Sunday, 30 June 2013

Preview - the week ahead (1st - 7th July)

After the high of the heat comes the low of autumn weather in July. But look at things in a positive manner: It will make good gigs around town a lot more bearable, unless you really fancy a sauna right now. As per last week, Thursday is must-go-out day in Berlin this week, but join the whole Craze team at West Germany on Saturday. Don't forget to come and say hi to us when seeing us around town!


Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros at Heimathafen: Ok, this gig is definitely not your typical Craze material and, now that their wonderful number Home has been used for a television advert, not really in need of our support. However, I have a very soft spot for Edward Sharpe and his songwriting, so I am sticking it in here anyway. So there.

Chelsea Light Moving at Festsaal Kreuzberg: Thurston Moore’s latest project does not cut it for me like his solo records do, let alone Sonic Youth, but it does have the trademark Thurston Moore sound and voice. And that alone is reason to head to Festsaal tonight and admire one of the heroes of modern music as we know it. Read my review of his amazing show at Volksbühne to know you don’t want to miss this.
Alex Zhang Hungtai, Bernadino Femminielli, Shub Roy and other guests, at Haus der Berliner Festspiele: Another month, another Dirty Beaches show. Or so it seems. But this one is special. As part of the Foreign Affairs arts festival, Alex Zhang Hungtai and his band companion, Canadian sound artist Bernadino Femminielli, are performing a revue three nights in a row at Haus der Berliner Festspiele - for free! Be there on time as all Foreign Affairs events start punctually. Then, on Saturday see Dirty Beaches support Anika in a more common gig setting.

Bobby Conn at Privatclub: Goodness, I used to be obsessed with this man. At times funky, at times disco, sometimes soul, he did the whole analog dance thing long before others claimed our dancefloors. Bobby Conn also combines his rhythmic soul with a good style and performance art to match. You like new acts like Mac DeMarco? Well, this is the original (indie version) deal. Bring a sense of humour!


Diät, Piss, and P.U.F.F. at Koma F: We are documented Diät fans. I don’t know much about the other two obscenely named punk bands but I presume that this will be a good punk rock night all around in the right squat setting for it.

Anika and Dirty Beaches at Haus der Berliner Festspiele: As per above, Anika, who J. and I have been supporters of for some time, and Dirty Beaches, one of my top favourites, are playing at the Foreign Affairs Festival. Tickets are currently still available, so get them while you can.
Phoebe Kreutz at Down By The River Festival (about:blank): Festival season in Berlin. The annual Down By The River festival is opening its gates again this weekend and I have chosen Phoebe Kreutz as my pick of the fest: charming, funny and clever, this singer-songwriter will make you smile and jig.
Retox, Zeus!, and BATALJ at West Germany: Californian überclever punk rockers Retox are coming back to Berlin, this time with Italian noise duo Zeus!, another too-cool-for-school Three One G label protegée, in tow. These two are getting a lot of attention for a good reason - what a record! J. and my local noise faves BATALJ are the best support this town could imagine for a fantastic noise punk night at beloved West Germany. Read our last Retox review and get excited. See you there, front row!

Tuesday, 25 June 2013

Quick review: Austra

Austra's return to Berlin had been highly anticipated - Lido was sold out months in advance. The new record "Olympia" is getting a lot of press and public attention, their tours with the XX and with The Gossip must have aided the success. But more than anything, it's the art and music of Austra that draws in the crowds - the übercool ones and the general public alike, as the show at Lido proved.

The catchy singles aside, the new material certainly takes a little longer to get a knack of compared to the last album. But once you have listened to it a couple of times, the record in its entirety is highly addictive. The group surrounding Katie Stelmanis is obviously more grown-up, has matured in years of touring and running the show. And though the songs still hold the trademark theatrical vocals and dance beats, there is overall more of a seriousness applied to these songs than you would have maybe expected from a young Canadian dance music troupe.

Lido packed to the rim, people were dancing from the word go and there was no stopping them - old songs, new songs - this crowd was celebrating the band onstage. Austra did live up to the expectations, performed flawlessly with fun and persona, gave it their all. The sound struggled to keep up with the high and low sounds of Austra but I don't think anyone noticed. People were simply up for it. What good fun.

Somehow we managed to hang around a fairly dull afterparty for several hours - drinks and friends in Kreuzberg.

Robin Eisenberg has produced a couple of amazing draws again for us and we love her for it.

Monday, 24 June 2013

Competition: Civil Civic + Slow Steve = wonderful Thursday

Two-piece bands have a certain magic, an electricity between band members, that other projects can't ever match, even when they try. This Thursday sees two such duos hit Kantine am Berghain: Civil Civic and Slow Steve. The latter play first, getting you dancing, the former will continue the jigging energy but throw in some loud rock.

Whoa, we are so excited! So much so, we are sharing the love: Write to us by end of day Wednesday (, telling us the coolest band duo you can think of, and you could win two tickets to this Thursday's event. And you know you want it, you need it!

Win and rock out with C* to something like this:

Sunday, 23 June 2013

Review: Nisennenmondai and Clean & Jerk

After an exhausting day of taking care of stuff and having to repair my bike tire literally the last minute before heading to Urban Spree for the very first time, I was more than glad to have made it there against all odds. Nisennenmondai as well as Clean & Jerk were both fantastic!

Besides the fact of it being located somewhere on the RAW area, I didn't know anything about Urban Spree beforehands. On their website they proclaim to be an "independent contemporary art gallery"and to defend "an artistic grassroots approach, directed towards cities, street & graffiti artists, photographers and contemporary artists." That doesn't sound too bad in the first place and the venue also seemed nice at first sight. I arrived quite late but fortunately didn't miss anything, Clean & Jerk just started a couple of minutes after my arrival, so I made my way into the concert room on time together with a respectable amount of other people.

Since the front of the room was already quite packed, I just headed to the back and found a neat place on some high stairs with perfect view of the stage. Not only was the view pretty nice, I also instantly noticed the perfect sound, which contributed greatly to make this a worthwhile event. Clean & Jerk were announced as a new Berlin based project of an ex-Chrome Hoof member and I have to say they were more than a worthy support for Nisennenmondai. Their music wasn't completely different to Nisennenmondai's, both three piece bands played instrumental and highly rhythmic music with influences from Krautrock and Electronica. But still they had a very distinguished way of combining these influences to form something interesting and appealing. They're music was mainly relying on a dry and deep bass and tight drumming, completed by a percussionist who threw in some tribal rhythms, cowbells as well as synthesizer and keyboard melodies once in a while. This combination of rhythmic and minimalistic bass and drum playing immediately drew my attention and I was positively surprised to say the least. Musically it reminded me of early post-punk bands like Liquid Liquid, sometimes ESG or even Gang of Four combined with very reduced Electronica and early analog-synth music. The music was groovy (although I hate to use that word for some reasons) and driving, it was diversified but minimalistic at the same time and it made me wish to see these guys again some time soon. Perfect prelude to a great evening.

Review: Queens Of The Stone Age

It was hard finding someone to go with to this large-scale show. Every person I asked for company said "No thanks". It is seldom that people snub at a free gig like that. There seems to be a stigma attached to QOTSA that I am not aware of. And it made me want to go even more. Of course I did find nice company in the end. Free gig, hello?!

Zitadelle Spandau was new territory to me. Even though a lot of artists I admire pass through Berlin's open air venue, I have managed to avoid the trek and scale of Zitadelle to this day. When I arrived, ticket touts were approaching me in the U-Bahn station, salespeople were tempting me with overpriced beer, and senior folks were waiting with shopping carts to place your empties in. Worry came over me - was I attending a stadium show or, worse, a festival? I needn't have worried. Though the open air space on the grounds of a 16th century fortress is pretty large and lined with drinks and food tents reminiscent of summer festivals, it does not actually feel huge or out of control. There are not long lines to deal with or overly drunk folk to handle. It really just felt like a gig under an open sky with trees and old brick walls surrounding you. I was pleased.

Two rather dull opening bands tested our patience. We caught up on old family stories, had a bite. When the intro to QOTSA was played, we were ready for action. But the first song disappointed. The sound was mediocre, not letting the band's trademark heavy bass lines and bass drum through. The song was lacking umpfh, and the audience looked on. Was this going to be a huge let-down? No sir! They followed on with their two big hits from "Songs for the Deaf" and people starting rocking out, the soundman had got the hang of it, planes were flying over our heads, a full moon was appearing in the sky. We were transfixed, dancing. 

Saturday, 22 June 2013

Preview - the week ahead (24th - 30th June)

Last week, I was asked what must-go-to-gigs I was recommending this summer. Well, as it happens, two are taking place this week on one night: Civil Civic and Otto von Schirach. I will attempt both. Wish me luck!

Fidlar at Cassiopeia: The ultimate California surf punk band is visiting our town again. Song titles like “Cheap Beer” and “No Waves” should give you the right idea. Extreme fun, hot and sweaty is what is happening this Monday. Alright!
Neurosis and Buddha Rising at SO36: I guess we don’t have to explain to you who Neurosis are and if you’re into dark and doomy hardcore, this is a must see.


Dead Western at Villa Neukölln: Dead Western visited Berlin a couple of times in the past and we’re glad he’s not getting tired of it. He plays weird anti folk music and his deep, strange and haunting voice definitely leaves a mark when you first hear it. This isn’t your typical acoustic-guitar singer/songwriter guy but rather someone who manages to write and play intense and fascinating songs. Watch a video from one of his Berlin shows from 3 years ago to get an impression of what to expect live.

The Fresh & Onlys and Chuck Johnson at Monarch: Fresh & Onlys = indie guitar rock-pop. Sounds boring? Well, it’s not. In fact, au contraire!, this is real nice (think Sebadoh meets the Eagles) and should suit Monarch very well indeed. Chuck Johnson has been mentioned on this little blog before: Beardy guitar virtuoso makes the most melancholic and beautiful folk music. He is the real gem on this bill and someone you really should not miss. You might regret it one day!


Les Trucs, Lady Maru & Cascao, and Yva & the Toy George at bei Ruth: This is guaranteed to be a fun live show for sure. Les Trucs play deep 8bit electro pop you should definitely dance to. Think of a mixture between Felix Kubin and a Gameboy, throw in some more techno and a bag of punk influence and you’re almost there. Lady Maru & Cascao sound a bit more dark and wavy, they are “a quirky-electro-duo, coming from the saucy-punk-no-wave scene of the aethernal Rome”. The line-up will be completed by Yva & the Toy George.
Civil Civic and Slow Steve at Kantine: CC is one of my favourite bands, hands down, and this even though I have them a bad review of their last Berlin performance. This two-piece rocks so hard and yet is so catchy, and all this without a single vocal line. Slow Steve has advanced to become a two-piece as well since his reviewed performance at Ruth. Süper line-up, süper gig-you-cannot-miss. C*’s gig of the week, probably, maybe.
Gravenhurst at Haus der Berliner Festspiele: Sometimes, I watch concerts and entirely forget about them again. So researching Gravenhurst, I realised I had witnessed Nick Talbot’s magic at West Germany in 2011. This had entirely slipped my mind, mainly because WG had just been the wrong venue for this. Haus der Berliner Festspiele, on the other hand, is probably perfect and this promises to be a special night, courtesy of the Foreign Affairs Festival. Be on time btw!
Otto von Schirach and DAT Politics at Urban Spree: Trash electro punk wunderkind in dress-up, Otto von Schirach, has made me happy with his live performances before. Imagine 2 Live Crew meets Atari Teenage Riot meets The Locust meets your favourite techno artist (yeah, I mean that f’real). The first time I witnessed Otto von Schirach was on tour with The Locust and that Belgian audience did not know what was hitting them. There is nothing like it and nothing you can imagine. One-of-a-kind full on danceable entertainment. Support from the amazing French electro duo DAT Politics of all people, also known for great in-your-face live action. Don’t miss, just don’t!


Wavves at Cassiopeia: Wavves, yeah!, best summer surf rock band ever! I have seen Wavves so many times, I have lost count, and it was grrreat every single time, from his first ever show in San Diego to the last one I attended at White Trash. In my top list of live bands for sure. I’ll be there, letting the heat get the better of me. 
The Blood Arm at White Trash: Again, a band I have featured on The Craze before, and a fine one, too. You need to like The Hives, Art Brut and that sort of poppy stuff and you’ll be having a great time, guaranteed.

Nuclear Raped Fuck Bomb (N.R.F.B.) at Festsaal Kreuzberg: Jens Rachut’s freshest project besides Kommando Sonne-nmilch. In this one he plays together with Mense Reents and Thomas Wenzel, both from die Goldenen Zitronen and Armin Nagel from Oma Hans and Kurt. Even Frankie Stubbs from Leatherface was part of the band on their first record. Now they already released a second one, their sound kind of changed a bit but still leaves you undecided whether you just listened to a punk band or an electro project, in the end it’s both somehow. It’s also weird, sometimes exhausting, sometimes funny, sometimes annoying but in the end a typical Rachut project again because it’s impossible to categorize. Support will be Schnipo Schranke.
Emils at Tommy-Weissbecker-Haus: Old school German aggressive anarcho punk hardcore. Legends. No more introduction needed.

Monday, 17 June 2013

Preview - the week ahead (17th - 23th June)

What is our incentive to do the preview with weather like this? We don't know but we do it anyway, just way later than you are maybe used to from us.

Waxahatchee at Monarch: Waxahatchee is a solo project of songwriter Katie Crutchfield, which she formed after the breakup of P.S. Eliot, her former band. As such, it is pretty much what you would expect from the alt pop genre and probably good for a nice bar evening at Monarch.

Molly Nilsson and Live Dylan at Kantine: I’ve been a well-documented fan for some time now and this record release party is most definitely going to be fantastic. Come on out and join C* dancing!

Busdriver at SO36: Although this is maybe an unusual location for a Busdriver show, anyone who remembers his last appearance at West Germany and keeps it in as good memory as we do will most likely not hesitate to attend this. Busdriver is known for his mind blowingly quick rap and experimental beats. He is part of Project Blowed and if you’re anyhow into experimental hip hop, this is a must see.
Converge and Rotten Sound at Magnet Club: Although I’ve never been the biggest Converge fan, you have to admit that they know their deal when it comes to heavy hardcore music. Their Jane Doe record most likely shows up in most record collections of anybody who’s been into hardcore at some point in his life. For a mean trip down memory lane, this would be your choice of the night. C* did it earlier this year and reported on it.

Fête de la Musique: Every year on June 21st, Berlin celebrates this city-wide music festival. Have a look on the website to get an overview. We might feel very creative and give you our pick later this week. Then again, we might be really busy in the sunshine and then you would just have to dive in and take it as it comes.


The Pizza Suicide Festival at bei Ruth: The Pizza Suicide Club has put up a huge bill of interesting stuff to see and hear this Saturday at bei Ruth. Doors will be open at 3pm and there will be art and comics to look at, cake to eat and live performances from 5pm on. The line-up includes some real gems, including Hush Hush vs. Novoline, Anklepants, and many more. Have a look on their website for the complete line-up and for further info and links.
Nisennenmondai and Clean & Jerk at Urban Spree: Read our review of Nisennenmondai’s last Berlin visit. They’re an instrumental trio from Tokyo and play something like a mixture between Post Punk and Krautrock, fans of anything between ESG and Neu! should seriously give them a listen! Clean & Jerk is a new band from Berlin, featuring ex-Chrome Hoof members.

Cat Power at Tempodrom: Even though Tempodrom may be slightly out of our league we just have to mention the Cat Power show here. There you go.

Sunday, 9 June 2013

Preview - the week ahead (10th - 16th June)

We might be super behind on reviews (we owe you near to ten by now) but we are never failing to deliver a preview and that's why you should love us dearly. The upcoming week for your perusal:

Obits and Buman at Schokoladen: Obits, the other ex-Hot Snakes band besides Night Marchers, return to Berlin. Last time they played at Lido, so now this is your chance to see them in a smaller and cozier venue. Buman is a new band from Berlin, playing SST style punk/hardcore.

Guardian Alien and Javelin at West Germany: Guardian Alien is the newest project of Greg Fox, the former Liturgy drummer.
Allah-Las and The Mokkers at Festsaal Kreuzberg: Two feasts for you: Californian garage'n'soul and local girl group fantastique. A good combination if I ever knew one! Meet C* at Festsaal on Tuesday.

King Ayisoba & Band, Jeri Jeri, and Zea at Festsaal Kreuzberg: Zea is a side-project of The Ex. They can be credited with bringing King Ayisoba from Ghana all the way to the European continent, touring with him and his band before. The King, as you may expect, is doing an African rhythm and guitar thing and is rather good at that. With them, they bring Jeri Jeri, who play African rhythm as well but have a way more jazzy approach to the genre and are getting reasonable attention in the dance music world. Jeri Jeri should be your primary reason for heading to Kotti this Thursday. World jazz at its finest.


Austra at Lido: The band surrounding Katie Stelmanis is going from strength to strength. After having given one of the best concerts of 2012, they are back this year with a really truly wonderful album - very addictive if you ask me. C*'s gig of the week!

Marnie Stern at Monarch: Cult label Kill Rock Stars does not seem to get excited about a lot these days but Marnie Stern is one artist they keep championing. The lady is clearly a rock’n’roll chick but the music has a distinctly commercial sound to it. She could really do well, so make sure to see her in this intimate setting while you can.

Will Samson at Urban Spree: Singer-songwriter, dreamy and mellow. Mr. Samson got rave reviews in the press and though it's not groundbreaking stuff, his tunes are very beautiful and probably perfect for a Sunday night. Gig starts early, take note and be there for 7pm or so.

Monday, 3 June 2013

Preview - the week ahead (3rd - 9th June)

Sometimes I think, in recent years, I may have over-consumed culture a little. So far this year, there have been few gigs, few films, few books that have got me real excited. Then again, I always think that at some point each year and then, when I reflect for our top lists at the end of the year, I realise what a great year it has been. This week brings back to Berlin some trusted artists of which we just know they never disappoint. Yes, there is some new stuff, too.

High Wolf and Aidan Baker at Monarch: Last time, High Wolf played as part of the ICAS Suite Festival and maybe not all of you attended this. Now, they are back with their own headline show, hailing all the way from France, the project performs experimental ambient music with ethnic folk influences. It's an out-of-this world experience. Support by our local king of experimental music. Highly recommended.
Scout Niblett and Ólöf Arnalds at Volksbühne: Scout Niblett has been around, like, forever. And she has collaborated with people like Bonnie Prince Billie. Her blues infused folk music is sexy and raw and often rock’n’roll but, overall, just beautiful. You have to like Neil Young and The White Stripes and you will be in heaven. Icelandic folk singer Ólöf Arnalds = perfect support. Volksbühne = perfect setting.


Sin Fang and Pascal Pinion at Grüner Salon: Some indie post rock music for you this Wednesday night? Innocent and pretty, Sin Fang is for those who just want a nice evening in one of Berlin’s most beautiful venues.
Health at Berghain: You know I am obsessed with this noise group who know a thing or two about marketing. My gig of the week, month, year. Come on over and see me freak out.

Kurt Vile & The Violators at Bi Nuu: Though I didn’t give Kurt Vile the best review when I watched him last, his music has grown on me since. We got off to a bad start but we have made up now (he does not know about any of this of course).

David Grubbs w/ Andrea Belfi & Stefano Pilia and Svarte Greiner at West Germany: Attention, this was announced for Haus Ungarn but now takes place at West Germany and I bet this will be good. David Grubbs, known for playing in bands like Bastro, Gastr Del Sol and Red Crayola will be joined by Andrea Belfi and Stefano Pilia this evening and play under the name B/G/P. Support will be Svarte Greiner, who plays dark and doomy experimental ambient music and who alone would justify a visit to West Germany that night.


Les Rhinoceros and Malve at Bei Ruth: Another interesting mix of bands that don’t really fit together at Bei Ruth. Les Rhinoceros are a “jazz core” band from Washington and are on Tzadik Records, John Zorn’s record label. They play music that’s “blending aspects of rock, world music, noise, ambient and jazz”. Malve from Leipzig are a relatively new band consisting of ex-members from Zann and Danse Macabre. They play 90s influenced chaotic hardcore and this will be their very first Berlin show. Sounds exciting!
The Babies at Monarch: Fluffy Lo-Fi indie rock on Woodsist records with people from Woods themselves and Vivian Girls. Yum yum yum and one to not miss!

Clockwork Orchestra, Mirror Talk and Sea Urchin at bei Ruth: A concert night hosted by the O’ Tannenbaum bar crew and taking place at Bei Ruth. Clockwork Orchestra plays interesting and playful synthi pop, Mirror Talk is a dark cold wave synth project and Sea Urchin sounds very ambient experimental. Afterwards there will be some DJs and dancy party music.