Tag Archives: berlin

ODD COUPLE werden “Flügge”

ODD COUPLE sind dem Berliner Nest entsprungen und werden noch bis zum 10.12. die Bühnen Europas bespielen. Das neue Album ist gerade über Cargo Records Germany erschienen. Haste?!


17.11.2016 – Schorndof, Manufaktur Schorndorf
18.11.2016 – Karlsruhe, Alte Hackerei
19.11.2016 – Freiburg, Slow Club
20.11.2016 – Bielefeld, Nummer Zu Platz
21.11.2016 – Saarbrücken, Synop
22.11.2016 – Mainz, Schon Schön
23.11.2016 – Nürnberg, MUZclub
24.11.2016 – CH – Fribourg, Fri-Son
27.11.2016 – CH – Luzern, Konzerthaus Schüür
28.11.2016 – Würzburg, Cairo
29.11.2016 – Köln, Popanz



Live: Straend Festival 2016, Berlin (DE)

Ich bin furchtbar blass, mein liebstes Wetter ist Regen und Temperaturen über 25° C lehne ich kategorisch ab. Klar, dass ich vom Surfen nicht den leisesten Hauch einer Ahnung habe, außer vielleicht, dass da meist ziemlich heiße Typen auf den Brettern stehen.

Das alles war aber kein Grund nicht zum wundervollen Straend Festival am 20.08.2016, welches zum zweiten mal in Folge stattfand, zu gehen. Auch wenn zunächst mit den Worten Surf, Musik, Film und Kunst von den Plakaten gelockt wurde, ging es hier doch um so viel mehr. Wobei Arena und Badeschiff mit Sand zwischen den Zehen, Liegestühlen und der Spree direkt vor der Tür zum entspannen einluden und die Veranstalter Loft Concerts, Novaque Events und Arena Berlin all das wie scheinbar nebenbei einfließen ließen, was ihnen verbunden mit der Thematik Surf am Herzen liegt. Dazu gehören an erster Stelle der Umgang mit Müll und unser Auftreten als Mensch in einer Welt, die wir als selbstverständliches Eigentum behandeln. Dieser Artikel soll jetzt aber kein Appell an dein Gewissen werden dich bewusster in deiner Umgebung zu bewegen, jedoch vielleicht den einen oder anderen Gedanken darauf zu verwenden. Und genau das hat auch das Straend Festival geschickt geschafft: sei es mit Mülltrennung auf dem Gelände, Essen auf Bambusblättern oder der Kunst von Angelo Schmitt, dessen Sammlung an Abfall von Stränden wieder einmal zeigt, wie gedankenlos wir unseren Müll entsorgen und dass wir in Plastik ertrinken ohne es überhaupt zu bemerken. Eingebettet in einer entspannten, kommerzfreien Atmosphäre mit Filmen von u.a. Surflegende Tom Curren und Musik von Sticky Fingers, Hein Cooper, The Graveltones etc. wurde dieser Tag zu einer absolut zwanglosen Entdeckungsreise. Maßlosen Konsum und die alleinige Ausrichtung auf Profit kennen wir schon von so vielen anderen Festivals, endlich mal was anderes, wo nicht die Einnahmen Kompass der Veranstaltung sind und eine Linie zwischen Unterhaltung und aktuellen Problemen gezogen werden kann.

Definitiv nächstes Jahr wieder dabei!

Konzerttip: Mellochfest II @ Bassy, Berlin (DE), 15.06.2016

Im Juni 2006 feierte das Label 8MM Musik seine erste Veröffentlichung, die White Vinyl 7″ Battery/Butcher’s Arms von Powers, mit einer Show von Singapore Sling und Powers in der damaligen Pfefferbank, kurz darauf bekannt als Bassy. Am 15. Juni wird dieses Jubiläum beim 2. Mellochfest begangen: Live spielen The Memories (Burger Records), das Projekt der White Fang-Bandkollegen Rikky Gage und Kyle Handley. Außerdem feiern The Third Sound die Record Release Show ihrer 3. LP Gospels of Degeneration, das Berliner Experimental-Garage-Duo DYN stellt bei seinem ersten Konzert im Jahr 2016 das neuste Studiomaterial vor und obendrauf gibt es eine Soundperformance von Franz Bargmann, dem ehemaligen Leadgitarristen und Originalmitglied der international bekannten Berliner Krautrockband Camera.

Einlass ist um 20 Uhr, der Eintritt beträgt 10 €.

Mehr Infos auf Facebook.


Q&A: Telegram

The 5th of May was Ascension Day, it felt like the first day of summer and everyone had BBQ at the park. Except us – we were sitting in a bar next to the train tracks of the U1 interviewing Matt Saunders, the singer of UK newcomers Telegram. Later that evening the London based fourpiece would have their second German gig ever after the Munich debut the night before. Despite of the weather there was a decent amount of people who didn’t want to miss this historic event.

Telegram just released their debut album Operator in February featuring their hit single Follow amongst other rough, catchy, punkish songs. With this record they fulfilled the high expectations the debut single had set. Live on stage it wasn’t hard for them at all to recreate the unpolished sound of the record and they played a tight and fast paced set.

During our talk with Matt we got a glimpse of the creative process behind both their music and the accompanying art and visuals.

You just released your first album Operator. We noticed that it sounds almost like a live recording, very raw and unpolished. How did this decision come about to record it that way?

We recorded it on a boat down Docklands, which has a studio inside of its hull. Rory Atwell, our producer, has a quite “live” style anyway. Being a live band, we kind of wanted that energy on the album. It would have felt strange to people who have seen us play before to have a polished album, that wouldn’t feel right. When you release your first record, you’re still at a stage where you need to get people to come to your shows and check you out, so I think it should be a sample of what you’re like as a live band.

Were you consciously trying to find a middle ground between having a lot of rawness and noise on the one hand and quite catchy, accessible melodies and guitar parts on the other hand?

Yeah, you’ve got to be careful and find the right balance. When we write songs we start with an initial structure that is based on a simple melody and then we add noise and effects… I think if you start the other way around it’s not really working.
I love a lot of good pop as long as it’s real and you can believe the person that it’s coming from. As a band you are constantly told that you need to have one or two songs which will get you on the radio, which is the only way that you will get booked for festivals as well. You have to think on a different level about what you’re doing. We are trying not to let it get to us but it’s still how things work.

What are your thoughts on how the second album is going to sound like? Anything about the debut album that you want to depart from?

The first record is fast, it has a lot of pace in it. A lot of the new songs we are writing at the moment have that as well, but we don’t want to make a complete follow-up to the first record. We want it to be quite different, to be a little groovier in its tempo.

There is definitely a big consistency between your sound and your visuals. We noticed that all your music videos have the same intro for example. What’s the concept behind it?

I’ve got a VHS camera that we shot the first video for Follow on and I had a clear idea in my head how I wanted it to look. I used to work at a location for photography and film, which had two rooms with wooden panels on the walls. One was cream white and the next one was black, so we would do the same set up and click from one room to the other.
The credits in front were also made with that VHS camera. It has a controller where you can type in the credits and they come up on the TV screen, then you have to make sure that everything in the room is dark to film the TV screen. The problem is, if the thing breaks… (laughs) So I’m trying to copy all the letters so if it did happen we could just cherrypick letters digitally and pop them in … though it’s cheating a bit.

Matt Saunders ©Nora Lee
Speaking of technology – you named your band Telegram and your album is called Operator. Is there a background to it, such as a retro technology theme?

Yeah, I think this aesthetic has a sort of dystopian, sci-fi theme – things like Kurt Vonnegut and J.G. Ballard, that imagery is quite attractive to me. The name “Telegram” came about four years ago, when I was looking at a newspaper which had a list of releases for record store day. I was just circling words that would be good for a band name, and there was a re-release of Telegram Sam by T-Rex. When that word came up it just felt good, satisfying in a way.
Operator was going to be called Telegram originally, which was lazy. We would always talk about calling it like a constellation or some other spacy thing… The name Operator came about because I was working on the artwork at the time and using a telephone as the basic back of the record as a theme – a telegram is being sent via a telephonic machine that you would press certain numbers on. This was maybe a day before we had to decide the title. As I was going through images of buttons on the telephone, one of them just sat staring at me, it said “Operator” and I thought “Ah, that’s perfect!” That sums up a lot of things that we’re about.

So you also did the artwork yourself?

Yeah, I went to art college for like four years and art is still a hobby of mine. I’ve also got a little studio space. For me the idea of somebody else doing the artwork is like getting another person to buy a birthday present for your girlfriend or boyfriend, giving them a couple of ideas what they’re into and then they go off and buy something for them. But if you find somebody to collaborate with that you can really trust then that’s worthwhile and I’m totally up for that. I mean there’s limits and boundaries and at some point I’ll have to get help, maybe.

Let’s talk about the lyrics a little. Do you focus on telling a story or is it more abstract…?

I imagine a lot of the lyrics are rather sentiments, as opposed to stories, in the same way that you might feel angry or upset or interested or bored or in love or whatever it is you’re feeling, and of course there is a story about it, and then I abstractly write about it.
There are so many lyrics that are just a repetition of the same themes and lines, about love or missing someone or this or that… It’s just not very original, so I try to be more abstract to make it interesting. I’m a big fan of Leonard Cohen for example. He’s really good at creating lines of abstraction, and then there is one line that is really straightforward and very simple which ties it all together and gives it a meaning, before it goes back to strangeness again.

Do you put personal experience into your lyrics as well?

Definitely. There will be one line that’s very specific to something from experience, and the next will be more of a general feeling about time, or space … it’s quite mixed up.

We read that you crowdfunded your album. Is that something you would do again?

I mean, it was really hard work but at the same time – it worked. We had a record deal with Sony but after nine months of nothing happening, it fizzled out, and then we went that way instead. Initially I was a bit skeptical, I didn’t like the idea of crowdfunding. To me traditionally, growing up, that’s not how a band puts a record out. But actually I think the simple method of a fan buying a record upfront – paying for the record before it’s been made – is a really clever way to do it, because you’re not asking for anything more than the cost of the record you would pay for anyway, it’s just reversing the order in which it happens. And if we did it with a label they would take 80% and we would have 20%, of control over things as well. All of that nonsense disappears. I would recommend it, and we would do it again.

Tour & Verlosung: Bled White

Erst Romy, Audrey und jetzt Greta – man könnte fast behaupten, BLED WHITE verfolge ein Muster bei der Benennung seiner Platten. Nicht nur mit der Wahl der Namenspatinnen schwelgt er in der Vergangenheit; von Nostalgie geprägt ist auch die Musik selbst, die der in Berlin lebende Solokünstler in DIY-Manier mit analogen Instrumenten einspielt. Mehr als nur ein Hauch 80er-Wave, sowie ordentlich Melancholie und Herzblut befeuern die vier Tracks seiner am 22. Januar erscheinenden neuen EP Greta. Mögen die Melodien auch reiner Pop sein, die Arrangements sind dennoch versponnen und spannend genug, auch Fans von Abwegigem zu gefallen.



Wer sich auch live in die Soundwelten von Bled White entführen lassen möchte, sollte sich seine Deutschlandkonzerte im Januar und Februar vormerken. Für einen Termin eurer Wahl verlosen wir 1×2 Gästelistenplätze! Schreibt bis spätestens 20. Januar eine Mail an indiependance(at)hotmail(dot)com mit eurem vollen Namen und eurer Wunschstadt und ihr landet im Lostopf!

Hier die vollen Daten:

22.01.2016 Berlin – Privatclub
23.01.2016 Hamburg – Astra Stube
24.01.2016 Bremen – Café Erlesenes (Acoustic Show)
27.01.2016 Köln – MTC
28.01.2016 Karlsruhe – Fettschmelze
29.01.2016 Augsburg – Hallo Werner
31.01.2016 Regensburg – Heimat
02.02.2016 Mainz – Schon Schön
04.02.2016 Heidelberg – Karlstorbahnhof

Wir wünschen allen Teilnehmenden viel Glück!

Live: Ezra Furman & The Boyfriends + The Blood Arm in Berlin (DE), 27.10.2015

Ezra Furman may have been around for a while, yet the Chicago songwriter has been one of my musical discoveries of the year. His third solo LP Perpetual Motion People (after three albums with Ezra Furman & The Harpoons), with its hit singles Restless Year and Lousy Connection, has become an unavoidable part of the indie radios everywhere, while his previous works flew a bit more under the radar. Maybe it’s because he’s lately been embracing pop music more fully, though not straying from his own brand of country-punk’n’roll completely and still valuing classic singer-songwriter skills; perhaps also because his appearance has become significantly more memorable: These days, the genderfluid musician usually performs in a dress, makeup and a pearl necklace.

I had not only fallen for his music, but also had gotten a hint of his great live shows via YouTube snippets. As a result I was looking forward to this gig like I haven’t often been doing lately. Also the support band was a treat: The Blood Arm, probably still best known for their ridiculously overplayed mid-00s hit Suspicious Character. Anyway, the LA-gone-Berlin group are relentlessly still around, and their glamorous indie-showtunes presented by exuberant frontman Nathaniel Fregoso somehow fit it remarkably with Ezra’s own extravanganza. Interestingly, the audience seemed to almost make a point of not particularly caring when they started playing their one big hit – it’s still too soon for 2000’s nostalgia, it seems. Or I just stood too far in the back to notice the diehard fans going down.

ezra 2 editAfter the support had finished, I managed to sneak up close to the front. The Lido was well full, but the crowd was a paradigm of laid-back-ness. No one pushed around or moshed – not that I mind that in general, but it was super relaxing to just direct your full attention at the stage and not at the people around you. Also, it’s probably quite obvious that Ezra Furman won’t pull a reckless dudebro audience. The petite singer, who had been seen standing in the crowd enjoying the set of his friends in The Blood Arm, looked like some punked-up forest fairy with green/blue hair and bright red lipstick, stomping, jumping and crouching across stage or into the audience, screaming out his lyrics like mad during punk-ier uptempo songs like 2013’s I wanna destroy myself or Tell them all to go to hell, or going all soft and gentle for the ballads such as Hour of deepest need. Without a doubt he was one of the most charismatic performers I’ve seen, who was able to draw the crowd in so completely that not one moment of boredom ensued. Of course, this was also thanks to his amazing backing band The Boyfriends, above all the incredible saxophonist who actually made you wonder why a saxophone is not a prerequisite of any rock band, that’s how awesome he was. But also the piano and guitar did a great service to shape Ezra Furman’s signature style, which is somewhere between anti-folk, garage punk, country and piano-pop. It was obvious that everyone was having a great time, both performers and audience, and Ezra seemed truly touched at the turnout. I was at the brink of bothering him with my feelings about this gig – one of my highlights of the year, clearly – when he was at the merch afterwards, but after his impressively long set had ended and I had collected my coat, it was already 12 o’clock on a weeknight and I had to avoid the shuttle service and go home the long way round, so I ended up not making a fool of myself this time.

Tour & Verlosung: Shilpa Ray

Shilpa Rays aktuelles Album Last Year’s Savage zu hören, ist in etwa so, als würde man Zeuge einer Geisterbeschwörung in Form von melancholischen Seemannsliedern – nur um dann in einem unerwarteten Moment mit Punk- und Country-Einflüssen ordentlich durchgeschaukelt zu werden. Mit ihrem unheimlichen Düster-Folk und geballtem stimmlichen Charisma zog die Künstlerin aus New Jersey niemand geringeren als Nick Cave in ihren Bann, der Shilpa mit auf Tour nahm und ihre EP It’s All Self Fellatio, Shilpa Ray auf seinem Bad Seed Label herausbrachte. Überhaupt ist die halbe New Yorker Musikerszene der Sängerin bereits verfallen – höchste Zeit, dass sie auch in Deutschland den Geheimtipp-Status loswird. Im November kommt Shilpa Ray für drei Termine auf Tour, um ihre Magie auch live zu verbreiten. Reinhören könnt ihr unten im Video, wir verlosen 1 x 2 Tickets für eine Show eurer Wahl. Schickt eine E-Mail mit dem Betreff “Shilpa Ray” an indiependance (at) hotmail (dot) com und nennt uns euren vollen Namen sowie eure gewünschte Stadt von den folgenden Terminen:

03.11.2015 Köln – Blue Shell
04.11.2015 Hamburg – Jazz Café
06.11.2015 Berlin – Maschinenhaus.

Viel Glück! Die Teilnahme ist bis einschließlich 30.10.2015 möglich. Wie es war, könnt ihr wie immer hinterher hier auf indie pen dance nachlesen.

Festival Season 2015: Lollapalooza Berlin (DE)

The first European Lollapalooza looked to be a success: The two-day festival on Berlin’s defunct Tempelhof Airport –former site of the Berlin Festival– sold out shortly before opening its gates on September 12th. And that despite raising its ticket price quite spontaneously to 139 Euros, making it more expensive than e.g. the Hurricane Festival, which lasts three days and offers camping. Of course, Berlin’s Lollapalooza differs in size from its Chicago counterpart: Four stages instead of seven, two days instead of three, a capacity of 50,000 instead of 160,000. Obviously the headliners Muse and Macklemore were not exactly Metallica and Paul McCartney (Lolla’s 2015 headliners) either, but still it was an overall good line-up (especially if you had only paid the early bird price like myself).

Show women walking on stilts across the festival site
Show women walking on stilts across the festival site

Apart from the music programme, Lollapalooza attempted to stand out from the German festival landscape by offering a special kids’ area, a ‘fun fair’ (with showmen, can knock down and a glitter make-up stand where you could queue for hours), a ‘Grüner Kiez’ (green neighbourhood) with charity and environmental stalls, and something they called ‘Fashionpalooza’, which turned out to be one (1) sponsor stand by a fashion online shop.

One of many games of skill on the fun fair.
One of many games of skill on the fun fair.

While the ‘Kidzapalooza’ was clearly embraced by the visiting families and the special kids’ tickets sold out as well, I still don’t really see why it has to be encouraged to drag your little child along to an event like this. It’s loud, people there get drunk and ruthless and throw things, and crowds are generally not a safe place for children. I think festivals should allow the audience to “go wild” without having to fear that they might trample on a child.

I suppose enough has been written about the disastrous  water-pipe burst which led to insanely long toilet queues on Saturday, and about the insanely long food queues as well, so I won’t linger on and finally get to the musical performances.

Colour-coded goodness: Everything Everything.
Colour-coded goodness: Everything Everything.

After a quite strenuous procedure of trying to enter the festival site at the same time as thousands of other visitors, we caught some glimpses of Joywave and Parquet Courts, the former sadly having to replace the dropped-out San Cisco, who I’ve never seen and was really looking forward to. The first band we actually watched, though, were Manchester’s Everything Everything, who I’d lost track of a bit despite quite liking their 2010 debut albumIt turned out their third and latest LP had spawned at least two venerable hits, Regret and Distant Past, and they were drawing a reasonably sized crowd as well. As ever, the quartet appeared in matching stage outfits – luckily these ones were a step up from the beige overalls I saw them perform in the last time. Like any good girl group’s outfits, these ones were not uniform but differed in details. The set was good fun and the perfect way to open our festival, the crowd was into it and even though I only recognized two of their early songs, I could also dance to the rest of them.

I saw James Bay while passing the main stage and was surprised he didn’t sound whiny and instead really ‘rock’, knowing him only from his detestable radio hit Hold Back The River and for being a shameless Jamie N Commons cosplayer. Also a 3 pm slot seemed kind of shitty for a successful bloke like him, but that was only one of many weird running order decisions.

MS MR did not, however, match their outfits in advance.
MS MR did not, however, match their outfits in advance.

Up next for me were MS MR, a New York electropop duo that I completely missed out on until I heard their melancholic 2012 song Hurricane on the radio quite recently and instantly liked it. Unfortunately I hadn’t listened to anything else by them, and didn’t know virtually all of their tracks were apparently lively, upbeat 70s/80s style synthpop. The members Lizzy Plapinger and Max Hershenow were both extremely outgoing and self-confident and danced around crazily in their 70s/80s glitter outfits. I didn’t even know they had a huge following as well. Unfortunately I had to leave right before they were about to play that one song that I knew, which would maybe have made me enjoy at least a little bit of their set.

Then we attempted to get food. Oh my. I thought there was enough time – like 45 minutes – until Hot Chip would start. In the end, I missed almost their entire set queuing. There were tons of food stalls really, but it just wasn’t enough for 50,000 people (who couldn’t just go to the non existent campsite and make some canned ravioli). Hot Chip also had a really shitty 5 pm slot, which made me feel a bit sorry for them, but I can’t really talk about their set because I spent the rest of it sitting on the floor eating. (It should be mentioned that even the headliners already started at 9:30 pm, as the curfew was 11 pm due to noise reasons, so I suppose there was little other choice than cramming even high profile acts into the afternoon.)

Ron Mael (70) of Sparks showing Franz Ferdinand's Nick McCarthy and Paul Thompson that he's got the moves.
Ron Mael (70) of Sparks showing Franz Ferdinand’s Nick McCarthy and Paul Thompson that he’s got the moves.

Finally, FFS, the supergroup consisting of Franz Ferdinand and Sparks, formed one of my personal festival highlights. I have to admit I didn’t know Sparks before at all, and I did not expect the two members to be 66 and 70 years old – which one would never have thought, with how agile both of them still were on stage. Singer Russell Mael looked like an aged emo kid, only really cheerful, in a funny looking poncho, while his brother Ron Mael sat stoically behind his keyboard just to suddenly get up at one point and perform crazy dance moves. Franz Ferdinand, on the other hand, don’t seem to have aged a bit, physically, since appearing on the scene 10 years ago, and with the self-titled FFS album they have once again proven themselves incapable of writing a bad song. Their stage performance was fun as ever, be it four of them playing a keyboard at once or inviting the crowd to tell the person next to them to “Piss off” when the track with the same title came on. They even performed a few songs from the respective bands, which were especially celebrated by the crowd.

I then tried to watch some of Chvrches‘ set but I only knew ca. two songs – one of which I also saw – and quickly lost interest, trying to find a toilet instead and almost freaking out at the size of the queues (but it was possible to sneak into the broken ones and use them, because security was apparently unable to block access to them).

Deichkind crowdsurfing in a giant barrel.
Deichkind crowdsurfing in a giant barrel.

Of course we couldn’t miss out on Deichkind, the Hamburg hiphop/electro collective known for their spectacular live shows. It was already the third time I saw them perform at a festival and they never disappoint, whether presenting perfect boygroup-style choreographies, dressing up as old ladies, wearing Daft Punk like LED helmets or giant brains (to illustrate song title Denken Sie groß – ‘think big’) or surfing the crowd inside a giant barrel waving a “Refugees Welcome” flag and wearing sweatshirts with the same slogan (which are also sold in their online shop to support refugee aid organisations). The themes in their music range from dumb party-and-booze songs to criticizing the status quo, the latter being done quite cleverly in recent hits Denken Sie groß and Like mich am Arsch, however trying to fashion an entire song out of advertising slogans and then declaring that ‘We only want your money’ is kind of like the musical equivalent of Banksy.

Finally our Satuday ended with The Libertines, who had to play the third-biggest stage for some reason – presumably because the Main Stages 1 and 2 were so close together that the sound would have interfered even more than it already did (halfway through the set Carl Barât asked if ‘those German hiphoppers’, meaning Deichkind, were still playing, as he had probably heard Macklemore & Ryan Lewis all the way from Main Stage 1). The Libs had had to cancel their previous two gigs due to health issues – they later released a statement that Pete Doherty had suffered an anxiety attack – and indeed the scandal-ridden singer seemed a little unfocused for someone who is allegedly clean, so he might have been on meds. Also his microphone was turned off for large parts of the gig, so often one would only hear the crowd chanting along. They mostly dismissed their new album Anthems For Doomed Youth, their first in 11 years, which had only come out the previous day, making this their first gig since the release. Their comeback single Gunga Din, however, was celebrated just as frenetically as classic hits such as Time For Heroes, Boys In The Band or Can’t Stand Me Now. Due to the set being obviously packed with bangers like these, their performance was one big party, with a very dedicated crowd singing along loudly despite the competition of the headliner playing at the same time (but then again I doubt their fanbase intersects much with that of Macklemore).

After all three final acts ended at exactly the same time, the entire festival attempted to leave the site to either get home or to somewhere where you could party. Of course, the underground stations got blocked and an atmosphere of hopelessness spread. Somehow we managed to get to the next crossing and escape in a bus, but it was clear the organisers had not put any thought at all into how to get everyone away from the festival site. For Sunday it looked like there would be shuttle buses to replace the U-Bahn, but I had still prepared routes of getting home with the help of regular buses, as it would take years to try and get on one of the train service replacement buses anyway.

On Sunday the toilet situation had been resolved, and we got food quite early on so I only needed to get a snack later for which I didn’t have to queue so long. Unfortunately the running order for Sunday left us with hours of nothing to do (apart from watching Stereophonics or something), and the lone fashion stall had run out of colours to design gym bags with, so we couldn’t even burn time on that.

Wolf Alice opened the Main Stage on Sunday.
Wolf Alice opened the Main Stage on Sunday.

Our day had begun with Wolf Alice, who I’d seen previously at the Libertines’ 2014 gig at Hyde Park long before their album was released. Knowing most of their songs now, it was definitely more fun. The stage presence of the young Londoners was still quite timid but their grungy sound and singer Ellie Rowsell’s witch-like screams definitely made it an interesting experience.

Belle and Sebastian's Stuart Murdoch had fans dancing on stage.
Belle and Sebastian’s Stuart Murdoch had fans dancing on stage.

After a long period of doing nothing much, we headed over to Belle & Sebastian, a band that I had never seen, but that I appreciate in a  kind of passive way because the amount of albums they’ve put out is too intimidating for me to really start listening through them. The Glasgow collective, which has been around for two decades, definitely turned into a highlight for me despite not really knowing any songs. But singer Stuart Murdoch’s stage presence was so endearing and their calming, cute indie pop simply matched the sunny afternoon perfectly. At some point Murdoch decided to get a female fan on stage to dance with him, and then continued to bring at least a dozen people up there who all seemed to be having the time of their life. He also talked quite a lot, among other things about how embarrassed he was that the UK didn’t take in any refugees.

Afterwards the Beatsteaks were on, a popular Berlin band who play punk-infused rock with English lyrics. I watched most of their set from the ‘Grüner Kiez’ area, which offered stacked pallets with grass on top and flowers growing in the bottom, allowing you to sit on them and still watch the Main Stage 2 sets on the screens. And sitting was definitely necessary whenever possible after  standing/walking almost for the entirety of Saturday. The Beatsteaks are famed for being a great live band, but I’m kind of indifferent towards them so I didn’t feel like moshing in the crowd. I could however enjoy their set as I recognised most of their songs.

Due to lack of alternatives (the only other option really being Sam Smith, another of those abominable radio people taking away slots that could be filled with like actual good acts), we ended up watching Little Dragon next, a quite crazy Swedish indie-electro act, but I didn’t know anything by them and their flashy live show didn’t really convince me at all.

Again due to lack of alternatives, we then attended Seeed‘s set, another hugely famous Berlin act playing dancehall with mostly German lyrics. I have to admit that while I never cared about their music, they put on a really good live show. The three frontmen were accompanied by a large brass band, the sound was great and they threw in some clever cover versions/remixes – e.g. their own Berlin anthem Dickes B to the tune of Justin Timberlake’s Sexy Back – that really spiced the thing up.

"I love big black balls." - Ariana Grande
“I love big black balls.” – Ariana Grande

I left Seeed’s set earlier so I would have enough time to queue for toilets before Muse came on, but somehow I didn’t have to queue at all and ended up sitting in front of the main stage for over 20 minutes. Well at least I could see a little bit of the stage like this and not just the screens… Muse is another tricky band for me. I mean, I could have watched Tame Impala, who for inexplicable reasons were playing at the same time despite target groups definitely intersecting, and many fans being mad about this, but I had seen them several years ago, other than Muse who I’d been waiting to see since 2005 or 2006, so I had to take that chance. In the ten years since, I had however gradually lost all interest in them as their musical quality seemed to steadily decline. But as they are famed to be such a great live band, of course I had to form my own opinion. At first, I have to admit I was a little underwhelmed; partly for sure because I didn’t know a lot of songs, but also because in my opinion there are many major bands who put on a just as good light show (but maybe a festival gig isn’t comparable to their own headline show). Well, that was before they let the toilet paper rain down on us (actually just long strips of white paper, along with a bunch of confetti, but it looked awesome). And let loose gigantic black balloons into the crowd. And this massive crowd singing Our Time Is Running Out and Starlight. I will still hold up that Muse are not a ‘better’ live band, show-wise, than say The Flaming Lips or Deichkind. But it was definitely fun to have seen them once, and I will surely meet Tame Impala a second time in my life. So in the end I stayed for Muse’s entire set, and then hurried to that bus stop where I managed to get on one that was less than half full, because apparently no one wants to go west anymore, and got home by a super long detour, but I was glad I had made it at all.

Despite some organisational mishaps, I still think the festival itself was neat (at least for the early bird price I paid), but not so great that I would blindly buy a ticket for next year. In parts the line up was too mainstream for me, but this can be said for the US Lollapalooza as well. Still a good alternative to the completely-gone-electro Berlin Festival.

On tour: The Bohicas

Aufmerksamen Lesern dürfte der Name The Bohicas bereits etwas sagen: 2014 machten die vier Londoner mit ihrer sensationellen selbstbetitelten EP auf sich aufmerksam und lieferten beim Hamburger Reeperbahn Festival tanzbarste Gitarrenmucke ab. Seit ein paar Wochen ist nun das Debütalbum The Making Of zu haben (erschienen bei Domino Records, dem Label, das auch schon die Arctic Monkeys und Franz Ferdinand groß herausbrachte). Hierauf zeigen die Bohicas, dass bisher veröffentlichte Kracher wie XXX und Swarm keine Einzelfälle waren: Auch die jüngsten Hits Where You At und das spätestens ab dem 2. Mal mitsingbare To Die For sind wieder Indie-Hits erster Klasse. Größtenteils ist das ganze auch stilecht rotzig präsentiert, mit ein paar etwas zu glatt geratenen Ausrutschern hier und da (Girlfriend) und einem durchaus gelungenen Ausflug ins 60s-Lager (Only You). Die Hitdichte kann sich auf jeden Fall sehen lassen und die kreischenden Gitarren und Singalong-Refrains beweisen endlich mal wieder, dass Rock’n’Roll keineswegs tot ist und immer noch mächtig Spaß machen kann.

Im Oktober könnt ihr die Bohicas bei folgenden Gelegenheiten live sehen – oder natürlich hier bei uns nachlesen, wie es war:

29.10. Hamburg – Molotow
30.10. Berlin – Kantine am Berghain

Live: Pale Honey + Light FM in Berlin (DE), 09.04.2015

On a Thursday night, I was drawn to the lovely Schokoladen in Berlin-Mitte, a small, cosy and very reasonably priced cultural centre off polished Torstraße. Being a good place to discover new or underground artists in a small setting, the venue had two promising indie bands on that night: Pale Honey, a grunge-y girl duo from Sweden, and LA indie-pop trio Light FM.

© D. Prahl

Curiously, the former were playing second, the ‘headliner’ spot, despite not even having an album out (their debut is scheduled for May 5th), while Light FM have been around since ’99, putting out five albums in their career. But apparently, hype beats longevity in the minds of the bookers. With their Fiction EP and latest hit single Youth, Pale Honey have definitely gained some attention for the upcoming self-titled debut album. Light FM, meanwhile, were touring their recent Pointless EP, which had some catchy, shoegaze-y tracks to offer. The trio, comprised of Josiah Mazzaschi on guitar and vocals, Nicki Nevlin on bass and Alexa Brinkschulte on drums, played an enjoyable set of synth-heavy indie-pop full of strong melodies.

The club only really filled up when Pale Honey came on, though. Which was a shame because personally I liked Light FM’s set much better. Despite the strong singles they had put out, Pale Honey’s show seemed lifeless, the music bland and interchangeable. I tried to listen for a few tracks, but eventually decided to call it a day and leave early. The rest of the audience didn’t seem to mind – maybe it just wasn’t my kind of music.