Sunday 27 April 2014

Preview: the week ahead (28th Apr to 4th May)

This seems to be a rather "rocky" week and we've got lot's of heavy bands featured in the preview. In fact one band is so heavy, their bass player has to wear a helmet during live shows. See you around!

  • Die Die Die at PrivatClub in Kreuzberg. Die Die Die have been described as a punk-pop band from New Zealand but when it comes to live performances they’re more punk than pop. Their gigs have been described as electric, stellar, unpredictably short, sharp shocks. And it’s all true. These guys are totally worth seeing if you like an energetic performance or if you’re a fan of bands like Fugazi, Wire or Shellac (in fact, Steve Albini of Shellac liked them so much he produced their first album after they wrote to him). Lead singer Andrew Wilson throws himself around as if he were a one man mosh pit and the rest of the sweaty trio don’t do too badly either. The group are originally from Dunedin, the home of many of the legendary label Flying Nun’s groups that have such a big following with connoisseurs of 80s post punk and shoe gaze sounds (if you haven’t heard of them, do yourself a favour and check out a recent re-issue by Captured Tracks here) and they wear those influences well.
  • Whitehorse + Tooth Decay at West-Germany: Although West-Germany isn't the usual place for this kind of music, they will bring you something pretty heavy this Tuesday. Whitehorse are from Melbourne, Australia and play 'crushingly heavy, sludge-metal layered with electronics'. Support will be Berlin based Tooth Decay's first live show.

  • Valina + Amigo Tropical at Schokoladen: This is a pretty nice opportunity to spend a Thursday night with two interesting noise rock acts. Valina from Austria have been around for some time now, they play Shellac influenced forward music with a melodic touch. Amigo Tropical is a Berlin based jazzy drums + noisy bass duo. They are great and you should check them out if you haven't seen them before!

  • Toys That Kill + Human Abfall at Schokoladen: Toys That Kill play energetic and catchy punk rock that quite nicely combines snotty vocals with edgy and driven instrumentation. Highly recommended if you grew up listening to 90s punk music. Support will be Human Abfall, who deliver an adequate answer to the legitimate question if there is such a thing as punk in Stuttgart.
  • The Body at Jägerklause: Since we officially have a thing for bands consisting of only two people, this is a must feature. The Body play dark and sinister heavy music. Influenced by sludge and doom metal, they throw in some harsh noise aspects and weird samples and sounds. What comes out is something so nasty and dismal that I'm still not sure whether it's a good idea to start the weekend with this.

  • Melt Banana at Bi Nuu: We're pretty sure you know what Melt Banana is about. They're a Japanese band that plays edgy and fast no-wave noise rock. If you are into bands like Erase Errata or Ex-Models but a tad more offensive and heavy, this is your place to be. This stuff is so weird, I bet it could melt a banana.
  • Jackie-O Motherfucker + Von Tesla + Ruins of Krüger at West Germany: Saturday is day 2 of the so called "Occulto Fest" which is happening at West Germany. I'm not sure what 'occult' is supposed to mean in this context but I was positively surprised to read that Jackie-O-Motherfucker are playing there. They are sort of a collective and play experimental folk-influenced music. Since their live appearance seem to be quite rare this is a great opportunity to see them in a nice location. Also playing will be Von Tesla and Ruins of Krüger plus there will be some visual screening and experimental music DJing. Sounds nice!

Sunday 20 April 2014

Preview: the week ahead (21st to 27th Apr)

Hope you all enjoyed the (still ongoing) long weekend and the nice spring weather. Here's another preview full of noteworthy live music shows that could help to kill some time during the upcoming week. As usual check the calendar for more dates and see you around!

  • Cian Nugent & The Cosmos at Monarch: Another Since The Devil Is Gone I Mostly Feel Lonely evening at Monarch, this time Cian Nugent will play with his band the Cosmos. They play folky indie rock that sounds strongly post-rock influenced. Definitely the right soundtrack for a Monday night.
  • Current 93 at Volksbühne: David Tibet's music project Current 93 reaches back as early as 1983. Since then he collaborated with numerous musicians and released an amount of records that's quite impressive. Stylistically Current 93 lived through many changes and transformations. Since they recently released a new record (prominent guests on this one are John Zorn, Nick Cave and Antony Hegarty) you can probably expect lots of the new material which sounds quite minimalistic and mostly driven only by piano and Tibet's voice. Imagining the great setting of the Volksbühne, this is probably going to be an intense and memorable show.
  • Shearwater at Privatclub: Although I don't know if Privatclub is that great of a choice for this show, Shearwater may still be worth a visit. That is if you are into catchy indie pop with a big hint to singer songwriter music.
  • Kontra Kontra II at Sowieso: Sowieso is a place dedicated to Berlin's Echtzeitmusik scene, they're hosting improv/experimental/free-jazz shows on a regular basis. This Friday, they present an interesting line up, consisting of Frank Gratkowski and Chris Heenan who will both play contrabass clarinet plus Mike Majkowski and Clayton Thomas (who we mentioned here a couple of times mainly for his collaborations with Chris Corsano), both on double bass. Be sure to check out Sowieso's website for an overview of their impressive program and more infos on the shows.
  • Four ever blank part 1: Concert Night w/ Masha Qrella + Fenster + The Chap + *U*N*S + Will Samson at about//blank: About//Blank is celebrating it's 4th birthday and they're throwing a huge party. This is part 1 and features live music by some nice bands and a mixture of different styles and genres. Part 2+3 are starting on Saturday, for more info on that check out the facebook event.
  • 15years of YoYo Records w/ Iron Chic + Deny Everything + Caves + The Dauntless Elite + Down & Outs + Underparts at bei Ruth: Another birthday party this weekend, YoYo Records is hitting puberty in it's now 15th year of activity, they released over 70 records from over 40 bands. The line-up features a nice blend of pop punk, punk, hardcore, post-hardcore and the like.

Saturday 19 April 2014

Review: Excepter + Black To Comm

This was another night with at least two shows happening that I really wanted to see. A decision had to be made and since Excepter seemingly aren't touring Europe that often plus I haven't seen Black To Comm before, this show won the decision making process.

When Black To Comm took the stage and started to play, the room was barely filled. He started pretty downtempo and quiet and made his way through a quite manifold set. In a nutshell his music could be described as drony ambient electronica. There were parts that sounded more calm and captivating with everything seeming to happen in very slow-motion. Then there were parts that sounded like an overwhelmingly number of layers of sound combined that left me trying to figure out what those sounds were and where they came from. All in all this was very cinematic without being superficial and catchy. It was not resembling a soundtrack of arbitrary post-rock soundscapes but more like an interesting and intense performance that often made me think of 80s weird and trashy horror movies.

Excepter obviously were the main reason for most of the audience to visit Berghain Kantine this evening. When they started to play the room was significantly fuller than before, yet still far from sold out. They took their places behind piles of cables, synthies and keyboards, a set-up that already looked interesting right from the beginning. Although I've seen them before I wasn't quite sure what to expect since their records sound quite diverse and often different from each other. Consequently their live set did as well. Mainly they played rather dark yet dancy experimental electronic music. Industrial and dirty beats were completed by a noisy guitar and the typical Excepter vocals that often sound like weird singsong and chatter. Their songs were often driven by monotonous stomping rhythms and their music seemed to be strongly influenced by the New Weird America scene of the early 2000s, experimental dub and dusky technoid sounds. Everything was completed by a rather uncomfortable (yet fitting) performance that sometimes made me feel like I was witnessing a dystopian Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas musical. 

All in all I have to say I was pretty happy with my concert choice of the evening. Although I wish to see Black To Comm again in a more cozy setting his set was exciting and Ecxepter were exceptionally compelling. Hope they'll be back sometime soon!

Sunday 13 April 2014

Preview: the week ahead (14th to 20th Apr)

This is going to be one busy week. One of these weeks with more shows happening that are worth attending than me having the time to do so. With the Excepter and the Datashock show, there are two more experimental evenings coming up that I've been looking forward to. But there's more cool stuff going on as well, as usual check our calendar below for some more concerts than the ones we feature in the preview.

  • Excepter + Black to Comm at Berghain Kantine: I’m so looking forward to seeing Excepter again and this time they also have a more than worthy support. Excepter are an improvisatory experimental band that been around for quite some time. Their sound is varying from weird electronic music to more dub oriented experimental stuff. You could loosely compare them to other New Weird America bands of that time like Animal Collective or Sunburned Hand of the Man but they always kept a quite unique style over the years. Black to Comm is the musical project of the Dekorder label founder Marc Richter. Having released loads of interesting and noteworthy music (one of which is Datashock, see this Friday) he himself plays music that combines influences from classic film scores, noise and experimental music. It floats between drony ambient parts and loose beats. Check it out, it’s beautiful!

  • Father Murphy + OAXACA at Urban Spree: Father Murphy are a band that is as weird as it is great. Often labelled as part of an “Italian Occult Psychedelia” surrounding, their sound is dark, heavy, industrial and sacral. OAXACA, also from Italy, play free-jazz. They abstain from fix structures and songs and rely solely on improvisation. This is a great and interesting line-up and makes me wish I could split myself in two this Tuesday.

  • André Foisy + Nada at West-Germany: André Foisy, founding member of the Relapse band Locrian visits Berlin with his solo project. Expect experimental guitar, tapes & vocals strongly in the spirit of the works Locrian. A must see if you’re into ambient, drone and wide soundscapes. Nada is a side project of two Sun Worship members, playing music that’s also in the vein of repetitive heavy guitar riffs.
  • Monochrome + Bathtub Theory at Antje Öklesund: Monochrome are still around after 18 years of being a band and even just released a new record. Having emerged from the hardcore band Dawnbreed, they turned to a more poppy approach on music but without denying their punk/hardcore roots. Bathtub Theory are a relatively fresh Berlin band that sounds like a poppy take on Le Tigre and Sleater Kinney.

  • Datashock + Pretty Lightning at bei Ruth: Datashock haven’t paid Berlin a visit in some time but now they’re back with a new record on it’s way. They are a collective of varying size and line up and play experimental free form music that’s highly influenced by early Krautrock and psychedelic electronica. Pretty Lightning is a duo consisting of two Datashock members, they play more song oriented heavy psychedelic music with an obvious delta blues impact. If you need a soundtrack for a mysterious shamanic desert ritual with just the right amount of ironic and humorous sense of itself, this is the place to be!

  • Morne + Trainwreck + Jungbluth + Anchor + Oaken at Tiefgrund: A pretty packed evening of intense hardcore and punk. Be sure to be early, this is definitely going to be fully packed and sweaty!

Wednesday 9 April 2014

Review: Kurt Vile + Pall Jenkins

For the first time in a long while, busy J. and busy C* got to go on a date. HAU2 was our destination. Pall Jenkins was our object of desire.

Pall JenkinsIt's been quiet around Pall Jenkins in recent years. Black Heart Procession, his heart-driven project since the 1990s, has not released any new music and we feared he might drift out of our lives. Not that that is possible, given how much we savour Black Heart Procession's records. I would truly and without a shadow of a doubt rate One, the first release by BHP, as one of my top five favourite records of all time. There is something about his voice and that saw he plays and the dark and mystic mood he creates that just draws me back to his music again and again.

This night at HAU2, he did not disappoint. Kurt Vile had designed his stage (or maybe it was a common effort?) to look like a living room - a couple of arm chairs, an old TV set, a standard-lamp. It was cosy and only cups of tea were missing really. The stage set was a nice touch that would set the mood for the evening.
Pall Jenkins may have been given a big chance opening up for a Kurt Vile tour. Then again, for J. and I, he was the reason for our being there, he was the star of the night. And it was oh-so worth it. Though his set was short (we counted six songs), it was intense and swooned a lot of folk, who had most likely never heard of the man. In front of me were a couple of teenagers, obviously here to see the one-and-only Mr. Vile. By the third Pall Jenkins song, they were swaying to the music and clapping emphatically in-between songs.

Pall JenkinsMr. Jenkins has a very unique voice, which I cannot explain to you - you just have to listen. All of his songs are lyrically slightly dark but often have a positive musical note to it. There is usually a most beautiful melody, complemented by his playing the saw, an unusual trait. On this occasion, he was alternating pure acoustic guitar numbers with songs he had prerecorded and was playing on backing track while singing and playing the guitar / saw over it. All the songs were new and beautiful and I wanted this gig to never end.

When it did - and it was way too early - I took comfort in knowing that I still had an acoustic Kurt Vile show to look forward to. Last time, I saw Kurt Vile, it was with a full band and before "that album" and I was disappointed. The indie-rock thing was not the Kurt Vile I was hoping for. I do like his records, you know. So acoustic Kurt Vile sounded like heaven on earth.
Kurt VileSounded like it. Was not. Though his voice was very convincing, as it could only be, the songs did not work acoustically at all. This was a surprise. They are obviously tunes written for more than one instrument and entail way too much strumming for an acoustic set. It was great being so up and close to the man, his personality was sweet and fun, the set beautiful. But musically, I was very disappointed unfortunately.

But, you know, ho hum. He will come back with band force and it will be great I am sure. And when my kids say one day "did you ever see Kurt Vile live", I can say "sure, right up close at HAU in 2014 in a living room setting".

Pall Jenkins and Kurt Vile are masters of the recorded medium. Pall Jenkins could also play in my living room every day of the week and I would not say no. This was a lovely date with J.

Monday 7 April 2014

Preview: the week ahead (7th to 13th Apr)

I have just had the shittiest week, I mean really, the full monty. Pall Jenkins made it all better last night (review coming up). The power of music. Here is how you can feel better or even better:

  • Laibach at Volksbühne: Wikipedia says “Laibach is a Slovenian and former Yugoslav avant-garde music group associated with industrial, martial, and neo-classical musical styles.” That’s weird and not for everybody. But there is a whole cult following to Laibach and their odd dance music. Curiosity alone should drag you out on a Monday night to witness this most unusual group and their surpringly catchy tunes. 

  • Teen Daze + Magic Island + Pony at Naherholung Sternchen: I don’t know about you, but to me Teen Daze sounds like a punk band. But they are not. Instead, they lull you in with ambient dance tunes and soft vocals. Sounds about right on a Tuesday night. This is one of your very last chances to party at Naherholung Sternchen, which will close its doors at the end of April and will be sadly missed in our gig calendar.

  • King Krule at Heimathafen: Looking at the musician, the music is kind of hard to believe. A skinny ginger teenager from the UK who sounds a little bit like Billy Bragg (actually a lot like Billy Bragg - and besides, Bragg is a fan) and has been compared to everyone from Leonard Cohen to Gil Scott-Heron to Johnny Marr. Yep, really. This gig is sold out but if the hype is to be believed - and there’s been a lot of it, King Krule, real name Archy Marshall, has been groomed for indie stardom for years now - it may be worth one’s while to stand outside and see if you can nab a spare ticket. 

  • Total Heels + Solemn League at Schokoladen: Firm Craze favourites Total Heels are delighting us with an early evening at Schokoladen (doors at 7). Let your hair down or grease it up, don your best dance shoes. Be there or be square, this is our gig of the week.