Festival Season 2012: Berlin Festival, Berlin (DE)

(© M. Weiher)

For the first time Redheadess and petepelican went over to the Berlin Festival to enjoy two days of indie and electronic music at an old closed airport. Their impressions of what they saw of this year’s outstanding line-up at Tempelhof Airport and Arena Berlin:

Of Monsters And Men

Redheadess: Iceland’s folk-pop sevenpiece were the Main Stage opener on Friday. While the drummer and the female keyboarder didn’t seem to have adapted to the change in temperature at all (big woolen jumpers), the male guitarist and the singer greeted the grey clouds with a pair of sunglasses. The band was happy to be there, handclaps and the first handful confetti were involved and that was already enough for a good opening act. But then they even covered ‘Skeletons’ by the Yeah Yeah Yeahs! An excellent first set of the weekend.

petepelican: Yeah, I agree with that! Her voice was awesome live and everyone was really good at their instruments, especially the girl and the boy on the left could play a lot of instruments such as trumpet, accordion and piano. An exciting new act that put you in the right mood for a great festival day, which should end with The Killers.

Alabama, Arkansas … No wait, that was not them. (© S. Prahl)


petepelican: This was the third time this year I saw Friends, after their gigs at Dockville and Molotow, the latter still being their best. Their Dockville show was a bit boring because nobody was dancing and after they had started at Berlin Festival, I thought that it was going to be the same, but after some songs the audience got into the right mood and some of them started jumping around and at the latest when singer Samantha Urbani went over the barrier, everybody was dancing with her.

Brooklyn’s finest: Friends (© M. Weiher)

Kate Nash

Kate screams out her mind (© S. Prahl)

Redheadess: If there was one unexpected performance this weekend, it was definitely Kate Nash’s. Her new album is not even out yet, but judging from all the songs we heard that Friday (she only played four old songs, of which only ‘Foundations’ was off her debut!) it’s expected to be a lot punkier and harder. Gone is the cute little girl in flower dresses; Kate’s hair is now dyed black and white and she’s traded her old band in for an all-girl band who are just as tough as her, as it turned out (throwing glass bottles …). Kate screamed and yelled while she sang but was just as sweet and kind as always when she spoke. And boy, did that woman have fun dancing in the crowd! She’s definitely learned to love her audience and is not afraid to show her affection by dancing with her fans personally.


Redheadess: The electro-pop collective from Bavaria enjoyed playing the festival, even without having any plans what to play or how long, resulting in leaving the stage early and coming back for a two-song-encore, one of which was their best-known hit single ‘Bilder mit Katze’; the other being ‘Hildegard’, a non-single that’s always greatly enjoyed whenever being played live. Confetti and plushy panda, cat and dolphin mascots on stage got everyone in the right mood to party for the rest of the night. One of Frittenbude’s better festival sets I’ve seen so far!

Sigur Rós

petepelican: Turning out as one of the best performances of the weekend, The Killers may have had the best stage show but Sigur Rós spread a lot more atmosphere with their music than any other band at this festival. But I have to start from MELT! Festival 2010, where I saw Jónsi. Jónsi is the singer of Sigur Rós and around 2010 he made a soloalbum called “Go”. At this time I didn’t know him very well and I missed out on the fact that he was the singer of Sigur Rós, but because everybody was talking about him and saying that the show was going to be one of the best at MELT! 2010, I watched him and in fact, it was the best. His show blew me away. I had never heard such a beautiful voice, which is very high and gentle and at the same time so powerful. I don’t know where he gets the air for those long drawn out vocals but I wish I had a third of it. So two years later I was very excited when Sigur Rós were announced for Berlin Festival. The time had finally come to see Jónsi with his band. My expectations were high, but not as high as if I were going to see Jónsi again, because I had some problems getting into the much more complex songs and the Icelandic lyrics. Jónsi also uses vonlenska, a self-invented onomatopoeic language, which fits perfectly to some of their songs. Although I didn’t know many of their songs (it’s hard to get through six albums with songs that barely fall below six minutes each), I felt very excited when I stood in front of the stage and saw the large quantity of instruments and when the band entered the stage and play their first chords it kicked me off my feet again. They’re pure masters of creating huge sound landscapes that leave you standing one hour in front of the stage with wide open eyes and mouth and so many feelings you can’t describe. Also this was one of those festival gigs where the rain goes with the atmosphere and it’s absolutely a band you have to see in darkness. There was a controversy at Bestival a few days ago where on the basis of requirements from the headliner Stevie Wonder, who played after Sigur Rós, the band had to play in daylight. That was a bad experience, Jónsi later said in an interview. I agree that Sigur Rós’ music only works in darkness with lots of mist, faint lights and beautiful videos played on a big LED screen in the back. All in all definitely a band I would like to see again another time!

Purely aesthetic: Sigur Rós (© M. Weiher)

The Killers

Redheadess: A lightning and a lowercase ‘k’ were the first things to light up the stage when the headliner entered Main Stage on Friday night. They shoved their hits down our throats and we threw our voices in front of their feet. Talking of feet, some people should be sued for wearing heels (!) to a festival. Or at least for stomping on other people’s toes with those things. It’s safe to say I didn’t enjoy sitting in a corner during ‘Somebody Told Me’ while everyone was losing their shit, just because I couldn’t contain my pain between all those people. At least I learned how good the sight can be from the very back, if you only stand on something high enough to look over everyone’s heads.

petepelican: In my concert history I strangely ignored The Killers in all those years – maybe it was due to the fact that I didn’t really like their third record “Day & Age”. But when I stood in front of the stage in the seventh row or so, I thought back to their early years and the debut “Hot Fuss”, which was one of the first indie records I listened to. So I got excited for the next 90 minutes and especially for their light show. They opened with new single “Runaway”, which was okay but nothing more. Another new song they played from their forthcoming album was “Miss Atomic Bomb”, but this one didn’t impress me either. I also got through their “Day and Age” hits “Human” and “Spaceman”, but what I enjoyed most were hits like “Somebody Told Me”, “Smile Like You Mean It” and especially the end with “Mr. Brightside” and “All The Things That I’ve Done”. The light show was gorgeous and the second-best I’ve seen so far after Muse’s, especially the green lasers during Joy Division cover “Shadowplay” and the fireworks during the encore “When You Were Young” overwhelmed me. After that I could only say that I was happy to have seen them after all those years.

A Las Vegas look to accompany their sound: The Killers (© M. Weiher)

Friday ClubXBerg

petepelican: After The Killers had ended at midnight, we had some problems getting to the Arena Berlin, where the shows of ClubXBerg were held, within half an hour so as to see Metronomy. We decided not to take the shuttle, because of the huge queue at the shuttle service. So we reached the arena after a journey through the Berlin underground network and with the help of some visitors who’d been at Berlin Festival last year, all in all taking us 45 minutes. Therefore we missed the first songs of Metronomy, but the rest we saw was awesome. It was even better than the Metronomy set at Dockville this year. They played the same songs but the sound at the Arena was one of the best I’ve ever had (in contrast to the sound at the hangar stages, which was really bad sometimes). The bass automatically set your feet in motion, so we all danced through the rest of their set and were really happy that we had witnessed their last gig of the English Riviera Tour. They left the stage with the words: “Thanks to everyone! This was our last show for the next year or so. Hopefully we’ll see you all again. Goodbye”.
After that we had to wait one hour until Crookers entered the stage. At this point we were really tired and exhausted and the Crookers set was not as good as the set I’d seen at MELT! 2010, so we decided to go to the hostel and prepare for the next exciting day.


Redheadess: None of the five times I’d seen Bonaparte before the sun was still up when they played. Only this very Saturday, as the multicultural collective played Main Stage in the early evening hours, it was still brightest day outside, and almost cloudless, too! Nevertheless, as kind of a hometown show (they live in Berlin), it was Bonaparte’s best festival set to date. Both the bassist and Monsieur Bonaparte himself had dyed their hair pink, clothes were taken off as always (yes, also eight layers of underpants, one after another until not one was left), make-up and costumes were shiny and sparkling and new, and there was confetti everywhere. Everything you’d expect from a Bonaparte show was there, actually. And it was beautiful to see how comfortable the band and dancers were around each other, despite the lack of clothes! Every Bonaparte show is a unique experience and so was this one. The only thing I still cannot grasp is why the hell they played before Kraftklub, as bands normally play in an order according to how ‘big’ they are.

Bonaparte as always in weird costumes (© S. Prahl)


Redheadess: From the first time I’d seen them on TV last year, these guys from Chemnitz (DE) have always been a band to make fun of. They’re making fun of themselves and of other bands (The Hives, The Killers, Arctic Monkeys), and I’m making fun of them, but not really in a positive way. I’d always tried to boycott their shows, but seeing as we wanted to see Franz Ferdinand, who were playing afterwards, we had to watch Kraftklub, too. And really, I still don’t get why all my friends are hyping this band to infinity. The lyrics are only remotely funny, the indie-rock riffs are nothing new, singer Felix’s voice is not really made for singing, which is why he’s rather talking/rapping than singing at all. This all could have been a German version of Art Brut, but no, sorry guys. You’ll need to work a lot harder to impress me.

Franz Ferdinand

Redheadess: We all haven’t heard of them in three years, but our favourite Scots are definitely still around! They’re all still there, the same stomping drums, the forward organs, the unique basslines, and the voice! Franz Ferdinand fired one hit after another and the crowd was absolutely ecstatic in all places. They even played a few new songs, such as ‘Right Thoughts! Right Words! Right Action!’ and ‘Scarlet Blue’, and they were all amazing. Unfortunately, the band was only allowed to play an hour, but nevertheless, it was a perfect and well-earned comeback. And we’re all looking forward to a new album!

petepelican: I coudn’t add much here, ecxept that you are right! I was in the middle of the audience and everyone went nuts, jumping around and singing their lyrics to almost every song apart from the new ones, which you could dance to instantly without having heard them before.

Alex Kapranos had a good time on stage (© M. Weiher)

Saturday ClubXBerg

petepelican: Franz Ferdinand were the last band we wanted to see at the festival site and their gig ended at 10pm. The first act we wanted to see at ClubXBerg was Modeselektor, who wouldn’t start before 2am so we had to kill four hours after an exciting and also exhausting day. On the basis of our plan to see acts until 5am we decided to prepare for the night with lots of mate-vodka. So as I said the first act we saw at ClubXBerg was Modeselektor. I don’t remember much of their performance because I was a bit too drunk. I only know that there were two big screens in the background with amazing animations which fit the music perfectly  and I noticed Thom Yorke’s voice, so I think they played “Shipwreck”, which features vocals from the Radiohead singer. As their last track they played “A New Error” by Moderat, one of the few songs I knew and I really liked it. Somebody said Modeselektor sound like Berlin. I don’t know what Berlin should sound like but I can only say that this was some good German electro and I enjoyed it.
So after Modeselektor my ClubXBerg highlight of the day, Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs stepped onto the DJ booth and, to my amazement, without his conspicuous indian headdress. His set was very good and danceable; he played all the songs I know of his, including “Garden”, “Household Goods” and the amazing seven-minute long “Waulking Song”. He also brought along two female dancers, who had some choreographies to some of his songs.
After that it was 4:30am I think and we started to get tired, but we wanted to see at least a little bit of Simian Mobile Disco but what we saw was not good. They didn’t even play any songs from their records. But I respect them anyway because James Ford produced some of the best indie-rock albums of the last years like the Arctic Monkeys’ “Favourite Worst Nightmare” or “Suck It And See”.

Picture Gallery

(© S. Prahl)
(© M. Weiher)
(© M. Weiher)


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s