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.

I started listening to Codeine when I got into bands like Low and Songs:Ohia and I always liked their more edgy and noisy sound and how they managed to combine it with minimalistic melodies and a soft voice to create something fragile and beautifully sad. Even if the line-up and their basic style could be considered as something like "indie rock", Codeine were and still are somehow able to break with many of the annoying and boring conventions of the genre. In my opinion very few bands share these qualities.

As soon as they started playing I was pretty sure that this couldn't go wrong anymore. The sound was really good and the band seemingly in a good mood. They joked around and seemed pleasantly unpretentious. Also, they didn't let the fact that they have been inactive as a band for 18 (!) years show at all and played perfectly well together. Festsaal Kreuzberg got pretty hot after a while so I was lucky to be able to watch the show sitting down. Their songs were brutally direct and minimalistic, yet they developed a calming ambience that had something of drony noise music. Every drum beat was in place and the calm and soft vocals added up beautifully to the dry bass and the ringing guitar. Codeine played for about an hour, then came back for an encore (not without a witty remark on how they're going to do a cover song to fulfill something like a rock and roll cliché) and after about 75 minutes they finally left the stage - and also me with the feeling of having witnessed an awesome concert. Everything seemed right and I honestly don't have a single thing to complain about.

So now I'm wondering if the rest of the year has anything better to offer than this show. I'll keep you updated...


  1. have a look at Bis Aufs Messer's blog, they posted a short review of the concert with a picture of the Codeine set list:

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