Sunday, 30 September 2012

Preview: the week ahead (1st - 6th Oct)

There are a few niceties in the calendar for the coming week, but nothing really gets me as excited as some of the amazing events we experienced the past three weeks. And it feels good. A little break from the madness of autumn gig season, a few nights to enjoy the new cold weather with some hot cocoa and a good book. But if you are like "party party", here is where to head.

Staer, Horacio Pollard, Contagious Orgasm and Tzii at bei Roy: Staer already played in Berlin several times and the seem to like it so much, they even named one of their songs "Neukölln". And Neukölln is where they will be playing this Tuesday. They play heavy math rock influenced noise rock one could easily mistake for some bands on Skingraft records. Accompanied by some more artists ranging from harsh noise to ambient drone sounds, this is probably going to be an intense evening of experimental music. 
Cave and Camera at .HBC: Cave are an instrumental group on Drag City that do a psychedelic math core thing, as if you were to stick Civil Civic and Moon Duo into one band, with a helping of Stereolab thrown in. Naturally, that is my thing and they are oh so good at it. Camera, our local heroes, are of course at their best when doing improvised underground sessions. I'll be early, tapping my feet.


Glasses at about:blank: Consisting of members from various and notable other hardcore bands, Glasses made their own mark pretty fast. They play heavy and in your face hardcore with angry female vocals and they know their stuff so prepare to get your hair blow-dried this Wednesday.

Momus and Mirror Talk at bei Roy: Momus is as awesome as his music is hard to describe. Judging from the songs you can listen to online, he does very poppy but yet quirky electronic cut up music accompanied by fluffy vocals. Live this is more a performance than a concert and be assured it's potentially stunning. Mirror Talk from Berlin plays some dark and unmistakably 80s influenced electro wave music, not unlike early Depeche Mode and comparable acts of the time.

I Am Oak at Schokoladen: Another indie folky singer songwriter music evening at Schokoladen. I Am Oak may do nothing that other bands haven't already done before but they are rather good at writing songs that create a mood. Check them out.

Messer + Noem + Dramamine + Centuries + Patsy O' Hara + Blckwvs + Union of Sleep at bei Roy: well this is quite a line-up. Eight bands (plus one secret special guest band) celebrating the Berlin stop of a this Charming Man Records label tour. There's probably something in it for everyone if you're into punk and hardcore sorts of music and I'm pretty sure this is going to be packed.
Mary Ocher and Your Government at Haus der Berliner Festspiele: We have written about this lady before, and it may or may not be your cup of tea, kinda like Marmite, but I like this setting. She is playing as part of a performance art festival. Check out the precise time in our calendar - apparently they run a tight schedule.

Factory: Manchester from Joy Division To Happy Mondays

You can right now watch the entire BBC documentary "Factory: Manchester from Joy Division To Happy Mondays" from 2007 on vimeo . It's a pretty interesting take on the british music scene around the Factory label in the late 70s and early 80s and it's definitely worth a look! Check it out here or see below (info text from the vimeo site beneath).

"(2007) Factory: Manchester from Joy Division To Happy Mondays from Rock Docs on Vimeo.

In a dark, northern city in the late 70s, five dreamers built a record label - Factory; 3 classic bands - Joy Division, New Order and Happy Mondays, and Britain's first super club - The Hacienda.

Led by Tony Wilson, they created a unique collision between conceptual art and street music. This is the story of how a TV presenter (Wilson), an out of work actor (Alan Erasmus), an art student (Peter Saville), a DJ (Rob Gretton) and an aspiring record producer (Martin Hannett) pioneered Britain's independent pop culture, imagined a new Manchester, and blew a shed-load of money.
Featuring an extensive interview with Factory's creative genius Anthony Wilson who sadly died Friday 10 August 2007, this 90 minute documentary celebrates the triumph, tragedy and human comedy that was Factory and is a fitting tribute to Wilson's contribution to British pop culture and to Manchester.

Directed and Produced by Chris Rodley
Narrated by John Simm

© 2007 BBC

Friday, 28 September 2012

Eddi Argos correction

I had originally incorrectly listed the Eddie Argos gig for Saturday. It's today, Friday, dear people. Sorry, and see you later maybe!

Thursday, 27 September 2012

Review: Dirty Beaches in the Maze

If you start queuing for something half an hour before the doors open and you know more than half of the people who have turned up will have to go home empty-handed again, would that not make you truly appreciate the event? Well, as it turns out that was not what visitors at yesterday's Maze festival event had in mind.

Alex Zhang Hungtai, aka Dirty Beaches, is what I would call a genius. I might be going out on a limb here but to me, what he creates musically and artistically, is simply a cut above the rest. His sound structures, layered and fuzzed out, with his moody effect vocals may not be new but nobody does that like him. He seems immune to the influence of others and creates his own musical world that appeals to your usual electro-psychedlic crowd as much as fans of experimental noise and ambient alike. The prospect of experiencing West Germany transformed into a labyrinth and the wonderful music of Dirty Beaches together sounded like absolute heaven to me.

So what is the Maze? In a nutshell, it's a cultural event and a sociological experiment in one. The rooms of West Germany have been kitted out with wooden frames that in turn have been transformed into "walls" with the help of colourful string. You can walk through some of them, others will appear as barriers and will make you take alternative routes, like in a maze. Additionally, pieces of art are strewn throughout the labyrinth. The idea is that people have to think more about where they position themselves in the room and that there is an element of surprise thrown into the evening. For example, apparently there is a secret "door" in one of the "walls" but I don't think anyone found this out last night. And you don't really know where or how the band is going to play until the actual performance starts. It is curious but can be daunting at times, too. Nobody is keen on going to the back of the maze in case they get stuck there for the rest of the evening.

Wednesday, 26 September 2012

Jay Reatard film night

Next month, there is going to be a special film night at Monarch, with Better Than Something, the documentary on Jay Reatard, one of our favourite punk rockers, being shown and some supreme DJing by yours truly King Khan taking place. Check out the facebook event page and get cozy with us on 14 October.

Tuesday, 25 September 2012

Quick Review: Evangelista and B/B/S

This already was a while ago. I didn't have the chance to write something before but still want to mention it because it was a memorable show.

Berghain Kantine wasn't nearly as filled as I imagined when Aidan Baker, whom we already wrote about numerous times, started the evening with his newest three piece band project B/B/S. With this two guitars and a drummer line up, they played the sort of music you'd expect to hear from him. Epic postrock songs that slowly built up, got noisier and louder and then slowly faded out. He surely knows what he's doing and if you're into postrock or postmetal in any way, you'll like what he does. The live drummer added some interesting  "real band" experience to the whole thing and definitely freshened it up a little..

Next up were Evangelista. Now I already saw Carla Bozulich perform twice this year (plus once last year opening for Thurston Moore). One time collaborating with Okkyung Lee on cello and Morten J. Olsen on drums/percussions at Ausland and the other time together with Jhno and Aidan Baker at bei Roy. Both times were totally different experiences but also totally great in their ways, so I was sort of sure this won't disappoint me either.

Playing with her full band again sounded and felt totally different than the concerts I saw before and it was pretty awesome! Carla was singing, shouting, preaching, joking and the show was musically very intense. For a couple of songs they borrowed the drummer from B/B/S which made the whole thing even better, I wished he could have played the whole set with them. But nonetheless the four piece band played a truly great set of dark and mesmerizing music, somewhere between postrock, folk elements and experimental ambient sounds. I left happy and hope they'll be back sometime soon.

Monday, 24 September 2012

A morning with Liars

Liars are back in Berlin soon and we are getting excited about it already. Read our review from their album showcase earlier this year.

In the meantime, start your day with this. Yum!

Saturday, 22 September 2012

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

C* is still busy readjusting her mind after it was blown by Dead Skeletons earlier this week. What can possibly attempt to top this in the following week. Oh yes, Dirty Beaches in the Maze. And come and say hello to J. and I on Monday at the anticipated Ted Leo gig.


Ted Leo and Rebecca Gates at Monarch: The music of Ted Leo and his various projects has been part of my life since I was 17. So I have a super soft spot for the man. Nostalgia aside, I also firmly believe that this evening is going to be real nice, with Rebecca Gates being a welcome complementation to Ted's music, and that you should show up early to get in. Hang out with J. and me if you feel like it.
Islands at .HBC: ANTI- protegés Islands play quirky pop. It's quite special and should appeal to fans of Magic Numbers. Now, I thought .HBC was still closed and their website certainly suggests so, however, the web lists a few gigs at .HBC. If anyone thinks this has been moved and can tell me where to, I would very much appreciate it. Otherwise, I just have to believe the written word and assume that Islands are indeed playing at .HBC.


Xerxes and The Tidal Sleep at K19: Fast HC Noise, which is something of a dying breed. We love our HC noise, so if this up your street as well, Tuesday is the night to have your ears blown. Yay.


Yowie and The Kurws at bei Roy: In the late 90s a friend once likened Skin Graft records to "a bunch of cymbals being thrown down the stairs and that being called music." He wasn't wrong there. Of course, this can be brilliant and, let's face it, the label has ventured out a bit since. Nowadays, bands like Quintron bring out records on Skin Graft. However Yowie are of the old school variety of bands on the label, meaning they play highly deconstructed analogue music that sometimes really does sound like those cymbals on those stairs. And we love 'em for it. If you are open to have your musical universe expanded, head to Roy on Wednesday.
The Maze festival at West Germany: Dirty Beaches are tonight's act and most likely the one that will have the masses turn up at a reduced capacity West Germany. Be prepared to queue, and possibly be turned away, when one of our favourite current performers hits the stage while people get lost in the maze. See our review from his last Berlin performances.

Fu Manchu at Lido: Stoner rock legends for whom I have always had a soft spot. I once sold my album for way too little on ebay. I regret it to this day. Go go Godzilla!
The Maze festival at West Germany: Tonight is a local night in the Maze, with Big Eater, Al Burian's Berlin based funky post-punk project, wavey post-punk project Ill Winds, and noisey mathcore group NOEM.

King Khan & BBQ Show, Bikes and Delta Love at Festsaal Kreuzberg: The Canadian Mr. Khan has been living in our city for quite some time and performed earlier this year at this very venue. Yet, it still got me excited to see this headline show announced. Want some weirdness, a good jig, and extreme fun? Don't miss this gig!


Eddie Argos & The Lo Fi Punk Rock Motherfuckers at White Trash Fast Food: I am a big Art Brut fan. With that I am of course not referring to the art movement (though that was great, too), but to the British rebel pop group. I mostly love Art Brut for the lyrics and Eddie Argos' unmistakable singing style. The other night at a party someone said "I am sure that was just Eddie Argo there". Well it was. He resides in Berlin and his new project is performing at White Trash on Saturday. Meet me there!
Deep Time and Don Nino at Schokoladen: Deep Time used to be called Yellow Fever, but apparently they were not as good then. Well, the duo, who play indie pop in a varied and intelligent way, please my need for K-Records style pop very much now. Remember Cadallaca and Olympia, WA groups like that? Good to know there are still musical projects like this. See you Friday at 7 pm!


Daniel Bachman and Helen Gillet at Madame Claude: Guitar virtuoso and folk musician Daniel Bachman is gracing this city on Saturday. If you like steel string guitars and good folk music, you will enjoy this greatly. It's hard to stand out in this genre - I believe Daniel Bachman does because he plays that instrument like no other. Support from talented jazz musician Helen Gillet.


Friday, 21 September 2012

Review: Dead Skeletons

Oh wow, just wow! I had high hopes for this gig and this Icelandic group did not disappoint. There, really, that's all you need to know about last night.

A while ago, on a warm spring evening in Austin, TX with some pizza, we talked about what makes an artist successful and an NPR feature was quoted, which was all about the story behind the artist and the aura and illusion created. It argued that if people had a story to associate with the artist or, even better, to identify with, they would connect with the music in a different way and would more likely become loyal followers. I have often thought about that conversation since and have looked at musicians that I admire in a new light. I also think, this holds true for arts other than music, most famously Andy Warhol and Joseph Beuys, who constantly reinvented their lives to create an image and tale that people would want to connect with and find out more about. A prominent musical example is definitely Jack White, who receives such admiration in part due to the story and aura he has fabricated over the years.

I am telling you all this because the one thing I took away from yesterday's show is how effortlessly music and art can be combined and how creating an aura and mystique around you can truly aid the perception of the music you produce. Now there may be purists who feel that music should be enjoyed for what it is. But with today's abundance of bands and the internet to confuse listeners, you need something to stand out, to set you apart from the flock. Dead Skeletons skillfully appeal to all your senses and thus magically create an experience that puts you into a trance and, at the same time, has you rock like you are in a garage in 1967. 

Before the band came onstage, the DJ team mixed several Indian dance songs into their set, while kaleidoscopic projections were screened at the back of the darkened stage. I do not actually know whether this was cleverly crafted by the band to prepare the audience for the performance or whether this was just naturally done by Kater Holzig and the 8mm DJ team. Either way, it worked - the tension was mounting, the packed room was getting hot, and any pre-check of the equipment was receiving the closest attention in case this was the gig finally starting. 

Thursday, 20 September 2012

Update: You Are Here AKA The Maze festival

Because the organisers of the Maze festival at West Germany are the coolest people, we have been able to get a quick update from them on how the first days of the two-week-event have been going. It is such an exciting project, which we wholeheartedly support, so go on over and have a look. Here is what organiser Grinni had to say on the initial days:

"First days of the MAZE were as diverse at it can get! People self-directing their way through a labyrinth of woven strings and sonic experiments:

From the clash of the opening with Diamond Terrifier's meditative otherworldly saxophone performance to the fragile and intense dream-pop of Sean Nicholas Savage to Gandoola oond Krapoola's Sickotheke aka crawling on the floor with turntables. Sunday continued with a spiritual cleansing and enlightening performance by Jimmy Trash & Professor Mugglestone, where audience -one-by-one - going thru stages yet intimate, disgusting, confusing, teaching and comforting, set to encounter a purified self. On to Jim Avignon's Monday of weird electronic anti folk. Tuesday ending the first part of the MAZE with a challenging night of instrumental solo and group performances by Axel Dörner, Olaf Rupp, Jan Roder, Oli Steidle, Carlos Giuffoni." 

We are so privileged to have this happening in our town. Yeah! 

BTW, also check out the little preview that Noisey ran last week. It will give a brief overview of the idea behind the festival.


Wednesday, 19 September 2012

Simon Reynolds - Retromania lecture

You should definitely consider going to Simon Reynold's lecture at Festsaal Kreuzberg on Oct 16th. He "explores rock's nostalgia industry of revivals, reissues, reunions and remakes, and argues that there has never before been a culture so obsessed with its own immediate past."

Here's the facebook event page for that.

Review: DIIV

A few weeks ago, hundreds of young hip persons showed up at Monarch to see DIIV (pronounced dive) play. Many had to be turned away. Even two nights at this cozy venue could not meet demand. There was a buzz when we arrived at Kottbusser Tor and the stairs to Monarch were full or people hoping to get their hands on potential reserved spaces that would not be redeemed. Most of these people had to go home disappointed. Monarch was packed, two nights in a row, and we were lucky to be the ones inside and not outside. What a craze!

Now where does this hype stem from? Sure, the band is good. Sure, the singer looks cute. Sure, it's a Beach Fossils side-project. Sure, the record is on Captured Tracks and has been receiving rave reviews. But did this warrant the frenzy that was surrounding this gig? Probably not, and yet, it felt good to know young people could get this excited about a band playing in town, about a gig at a bar. There is something profoundly reassuring about this.

Before the gig even started I overheard a conversation in which three young lads were bragging about drunkeness in various places and to various degrees. When the band played, little girls in front row were taking close-ups of singer Z. Cole Smith. I was suddenly transported back to my high school days - the audience was that young and easy to impress.

Super quick review: Graham Coxon

I was invited to go see Graham Coxon at Postbahnhof the other day and I accepted.

He had brought with him a five people band and, at times, they were playing four guitars simultaneously. It was a very loud and noisy affair that I didn't expect. Overall the gig turned out to be more punk than I would have guessed beforehand, even though the audience was very Brit Pop heavy. Graham's out-of-tune voice over heavily layered and distorted guitars turned out a distinct punk sound that ran through the entire evening, despite obvious influences from other genres.

The man played for nearly two hours and people loved it. I was wishing for some more variety to the set and would have probably been fine with half the length. But I confess that it was not at all what I expected and that I came away with some respect for the man Coxon. If people associate you with Blur and then you churn out noisy snotty punk like that, that takes some guts. I am glad it was appreciated.

Monday, 17 September 2012

Quick review: Jonathan Richman

I wanted to write a lot about this, then realised there was not that much to say. Jonathan Richman does what he does and he does it so well. It is music that you can dance to and sing along to, it is comedy and, most of all, it is a reminder of how charming the world can be. He may have aged a little but he has stayed young and has retained that face you could just fall in love with.

Festsaal was not sold out - a surprise - but everybody there was having an insanely good time. It was a hot August evening, very hot, and it was fun. Simple things can be the best things and Mr Richman, a guitar, a sing-along audience, and a drummer was all that this evening needed. And when he sang "I was dancing in a lesbian bar" and people happily chirped along, I couldn't help but smile to myself. Simple pleasures in life, musically performed by J Richman.

P.S.: I attempted to take pictures but the steam inside Festsaal was so dense that night that no photos came out right.

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

What a week that was! We're still on a high. Check out our Black Dice / Silver Apples review, look forward to our Dent May review, some comments on the opening of the Maze and c*'s view on Graham Coxon when we get round to it. In the meantime, plan this week's nights out. Watch out for crazy Thursday!
P.S.: We cannot preview every single event at the You Are Here AKA The Maze festival but do check out the schedule. It's amazing and you may be surprised at the experiences you will have.

Ton Steine Scherben at Theater Tiyatrom: I have already done a mini preview on this. Band anniversary. German legends. Singer dead. Kreuzberg legacy. Punk before punk. Absolutely amazing. Go see if you can still get in! There is a second night on Tuesday, if that works out better for you.

Cian Nugent at Madame Claude: Experimental folk and blues. Sounds weird? It's not, to the contrary: it's very relaxed and highly intelligent. Don't think neo folk - this is traditional stuff. Just that one song might last for 20 minutes. Irish guitarist Cian Nugent is very talented and this will make a wonderful evening for a true folk aficionado.

Beirut at Columbiahalle: Yeuch! I mean I love Beirut and anyone open to a different kind of folk and indie music should love this one-man-project-turned-big-band but Columbiahalle must be the worst setting for Beirut. It was the Berlin Festival last time they played in town, and it was Astra before that. They need to start playing Volksbühne for a couple of nights, or Tempodrom, but not these soulless venues. I shall abstain from this gig, even though I am a big fan. But if you have never seen the amazing Beirut play, by all means, make your way up to Columbiadamm on Wednesday. 

Dan Deacon at Festsaal: The man Dan is coming back to town and everybody, I mean everybody, is talking about it. This is going to be so grrrreat. Unfortunately, this is on the same night as a billion other things - so I cannot promise you which review you are going to get yet. So be there or be square because otherwise you may not be able to talk about it with everybody afterwards.
Big Harp at Comet: The thing with Big Harp is that if you like Johnny Cash, Neil Young and twee music all mixed, or you are just a Bill Callahan fan, chances are you like this. It's this simple. Is it folk week or what?
Diät and Paro at about:blank: Yay, another Diät gig. We have said enough about these guys in the past. They rock and they are great. Just go and see them already!
Dead Skeletons at KaterHolzig: c*'s gig of the week. I have been looking forward to this for ages now. Yeah! They kind of sound like mixing Civil Civic, Dirty Beaches and Moon Duo together, and if you have been paying attention at all over the past two years, you will know that those bands feature in my top favouite bands list. I am going to dance my little ass off. Join me if you will.

The Maze festival at West Germany: The Extended Amorphous Drone For Multiple Heads curated by Aidan Baker. This is going to be a crazy night of soundscapes of the deep, dark and experimental variety. Have your mind blown by Mr. Baker this Friday and enjoy the madness of the maze while you are there.
Anton Barbeau at Madame Claude: Some might call this city hopper crazy but fun is what springs to mind first. Of Montreal is the first comparison I can think of - he's got a similar voice and a liking for pop, too. This could be good fun.

Another night at the Maze festival at West Germany: Tonight is a charitable event - a benefit for "psych folk drone whatever guitar player" Tom Carter, who was hospitalized with pneumonia while on tour in Europe this summer with Charalambides. Complications arose and he was in a coma for weeks, with significant expenses. With performances by Nadja, Jochen Arbeit & Hopek Quirin, as well as Head Of Wantastiquet, this evening will not only be a really good one musically, and will give you another chance to explore the maze into which West Germany has been transformed, but it will also serve a purpose other than just you getting wasted and partying hard. 

King Tuff at Monarch: Classic garage rock, a little lo-fi, but very pop and 70s sounding. This is going to be so rad and so full and so fun. There is a lot of talk about town referring to this show, and rightly so. Yum.
White Lung and Terrible Feelings at Roy: The Canadian group White Lung is making waves in the international music press (Pitchfork high score) at the moment and I am excited about it. We need more punk rock in our lives and when it's this accessible, you cannot go wrong. Think Mika Miko, think Bikini Kill but also think every great punk band you saw when you were 15. We will dance and kick ass at Roy's on Sunday. Support from Terrible Feelings - they do a very similar thing and we have previewed them before. See you there!!

Saturday, 15 September 2012

La Moustache competition results

Hey y'all, here are the results of the vote for coolest moustache in the history of rock music.

GG Allin's brother Merle - 1 vote
Freddie Mercury (consistently spelled incorrectly) - 4 votes
Jimmy Hendrix/Lionel Richie (apparently brothers) - 1 vote
Ron Mael - 1 vote
Björk - 1 vote

We are unsure what to think about this but the Jimmy Hendrix Lionel Richie brother duo has won and the winner has been notified. Have fun everybody!

Lionel Richie - Dancing on the Ceiling - MyVideo

Friday, 14 September 2012

Lisboa report II: Moon Duo

Going to a gig in Southern Europe is different to going to a gig in Berlin. And then it is also not. 

It was still hot late at night when we strolled through Lisbon after a nice dinner at a gay-friendly restaurant (funny how they make a point of advertising this fact) and watched the craziness of a Saturday night in Lisbon's entertainment district. We thought we were "on time" arriving at the venue way past midnight. But we were the first guests to show up and had to wait another full hour before the support band played. 

I cannot remember the name and I don't feel it is relevant to google them. They were a cute local college two-piece and the girls knew how to rock, in a lo-fi way. Their friends had come out in support and there was some serious youth club dancing going on. It was all rather quaint. 

The venue was actually a super hip, very chique club below street level, near the waterfront. The drinks on offer were posh and those that had come out to see Moon Duo rather than the college support band were clearly young hip professionals and probably a few tourists. The audience was therefore rather reserved, albeit into the headline band, and not nearly as passionate as I would have maybe expected, given the hot Southern stereotype.

Moon Duo played anything from very old material to songs of the new forthcoming album. For the new record, the concept hasn't changed much - it is still repetitive, doodly, sexy and übercool. As always, they rocked so hard, they looked so cool, the songs worked so well. People were into it, you could tell. And I was the fan that I am again. Forgotten was our dinner the night before, forgotten the hang outs at other times. Now there was my favourite band and I was their biggest fan. 

It was a nice taster for the new album and the upcoming Berlin gig this autumn. And when people came and asked for autographs after the gig, I knew it wasn't just me who gets this mesmerised by their music and stage presence. I simply love Moon Duo and so does the world.

Review: CocoRosie

The sisters in CocoRosie have spent a considerable amount of time in Berlin over the years, having won over hearts in this town. So when, on one of my trips to Los Angeles a few years back, I got the chance to see CocoRosie, I grabbed it and went to the concert excited as pie. Only to be disappointed. I was in absolute awe for the first 3-4 songs, then got sufficiently bored. The magic of the flurescent make-up, the high voices and the mix of musical styles didn't seem to vary very much and somehow, it all began to drag. 

But because I love the concept of this group and because the addition of an Indian folk orchestra made me curious, I gave the elf-like sisters another go and ventured to Heimathafen Neukölln a while back.

Heimathafen has hosted many interesting live music events over the past months but somehow I had not yet ended up at one of their promising nights. But wow, what a venue! Yes, I expected a theater, but I didn't expect this classical bohemian setting. Absolutely wonderful. And even though we got into the venue late because of the long queue outside, we managed to secure a balcony space with a good view. The setting was perfect and tension building while everyone was waiting for the perfomance to commence.

Thursday, 13 September 2012

Review: Berlin Festival

Berlin Festival is becoming the capital's music scene's annual meet-and-greet event. Every year, we meet more music industry executives from around the world there, some of whom fly in just for the festival, disregarding the Berlin Music Week leading up to the festival weekend. It's a curious trend but one that means that a performance at the festival carries more weight for a group than some may think. This is now also being backed by visitor numbers: after security issues in 2010 and low attendancy in 2011, the festival organisers could open the gates with confidence this past Friday - all weekend tickets had been sold prior to the start of the first day. It looks as if the involvement of the festival promotion giant Festival Republic is starting to pay off.

As a large-scale urban event, Berlin Festival sets itself apart from other festivals and manages to draw the connection between club culture and open air music. The audience is therefore not your average festival goers but instead consists of trendy urbanites that do not own or need wellington boots. Even the police seemed to have chosen their youngest and best looking policemen as festival security. While the festival moved to its current location on Tempelhof airport in 2009, the organisers really picked up the theme this year by giving the stage a plane design and having airplane elements all over the site. We even spotted a group of young ladies in flight attendant uniforms with suitcases. Other components to the festival have not changed, like the Art Village, silent disco, high quality food, and sponsored games.

Kreuzberg legacy

There are be a lot of interesting events happening in Berlin this month to mark the 40th anniversary of legendary Kreuzberg outfit Ton Steine Scherben. As part of this, there is an opportunity to attend two concerts on Monday and Tuesday. Go to their website to find out all about it. And while you are there, read up on their ideas, you might just get some yourself. Keine Macht für Niemand!

Wednesday, 12 September 2012

Review: Silver Apples, Black Dice and MV&EE

What a line-up! I expected Festsaal Kreuzberg to be totally packed for this show. In the end it wasn't but the concert was incredible anyway.

First up were MV&EE. They hadn't really been on my radar before, even though they have released several records on noteworthy labels such as Ecstatic Peace and Woodsist. They played on the ground in front of the stage literally in a bunch of equipment, instruments and their own PA. Also there was some nice live visual art done with the help of two overhead projectors, coloured pieces of plastic foil and several lamps. The visuals fitted the music pretty well and added nicely to the atmosphere MV&EE created. They played dreamy psychedelic and experimental folk music that sounded like something between a camp fire experience on heavy drugs and a soundtrack to a desert road movie. I didn't watch their whole set because I wasn't really in the mood for something like that but I didn't dislike what they did either. Maybe I should give them another try at home.

After getting some fresh air I went in again and Black Dice finally claimed the stage. They have existed since 1997 and their musical style has undergone some significant changes since then. Nowadays they're a three piece and release their records on Paw Tracks and DFA instead of Gravity and 31G. Nonetheless their output has been consistently good and highly interesting throughout their career and, the latest since their release of Beaches & Canyons in 2002, they are an important and driving force in the field of independent experimental electronic music. 

Some R. Stevie Moore for the weekend

From now on, I Am A Genius (And There Is Nothing You Can Do About It) is screening for free on YouTube. The documentary about R. Stevie Moore, who regularly passes through Berlin on his tours, was filmed on location in Nashville by French film maker Arnaud Maguet and sounds very promising. I know what I will be doing this weekend.

It's finally here aka The Maze

You Are Here aka The Maze, the two week art and music festival taking place at West Germany is finally starting and opening this Saturday! In cooperation with the artist duo Trouble, who made The Maze first happen in New York, some lovely Berlin people are hosting a pretty interesting program of bands, musicians, performances and artists in a self-built maze.

Now this Saturday, Diamond Terrifier and Sean Nicholas Savage will open the Maze along with a lecture performance from Itty Minchesta of the AtomicTitCorporation. Diamond Terrifier is Sam Hillmer and basically half of Trouble. You may have seen him playing with his band Z's at West Germany (our review here).

On Sunday, the second day of the maze, there will be a performance called Hermetistasis presented by Professor Mugglestone and Jimmy Trash. You can find some more info on this facebook event page.

Here's the full schedule of the Maze and you can find more background information on the festival itself here.

Tuesday, 11 September 2012

La Moustache competition

The bookers at La Moustache are celebrating their 5th anniversary these days and have organised two live music events for this: Friday night at bei Roy, Saturday night at Festsaal Kreuzberg.

We are very pleased to be able to offer two tickets to one lucky reader for the Saturday event. Yeah! All you have to do is this: Send us an email to naming your favourite moustache in the history of rock music, your name, phone number (if you have one) and email address, so that we can contact you. The competition closes on Friday at 3pm and we will choose a winner on Friday night.

Here is what we wrote about it in our preview: "Festsaal Kreuzberg will host the second day of the La Moustache Birthday with Chinawoman, Hurray for the Riff Raff, Verity Susman and The Shondes. Promising line up between 80s influenced dark electro pop, indie country music and catchy indie punk tunes."

And here is a video showcasing some good moustache action:

Monday, 10 September 2012

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

Brother, we're knackered and we're not trying to hide it. Music week was crazy, autumn is crazy, and we're loving it. Here is the next week of mayhem for you.
P.S.: And what's with those temperatures? 28°C in mid-September? Hello global warming!

Lawrence Arabia at Roter Salon: This New Zealand dude listened to Talking Heads when hanging out in his bedrooms as a teenager I reckon. It's only rock'n'pop but I like it, like it, yes I do.

Black Dice, Silver Apples and MV&EE at Festsaal Kreuzberg: This is pretty much our gig of the week, of the month, hell, maybe of the year. I really hope it's going to live up to our expectations! Black Dice play awesome and weird experimental electronic music. They somehow perfectly pursue what Silver Apples began almost 40 years ago when they recorded two extraordinary records, mostly using a huge amount of analog synthesizers and creating something pretty innovative between Krautrock and early electronic music.

Larsen at Marie Antoinette: Another rather quick return to Berlin. Larsen played together with Jamie Stewart from Xiu Xiu not long ago at the same venue (read about that show here) and now they're back without their extra member. They play an interesting take on psychedelic post rock, if that's your thing somehow you should give them a try!
Reigning Sound at Roadrunner's: See my review from before. These godfathers of modern garage punk are not to be missed if you are into that kind of thing and will rock hard this Wednesday. Yay!

Evangelista and B/B/S at Berghain Kantine: Carla Bozulich already returns to Berlin, this time she brings her band Evangelista. Evangelista play intense dark drony music, carried by Carla's distinctive voice and lyrics. They will be supported by B/B/S, a new project around Aidan Baker from Nadja, so you'll probably be able to imagine where this is going. This is definitely another highlight of the week and I'm very much looking forward to this!

Expo '70, Ancient Ocean and Du Champ at The Zone: Our Noisekölln experts write "Expo '70's first album "Animism", which debuted in 2007 on Kill Shaman, is an eclectic mix of krautrock, ambient drone, space exploration and minimal compositions. Comparisons range from Brian Eno, Ash Ra Tempel, A.R. & Machines, SunnO))) and Earth, but not directly sounding like any of those artists in their entirety," and that's a marketing pitch we are happily falling for. Thursday is noise day.

La Moustache celebrate their fifth birthday with a two-day festival taking place at bei Roy and Festsaal Kreuzberg. The bei Roy Friday will feature Petethepiratesquid, Karo, Los Cripis and Bathtub Theory. Finally another Petethepiratesquid show, they seem to be pretty rare nowadays. And of course all the best and happy birthday to La Moustache, we hope they'll stick around another 5 years putting up great shows!

Festsaal Kreuzberg will host the second day of the La Moustache Birthday with Chinawoman, Hurray for the Riff Raff, Verity Susman and The Shondes. Promising line up between 80s influenced dark electro pop, indie country music and catchy indie punk tunes.
Dent May & Band at Monarch: Electro pop that's danceable and dreamy all the same and, well, pop. If you like Of Montreal you will appreciate this artist. Hipsters may talk about this gig for a while, so if you want to be able to talk along, hop on over to Monarch, don your best ironic dress and hold a glass of wine while you jig away.

Jeffrey Lewis & The Junkyard and Freschard at Festsaal Kreuzberg: OK, so I am this big fan, yet I manage to miss Jeff Lewis everytime he hits this town. This is because he always plays as part of festivals or events where I am not interested in anything but the man Lewis. So when I heard about this headline show I got so very excited. As far as political singer-songwriters with a social sensibility and humor go, this man is the prince of the genre. I will bi a little girl admiring him for his wit and then I will report back to you on Monday. Alright! Btw, Freschard is known to Berliners from her amazing performances with Stanley Brinks. Be early and don't miss this very wonderful lady.

Friday, 7 September 2012

C*'s picks for the Berlin Festival

Good day y'all. From this afternoon, I will be spending a lot of time at a disused airport with mediocre pizza. I am definitely disappointed by this year's line-up but here are my picks for the coming two days:

5 pm Friends
5:45 pm Little Dragon
7:15 pm Tocotronic for a little while, before heading over to
7:30 pm Grimes (again, a while of this will probably suffice)
8:45 pm Sigor Ros for half a set, before heading over to
9:30 pm Miike Snow for probably half a set before heading home

3 pm Crocodiles (yay, alright!)
4:30 pm some Django Django
6 pm Bonaparte
9 pm Franz Ferdinand (might pop into Kraftklub or Sizarr before)
11 pm The Soundtrack of our Lives

Anything I have missed that you recommend I should go and see? I am conscious that I have completely disregarded the Berlin Music Week stage simply because not a single name means anything to me (am I getting old??).

See you later!

Just to let you know, you can now also reach us via Not that it makes a huge difference but it just looks a bit better...

Thursday, 6 September 2012

ICAS Suite review on ArtInfo

We are incredibly busy this week and couldn't make it to the ICAS Suite events last night. But do not despair, c* sent her work colleague instead. Read the review on ArtInfo Deutschland (in German, sorry). It is sweet to read about our favourite venues in a serious art publication. Yay.

Review: The XX

As a child, if I came down with a fever, I always had the same dream. I would see two round objects move towards each other in an open space in slow motion. The closer they would get the more they would slow down. I would anticipate the big crash that was imminent but it would never come and the tension would just build and build. When I woke up, I was always drenched in sweat, exremely confused and it would take me several seconds to verify my surroundings and feel sane again. Somehow, watching the XX the other night reminded me of this, even though the band was good.

We didn't preview this gig. We didn't because I have never paid too much attention to the XX. Sure, some of the songs you hear on the radio are beautiful pop tunes. Of course we paid notice when the band played two gigs in one night at Astra a couple of years ago because demand was so high. And I absolutely know that they are a talented and relevant group. But what they do just hasn't gripped me. Hey, but given the chance to attend their only Germany date on this tour, in a theatre, seated, I would of course go.

Quick review: Eagles of Death Metal

Some famous makers of guitar amplifiers are celebrating their 50th anniversary these days. In light of that they released some near gear and threw a party at Berlin's Hansa Tonstudio. Eagles of Death Metal were willing to perform and bow to the amps, maybe got a few bucks for this, too. So I got the chance to indulge in some unusual flavours of sorbet, while watching this rock group play.

I have always been intrigued by EoDM. I love that LA song they did, it's so catchy. And I honestly think there isn't enough dirty rock'n'roll of the rockstar variety out there these days. EoDM nicely fill that gap and just rock out, with moustaches and all. Live, they were loud. I mean, loud. The venue wasn't exactly a rock club and the audience was lacking the leather trousers to go with this loudness. And there was no oxygen in the room whatsoever. But I was impressed. I mean, they have a few hits and the rest are fillers in my view, and do bore me, but boy, these guys rock so hard and display a sense of humour while doing so. I dig that. 

So we had a good time, some free drinks, and were given some real rock'n'roll in a pretentious setting, which was curiously less judging than some of the other gigs I attend. How about that. A fun night out and I'd do it again in a dash.

Moon love

Ahead of their album release next month and an extensive tour later in the autumn, Moon Duo released this video yesterday. OMG I love this so! Watch this! It is absolutely amazing, plus you may just recognise some familiar Berlin faces. The band shot the video in Berlin this summer and managed to recruit many local music startlets as volunteers.

Monday, 3 September 2012

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

This week marks a busy one for live music enthuisiasts in Berlin. Not only do we have Berlin Music Week, the co-running ICAS Suite and the Berlin Festival on but promoters across town have booked an interesting selection of gigs as well. You will see us busy and tired and psyched all at once. We will avoid sleep and rest and instead will be out and about and reporting for you. See you out there.

Jikuuuuuuuuuuu and Portraits Heads at Madame Claude: This week's Experimental Monday sound artist is the Japanese Maria Jiku with her noise / ambient drone project Jikuuuuuuuuuuu. A rare chance to see her perform and one you shouldn't miss if this is your thing.

Pet Shop Boys at HAU: Crazy, right? But it's true. How about that.
High Wolf at Festsaal Kreuzberg: High Wolf are part of the ICAS Suite Festival line-up and so worth your attention. Hailing from France, the project performs experimental ambient music with ethnic folk influences. It's an out-of-this world experience. Highly recommended.

Dum Dum Girls at Bassy Cowboy Club: Pre- and reviewed by us a ton before. Fanstatic girls churning out fantastic songs. Go!

Fenster at Lido: International and local at the same time, Fenster make us proud time and again in the world out there. The weirdo pop trio is playing at Lido as part of music week. Go out and show the music industry reps what we have here. Believe me, it's worth your while!
Pantha du Prince at Festsaal Kreuzberg: Again, not the first time we are featuring PdP. This is also an ICAS Suite gig and in my view the best one on the festival line-up. Special indeed.
Skinny Downers and Sweet Sweet Moon at Madame Claude: Skinny Downers sounds like Australian fun punk to me. Wrong! They play dark wavey music, probably influenced by Depeche Mode, and are really quite good at it. The cosy setting of Madame Claude might work magic for this. A highly recommended gig.

Telepathe and Electric Ocean People at about:blank: Electro-clash duo Telepathe are finally making another appearance in Berlin and I am excited as pie to see them. Electric Ocean People do electronica pop and will convince you, too. A very good bill at this cozy venue on Saturday.
De Høje Haele and No More Art at bei Roy: Danceable indie punk rock, tight and fun and ancient sounding, from De Høje Haele. I like!! '77 punk from No More Art. This sounds like a fun night - head on over to bei Roy if you wanna rock out!

The World Inferno Friendship Society at Supamolli: Our favourite bohemian anarchist society is doing their annual Berlin show at Supamolli this time and it is going to be a big crazy party again. The same procedure every year.