Category Archives: Photo Proof

Been there, shot that: The category for concert photography, also galleries with little or no accompanying text.

Live: MS Dockville 2016, Hamburg (DE)

Zum zehnten Jubiläum legte das MS Dockville sich ganz besonders ins Zeug: ein Line-Up, das in der Spitze wie in der Breite zu überzeugen wusste, ein wie immer atemberaubend schönes Gelände und die entspannte, ausgelassene Stimmung machten 2016 zu einem der besten Dockville-Jahre in letzter Zeit.

Die Acts: Von den zehn Ausgaben seit 2007 war ich bei ganzen sieben; zuletzt war es aber immer wieder das mangelhafte Line-Up bei stetig steigendem Ticketpreis, das mich von einem Besuch absehen ließ. Dieses Jahr war das Dockville ein Festival der positiven Überraschungen: Gab das Line-Up bei einem vorherigen Hördurchgang nicht viel her außer bereits bekannten Favoriten wie Foals, Bilderbuch (die ich aufgrund des Timetables nicht sehen konnte) oder Unknown Mortal Orchestra, erwiesen sich die großen Lücken in meinem Zeitplan letztlich als Segen: Acts wie Faber, Isolation Berlin oder Die Nerven gaben einen hervorragenden “Zeitvertreib” ab. Dadurch verzieh ich auch das Booking gruseliger Formatradio-Verbrechen wie Matt Corby, Frances oder der furchtbar unlustigen Klaas-Heufer-Umlauf-Band Gloria.

geländeDie Besucher: Das Dockville-Publikum ist durchschittlich etwa 20 Jahre alt, trägt genderunabhängig Blumen im Haar und Glitzer im Gesicht, sowie in 80% der Fälle einen Turnbeutel mit witzigem Spruch der Wahl auf dem Rücken. Außerdem ist es äußerst ingenieurstechnisch begabt, wenn es darum geht, ein einzigartiges Erkennungs-Maskottchen zu erschaffen, das an einem hohen Stab über der Crowd geschwenkt wird, um die eigene Freundesgruppe zusammenzuführen (Highlight: ein seifenblasenspuckender Affenkopf mit LED-Augen). Als Wahlberlinerin fiel mir zudem auf, dass alle Hinweisschilder etc. am Gelände auf Deutsch gehalten sind: Das Dockville ist trotz weiterhin steigender Bekanntheit anscheinend immer noch ein lokales Ereignis.

Die Politik: Die Hamburger AFD legte jüngst Beschwerde bei der Kulturbehörde ein, wieso man ein Festival finanziell unterstütze, bei dem angeblich linksradikale Bands wie Slime oder Feine Sahne Fischfilet auftreten würden. Als Reaktion wurde ein riesiges “Fuck AFD”-Plakat am Gelände aufgehängt. Junge Teenager, die aussahen wie die Unschuld in Person, trugen “Niemand muss Bulle sein”-Beutel oder schwenkten Antifa-Flaggen bei den Auftritten von bekennenden linken Acts wie Sookee oder eben Feine Sahne. Auch weniger explizit politische Bands machten den Mund auf; etwa Faber in seinem Besorgte-Bürger-Song Wer nicht schwimmen kann, der taucht oder Isolation Berlin, die eine Textzeile zu “Er schnauzt mich von der Seite an, ob ich nicht stolz sei auf dieses Land” änderten. Ausschreitungen, Aggressionen und sonstiges Arschlochverhalten waren meiner Erfahrung nach vollkommen abwesend vom Festival.

Galerie

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Festival Season 2015: Lunatic Festival, Lüneburg (DE)

We said we would, and so we did:

Those two of us that were spending the weekend in Lüneburg were also busy working at this year’s campus festival, which has been steadily growing every year since 2004. Therefore we weren’t able to really see any of the acts playing. But the two days (Friday and Saturday) were still enough time to realise that it’s impeccably organised (even though literally all the work is done by students of Leuphana University in Lüneburg, so props to them). It’s not even really the music that counts at this event, even though you can barely escape the beats and riffs floating over the festival grounds. There’s graffiti artists, DIY-lemonade stands, a 360° performance stage for comedy, screenprinting workshops, information tents about social and political issues and every piece of food and drink is vegetarian. Sustainability is in every corner, and that’s what counts. Even the festival merch is organic, and beautifully illustrated as well. It’s a small festival, easily overlooked, and I’m having a lot of fun simply listening to bands like Bergfilm, Carnival Youth and Balthazar from the press lounge where I’m editing my pictures between my time shooting bands on the smaller stage – the Spielwiese (lit. “play meadow”. Yes. It is a meadow. But it’s small and nice and there are no barriers in front of the stage).

We’ll simply leave you with a little gallery from the first June weekend (at which we had temperature peaks of 31°C and no rain). I’ll do my best to be shooting at Lunatic next year as well.

(Click on a picture for large view)

All photos © by S. Prahl

Live: Captain Casanova in Hamburg (DE), 19.04.2015

Last weekend, we had the honour to present our first concert with Indie Pen Dance! We had the lovely Captain Casanova playing at little Komet Bar just off the bright lights of Reeperbahn. And since a picture is worth a 100 words, we’ll leave you with the highlights in photo format…

(all pictures © S. Prahl)

indie pen dance presents: Captain Casanova (DK)

Our Danish favourites Captain Casanova have just come back from their 2 weeks tour through Italy, Germany and the Swiss Mountains. They decided to share some impressions with us which got us all excited for their return to Germany in April and especially for their gig in Hamburg. This special treat is gonna be presented by this blog  and will happen on April 18th at the Komet Music Bar.

If these pictures don’t convince you what an awesome live band these guys are, then you better come come to the gig to see it for yourself!

We recommend to come down early to drink with us and the norse (guitar) gods and enjoy a sweaty live performance.

 

indie pen dance presents: Captain Casanova!

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Festival Season 2014: Reeperbahn Festival, Hamburg (DE)

Since Reeperbahn Festival is mainly there for showcasing new artists, many of whom don’t even have more than a single out, I’m going to make it short this time and bring you my top 5 new (and one not so new) acts from this year’s installment:

 novemberdecember

5. NovemberDecember

Autumn is here and Winter is coming, so it’s never too early to take care of the right soundtrack for the dark months. NovemberDecember from Denmark apply for this job with not just a fitting band name, but a perhaps typically Scandinavian melancholia with vocal harmonies reminiscent of Kings of Convenience, accompanied by light guitar picking and some added drama provided by the strings section. Their brand new single ‘Save Yourself’ with its memorable chorus has a good chance of becoming this season’s indie hit.

bohicas

4. The Bohicas

The Bohicas were one of my main reasons for buying the festival ticket after having made waves earlier this year with double a-side ‘XXX / Swarm’. Both tracks brought new hope to all who craved some good old-fashioned, leather-jacketed rock’n roll that makes you want to dance as well as pick up a guitar and start a band all at the same time. On the stage of the newly opened Molotow, however, The Bohicas are not a very memorable presence – their songs however all the more so. Not a single track seemed out of line with their fast, danceable set, proving that the debut single wasn’t just a lucky shot and we can expect an album full of potential hits to hopefully come around the corner soon.

manythings

3. Many Things

Other than The Bohicas, fellow Brits Many Things (formerly MT) are the definition of a live band. I discovered them while listening through the line-up and it didn’t take more than one play of their fatally catchy single “Alpha Romeo” to convince me to give them a shot. Live, Many Things fall into the category of “band whose entertainment factor is mostly based on a nutcase singer who spends more time in the crowd than on stage, likes to stand on monitors, photobombs his own band’s live pictures and shamelessly flirts with every female in the audience”. Needless to say, the whole place was having a hell of a time. Definitely a band I would go see again, but I wouldn’t blindly buy a record of theirs without a test listen first.

july talk

2. July Talk

Without a doubt the discovery of the festival for me, July Talk were another lucky find while I browsed that evening’s artists in the afternoon. The Canadian quintet have their very own brand of punk-infused indie pop, their most outstanding characteristic being their lead singers’ vocals: Peter Dreimanis with his sandpaper voice vs. Leah Fay’s sweet and quirky vocals makes a contrast that works surprisingly well. On top of that, they also have a whole bunch of tunes up their sleeve, and the live show to match. While playing the tiny stage in front of the window of Michelle Records, Fay is constantly mounting a record stack or any other elevation she can find, waves at little children standing outside the window or calling out to passers-by to come in, when she’s not busy lying down on the floor or flirting with / dry-humping her co-singer boyfriend Dreimanis. In this case, I would have bought the album, which had just come out that day, right there at the gig (if they’d had vinyl or CDs had been less than €15).

bilderbuch

1. Bilderbuch

The other major reason I bought the ticket were the Austrian guys from Bilderbuch – half experimental indie, half dorky boy band, they are the most refreshing thing to sing in German since I can remember, basically. When I first saw the Viennese band at Berlin’s Magnet Club in 2009 –completely unplanned–, they sounded like a German-language rip-off of the recent British indie rock wave. But when I stumbled upon their second album ‘Die Pest im Piemont’ some time later, they definitely won me over. After all that record was basically a concept album about a plague in Italy, with screeching guitars and lyrics reflecting a slow descent into madness and apocalypse echoed by the music.

At their Reepfest gig, the audience at the well-filled Grünspan sings along to every word of their recent hit ‘Maschin’ off the ‘Feinste Seide EP’, a record that makes the upcoming third album look more electronic, more dancefloor-oriented but with the same love for experimentation. I could go on and on about their wonderful sense of irony that is pitted against lyrics of poetic depth. I mean, this band can write lines like Wenn ich in tausend weißen Nächten Diamanten schlürf / und mich dein Puppentanz zu altem Glanz verführt while at the same time they have a song called “Softdrink” which basically goes Coca-Cola, Fanta, Sprite, Pepsi, 7up, alright, which, if you think about it, is the “Burger Dance” all over again. But who could even hold it against these boys, in their trashy 90s outfits, their lead singer Maurice Ernst with his badly dyed blond hair, who is so effortlessly charming and so overly Viennese that it must be for show (or are they really like that, using words like vorzüglich and calling the audience meine lieben kleinen Hamburger) or Michael Krammer on guitars and percussion who looks like a hip-hopper in his basecap but suddenly lays down a kick-ass heavy metal guitar solo. It’s this element of surprise, of humour, and also this sense that these guys actually have a new and fresh approach on pop music, and that approach is playful and ironic and can use auto-tune without sounding shit. Truly, this must be art.

All pictures © D. Prahl

Festival Season 2014: MS Dockville, Hamburg (DE)

The look across the river: Dockville is famous for its waterside location (© S. Prahl)
The look across the river: Dockville is famous for its waterside location (© S. Prahl)

GENERAL

Belle Brummell: 2014 was my 6th Dockville out of 8 installments, and while I have never been this disappointed with the line-up before, especially in the face of the constantly rising ticket price, I must say that this year was extremely well-organised. There were both enough drink stands and toilets (the latter even with toilet paper!), no long queues anywhere, not even for the shuttle buses back (only a few extremely popular food stalls had long waiting times – the food range being great as well, by the way) – even the festival app worked, mostly. And it wasn’t poorly visited either – this year was sold out, except for Sunday day tickets, and a new second campsite was opened due to the high number of visitors from outside of Hamburg. The only thing I could complain about was the lack of any beer brand apart from the vile Jever – and no wine, which would have been a welcome alternative for me. Speaking of alcohol, they still cling to that frankly ridiculous rule that non-campers can’t bring any drinks at all to the festival area, while campers can officially bring one tetra pak, but in reality can just fill any alcoholic drink they like into a plastic cup and take it to the festival site. Which is why I used to buy a camping ticket, set up a tent, put alcohol in it and slept at home, but after being exploited too often by other people I saved the €10 and the hassle of setting up and taking down the tent and instead used my own wits to get the alcohol on the festival site. That’s what you get, Dockville.

The "Nest" is one of Dockville's DJ only stages. (© S. Prahl)
The “Nest” is one of Dockville’s DJ only stages. (© S. Prahl)

What was bothering me as well was the clear shift in line-up towards electro, resulting in me going home unusually early every night, as after 11pm or so there was only electro on. In past years, one would often have a local indie DJ spinning records somewhere, but apparently this is no longer demanded by the Dockville crowd. At least this way we always got a good night’s sleep, but it also makes me wonder whether in future years I’m still welcome there, as this year there was already hardly anything for me to see that catered to my musical taste. Still, I found enough things to somehow pass the time and not overly regret the amount of money I’d spent on an earlybird ticket, and it’s still a nice little festival after all, though it feels like the art installations are not really valued as much as in the early years. This year however I attended the poetry slam for the first time and it was really worth coming early for. Read on to see what musical acts we’ve watched and what we thought …

FRIDAY

Jungle's vocalist was definitely a sigh, though we sadly could not find out his name. (© S. Prahl)
Jungle’s vocalist was definitely a sight, though we sadly could not find out his name. (© S. Prahl)

Jungle

Belle Brummell: We hit the festival area on Friday afternoon for the much-hyped UK collective, whose indescribable blend of styles had actually managed to draw my interest (not something a lot of acts do these days). If I was a little more versed in sub-genres of hiphop I could probably do a better job at telling you what they sound like, but chances are you have already heard hit singles like “The Heat” and “Busy Earnin'”. Their set wasn’t exactly boring, but as I’m not that familiar with the album yet, I found it all to sound a bit alike.

Dressed like a real "Hein von der Werfs": Cole Alexander of Black Lips (© S. Prahl)
Dressed like a real “Hein von der Werft”: Cole Alexander of Black Lips (© S. Prahl)

Black Lips

croconut: To see the Black Lips I had to leave Hercules and Love Affair’s gig unfinished, which was a pity since they pretty much ruled with their mix of soul and electronical music. But well for Black Lips no price is too high. To be honest: my expectations about their gig were not low. As a great admirer of lo-fi and garage music Black Lips stand out as some of the leading figures of these genres for me. Well the atmosphere during their set was amazing. Everyone was dancing in the famous punk way, also known as pogo, from the start. Which was kinda weird since the first song they performed was pretty quiet and not very suitable for this kind of dance but well I guess that’s the effect that the band had on the audience. Just their appearance caused a major chaos. They played all their classics like ‘Oh Katrina’, also known from the ‘Scott Pilgrim’ soundtrack, ‘Family Tree’ or ‘Bad Kids’. Hearing all the songs live that I have danced to so many times, at pubs, in the street or sometimes alone in my room, was an unbelievable greatness. Also some favorites of mine like ‘Dirty Hands’ were part of their set. Well their new ones sounded amazing as well. Very soul-y, a lot like The Almighty Defenders, which I definitely approve of. As already mentioned not just their songs but also the band itself is quite legendary as a part of the garage scene. So seeing them play was something really special. Though the fact that they threw toilet paper rolls into the audience made it even more special. Ending their performance with ‘Bad Kids’ they once again gave everyone around a chance to get fucked up. Lots of people seemed to be well prepared for this last act of madness, some pyros were lit and guys from the Antifa movement were also just around the corner waving their flags at the end of the gig. There is nothing more left to say beside of ‘it was a very Hamburg-like Black Lips experience and definitely one of my highlights of the festival’.

Almost overshadowed by his backdrop, but Nottingham's Jake Bugg stood strong (© S. Prahl)
Almost overshadowed by his backdrop, but Nottingham’s Jake Bugg stood strong (© S. Prahl)

Jake Bugg

Belle Brummell: Perhaps surprisingly, Jake Bugg had been given Friday’s headlining slot, playing even after Birdy, who I’d thought to be more commercially successful in Germany, but I’m not complaning. (Except about the fact Birdy played there in the first place, as I have her down as a teenage mainstream singer who’s biggest hit was a cover, correct me if I’m wrong.) I hadn’t listened to Jake’s second album quite as much as to the first but I still found his set thoroughly enjoyable (though this time he sadly didn’t get hit by an inflated condom). The best part about seeing Jake in Germany, however, is still people showing the “victory sign” during “Two Fingers”, being beautifully unaware that “putting two fingers up” or “flicking V’s” is a British way of saying “fuck you”.

Annie May: Friday-night headliner Jake Bugg was seemingly unimpressed by the biggest festival slot he’d probably ever been given and started his set with There’s a beast and we all feed it, the opener of his latest album Shangri La. Maintaining his usual calm and expressionless stage presence the English singer-songwriter continued to play a few songs on his acoustic guitar, one of them being his hit Two Fingers before he switched from acoustic to electric guitar. In my opinion this was when his show really started. The songs had more energy in them, which was very appreciated by the crowd. Sing-alongs like Trouble Town and Seen It All were just as appreciated as newer songs like Kingpin, Slumville Sunrise and What doesn’t kill ya. The youngster proved his impressive guitar skills by adding guitar solos here and there and mastering them without batting a lash. A personal highlight was the extended version of Simple Pleasures that he played towards the end of the set. The last song was, of course, his smash hit Lightning Bolt. All in all, a worthy headliner performance.

SATURDAY

She probably named her band after her hair colour: Pale Honey from Sweden (© S. Prahl)
Probably named her band after her hair colour: Tuva Lodmark of Pale Honey (© S. Prahl)

Pale Honey

Annie May: Pale Honey, a drummer/guitarist duo from Sweden, opened the main stage on Saturday, only attracting a very small crowd due to the bad weather, earliness and the fact that this was their first time in Germany. The two girls were accompanied by a bassist and second guitarist, which suited their sound. The band’s strengths were not their quiet but rather their dirty, faster songs, which unfortunately were the minority. Their last song was definitely their best one.

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Not a real breton: Roman Rappak of Londoners Breton (© S. Prahl)
Not a real breton: Roman Rappak of Londoners Breton (© S. Prahl)

Breton

Belle Brummell: Less than twelve months after their spectacular, yet intimate set at Reeperbahn Festival, the Breton I saw at Dockville seemed like an entirely different band. Apparently having gained some commercial success with their second, more accessible album “War Room Stories”, Breton now drew a massive crowd to the Vorschot stage. Styled more rockstar-like than I remembered, frontman Roman Rappak had the antics of a poppunk singer, getting up close with the audience and being obviously amazed at the big turn-up. However, this daylight show did not allow for the visuals that had made their Mojo Club gig so atmospheric, so it felt more like watching some “cool” indie rock band without a very special vibe.

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Synchronised dancing/headbanging: The olympics of Kakkmaddafakka (© S. Prahl)

Kakkmaddafakka

Belle Brummell: I’m not sure how I managed to get through the last 7 years without ever seeing these Norwegian guys live anywhere, as their big popularity in Germany is evident and they surely play plenty of festivals over here. I had heard a lot about their stunning live show, but as I’m not too enthusiastic about their formulaic dancefloor-indie, I remained oblivious to what a Kakkmaddafakka show is really like. There are about 8 people on stage, two of them being identical twins singing backing vocals while doing synchronised dance moves, and as if that wasn’t rad enough, the members will goof around by doing ballet jumps across stage between songs, or covering Loona’s 90s summer hit “Bailando” unironically, with their percussionist, who looks like Thor, on lead vocals. Needless to mention, pretty much everyone is hot. (They’re Scandinavian, duh.) Well I’m pretty sure their tour manager would rather herd cats, but I wouldn’t mind partying a night with these nutjobs for sure.

Annie May: There was a lot of expectations and pressure on Norwegian party band Kakkmaddafakka before their late evening set at Dockville. Last year they had to cancel last minute, which had left many fans disappointed. You could clearly tell that the band, now equipped with a new keyboarder, had big plans for that night. Their set had a rather unpleasant start for the people in the crowd who were pushed over at the very beginning of the set. It took almost all the time of their intro before everyone was back on their feet. The intro was traditionally followed by Touching and Make The First Move before the band launched into songs of their second album Six Months Is A Long Time. The thing with Kakkmaddafakka shows is that you never now where to look, as there are eight guys on the stage, two of them being their famous dancers. The crowd went especially wild during their hits which they played at the end of their set. As the last song their extra percussionist performed a cover of Bailando shirtless, which topped off their excellent show. But even that was topped by their encore Forever Alone and the fact that the band was absolutely unwilling to leave the stage.

SUNDAY

Sweet psychedelia from Berlin: Oracles were rather tolerable for a German band  (© S. Prahl)
Sweet psychedelia from Berlin: Oracles were rather tolerable for a German band (© S. Prahl)

Oracles

Sodapop: On Sunday morning I struggled through crowds of early birds, festival aficionados and music lovers. I passed flower-crowned women and men, surreal looking wooden installation art to finally get to the first act I wanted to see on this cloudy Sunday. We’re talking about Oracles, whose gig was announced to take place at the Maschinenraum stage in the early afternoon. Oracles are from Berlin and are music-wise geared to shoegaze, dream pop, afrobeat and exceptionally eighties and early nineties inspired neo-psychedelia. When they started to play, a constantly growing crowd in front of the stage had already been formed. Oracles straightly played their music into the open arms of the audience. Their opener Journey Back To Dawn is a kind of psychedelic ballad which walks in the footsteps of Temples’ Move With The Season. The audience swayed back and forth in the middle of these psychedelic electronica sounds. The next song was Melt Tonight, which features a captivating harmony between vocals and instrumental sounds. For one moment it just seemed as if the whole scenery was located way beyond the Hamburg clouded sky; somewhere far away on a South Seas island straightly set back into the paisley patterned seventies. I didn’t seem to be the only one to feel that way: from all quarters people in voluminous clothes came closer to watch the psychedelic spectacle on stage. Oracles created a musical intensity which unleashed the audience – dancing people who were one with the wind all over around. In the end Oracles threw two copies of their new EP Stanford Torus in the crowd. Their performance was dynamic and intense – in short the perfect new festival discovery.

Mac Demarco

Big Mac was apparently more entertaining than it looks here  (© S. Prahl)
Mac Demarco: More of a joker than a sensitive slacker (© S. Prahl)

croconut: Unfortunately I missed the first 3 minutes of his set. And dear lord, those were definitely 3 minutes too much. Mac and his band are possibly the most entertaining people you could have put together in a music group. With the charm of Southern state gentlemen (not sure if they are from the south though) and the charisma of young Jesus they could melt all the hearts in the radius of 5 kilometers, at least (!). They played their set in the most precious way filling the gaps between songs with little speeches that were full of this special Mac type of humor. After some glases of whiskey, spontaneous words of love to the security guy and broken guitar strings Mac jumped into the crowd taking a ride above people’s heads. Everyone was very pleased to be a part of the movement that brought him forwards. After he had finished the ride his beloved security guy helped him to get on the stage again. Later he disappeared from the stage promising to hang out with everyone afterwards. The eyes of everyone around were filled with love, pure and true love caused by the presence of Mister Demarco and his friends. Some stayed near the stage though he was already gone talking very excitedly to the people around about what has just happened. Was it even real?! No one knows but it was amazing and well I felt some love too.

Wolf Alice

Wolf in Wonderland: Ellie Rowsell, also more punk than it may seem  (© S. Prahl)
Wolf in Wonderland: Ellie Rowsell, also more punk than it may seem (© S. Prahl)

Sodapop: I arrived too late for Wolf Alice’s set at the Maschinenraum stage (blame Mac DeMarco and his blissful surf daze music). While my eyes were still concerned with working out a route through the crowd, I suddenly found myself exactly in front of the stage. Sense and action seemed to be alien to each other that day. Apparently there couldn’t be a better day for a new perspective. Wolf Alice have released their newest EP Heavenly Creatures in June and I wasn’t just very pleased about listening to these songs live for the first time, I was very curious about their performance at Dockville Festival since their last gig in Hamburg in November as well. Wolf Alice’s gigs always are fascinating live experiences. Lower tones are paired with grungesque pop melodies and rock guitar riffs. Ellie Rowsell’s voice can sound dulcet like that of an angel, a heavenly creature, and then wild again. Wolf Alice who already were the insiders’ tip of the NME back in 2012 have evolved into a festival secret weapon and guarantor of high spirits. The audience formed moshpits in front of the stage; confetti showers bathed the entire festival grounds in a colourful light. Wolf Alice played plenty of my favourite songs like Blush, Bros, Storms and Moaning Lisa Smile – and besides an exciting reinterpretation of Chris Isaak’s legendary song Wicked Game. Singer Ellie and bassist Theo Ellis jumped off their amps, did headbanging and one wouldn’t have been surprised if they would’ve done stagediving during their forty minutes set. They finished their set with their first grunge-affected single Fluffy. In the end I became aware of the fact that it was the right decision to see Wolf Alice and their blazing inferno of sounds live again.

Glass Animals' Dave Bayley, not looking like a complete dork with a tambourine also being an art.  (© S. Prahl)
Glass Animals’ Dave Bayley clearly won ‘outfit of the day’. (© S. Prahl)

Glass Animals

Belle Brummell: One of the few interesting new bands and reasons Dockville isn’t entirely shit yet were Glass Animals. Their fragile, electronic indie pop would probably please fans of Wild Beasts, who I bet were not too happy to find Glass Animals’ and Wild Beasts’ sets to overlap by ten minutes and the respective stages being at the opposite ends of the festival site. Whoever came up with that great idea. Same as with fellow Brits Jungle, I found all their songs to sound rather the same after a while, and of course they would wait until the very end to play hit single “Gooey”. But the fact alone that Dockville still books these kinds of bands proves while they’re still relevant to indie fans at least to some degree.

And with this cheesy picture we leave you… (© S. Prahl)
And with this cheesy picture we leave you… (© S. Prahl)

Photo Proof: Cosmo Jarvis in Hamburg (DE), 23.01.2013

Having missed Cosmo Jarvis the last time he played in Hamburg, I didn’t think twice about going when I found out he was confirmed to play Molotow again this year. I’ve kind-of-not-really become the club’s own photographer by now and got the privilege to choose who of the acts I want to shoot.

Pete, Belle and weren’t going to miss this.

Cosmo and his band got on stage pretty late, but in the end, the set was two hours long, so no one cared, really. The four-piece played hits from Cosmo’s latest album ‘Think Bigger’ as well as from his albums one and two, ‘Humasyouhitch/Sonofabitch’ and ‘Is The World Strange Or Am I Strange?’. Despite lots of trouble with his guitars (one was ‘fucked’, the other had a broken string), Cosmo seemed happy to be there, got out his mandolin for two songs and played all the way through without talking much.

Interesting to mention was the crowd that night: The usual suspects, young people who enjoyed a good, not too expensive musical experience, were present as well as — families. Yes, 9-year-olds in Cosmo Jarvis shirts and earplugs surrounded by their older brothers and parents, the latter even singing along and fighting back That Drunk Guy At A Gig That Tries Opening A Mosh Pit (every gig has those).

The singer from Devon ended his set with an extended version of his hit single ‘Gay Pirates’, for which he sat down for a while and let especially his drummer bring that pirate-y feeling closer to us with his ecstatic drums. And one Facebook post later, we were all sure they’d definitely enjoyed playing:

‘Thanks so much Molotow for everyone who came and the venue for being like god damn family – can’t wait to come back.’

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All pictures © S. Prahl

Festival Season 2012: Reeperbahn Festival, Hamburg (DE)

King Charles during their free afternoon performance on Spielbudenplatz (© D. Prahl)

INTRODUCTION BY BELLE

Unneccessary to introduce, Reeperbahn Festival has become Germany’s most important annual meet-up for the music industry that bands, delegates and fans from all over the world flock to. Ever growing in size, both regarding the number of venues and crowd sizes, this year’s sold out festival comprised 60 locations welcoming 25,000 visitors, all of this happening on or in the vicinity of the ‘red mile’ Reeperbahn in Hamburg-St. Pauli. Of course this was a must-not-miss event for our team of writers, and we threw ourselves into the three-day gig marathon with enthusiasm and cameras. Here is what we liked, disliked, discovered – and who we hung out backstage with …

THURSDAY

Redheadess: The first band I went to see on Thursday were Capital Cities from L.A., who were playing Molotow with a capacity of 300. I’d just read the few words that were written about them in the festival booklet and decided to see what everyone was queueing for, half an hour before the band was supposed to play. And they surely didn’t disappoint me: Though the club was absolutely packed and hot as hell, and I was standing in the very back, I could see enough. With their ugly aloha shirts – all of them totally rocked –, a trumpet, and overdimensional sunglasses, they enchanted the whole audience with their summer feelings straight from California. They opened with an unexpected, almost happy version of Sinead O’Connor’s ‘Nothing Compares To You’ and closed with Madonna’s ‘Holiday’. Their own songs are electropoppy, danceable songs, the two singers Ryan Merchant (who reminded me of 2008-era Gabe Saporta) and Sebu Simonian brought their own dance steps on stage and made us sing along to catchy phrases such as ‘I Sold My Bed And Not My Stereo’ or ‘Love, Just Love Away’. It didn’t get boring once and suddenly the set was over. A perfect start to look forward to the rest of the festival!

What would Occupy say? Johann Van Der Smut playing in a branch bank. (© S. Prahl)

Redheadess: The most interesting venue for the weekend must have been the Haspa branch on Reeperbahn. It’s actually a bank, so it’s not really comfortable and doesn’t give you that concert feeling, but it’s interesting! The band I went to see there were Johann Van Der Smut, named after an Austin Powers character, who’d already opened for Kakkmaddafakka. They played some German indie-punk-pop stuff in the vein of 1000 Robota. Some lyrics found their way into my head and stuck there for a few more hours, and so did their faces – they showed up at Molotow later. It was a good set, with an audience interested enough to stay, but not enthusiastic enough to dance. I would’ve gone to see them on Friday, too, when they played Molotow Bar, but I had other bands to watch.

Blur? That’s a photoshop filter, innit? Graham Coxon took it easy. (© S. Prahl)

Redheadess: In order to be in the front for Kakkmaddafakka’s set, my friend and I went to Docks earlier to see Graham Coxon, who I personally wanted to see anyway. Before the set, as the host asked us who had heard of Blur, only a few cheers were to be heard and I was seriously appalled at so little feedback. It turned out to be a lot more people than those who had raised their voices, since the mood was so light that even Graham, after the first half hour, started smiling and joking around. For example, when one male fan in the first row, who knew every single lyric to every single song, shouted “I love you!!” a few times, Graham looked closer to check if that guy wasn’t that one stalker he used to have. Another boy had most definitely his night, if not his life, made by being allowed to toss the CD of his own band on stage (‘It’s only accepted when chucked!’) and into Graham’s hands, who promised to take a listen.

A crazy bunch (but you could tell from their name, aye?): Kakkmaddafakka from Norway. (© S. Prahl)

Redheadess: The last band to play the venue were Kakkmaddafakka from Norway, the indie-party-pop collective I’d already seen at Hurricane Festival. The sound was just fine this time, thank God. Once again, the five boys, two of them brothers, lured the teenage-girl front row and the rest of the audience in with their catchy upbeat songs, the huge flag, the three background singers/dancers, the hyperactive keyboarder Mr Jones and, in the end, a lot of naked torsos. They played one or two new songs that were just as good as the stuff from their debut, made the older songs stuck in my head for hours and hours after, and even covered ‘This Is How We Do It’ by Montell Jordan. Just as entertaining as the songs themselves were the instrumental intermissions, in which all eight of the guys were just randomly dancing around on stage so you didn’t even know where to look first. Kakkmaddafakka shows are just so much fun live and I still regret not having seen them at a headliner show but only at festivals so far.

FRIDAY

Nobody told them landfill bands ought to split after album #2: The View from Dundee. (© S. Prahl)

Redheadess: As about six different bands started at 7:30 pm on Friday, I decided to go watch The View at Grünspan and found myself queueing when there was absolutely no need to queue. I easily slipped into the second row and soon found Pete and another friend of mine. The Scottish four-piece’s show was nothing special, to be honest, and I hadn’t expected anything special, either. While I had totally forgotten to ever listen to their last two albums, I spent the first 40 minutes waiting for a song I knew and was proper disappointed when they only played ‘Same Jeans’ and ‘Superstar Tradesman’ from their debut, and ‘Shock Shock Horror’ and even ‘Realisation’ from their follow-up ‘Which Bitch?’, probably their best album to date. Singer Kyle and bassist Kieren took turns at singing the lead, which was nice. And if you thought other people were hard to understand, please try to make out any word Kyle Falconer has ever said that night – because I couldn’t.

Others play gigs, they perform steamy hip-hop operas: Dutch collective The Kyteman Orchestra (© D. Prahl)

Belle Brummell: I can’t recall the last time I was truly awed at a gig – as in, open-mouthed and bereft of words – before I stumbled into The Kyteman Orchestra‘s performance at Fliegende Bauten, a venue I hadn’t been to before. After walking in from behind the left side of the stage I was greeted by an at least twenty-people-strong collective, including a brass section, a string quartet, a few rappers and a choir of about ten to twelve young people in the back of the stage. Clothed in sparse yellow light and artificial smoke clouds, they performed a breathtaking clash of classical music, hip-hop, jazz and soul, which at no point really seemed like a clash but much more, if surprisingly, like a coherent whole, all of it conducted (and I literally mean conducted, because this orchestra really deserves its name) by mastermind Colin “Kyteman” Benders. I sure did not know I needed this in my life, but boy, how I do.

Typical rock-pose for a duo, yeah! Canadian garage outfit Japandroids (© M. Weiher)

petepelican: Some duos are much heavier and more energetic on stage than four- or fievepiece bands. Japandroidsare one of them and when I saw the two big Marshall stacks in the background I knew it would get really loud. The two guys intruduced themselves as Brian and David and started the show with the words: “We have a short time so we’ll play as many songs as we can”, and so they did. They rushed through their set with loud, distorted guitar riffs and onrushing drums and gave us 50 minutes of pure garage rock. Towards the end they had a little “band meeting” onstage to add one cover song to their set, because they had been too fast. A good decision watching something new instead of fun. for the second time!

Paparazzi get the ‘soon’ look: Bonaparte’s Tobias Jundt with fans (or bodyguards?) outside Schmidt’s Theater. (© D. Prahl)

Redheadess: New York’s chart-crashers fun. played twice on Friday, the first time at Ray’s Reeperbahn Revue, where we almost missed them, the second time at Große Freiheit 36.
Arriving at Schmidt’s Theater, where the Revue took place, my friend and I came ten minutes late, and didn’t get in, even though Belle was occupying two more seats for us. We didn’t back down, though, and waited 40 minutes for something to happen, for people to come out so we could take their seats, or for the security to become nice and let us in for whatever reason. All that happened was Bonaparte band members randomly going in and out, messing around with each other and with the security girls. They’d already played the Revue, and we’d missed them, too, unfortunately. All it needed for us to become important enough to get in was my friend Annie mentioning her horse to singer Tobi (he remembered her and her horse from Highfield Festival, where they’d talked about it already), who then asked us why we weren’t inside. As we told him we didn’t get in because it was too full, he shooed us in, saying we’re with him, and that was it. We broke down on the first steps that led down to the stage, behind Bonaparte keyboarder Uri and drummer Mo cuddling, just in time to hear ‘Some Nights’ and ‘We Are Young’. And Tobi was our hero of the day.

Sticking it to the critic who referred to them as ‘Disney kitsch’: fun.’s Nate Ruess. (© S. Prahl)

After watching The View, I hurried to Große Freiheit 36, where I didn’t have to queue at all, to my surprise. Belle and Annie were already in first row, watching Redweik, a band from Germany that played before fun. The latter played a good set, singer Nate Ruess was either drunk or hyperactive or bursting with adrenaline or just really happy, you could see it in his jumping around, the winks, the grins. And the others were happy, too. They played more songs off their second album ‘Some Nights’, probably to please the crowd, and a cover of ‘You Can’t Always Get What You Want’ by the Rolling Stones. To Belle’s and my disappointment, once again they didn’t play ‘Be Calm’ off their debut, though it’s probably the most beautiful song ever made. Nevertheless, the set was wonderful, as last time where they played a secret show at Kampnagel, only with more people singing along to ‘We Are Young’ and nothing else. I mean, I’m happy with how big they’ve become because it means they’re touring overseas, but still I wish more people would just take the time to listen to the other songs instead of just coming to the show because they know ‘that one song from the radio’.

Best Coast’s Bethany Cosentino: Away from her beloved Californian home aka “The Only Place”. (© M. Weiher)

petepelican: I had always enjoyed Best Coast‘s Californian surf pop and delightful lyrics so it was about time I’d see them live. As my only must-see act of the day they did a very good job entertaining me, but they weren’t their best on this day. But as I hadn’t expected much, I wasn’t disappointed. Bethany Cosentino’s voice was really great live but it seemed she wasn’t in the right mood (maybe jetlag or so?). They also played a lot of new stuff from the second album “The Only Place”, which I don’t like as much as the first one “Crazy for You” because some of the songs are a bit too boring and monotonous. Hopefully I’ll get the chance to see them at a smaller club than Grünspan someday. I think their music might work better there.

Pink light, pink lips: Kitsuné’s Chew Lips at their first ever Hamburg show. (© M. Weiher)

petepelican: Their first time in Hamburg will probably remain a memorable one for the members of Chew Lips, especially two of them. As the three entered the stage the singer had a severed fingertip and the drummer a broken nose (hard times in Hamburg, huh?). But that doesn’t prevent them to play an awesome dance-pop show with catchy synth parts and cool bass lines. And damn is the soundsytem good at Café Keese! It definitely worked perfectly for the music of Chew Lips. Every time the drummer hit her drum pad, the whole floor was trembling. When I stood in front of the nebulized stage and heard that awesome sound I only thought: How great to finally see some club shows after the long festival period! So all in all a really danceable set, but what else should you expect from a Kitsuné band?

Bonaparte at Ray’s Reeperbahn Revue: that was with clothes still on. (© D. Prahl)

Redheadess: After a quite unsuccessful wait for the fun. band members outside, we got back in at 12 in time to see Bonaparte play. Annie and I stayed in the back to have more space to dance, and we’d already seen them live a bunch of times this year, so we knew how the show would be going.
Once again, clothes were taken off, songs of all three albums were played, there was a lot of glitter, confetti and sparkling wine showers in the end. They played ‘Quick Fix’ and ‘C’est À Moi Qu’Tu Parles?’ as non-singles off their new album, and ended their set 20 minutes before they were supposed to. Singer Tobi completely lost his mind during ‘I Can’t Dance’, one of the better album tracks off their debut, proceeded to scream ‘DANCE! DANCE! DANCE!’ over and over again and then headed into the crowd with the first stagedive I’ve seen him do (which is a reason why they didn’t play that song the next day, since it was outdoors and raining, and he would’ve most likely slipped and fallen – thanks for the information, Pete!).
After the show, Annie and I really only wanted to take a picture with the band members scattered around the venue, while the stage was disassembled again. Dancer Claire and keyboarder Uri turned out to be really nice and welcoming, asked us for our names, told us they’d recognized us from wherever, told us where they’re from and how being in a band with people from all over the world worked out at all. We were practically thrown out by the Große Freiheit staff just a minute later, and not even Uri asking whether we could stay inside did help. He then gave up and joined us outside for one, or two, or three cigarettes outside, still clad in his stage clothes, lady’s boxing shoes (size 42), ripped pants, and a lot of glitter (‘This stuff’s everywhere, on my clothes, on my skin, at home, on my cat!’). We basically talked about everything: living in Berlin, being on the road, going out, his mental connection with drummer Mo, who he’d joined the band with in 2009, his cat, Annie’s horse, signing sessions, Ray’s Reeperbahn Revue, how many times they’d played that Friday (three, they were supposed to play even four shows!), when they’d be coming back (in December), school, church, food (he brought us sandwiches from the bus! That guy’s an angel!), costume designer Justus whom we’d never met though we were supposed to, washing costumes on tour, hats, policemen and -women, and even the silences in between weren’t awkward at all. Pete joined us sometimes in between and the time ran. We’d been talking to Uri for a good two and a half hours when the band decided not to go out at all but have a last beer inside. Well, okay, we thought, so this is goodbye. But no, Uri brought us inside through the back door without any trouble, backstage at the venue, just between the dressing rooms, where Mo and bassist Carlos were having a beer as well. And again we talked. About crazy hair, festivals, Carlos’s lampshade head (by that time, dancer Lulu had also arrived, all French with his chocolate croissant and a banana), dressing rooms, bus calls, future shows and so much more. We stayed with them until bus call, brought little Uri to the tourliner safely and then tried to realise everything that just happened. It took us a bit longer.

As always in stylish glittering clothes: The Asteroids Galaxy Tour’s Mette Lindberg. (© M. Weiher)

petepelican: At last the timetable had me heading into Docks, were The Asteroids Galaxy Tour should play as one of the last bands of the day. Having seen them twice before, I knew it would be good because they’re a great live band with lots of funky basslines, organs, trumpets and a lively singer with a unique voice. Well that was a good ending for a day of good live music, but that had been nothing: Later I met my friends, who were talking to the keyboarder of Bonaparte and he took us backstage for a beer!

SATURDAY

A good kick-start into Festival Day 3: UK art-poppers Vinyl Jacket. (© D. Prahl)
The perfect setting for intimate orchestra-pop: Einar Stray playing St. Pauli Kirche. (© D. Prahl)

Belle Brummell: “Blessed” with a 3.30 pm slot at some tacky franchise bar on Spielbudenplatz, Newcastle outfit Vinyl Jacket still managed to draw a reasonably sized crowd. However, most people were either not drunk enough to dance yet, or just awkward standing face to face with the band in lack of a stage. It certainly wasn’t due to their fast-paced indie-pop tunes full of hooks and lovely two-part falsetto vocals that the crowd was so reserved. A thoroughly entertaining performance pointing at a bright future for these young lads.

Belle Brummell: After some failed attempts to gain entry to overcrowded clubs around ‘prime time’ (ca. 11 pm), I took some back streets to St. Pauli Kirche, which I had never been to and had some smaller problems finding. Finally having found the church, and then the right door, I caught a seat on the balcony from where I had a good view of Norwegian singer-songwriter Einar Stray and his fellow musicians. With their range of instruments, including piano, violin and cello, they conjured up a beautiful, haunting sound that worked amazingly in the church setting. I sat through the entire set without wanting to leave at any point, which says something for him (my already short attention span seems halved when it comes to Reepfest, as I usually try to catch as many artists as possibly).

The perfect one-week music crush: Icona Pop from Sweden. (© D. Prahl)

Belle Brummell: Sheer ignorance had led me to miss Icona Pop‘s performance at MELT! this year, but at Reepfest their promotion team made sure every single festival-goer was aware of the girl duo’s existence by spamming the whole Kiez with posters, stickers and buttons featuring the slogans ‘I Love It’ or ‘I’m A 90s Bitch’. However, in my case their hit single ‘I Love It’ had kicked in before, and they were marked as a “dance-to-in-order-to-stay-awake” band on my schedule, playing Café Keese at 00:45. I may still have to get used to the fact electro artists rarely do anything obvious on stage to produce their music, so in between ecstatic hands-in-the-air poses (on my part) I did notice they were merely providing vocals to playback. Sooner or later one of them would bend over a controller or laptop though and eventually, it all didn’t matter that much as long as the music was fun. I didn’t even mind the set was only 30 minutes instead of the promised 45, as I had to go see Electric Guest anyway, but in comparison to Icona Pop they turned out rather a bore …

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Photo Proof: fun. in Hamburg (DE), 16.07.2012

Just so returned from Melt! Festival, we were given a short-notice opportunity to see fun. perform an exclusive show for tape.tv on Monday, which was also according to the band their first ever gig in Germany. (They performed at some tv show before but without audience, afaik.) As fun. are mainly to blame (besides my BA thesis) for why I’ve hardly been posting lately – they are basically the only band I’ve been listening to since April or so – sleep and work were obviously secondary. So the whole indie pen dance crew travelled to Kampnagel theatre in Hamburg and what we saw there left no doubt that fun. may not only be the band of the year, but definitely have the potential to become a major act of the decade at least. It is always a pleasure to watch a band, precisely one blessed with large-scale success such as fun. are currently experiencing, act with such utter delight at having the chance to play, and visibly enjoying it so much while not once failing to deliver absolutely professionally at the same time. It was quite awe-inspiring what kind of notes singer Nate Ruess can hit with no visible effort. With his never-resting dashing about on stage and juvenile joy at seeing one or two hundred had showed up to see his band, he seemed much less like a 30-year-old than a teenage upstart, even though they usually play in front of thousands after charting on number 1 of the US billboard chart with ‘We Are Young’. After first hearing about said incident, I felt the typical rush of disappointment at having to share ‘my’ band with radio listeners in giant venues from now on, but I have made up my mind on this topic, at least regarding fun.: Not only is it thanks to their success that I have the chance to see them live in my home country at all, they also deserve every bit of fame and love lavished on them, and yes, I think every radio listener has the right to experience the joy of hearing Ruess hit the note on ‘melody’ in the finale of ‘Be Calm.’ And everyone deserves to have their lives saved at least once by said song, or ‘Carry On’, or ‘At Least I’m Not As Sad As I Used To Be’.

The concert can be streamed in full over at tape.tv. My own humble videos of ‘Some Nights’ and ‘The Gambler’ are up on my YouTube channel.

The set list, for anyone intestered, in alphabetical order, was as follows (no liability): All Alone | All The Pretty Girls | At Least I’m Not As Sad (As I Used To Be) | Barlights | Benson Hedges | Carry On | It Gets Better | One Foot | The Gambler | We Are Young | Why Am I The One | You Can’t Always Get What You Want | Encore: Some Nights

fun. return to Germany for a couple of shows in September, including Reeperbahn Festival in Hamburg and Postbahnhof in Berlin, both of which we will attend and probably cover here as well.

And now: epic pic spam!

Photo Proof: Patrick Wolf in Hamburg (DE), 08.11.2011

As words cannot describe this man, his voice, or musical skill, or my ridiculous hormone rush when he kissed my hand, I will just leave you with some of the best concert photos I have ever taken.

PS: Apparently, Wolf also read the VICE article on how to dissect an owl.

PS2: Obviously I’m not posting a video because if you haven’t listened to his music yet, shame on you.