Tuesday 29 October 2013

Review: No Age + Sun And The Wolf

There are times when you need reminding how much and why you loved a band, heck - even a genre, in the first place. And there are times when you need a really good kick-in-the-ass rock out dance session. Last night, we got both. 

When Sun And The Wolf came on, I was happy to note that the sound was rather good, which couldn't be said for my previous two visits to Privatclub. I was also surprised to find that SATW came across rather forceful and energetic. Unfortunately, after a few songs, I got bored again. It might be my well-documented short attention span or the lack of a charismatic front person, but they lost me after a couple of numbers and by the end I was exhausted from their guitar doodling. This I noticed when the DJ played a nice poppy tune afterwards and my brain got a well-deserved break.

No Age, on the other hand, had my full attention from the word go. This, however, was delayed by a live played intro of ambient sounds before the drum would kick in and eventually guitar-drum-rock-out-mayhem would take over. The crowd was not shy. And No Age were not holding back either. There was dancing, there was shouting, the band were telling jokes, pointing out people's taste in t-shirts, were laughing.

While musically, the duo delivered exactly what was expected of them, bar a couple of numbers with bass-guitar-combination, which broke up the set a bit, it was their persona that made the evening special. The music was great, the energy was fantastic, the dancing was fun. It was all spurred on by two smiling musicians on stage, who would not take themselves so darn serious, despite obviously having grown up somewhat since their humble beginnings as "the new indie punk thing" years ago. The tales they told, the smiles they gave - it was all that was needed for the audience to go wild with joy. Dance was their reward.

No Age thanked the audience by playing extra long, exhausting the club curfew. And nobody complained. Instead, there was the silent wish that we could do it all again tomorrow. A hot favourite in my top of the year list.

Monday 28 October 2013

Halloween Competition: Total Heels + The Fingers

Don't know what to do on Halloween's night yet? Here we have a little something for you: 

Send us an e-mail to win@thecraze.de until Wednesday 6pm and tell us what your favorite costume is. The winner will get a guestlist spot +1 for Total Heels and The Fingers at bei Ruth on Thursday (see the facebook event here). Listen to some Total Heels tunes below.

Sunday 27 October 2013

Preview: the week ahead (28th Oct - 3rd Nov)

It's nearly November but still nice enough to walk around the park without your winter jacket. It's also another week full of nice and diverse live music.

Sabar - A night of West-African drumming: Well this sounds interesting, another night based on drums and percussions. There will be six artists performing on different drum instruments such as the Saba ‘a single-skin drum and the ruling instrument in Senegalese traditional and popular music’. Have a look at the facebook event page for more info about the artists.

No Age at Privatclub: It’s been exactly three years since No Age graced our town with the presence last and, yes, we have been missing them very much. The hype might be over but a brilliant band is a brilliant band. C* may have enjoyed them at Festsaal back in the day (read our review here), but nothing beats this group in a small venue. Alright! Here is that infamous Letterman performance again. Watch it twice in a row and get revved up:

Hard Skin and Bite the Bullet at Cortina Bob: Read our last review of these London Oi! boys and prepare for mayhem at Cortina Bob this seemingly quiet Tuesday night.

Austra at Heimathafen: Another season, another Austra show. In fact Monday’s performance of the Canadian talent has been sold out long ago. But Tuesday can still be yours. Gary and C* will be there. Of course they will!

Classic Muscle and Delta Love at Monarch: Classic Muscle are a new group on the scene, a little shoegazey, a little pop, a little rock’n’roll. C* is intrigued and you can buy her a drink at Monarch this Wednesday. Delta Love headline btw and we have previewed them before, too.

Total Heels and The Fingers at bei Ruth: Total Heels is an american/danish band featuring Jason Orlovich, the singer and guitarist of Polite Sleeper plus people from Lack. They play something completely different than their other bands and take a turn to a more garage-punk approach. Their music sound full of energy and will definitely make you dance. Support will be the Berlin based minimalistic lo-fi punk band The Fingers. This is their second show but the song samples on their soundcloud page sound pretty interesting. Seems like a nice way to spend your Halloween night! We'll also start a competition tomorrow so keep your eyes open.

Anklepants, Föllakzoid and Günther Schickert at NK: Another nice Halloween party with an interesting mix of experimental music. Anklepants is a guy with a controllable penis mask, playing and performing to dark electronic music. Check out the videos on NKs event info site, his performance is pretty interesting and unique. Föllakzoid is a band from Chile which released a new record on Sacred Bones recently. They play repetitive and minimalistic krautrock and post-rock influenced music. Think of current bands like Maserati but less dancy. Günther Schickert is the third act of the night. You may know him for supporting already mentioned Maserati live or as a Krautrock original - his 1974 released Samtvogel record is still pretty well-known.

Lovers at Südblock: Did we not love their show at West Germany last time? Yes, we did. Another chance for you with and to this lady pop trio.

Julian Sartorious: Beat Diary at Monarch: Got really hyped up about drumming on Monday? Julian Sartorious is sure keep you moving then at cosy Monarch this Thursday. Danceable and inspirational.

Juana Molina at HAU1: Juana Molina plays psychedelic folk oriented fluffy music that sounds a bit like a mixture of Cat Power and Eels. If you’re in for a dreamy concert experience in a beautiful theater setting, this is for you.

Saturday 26 October 2013

Review: Colin Stetson + Holger Hiller

Despite its reputation as a techno/electro venue, Berghain to me is the perfect location for certain bands and artists. Colin Stetson playing there a few days ago was one of them and his performance was deeply impressive and inspiring.

Holger Hiller started to play just moments after I entered the rather sparsely filled room. He and his supporting bandmate stood behind a table and besides the two musicians, their laptops and an analog synthesizer there was not much to be seen. Their set sounded pretty interesting in the beginning. Musically it was a mixture of minimalistic electronic beats and distinctive 80s elements combined with Hiller's characteristic vocals. What I liked about their set was that he managed to keep many influences of his band Palais Schaumburg vividly alive in his current music without simply sounding "retro". What I didn't like though was their performance itself. I just find looking at two people 'hiding' behind their laptops so boring to look at that I couldn't watch their whole set and went to look for some friends.

We stayed around the bar until there were first signs of Colin Stetson's show to start soon. It didn't take that much time to carry the table away and Stetson's huge bass saxophone was already on stage during Holger Hiller's set, reminding everyone of what was going to happen next. Colin Stetson came on stage, buckled his saxophone harness on and put a sort of collar with built-in throat microphone around his neck. Without any further soundchecking or intermissions he started to play and right from the beginning this was truly amazing.

Tuesday 22 October 2013

24 h Competition: Colin Stetson

Look at our preview and you will see that we are excited about Colin Stetson playing Berghain tomorrow. So we thought a little competition was a good way to share our excitement. And it's still birthday month on The Craze after all!

Email us by 9 am Wednesday, i.e. tomorrow, and I will randomly pick a winner out of a hat. No time for fancy schmancy, hat drawing will have to suffice on this one. Just email win at the craze dot de and make it before 9 am tomorrow. That's all we ask.

The winner and a friend get to go to Berghain. Easy as pie.

Preview: the week ahead (21st - 27th Oct)

Late, later, the latest. Preview time can be a challenge for The Craze staff. This week is such a week. The calendar is actually chocker full but here is a sweet small selection for you folks, just because we love you.

Dulac and Ren Hoek at Tiefgrund: If you’re in for a cozy punk show check out these bands at Tiefgrund. Dulac play poppy and catchy punk, very melodic and reminding me of bands like Neon Piss. Ren Hoek play more noisy and in your face punk with a hint of stoner-rock. The show starts on time at 9.30pm.

Colin Stetson and Holger Hiller at Berghain: Gig fo the week, hands down! This is easily gig of the week stuff. Colin Stetson is an american saxophone player on Constellation records. He creates hauntingly beautiful melodies and percussive sounds with his saxophone and recently got quite well-known for collaborating with Bon Iver. Besides that he played and collaborated with various “indie” bands (TV on the Radio, Arcade Fire, Tom Waits) and experimental musicians and acts (Anthony Braxton, Peter Brötzmann). Also playing will be Holger Hiller, whom you probably know as member of Palais Schaumburg. Considering Berghains impressive architecture and sound, this will definitely be good, trust us!

Julia Holter at Volksbühne: New material being showcased by the adored Julia Shammas Holter. We need not say more.

Kommando Sonne-nmilch at Lido: Kommando Sonne-nmilch is the current and also quite long-lasting band of Jens Rachut from Oma Hans, Dackelblut, Angeschissen and Blumen am Arsch der Hölle. He started Kommando Sonne-nmilch as a project experimenting with electronic sounds and weird song arrangements. Until now Kommando Sonne-nmilch’s sound changed into more straight forward punk similar to late Oma Hans records. They’re on tour now with their recent record “You pay I fuck” and since I never saw a bad concert from a Rachut band I don’t see why this should be an exception… check out the video below from their current tour.

Tuesday 15 October 2013

Late review: Civil Civic + Slow Steve

Honest to god, I was absolutely convinced that I had written this review forever ago. Going through my open drafts, I realise that this has been left unwritten to this point. So here goes something.

Since his support gig for PTTRNS, Rémi "Fenster" had doubled the members of his project Slow Steve. It was now a two-piece. Musically, things remained the same though, with atmospheric dancable pop being the product and a sense of humour lighting up the vocal performance. Enjoyable and appealing to a wide audience, I reckon this neat little project could go somewhere far, although I have been told that the grouping was only temporary and that it's back to a one-piece now.

For Civil Civic I had high hopes. Their album is an absolute all-time favourite mine. It is my most listened to record in the car and one that always picks me up when my energy is low. It is what I like to dance to in my living room, too. Having been gravely disappointed by their previous performance at Marie-Antoinette due to sound troubles, the excitement for this show was mounting as I was expecting to finally receive my just and proper Civil Civic dance extravaganza.

Disappointed I was not. The duo and their instrumental bass-drum-machine-guitar numbers got people moving and shouting, made my heart jump. And we laughed, too. For all I know, this evening could have lasted forever but Civil Civic had to end their set at some point and we had another gig to attend - Dat Politics and Otto von Schirach were not going to wait for us. That's another story.

May my beloved Civil Civic return at their earliest convience, ideally with a new album in tow please.

Competition: Cranky Fest

As previewed yesterday, the infamous Cranky Fest is taking place this forthcoming Saturday with a formidable, international (local) line-up. Cranky booking felt that Craze readers deserved a chance to go to Antje Öklesund and have fun for free.

We are giving away 2 tickets each to 2 lucky readers to Saturday's Cranky Fest. Write to us at win at thecraze dot de by midday this Friday, 18 October 2013 and tell us a song that embodies the jetset lifestyle.

Rock it baby!

Monday 14 October 2013

Preview: the week ahead (14th - 20th Oct)

We went out a lot last week - why stop now?! The (indie-schmindie) preview on a Monday.

Aloa Input at Monarch: Bavarian, Notwist-influenced newcomers Aloa Input are releasing their record and we will be there to dance the night away at Monarch this Wednesday.

Batalj, UV Glaze, and Petra Flurr at bei Ruth: Batalj get their regular mention by us noise enthusiasts on The Craze. Rock it to this good line-up at Ruth’s this Thursday!
Cotton Ponies and Hirbel at Schokoladen: This mathy post-rock at Schokoladen is quite a treat and you should be there early and enjoy.

Majical Cloudz at Kantine: Very mellow, soul-infused electronica. It is not entirely my thing but interesting and for fans of the genre a must I guess.

Cranky Fest at Antje Öklesund: Cranky booking do these regular Fests where they bring together a nice line-up you get to enjoy for a reasonable flat fee. The bill this Saturday consists of
psych rock locals Ruins of Krüger, The History of Colour TV (mentioned here a few times before), synth pop Frenchie Slow Steve, and Australian ambient guitaros Creatures. There will be a competition for this extravaganza on The Craze soon, so watch out for that.
The Thermals at Bi Nuu: Kill Rock Stars is like a magical password for me - mention the label and I get butterflies. Sure, a lot of that is nostalgia and I will admit that readily. But they still pick ‘em, would you know it. The Thermals are quite commercially digestible, as far as indie music goes, but they are quirky and fun too. For fans of Telekinesis et al. This will be a good night out.

Thursday 10 October 2013

Birthday Competition 1: Puschen Extravaganza

It's birthday month for The Craze again - we are officially turning 3 years old 22 October. To celebrate, we have once again asked the booking agents of Berlin to host give-aways on The Craze.

"Komm in die Puschen!"

The first one comes from Puschen booking agency. Tell us by 9 pm Wednesday, 16 October 2013, your favourite song about hurrying, speeding or rushing and you can win two tickets to one of the current roster of Puschen concerts (see advertisement flyer in right hand column).

Puschen have such a good list of shows lined up for the last few months of 2013, you really cannot miss out on this comp, you know it.

A good opportunity to post one of my favourite summer tunes again and remind us of those days when dancing to this with your free tickets.

Wednesday 9 October 2013

Quick review: Crocodiles

Crocodiles at Privatclub the other night was pretty swell. For a band that lives all over the world, Berlin somehow always works out like a gig on home turf. Friends were there, supporting; the atomsphere was sweet.

Unfortunately, the sound was not as good as it maybe could have been. It was my first time at the new Privatclub on Skalitzer Straße and I am not familiar with their sound system and how it normally performs but I have heard Crocodiles with better sound at a festival. Not to worry - the new material is great and I can't wait for the album to be released.

Viva Crocodiles.

Monday 7 October 2013

Preview: the week ahead (7th - 13th Oct)

We still have reviews and things for you outstanding. We are turning 3 years old this month and the past half year has been the most challenging for The Craze yet. We love it anyway. And we have not missed a preview yet, ever. Here is another one.

Wire at Postbahnhof: Read C*’s review from last time (here) and enjoy a truly great post-rock band at their finest. Recommended.

Waxahatchee and Swearin' at Privatclub: An impressive double bill. Singer-songstress Waxahatchee’s Berlin performance has been highly anticipated. She brings with her the indie rock outfit Swearin’, featuring one member of P.S. Eliot for those who remember that band from a while back.

Destruction Unit and P.U.F.F. at West Germany: Great rock’n’noise and right up our street. Dance your socks off.

Karo and Friend Crush + Hellga at bei Ruth: This is a nice mix of bands with two groups playing their first live shows ever. Karo plays singer songwriter “slowcore” music that sounds not unlike Cat Power and Feist (listen to that Roxy Music cover on her website, it’s so cool!), Friend Crush play queer punk and Hellga something more on the post rock side.

Phèdre, SFTSTPS, and Cape at Nahrerholung Sternchen: French electronic dance duo Phèdre have a widespread appeal and should please those who feel like dancing the night away. The kind of music I appreciate on the radio or at a club but would probably never listen to at home. You get my gist.

Man Or Astroman? + The Octopus Project at Lido: I was once the proud owner of a Man Or Astroman? ticket but had no means of transport to get to the gig. I actually had a nervous breakdown over this. Now once again, I am in the possession of a ticket and nothing is going to stop me from watching these weirdo surf rockers from Outer Space. Nothing.

Psychic Ills and Brace Choir at Urban Spree: Norman loved Psychic Ills’ performance at Bassy in April (read his review here). Highly recommended.

Limpe Fuchs, Flamingo Creatures, and Krube at bei Ruth: Limpe Fuchs is probably best known for being a part of Anima Musica, a psychedelic Krautrock project founded in 1969. She is still playing music and collaborates from time to time with current bands and musicians. Recently, Flamingo Creatures, a side project from two Datashock members, released a split tape with her and played some shows together as well. Now they visit Berlin together. If experimental, improvised and unconventional music is your thing, this may be worth a closer look.

Nate Young, Keith Fullerton Whitman, and Dalglish at Urban Spree: For those of you who missed the great Wolf Eyes show at Festsaal Kreuzberg earlier this year or who just found it so great that you’d like to see more: Nate Young of said band is on Regression Tour right now and will probably shake Urban Spree’s walls with his atmospheric dark and industrial noise. Supporting him will be Keith Fullerton Whitman and Dalgish, both artists that play experimental music ranging from ambient drone to a more electronic sound.

Daniel Bachman and Ryley Walker at Monarch: Monarch has a great tradition of guitar virtuosos playing. Tonight is another such talented individual gracing its bar: Daniel Bachman of Virginia’s guitar play is to die for and transports you to another country at another time. The perfect mellow Sunday evening hang out for you.

Thursday 3 October 2013

Review: HEALTH at Berghain, back in June

Seeing HEALTH play for the first time several years ago in New York, everyone was talking about their amazing new drummer, BJ Miller. At the time his astoundingly loud, hard playing over-dominated their live shows, his style in the tradition of the best post-hardcore drummers.

To older music fans, the rest of their music therefore disappointed by not leaning more towards the industrial noise that this drumming would suggest, failing to bridge the gap between modern experimentalism and their late 80s forefathers.

But of course, this probably isn't what HEALTH were actually trying to achieve, and now with Miller's drumming fully integrated into the band as a whole, it is easier to understand more fully what Health are doing sonically, and their music then becomes more impressive in its breadth.

And once it is understood that when bassist John Famigiletti thrashes around the stage, his voice or bass synthesized through pedals, it is not the intention to hit the audience with a wall of noise, then their music comes into sharper focus, as the effect of this processed, layered sound is more subtle than that.

In general, the sound at this Berghain headline show finally allowed the textures and full range of frequencies of Jake Duczik's guitar and effects to be heard, along with new vocal melodies, although Jupiter Keyes keyboards did seem lost in the mix at times. Their rhythms and structures still don't move everyone, but it is hard not to respect their musical adventurism and passion.

Review: Black Pus + NMO

I hadn't added anything to my "potential concerts of the year" list in a while but this recent night featuring Black Pus and NMO at Urban Spree is now definitely on it...

This was one of those nights: A show I wanted to see taking place but at the same time having to struggle with the urge to just stay at home, considering all the stuff I would have to do the next day. Reading that the show was supposed to start at 11 didn't really help with that at first but once I had watched some videos of recent Black Pus shows on youtube (watch them here), I knew that not going out that night would be a thing I'd definitely regret afterwards.

photo by James Welburn
So I arrived at Urban Spree, where a rather annoyingly loud DJ set was still going on before NMO, the first act of the evening, who started their show in the middle of the crowd. They are a two-piece, consisting of the former drummer from MoHa! on a snare drum and some electronics plus another musician using some strange computer program to do... well, I have no idea to do what exactly. I also don't really care because what they did sounded pretty interesting nevertheless. Their set seemed like a live experimentation on drum sounds and rhythms and they combined rhythmic drum patterns with processed and sequenced parts and effects. At times it sounded like a crazy marching band walking through an experimental electronic music club. Not playing real songs but rather abstracts and motifs that followed and built up on each other, they managed to keep the whole set really interesting and exciting. They also fitted perfectly to what was supposed to happen next, both acts playing experimental drum based music but taking totally different approaches to it. My trek out this evening was definitely already worthwhile.

Wednesday 2 October 2013

Quick review: Fuck Buttons

As Benjamin John Power, one half of Fuck Buttons, pounds away on a single floor tom, he surveys the crowd in front of him and to the side. Crowded around the stage and the spaces between the PA and the band are a cross section of Berliners, the band's music appealing to those who can lay claim to genuine outsider status in a city of identikit hipsters - a young guy in a Devo hat and a Health t-shirt, a man covered in dense facial tattoos, a woman in a leather jump suit gyrating for the whole set with her partner. Fashion isn't followed here, and you get a sense of how Berlin used to be or still is, below the surface - a place to be the person you want to be.

Fuck Buttons could have you reaching ever deeper for the adjectives to describe their music. It's dark, yet rhythmic, but it's not dance music, although that doesn't mean they don't make their fans move. The audience seem lost in their own mental space as they react to the physicality of the sound that FB produce. With the side of stage decibel monitor regularly pushing into the red at 112 DB - a level of volume that doesn't trouble the sound system at Berghain - the sound envelopes everyone, and few people drift away once sucked in. As Andrew Hung, Power's partner, sways back and forth in time with their own pounding drums sounds in front of an onstage mirror ball, this intense hour of sonic exploration comes to an end - never punishing the audience but providing a soundtrack for their own personal catharsis, however brief that may ultimately be.

Tuesday 1 October 2013

Late quick review: The Babies

This is terrible: I am trying to remember this gig but somehow it's all very hazy. 

Suffice to say, they played a great show, as expected. Monarch was jam packed. The atmosphere was great. One of my gig highlights this year for sure.