Monday 30 July 2012

Preview: the week ahead (30th Jul - 5th Aug)

It's getting hot in here, so take off... Berlin has gone a little hot and sleepy, deserted and touristy at the same time, and we love it. Relax by the pool, eat an ice cream and spend your evenings at one of the following events...

Ghikas-Walshe and others at Quiet Cue: Panos Ghikas of The Chap (see Thursday) has teamed up with Jennifer Walshe, "composer, voice artist and former cover star of The Wire" and others for a night of "Unreal-time performance: gestural material as a composed interface for improvisation. Electro/acoustic improvisation, involving voice, violin, viola, a kids drumkit and a specially prepared interface that allows the live manipulation of recorded gestures through the use of an e-drum kit." Curious.

Alpinist and Masakari at Köpi: A night of heavy and dark hardcore in the vein of crust bands like From Ashes Rise, His Hero is gone and Tragedy. Pretty sure this will kick several asses and Köpi ist just the perfect location for this package.

Spectrum at White Trash: This has been moved from hbc. to White Trash due to large demand. "Sonic Boom, Spacemen3 mainman performs classic Spacemen3 and Spectrum material with a full band including longtime collaboraters; Will Carruthers, (exSpacemen3, Spiritualized, Brian Jonestown Massacre), Jason Holt, Roger Brogan." Sounds grand.
Puschenfest at Festsaal: Every year we wait in anticipation for the line-up for Puschenfest, one of the best live music events in Berlin's annual calendar. It's a good offering again this year, with the first night spanning across the genre of indie music with garage singer-songwriter Kurt Vile and his troupe The Violators, weirdo indie starlets Fenster, and experimental pop success The Chap.

Swans at Berghain: Of course there has been a lot of hoo ha about this post-punk group since there reformation in 2010, and we are joining into the excitement. There are not many bands like Swans. Period. Read up on it if you are unfamiliar.
Puschenfest at Festsaal: Second night of our treasured Fest. Tonight, David Pajo from Slint is performing with his project Papa M, psych-folk group Megafaun are mesmerising people with weird beauty, and Sleep Party People, another mask wearing group (bf says: "there is a lot of that around at the moment"), are playing post-rock, guitars and electronica mixed with sound effects and dreamy vocals. Arty and well worth checking out.

Friday 27 July 2012

What's in store for 2012, pt II

A few weeks back the calendar announced half-time for 2012. Time to take a look at what the rest of the year has got to offer. And I am definitely getting more excited about what lies ahead compared to what has been so far. 2012 has not yet swept me off my feet in terms of live music events. The following selected offerings should change that. A lot of Yay and Yum!

Liquid Liquid (Soju Bar, August) - grandfathers of post-disco music à la !!! (Chk Chk Chk) DJ gig only.

Jonathan Richman (Festsaal, August) - folk singer-songwriter and comic genius that is sure to make you smile - cannot wait.
DIIV (Monarch, August) - atmospheric guitar indie pop on Captured Tracks

Black Dice (Festsaal, September) - experimental gods and ex-punk rockers return to Festsaal, oh how I love thee
Dead Skeletons (Kater Holzig, September) - atmospheric post punk in the vein of Dirty Beaches and the likes
King Tuff (Monarch, September) - 60s sounding garage rock that will let you shake your head in a hot Monarch, no doubt.
Fu Manchu (Lido, September) - gods of stoner rock at a relatively small venue in Berlin, go go Godzilla

Jaill (Comet Club, October) - wavey upbeat indie rock and my new discovery (yes, I do know they've been around, like, forever)
...And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of Dead (Lido, October) - more rock at Lido, like with Fu Manchu, we are honoured to see ...AYWKUBTTOD in a relatively intimate venue.
Quintron & Miss Pussycat (Kater Holzig, October) - recovered from illness, this fabulous duo are likely to give us the gig of the year with a combination of soul, rock and puppet mastery
Liars (Festsaal, October) - our favourite ex-Berliners play it large at Festsaal, showcasing their amazing new contender for album of the year
Chain & The Gang (Festsaal, October) - supreme entertainer and political chief Ian Svenonius is back to give us the gospel yeah yeah and a party to go with it

Godspeed! You Black Emperor (SO36, November) - SO36 is no match for churches and other odd venues this group of musical geniuses will usually play, but it's two nights of atmospheric instrumentalisation you usually only get in a theatre with an orchestra.
Wild Nothing (Dazzle Danzclub, November) - the boy Jack Tatum, another Captured Tracks protegée, who got us into dream pop three years ago, is growing up fast and getting even better in the process. Magic.
Ariel Pink's Haunted Grafitti (Festsaal, November) - another Ariel Pink show in Berlin, another chance to party like there is no tomorrow.

Thursday 26 July 2012

Going to Diät

Just a quick note to say that this Saturday, at 4 pm, Diät are playing at Static Shock Music record shop in Bürknerstraße in Neukölln in support of the release of their new 7". Come on out and hang with us in the sunshine, while one of Berlin's finest contemporary bands is performing.

Review: Jack White

Was I excited? Hell yeah! Did I have particular expectations? Nah.

I am guessing that Tempodrom works better for some performers than for others. For Jack White, it was pretty damn perfect. That's because, ideally, you would want to see this man in a small smokey bar up close. But because fame has graced this talented individual, you have to content with large venues, and as far as large venues go Tempodrom is one of the cosier ones. It's a giant tent after all.
Like I said in my preview, there is a bit of a Jack White fan in all of us, some of you may just not know it. It has been generally agreed that the man is a musical genius, having been honoured in the film "It might get loud", among other accolades. This praise aside, not everyone agrees with his actual songs or, more importantly, with the individual himself. The press usually struggles to make out who this man is. He has publicly received good and bad feedback from band members and staff. He appears to be a notorious liar, making up his own biography as he goes along ("Now, is that his sister or his wife?"). And while he continuously quotes the blues as his major influence, most of the music is rather rock'n'roll and mass accessible.

Quick review: Against Me!

I end up in a lot of odd places. Like, last night, I found myself in the neo-punkrock-crowd at the Against Me! gig in the smaller room at Postbahnhof. Having been pissed off at "that song" for years, I was curious what would await me. 

Our curiosity was heightened by the recent attention the band had gotten for the singer's outcoming as a transsexual and the subsequent change of gender. How was this going to be taken by the punk fan base? Was Laura going to move people the way Tom had done?

The quick answer, I am pleased to say, is yes. Not only was the show sold out but you rarely see such dedicated fans who will celebrate their group in such a way. It was very touching actually. I saw a few middle fingers rising during "Teenage Anarchist" (the song I get very passionately angry about) but, apart from that, there was a lot of dancing, singing along and smiles all around from the mixed-age audience. Wonderful to watch.

Against Me! were of course solid and played those songs to perfection, sufficiently rocking out on stage and giving the audience what they wanted and deserved for their undying support. A good gig, albeit not my kinda thing of course. I like neither the pop punk genre nor am I partial to neo-punkrockers in the 2000s dressing up like it was 1977. But everybody does their thing and they do it well, taking with them the unpretentious audience, while the band goes through several transformations, be it politically or personal. May they go on for a long while because, while I will never become a follower, the world needs these kinds of bands among the "fabric conditioner pop" the radio usually plays. I just hope that the next generation of teenagers will "get it", too.

Sunday 22 July 2012

Preview: the week ahead (23th - 29th Jul)

Can't think of a clever/funny/fancy headline for the preview. Nevertheless there are some real gems this week. There's also plenty more stuff in our calendar which you can find at the bottom of the page, as you probably already know... enjoy the sun and see you around!

(Electric)Vocuhila and Molly Mega Trio at bei Roy: See our preview for Vocuhila from last week, they play again with slightly different and expanded line-up this week. Support is Molly Mega Trio from Berlin, if you're a friend of mathy noise rock, you'll like them.

The Black Atlantic at Roter Salon (Volksbühne): The Black Atlantic played Berlin several times before, here's another chance to catch their dark and melancholic indie pop music in a quite nice venue. They sound not unlike artists like Tiger Lou, Rocky Votolato or sometimes even the Black Heart Procession.

Knertz Fest at about:blank: Three bands from the Knertz collective honor about:blank with their presence this Thursday. Les Trucs play dancy and weird 8bit electro stuff, music to party to. Then there will be something more hip hop with Oskar Ohlsen and Babel Fish and Fnessnej also play dancy and squeaky electro pop. Pretty sure this will be a fun night!

Crazy Spirit, Tremors, Sarg and Diät at bei Roy: Noisy dark punk meets crusty hardcore meets early 80s punk. This sounds awesome and I can't stress it enough, go see Diät live! Definitely one of the best bands in Berlin right now!

Make Out! at Schokoladen: Make Out! play their last show ever this Saturday at Schokoladen. They're awesome and sound something like a no wave mix between Mika Miko and Erase Errata. So sad they break up!

Sunday 15 July 2012

Preview: the week ahead (16th - 22nd Jul)

Okay we (or at least I) definitely reached the summer hole, C* is enjoying herself somewhere sunny and I need to catch up about three weeks of sleep. So just a rather short preview for a week without that much going on except a weekend of festivals.

Vocuhila at Wendel: I already saw Vocuhila and also various solo projects of Maxime Bobo, their saxophone player, live a few times and they were always pretty awesome. They're a saxophone/double bass/drums trio and play a nice mixture between free jazz and more song oriented jazzy tunes. They're really good, go see them! They play again on Sunday at the Great Heisenberg, check our calendar or the Echtzeitmusik site (check sidebar) if you're interested in more jazzy and experimental stuff going on.

Bambi Davidson and Schürhaken Körner at Schokoladen: This one sounds interesting, Bambi Davidson is a project band from the former Robocop Kraus drummer and a dutch musician. They invite new guest musicians for each tour. Support is Schürhaken Körner, they play something between noisy math rock and wavy punk from the 80s.

Teengirl Fantasy and Fatima Al Qadiri at Naherholung Sternchen (starts at 11pm): Dreamy and poppy electro indie music meets some sort of "Muslim Trance" music. Apparently Fatima Al Qdiri almost never plays live outside of her hometown New York so everybody goes nuts and is excited about this. For further info and the full line up for this night check the Shameless/Limitless blog.

Down by the River Festival: nice and huge line-up with various bands and music from wavy dance punk to weird anti-folk. Check their tumblr page for the whole line-up and more info!

Friday, Saturday, Sunday
Schokoladen Hoffest: Check out the Schokoladen website to get the full program on this one. I'm sure there will be something in for everyone. There's a shitload of bands playing!

Review: Excepter

Sorry not much time but nonetheless a short review from the Excepter show at West Germany:

Through a state of tiredness and weariness I forced myself to head for West Germany that night, because I just really, really wanted to see Excepter. So my willingness to deal with the support bands wasn't exactly very high... the first one sounded a bit like a not so exciting copy of John Maus. The second one was some sort of dark drone something... anyway, let's just say I spent some considerable amount of time on the balcony, enjoying fresh air and the view of Kottbusser Tor before Excepter finally began to play.

I've never seen them live before. They have released a huge bunch of different records since they started in 2002, some on Load Records and on Paw Tracks, the Animal Collective record label, and a couple of them I like a lot! Also they're pretty diverse and range from drony ambient stuff to experimental more dub influenced music. So I wasn't sure at all what to expect from this, but I had a feeling it's going to be good.

Turned out my feeling was right. They were four people on stage using various synthies and electronic devices plus some more "traditional" instruments like harmonica and tambourine and also massive reverb on the vocals. Their music was an awesome and intriguing mixture of ritualistic chanting and broken beats somewhere between danceable music and total amorphousness. For a good amount of the concert I, and probably some more people, had no idea how to react appropriately, so you could watch interesting variations of dancing, confused nodding or plain staring... I really loved the fact that they managed to challenge peoples attention by not resting on certain beats and moments but instead by constantly adding breaks in their structures, if there were any at all. West Germany was hot and packed and although it got a bit emptier towards the end of the show a good part of the audience didn't want this to stop.

I definitely don't regret having forced myself to go there. Hope Excepter will be back sometime soon!

Saturday 7 July 2012

Preview: the week ahead (9th - 15th Jul)

I really can't think of anything clever to introduce our preview with this week. But I did watch the Woody Allen documentary this week and enjoyed it and was disappointed at the same time. Here is what to do in the coming week.

CocoRosie at Heimathafen Neukölln: Take three on this one. See our preview from last week to get the gist on this. 

Xaddax and Hai Noon at bei Roy: What better way is there to start the week than with a good portion of chaotic noise rock. Xaddax from New York are on Skin Graft records and sound not unlike their label mates like Aids Wolf, Gay Beast and Yowie. Support will be Hai Noon (totally euphoric review of me seeing them at Altes Finanzamt here). They're a bass/drums duo from Berlin and they play highly rhythmical noise rock. If you're into Lightning Bolt you have to give these guys a chance.

Patti Smith at Tempodrom: We literally got our tickets months ago. The great heroine Patti Smith will perform and will have c* in awe. There is literally no more to say about this.

Ben Butler & MousepadRoro, Ferreira Doyle Duo and Ti Femme at bei Roy: I remember the days when Ben Butler & Mousepad played in Berlin all the time, e.g. that time when they supported Gay Beast. That's because this Scottish duo used to live in Berlin. These days, they reside in the Northern part of the United Kingdom again and only come to Berlin once a year. This means party time for those of you that know Ben Butler. Those of you who don't: read our review from their last gig at bei Roy.
Animales Varios at Sowieso: This is an interesting mix between experimental sound collages and improvised free jazzy elements. Featuring Els Vandeweyer, an awesome Vibrapohone player, as special guest that night.

Excepter at West Germany: This is definitely my gig of the week. Excepter are awesome! They already released a bunch of very different sounding records in their 10 year band history, so it's kind of hard to be sure what to expect from this. It will probably be something between drone noise stuff and weird experimental dub influences. Either way I'm pretty sure it will be well worth a visit at West Germany. Be sure to check the linked bandcamp page, you can listen to a lot of awesome stuff on there.

Kimya Dawson at Heimathafen Neukölln: Ms. Dawson is one half of Moldy Peaches and part of the K Records family. Twee singer-songwriter music to please. You will like. I thought Heimathafen sounded like a tall order for this, but I have actually not been to Heimathafen yet, so I have no idea what I'm talking about. Ha!

Review: Beak>

This was a bit crazy, I just found out a day before that Beak> were playing at Berghain Kantine and I was pretty excited about it. I totally love their first record so I was even more excited to learn that they were going to present their newest record that night.

We had a nice bike ride to Berghain and we were pretty early, so we grabbed something to drink and spent some time outside. Anika (read our review from her last Berlin show here) was DJing before and after the concert but I wasn't really in the mood of staying in a dark and hot room any longer than I'd have to. So we just went inside shortly before Beak> started to play.

It was my first time at Berghain Kantine and I have to say I've seen worse venues. I liked the low stage. There's nothing fancy about it but it's also not uncomfortable in any way. It probably doesn't really live up to people's expectations when you try to link it to Berghain itself, but for smaller concerts it's actually a pretty neat location. The entry price of 15€ for just one band (plus Djing, but yeah...) wasn't that cheap but since I really wanted to see the band I didn't care too much.

Wednesday 4 July 2012

Review: XXL + Zea

I was pretty excited about this show. A part of Xiu Xiu performing, a part of the Ex (previous review of their last Marie Antoinette gig here) performing, what could go wrong? So I headed to Marie Antoinette with quite high expectations that in the end didn't get disappointed but also weren't fully met.

I have been to a few Marie Antoinette shows and every time something was different. This time again, the stage was located facing towards the windows in the middle of the room. Everything looked very professional with nice curtains and lights. Nonetheless, Marie Antoinette isn't uncomfortable at all and I would say it's definitely part of the circle of Berlin venues with the best view (definitely counting Monarch and bei Roy into that as well). Where else do you see the Spree at eye level with ships going by and everything?

Tuesday 3 July 2012

Perverted By Language

O' Tannenbaum has another "Disco Universe" showing, a part of their program to show music documentaries and films. This Sunday they show "Perverted Language" a documentary on The Fall.

Definitely much more worth seeing than another boring and pointless Tatort if you ask me.

Here's the Facebook event page.

Monday 2 July 2012


I'm not sure how this happened but until this morning, I had no idea that Beak> are playing at Berghain Kantine tomorrow!
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! You definitely should check them out if you like bands like Anika, Excepter or Peaking Lights.

Preview: the week ahead (2nd - 8th Jul)

Trying not to post about the weather for once (how shit and brilliant can it be in one week?), the other note-worthy thing to mention is how brilliant all the gigs that J. and I went to were this week. Reviews to follow shortly. In the meantime, we will let you know where to spend your nights during the busiest week of July. And we don't mean fashion week.

Emperor X and William Nein at Schokoladen: Emperor X is the solo project of C.R. Mathen. He plays fluffy and poppy indie music somewhere between the Shins and Chad VanGaalen. William Nein, originally from London and apparently now residing in Berlin, plays more calm, sad and minimalistic singer songwriter music. I'm usually pretty picky about this, but he has a great voice and apparently also a feeling for great melodies and songs. Give him a try, you can listen to loads of his stuff on the bandcamp site linked above!

Japanther and Jimmy Trash at Marie Antoinette: Another chance for a wild Japanther party. See our previous review!

Screaming Females and Opa at Marie Antoinette: Again, not the first time this amazing band plays in Berlin. Go see them, but read our latest review and the one before that first!
Las Kellies at White Trash: Again, we've seen this girl group before and we liked it. The ladies know how to rock and entertain. A promising night and possibly one where you'll see me dance.

Lee Ranaldo at Lido: After Thurston Moore graced the Volksbühne stage a while back, it's now time for this Sonic Youth comrade to perform in Berlin. The album is actually really good (yes, I was a little surprised). A "not to be missed" kinda night.
Julia Holter at .hbc: Another chance to see this Domino Recordings signee and new star on the electronic female experimental pop horizon. After she sold out Berghain's Kantine earlier in the year, chances of getting into this one will most likely be slim but if you can make it, all the better.

Allah-Las + Blousons Noir at White Trash: Allah-Las = psychedelic garage rock from California that sounds a lot like it was recorded in 1967. Pretty amazing.

Mrs Conception at ExRotaprint Kantine: the ExRotaprint Kantine is an interesting project and art space in Wedding. They have a monthly combination of concerts (mostly something you could label free jazz somehow) and Indonesian food. Check this blog for more info, you can also find their website in the sidebar on the right. This time, Mrs Conception are going to release their new record, it's a trumpet/saxophone/double bass/drums band with Axel Dörner on trumpet. We have a review of him playing with the Ex last year, you can read it here.
Mikal Cronin at White Trash: When you enter Mikal Cronin on YouTube you get as many recommendations for Ty Segall as you do for the man Cronin. And that is about right. Not only have they released a record together and collaborate regularly, they do sound very similar, too. Both do punky garage rock with a lo-fi sound, a punk rock edge and singer-songwriter elements. I bet this will rock!

Saturday + Sunday
CocoRosie featuring Rajasthan Roots and TEZ at Heimathafen Neukölln: The two elf sisters that are CocoRosie are finally returning to Berlin; it's been long enough. They bring with them the Indian folk collective Rajasthan Roots, which should give these two experimental folk electronica nights at Heimathafen a special edge. Furthermore, they have one-man show TEZ with them for the entire tour. These nights will be pretty special and have been highly anticipated.