get sunburned? Did you have picnics and did you throw rocks in SO36? We did (almost) all of this and we were loving it. How drepressing to watch the weather forecast for the coming days. Let's not. Let's look at the preview instead - a week of large-scale concerts and few small venue gems.

No Problem, Strange Attractor and The Kurws at bei Roy: What better way to start the week than visiting a punk show? Old shool hardcore punk meets garage punk meets noisy experimental punk. I'm pretty sure this is going to be good.
Cloud Nothings at Magnet Club: Post punk band Cloud Nothings sometimes remind me of slow Nirvana numbers, with a dark bass, bored vocals and a sense of humour. Other times, they seem to imitate Weezer. Then again, Dinosaur Jr. They basically span the entire genre of 90s indie music, all the while being original as well. It took me a bit of listening to to like this band but I'm really getting into this band. Recommended to you.

Gossip at Berghain: I've seen Gossip (then called The Gossip) perform in front of 50 people at Ladyfest in London, I've seen them in the massiveness that is Columbiahalle and I've seen them in venues of all sizes in-between. They were amazing everytime. Beth Ditto's presence and the kick-ass band that is Brace Paine and Hannah Blilie (twin sister of Jordan Blilie of Blood Brothers fame) will convince you everytime, even though you are slightly apprehensive before every gig. This will be grant.

Sleep and A Storm Of Light at Berghain: This is going to be so incredible - Californian drone metal band Sleep at Berghain. Say what?! I doubt you can still get in but if you can, go go go for it!

The Lemonheads at Postbahnhof: Isn't Evan Dando too old these days to be truly living up to his rebellious youth image? Well, I saw him a few years ago at London's ULU and he managed to exceed my expectations by a mile. Furthermore, his duet with Marianne Faithful is one of my most treasured live music moments. So tonight might turn out sweet after all.
Trike at White Trash: For fans of Belle And Sebastian, although of course not Scottish and without charming Stuart Murdoch. Nevertheless, if you like your music twee, you are going to appreciate Trike.

Lovers at West Germany: Now if there is one thing I am looking forward to this week it's this group of girls performing at my favourite venue. It's essentially pop music with an unusually commercial sound, and you have to like that sort of thing, but it's so genuine and convincing. I expect this to be extremely busy, so show up early if you want to get in.

Genital Hospital and Mommy Boys at Bei Roy: Great lo-fi garage punk from Montreal with people from Demon's Claws and Primitive Hands. If you liked the Demon's Claws show at West Germany last Saturday, this is for you!
Cursive at Magnet Club: Two Magnet gigs featured in one craze preview? Unheard of! And again, we are talking post punk indie. If you liked Cloud Nothings on Monday, you'll love Cursive tonight. Because they do this thing so intelligently. Dance and feel smart in your Buddy Holly glasses. Cursive are so good, you cannot go wrong. Highly recommended to you.


Quick review: Dan Sartain

My birthday, and incidentally this gig, seems ages ago now and so much has happened since, like a Refused show. But I aim to review all gigs in order, therefore a quickie for you here.

I wasn't that familiar with Mr. Sartain's work prior to this evening. But his thing is generally my thing, I did like those songs that my boyfriend had played to me and the man is from San Diego, a place very close to my heart. So I was well up for this.

Dan Sartain used to do something between folk and rockabilly. Of late, he has ventured more into garage and punk rock. Consequently, the crowd was mixed, with some people all dolled up in rockabilly fashion, others more of the indie punk background, and some regulars to Roadrunner's. How was the man going to please all of these various types of characters?

Well, his strategy was unusual: he split the gig into three. First, he rushed through all of this garage punk material, not even stopping for a second. Then, him and and his two companions of the rhythm section left the stage. When they returned two minutes later, they went more into the folky and rockabilly songwriter material, which people seemed more familiar with. Many attendees knew every song by heart and sang along enthusiastically. Again, they went backstage, after which only Mr. Sartain returned, churning out solo numbers with accoustic guitar, taking requests from the audience.

He certainly pleased the crowd. And the man has charisma. But the sound didn't do his voice justice and it didn't come across nearly as powerful as on record. In general, it was a good gig, but it didn't convey the energy I was hoping for. My man says he's seen him before and was totally taken aback by the awesomeness but this Berlin gig didn't do that for him.

So I guess I'm hoping to see him play again. Dan Sartain certainly impressed me but somehow I felt there has got to be more. More energy, more voice, more awesomeness. May he return and blow us away next time.