Wednesday 18 September 2013

Review: Torstraßen Festival

I loved Torstraßen Festival, every minute of it, despite the rain or crowding at some gigs. Torstraßen Festival was fun. On our way up to Northern Mitte, we stopped in Friedrichshain at Bis Aufs Messer, where I had a quick chat with XNormanX. He said that he thought festivals that span across several venues never worked. This was an interesting view because, as I have pointed out before, that is exactly my kind of favourite festival. Funny how views on these matters can differ. 

To give you the quick low-down on what went on, here is what we did and saw.

Unfortunately, having watched his concert last December, we missed Erfolg (Johannes von Weizsäcker of The Chap) and the women's choir but we were told that the show was absolutely amazing. Instead, we headed straight to Bassy to catch the Crime ladies do their dance music action. The performance went well and the room filled nicely during the set but we had ants in our pants and made our way over to Ackerstadt Palast to catch Black Cracker.

A word about Ackerstadt Palast: Being an avid Schokoladen fan, I was intrigued to see what Ackerstadt Palast was about, never having frequented the Palast before. I don't know about you but I expected some old, grand theater like so many venues in Berlin. Don't ask me where I thought a grand theater was sitting behind Schokoladen - I did not think it through really. Ackerstadt Palast is of course a theater but neither old nor grand. It's fairly simple and yet very charming. Most friends we met commented "I had never been here before - what a great place!". So there - a strong recommendation for you: Ackerstadt Palast.

Black Cracker
Famously, I am not a big fan of hip hop. I like myself some Run-D.M.C., some Beastie Boys, or some Oddience but one could hardly call this a love of hip hop. None of these bands really do hip hop or rap and I am well aware of it. Black Cracker, originally of New York, is a one-person project that does just that: hip hop. He plays his composed music on backing tape and raps over this, entertaining and animating the full house in front of him. I really liked it, it was a well done performance and people were into it, though of course I could not feel the music. It is as if hip hop bounces off me but will not penetrate my body the way other music does. For this, I am sad. I wish I could love hip hop.
Mueran Humanos

We had ourselves some dinner, picked up the Crime girls from Oberholz, watched the random cover band that played all day outside the "Wurstbude" and made headed over to Kaffee Burger to watch Mueran Humanos, an originally Argentinian two-piece who reside in Beriln these days and who favour a Suicide sound. The performance was solid, the sound ok. After half an hour, I had to get some fresh air. At most festivals, bands play for about 30 minutes. At Torstraßen Festival, each band plays a whole 45 minutes set. I'll be honest with you: I cannot muster 6 or 7 full 45 minutes sets in one day, I clearly lack the stamina for this.

Gaststätte W. Prassnik is a small café bar across from Kaffee Burger. Easter were about to go on stage and that duo had been recommended to us all day. Previously unfamiliar to me, I was instantly mesmerised by their odd concept. Again, the music is played on backing tape and the two persons in the project just stare at the audience while half singing - half talking the text. It's a very relaxed sound and inoffensive really but strangly weird at the same time. If you can catch 'em, do it! The Gaststätte was packed and, again, despite the love for the music, we left after a good half hour. There was no air in that room at all. Easter were clearly the secret headliner of the festival.

Contemplating K-X-P as our next act of choice, we turned on our heals when we entered White Trash. All other venues and gigs had been cosy little affairs. White Trash suddenly did not appeal at all. We made our way to Café Oberholz for a cup of tea instead, The/Das playing their electronica in the background.

Finally, it was time for the treat of the day, the aftershow party with Awesome Tapes From Africa at the DJ (tape)decks of Ackerstadt Palast. The moment the first tape blared some old African funk the room was full and not one soul was not shaking their hips. Dance away!

PS: There are many photos on the festival website and on the festival facebook page.


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