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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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Live: Everything Everything + Inner Tongue in Hamburg (DE), 29.11.2015

A British band that have recently released a top 10 album with two hit singles, have played Glastonbury and Jools Holland and fill big venues in their motherland? Surely they would play a bigger venue than Hamburg’s small cult club Molotow! Well, not in the case of Manchester’s finest Everything Everything, who brought sweaty dance moves to the 300 people in the sold out venue with their futuristic electro-pop.

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(© S. Prahl)

Their support, too, was quite the entertaining act. Inner Tongue from Vienna captured the crowd with their dreamy and spacey electronic vibes, steady drumbeat and the thin voice of their frontman. Every song took you to a different dimension. The five-piece were so ecstatic and lost in their own music on stage that you didn’t really know where to look because so much was happening at the same time.

Also worth mentioning: the band had so much equipment and instruments that the stage was completely full and the band members had troubles getting on and off stage and to their respective instruments.

Everything Everything had a much cleaner stage plot. The quartet brought an extra keyboard and effects player who, let’s be honest here, had the time of his life on stage and danced harder than anyone in the crowd. The rest of the band were also in a good mood, welcoming the small and intimate feeling at the club as a nice alternative to the big arenas they fill in the UK. Especially singer and guitarist Jonathen Higgs was more talkative than I had expected and even cracked a joke about the weather. All in all the band really seemed to be enjoying what they were doing and that’s the best thing an audience can get (apart from all their favourite songs getting played, of course).

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(© S. Prahl)

Everything Everything played a set that didn’t leave you bored or your feet still for a second. Not only their hits like Regret, Kemosabe, Cough Cough or Spring Sun Winter Dread got the crowd going.

And not only the crowd but also the band themselves seemed to enjoy the concert in the small club. You would often catch them grinning at each other or making funny faces.

For the encore the band treated their fans with No Reptiles and the smash hit from their latest release, Distant Past. It was only shortly after that the four Manchester boys came out to hang with fans at the merch stand. It was nice to see that the band’s new rise to indie stardom hasn’t gotten to their heads.

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(© S. Prahl)

Q&A: Cold Acid

Es ist Dienstag, als wir vor dem Pooca auflaufen. Zusammen mit zwei anderen Bands spielen Cold Acid aus Berlin heute Abend in der kleinen Bar auf dem Hamburger Berg. Die drei Jungs machen teilweise seit Schulzeiten zusammen Musik. Ihr tanz- und mitgrölbarer Indierock lässt jeden auf die Tanzfläche strömen, und das alles quasi im Selbstmanagement. Cold Kids Don’t Need Agencies, oder so. Wir landen also mit Daniel, Christopher und Eric beim Italiener, um uns bei Pizza und Bier zu unterhalten, untermalt von den ewig sich wiederholenden Klängen von “Time To Say Goodbye”. Irgendwie ironisch. Wir lernen uns doch gerade erst kennen.

Sänger Daniel, der eigentlich meistens bei Interviews nicht reden darf weil er immer Quatsch erzählt, blüht heute ganz besonders auf. In der nächsten halben Stunde erfahren wir, wie man Bandmitglieder per Bestechung rekrutiert und warum die Jungs nie mit Scooter touren würden, aber dafür gerne mal mit Helene Fischer.


IPD: Fangen wir mal von vorne an: Wie habt ihr euch überhaupt kennengelernt, seit wann gibt es euch?

Daniel: Eric und ich sind zusammen zur Schule gegangen. Ich hab damals schon Musik gemacht, seit ich 14 war, und Eric hat Schlagzeug gespielt. Immer wenn ich mit meiner damaligen Band nicht geprobt hab – weil unser Schlagzeuger sein letztes Geld für doppelt frittierte Hühnchenbrust ausgegeben hat, anstatt sich Sticks zu kaufen – haben Eric und ich dann geprobt. Wir kommen eigentlich aus Brandenburg, haben dort unsere erste Band gegründet, sind dann beruflich bedingt nach Berlin gezogen und haben unsere Band in Brandenburg verlassen. Das hatte für uns auch keine Zukunft musikalisch. Wir wollten beide weitermachen, mussten aber feststellen, dass wir keine Leute finden. Lustigerweise haben wir mit unserer alten Band auf einer Anti-Nazi-Demo gespielt, wo auch Christopher mit seiner Band gespielt hat. Der war zumindest Fan von uns, weil wir Turbonegro gecovert haben und er eine Turbojugend-Jacke anhatte. Auf der Suche nach einem Gitarristen ist Eric und mir dann nur noch Christopher eingefallen, der komischerweise sogar bei mir um die Ecke gewohnt hat. Und dann haben wir uns mal zu dritt getroffen, mit zwei Gitarren und ‘nem Schlagzeug.

Christopher: Ich wurde mehr oder weniger dazu genötigt!

Eric: Wir haben uns auf einem Konzert getroffen und haben ihm ganz viel Bier gekauft.

Christopher: Gaaanz viel Bier! Dann hieß es so: ‘Ja, du hast auch Bock auf so Schweinerock?’ Ich wurde mega abgefüllt und auf einmal hieß es: ‘Hey, hast du nicht Bock bei uns in der Band zu spielen?’

Eric: Das war der erste Abend, wo wir zu dritt unterwegs waren. Wir waren aber bei Myspace connected und haben uns auf ‘nem Hellacopters-Konzert getroffen. Und ich glaube, dann haben wir auf der Warschauer Brücke auf dem Rückweg vom Konzert darüber gequatscht.

Daniel: Auf jeden Fall haben wir dann versucht, weitere Leute für die Band zu finden, weil wir keinen kannten. Übers Internet war blöd, so ziemlich jeder, der sich da reinstellt, hat eine verzerrte Selbstwahrnehmung von sich als Musiker. Irgendwann saßen wir in einer Kneipe, schon mächtig einen im Tee, und haben gesagt: Wir haben jetzt ein Jahr lang nach ‘nem Bassisten gesucht, das geht so nicht weiter. Dann wurde halt entschieden, wer von uns Gitarre spielt. Die Wahl ist auf mich gefallen und Christopher musste sich einen Bass kaufen. Hat er dann am nächsten Tag gleich, für 70€ auf eBay.

Daniel: Beim Gesang war es dann halt so, dass jeder mal probiert und der, bei dem es am wenigsten scheiße klingt, der macht es dann halt. Vor unserem ersten Konzert hatten wir sechs eigene Nummern und wollten einfach mal gucken, wie es so wird. Und wir hatten noch nicht einmal in die Saiten gehauen, da kamen schon drei Leute an, die uns – bevor sie uns gehört hatten! irgendwelche anderen Konzerte andrehen wollten. Da waren wir dann auch ein bisschen verdutzt. Wir haben dann angefangen, noch mehr Songs zu schreiben und Demos aufzunehmen. Danach ging alles recht schnell: Mitte des Jahres haben wir nur mit einer MySpace-Seite erste Konzerte gebucht und ein Fotoshooting in einer Kita gemacht.

Christopher: Das ist echt schon fünf Jahre her.

IPD: Und dann habt ihr weiter gemacht.

Daniel: Und wollten unseren Sound verändern. Anfangs war das so Hellacopters-Rock’n’Roll-Krimskrams, aber es gab halt so viele Bands, die genauso klingen, also war es schwierig, da rauszustechen. Wir haben dann auch privat unseren musikalischen Horizont erweitert.

Christopher: Wir haben ganz viel Black Rebel Motorcycle Club und Picturebooks gehört.

Daniel: Mittlerweile sind wir wieder an dem Punkt, wo wir uns noch weiter entwickeln und ein bisschen an der Schraube drehen wollen.

Christopher: Wir haben zum Beispiel 2012 unsere erste Platte aufgenommen [‘Cold Kids Don’t Need Acid’], im Studio von The BossHoss. Das war eigentlich ‘ne ganz gute Zeit. Wenn du reinkommst, siehst du halt die goldenen Schallplatten überall und bist schon ein bisschen überwältigt. Und wir haben echt wenig bezahlt dafür, dass wir dort so professionell aufnehmen durften.

Daniel: Was uns im Wesentlichen von anderen Bands unterscheidet ist, dass wir nie so viel Geld ausgegeben haben wie alle anderen, nie Kredite aufgenommen. Wir haben immer gesagt: ‘Wir brauchen halt Zeit.’ Um eine gute Platte aufzunehmen, braucht man schon Geld, aber man braucht vor allem gute Songs. Wir arbeiten alle noch nebenbei und stecken schon so echt viel Geld in die Band, da müssen wir nicht auch noch einem relativ Fremden Geld in den Hals stecken. Letztendlich trauen wir eigentlich überhaupt keinem.

IPD: Habt ihr mal über Crowdfunding nachgedacht?

Christopher: Bevor wir die Platte rausgebracht haben, gab es  zwei Angebote von Indie-Labels, aber wir dachten, wir können das alleine genauso schaffen. Wir haben in drei Jahren 150 Konzerte gespielt, in Österreich, Tschechien und Deutschland. Wir haben selber Konzerte gebucht, selber die Platte pressen lassen, und die Releaseparty organisiert in einem Club, wo 180 Leute reinpassen. Im Endeffekt haben da über 200 Leute Eintritt für bezahlt. Wir haben selber Plakate geklebt, auf der ganzen Warschauer Straße, und es hat sich ausgezahlt! Wir brauchen keine Agentur, kein Label, jedenfalls nicht jetzt. Irgendwann kommt aber der Punkt, dass du den nächsten Schritt gehen willst, z. B. vier Wochen am Stück auf Tour sein und irgendwann Zeit für ein Album haben. 2011, 2012 und 2013 haben wir jedes Wochenende gespielt, einfach um präsent zu sein.

IPD: Wie weit seid ihr mit eurer zweiten Platte jetzt?

Daniel: Wir sind, wie gesagt, dabei, uns musikalisch ein bisschen zu verändern. Letztendlich muss man abwägen, was wir für Möglichkeiten haben für die Platte. Ich glaube nicht, dass wir diesmal total viel Geld dafür ausgeben werden. Alle Leute in Agenturen machen nichts anderes als wir: telefonieren, E-Mails rausschicken… dafür braucht man sich nicht in Agenturen einkaufen. Uns geht’s jetzt erst mal darum, Demos zu veröffentlichen, die uns musikalisch wirklich weiterbringen.

Christopher: Wir haben ja schon bei der ersten Platte gesagt, dass uns eigentlich jemand fehlt, der daneben sitzt und sagt, wo wir noch was verändern können. Wir haben aber schon Demos aufgenommen und Ideen gesammelt. Da geht was.

Daniel: Es wird von uns ja auch nicht erwartet, jedes Jahr ein Album rauszubringen. Wir sind jetzt auch keine Band, die, wenn einer grad mal keinen Bock hat, sich sofort auflöst.

IPD: Gibt es andere Bands aus Berlin, die ihr im Moment gut findet?

Daniel: I Like Ambulance.

Christopher: Stop Eating Robots! Ich persönlich mag sehr Coogans Bluff. Es gibt aber keine Berliner Band, die so gut zu uns passt, dass ich mir vorstellen kann, mit denen auf Tour zu gehen.

IPD: Mit welchen Bands würdet ihr denn gerne mal touren?

Daniel: Ich glaube, das wäre jede Band. Einfach jede.

Christopher: Du willst doch nicht sagen, dass du mit jeder Band touren würdest. Mit Scooter zum Beispiel würde ich nicht touren.

Daniel: Na klar würdest du.

Christopher: Vielleicht würde ich’s wirklich machen!

(alle lachen)

Daniel: Aber nur fürs Geld dann.

IPD: Angenommen du kriegst kein Geld und dürfest dir eine Band aussuchen?

Daniel: Wenn ich jetzt zum Beispiel mit Black Rebel Motorcycle Club touren könnte, wüsste ich, dass ich jeden Abend eine geile Show sehen würde. Ob die Typen nett sind oder nicht, kann keiner wissen, aber ich würde sie trotzdem mega gut finden für eine Tour.

Eric: Bei Black Rebel wäre ich auch dabei, die Tour spiele ich mit. Ich wäre aber zum Beispiel auch bei den Arctic Monkeys dabei.

Christopher: Ich würde gerne mit Cloud Nothings touren… Blood Red Shoes… Brody Dalle… Ich möchte mit Brody Dalle touren. Ich lege mich fest.

Daniel: Ich würde auch mit Helene Fischer touren, wenn sie die O2 World voll macht. Vor 17.000 Leuten? Natürlich. Weil du Musiker bist und in deinem Leben nie die Chance hättest, sonst so viele Leute zu erreichen.

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Heute Abend spielen die Jungs nicht vor 17.000 Leuten. Eher vor 17. Als die ersten beiden Bands durch sind, ist die Mehrheit der Gäste schon weg, aber das hindert Cold Acid nicht daran, trotzdem eine großartige Rockshow abzuliefern. Inklusive Drummerwechsel und Medley aus den besten Indie-Hits der Nullerjahre. Und wer vom Publikum übrig geblieben ist, bereut es ganz bestimmt nicht, noch länger geblieben zu sein.

(all photos © S. Prahl)

Live: Kasabian in Bremen (DE), 24.10.2014 vs. Birmingham (UK), 22.11.2014

Is it a rumble? Is it a tumblr…? No, it's bumblebeee! (© S. Prahl)
Is it a rumble? Is it a tumblr…? No, it’s bumblebeee! (© S. Prahl)

Why see the best live band of the moment once when you can see them twice? Redheadess compares Kasabian in Bremen and Birmingham, while Belle takes us on a little journey of her Kasabian love in the past 5 years …

INTRODUCTION BY BELLE

To make this clear, we don’t fly to England for shows all of the time… just several times a year to be honest. For this particular case –Kasabian with support The Maccabees at Birmingham’s LG Arena–, we have multiple excuses: The first and not so good one; we hadn’t seen The Maccabees in over a year; the second and much better one: Personally I have never been at a headliner gig where both main and support act ranked this highly in my personal list of favourite bands; to make it more clear, The Maccabees rank #1 on my last.fm most played list with Kasabian following on #9 and about to take #8 from The Vaccines.

One of the more psychedelic light installations (© D. Prahl)
One of the more psychedelic light installations (© D. Prahl)

The reason I stole this introduction from the dear Redheadess who had her article done ages before me, though, is that I’m 90% sure that the first article ever published on indie pen dance was a review of Kasabian’s 2009 Hamburg gig, after I had just discovered them for myself, touring my still favourite album of theirs, “West Ryder Pauper Lunatic Asylum”. Almost exactly 5 years later, I’m reviewing them again, and while it is fascinating how I hailed them one of the best live bands at the moment back then already, the gig was nothing compared to what Kasabian lay down these days. After having headlined Glastonbury -let that sink in for a moment- the Leicester lads boast even more confidence on stage than they did before – while for Tom Meighan there wasn’t much room for improvement anymore, Sergio Pizzorno has certainly progressed from his “co-frontman” role and turned into a full-time audience entertainer who curiously sports a wolf tail on stage and a white t-shirt with a different nonsensical word each night, throwing maracas into the audience several times during a set, performing sensational jumps for photo-ops and occasionally taking the stage alone while Meighan leaves to who knows where.

Not a drill: Sergio Pizzorno and his 'funny' t-shirt (© D. Prahl)
Not a drill: Sergio Pizzorno and his ‘funny’ t-shirt (© D. Prahl)
Tom Meighan sporting a smart suit instead of a trackie as the backdrop suggests (© D. Prahl)
Tom Meighan sporting a smart suit instead of a trackie as the backdrop suggests (© D. Prahl)

Their set is accompanied by a breathtaking light show, usually with yet another nonsensical word shown large on the giant screen behind them, and the mood in the audience was sensational to say the least, although as a result it was admittedly hard to breathe most of the time. With the release of their fifth and latest album “48:13” my already waning love for the band had hit a new low as the album failed to grow on me and I pretty much abandoned it completely, although I loved über-hit “Eez-eh” as much as everyone else (“Eez-eh! Eez-eh!” being a popular chant at the show, along with “Sergio! Sergio!” – no “To-hom! To-hom!”, perhaps just because his name doesn’t lend itself to chanting so well). I hadn’t liked their ventures into a more aggressive sound and more mainstream-appealing hooklines, missing the dark, mysterious, drug-induced sound of their first era as well as the slight creepiness of “WRPLA”‘s atmosphere. But Kasabian make up for it by being, well, the best live band at the moment, from what I’ve seen at least … and now I’m even giving “48:13” another chance.

The light show really did make a difference (© D. Prahl)
The light show really did make a difference (© D. Prahl)

In conclusion, while in 2009 I already thought that they were worth every cent of the “hefty” €27.25 entry, these days not only the €39 for a German concert ticket, even the roughly €60 they took from us for the Birmingham gig with all fees included don’t feel like a waste of money, especially not with The Maccabees opening and playing no less than three new songs off their upcoming album, and needless to mention, all of them chillingly amazing. Of course it’s sad to see your favourite band performing in front of an audience who’s there to see someone else (and shows it), but a lot less sad than not seeing them at all. And in the end, I’m sorry to say, Kasabian of course stole their thunder, but they’re also a very different kind of band altogether, and I’m glad to have taken the one-time chance of seeing both of them on one bill.

The reason we flew out: Opener The Maccabees (© D. Prahl)
The reason we flew out: Opener The Maccabees (© D. Prahl)
COMPARISON BY REDHEADESS

I’ve never been an exceptionally big fan of Kasabian; to be honest, I’ve mostly ignored them until the release of their third album, and managed not to see them live until they released the fourth. I don’t even think I could imagine them playing to less than 3,000 people after seeing them play a pre-headliner slot before Arctic Monkeys at last year’s Hurricane Festival.

But here I am, having gotten so involved as to see them live twice in the course of one month: Once at Pier 2 – a 2,800 people venue in Bremen – and once in Birmingham’s LG Arena, five times as big, with a capacity of 16,000. So why not do a little write-up to compare the two shows?

As bands seem to not come to Hamburg anymore (looking at you, Arctic Monkeys), despite it being the second-biggest city in Germany and a popular place to travel to for fans from Scandinavia, we had to settle for Bremen instead. Since I had, in a rush, forgotten my ticket in one of the lockers at the train station, I managed to arrive only after doors – and even after a trip to the toilets I managed to easily walk through right into the second row. When Arctic Monkeys had played the same venue back in summer, it hadn’t even been possible to get into the first 10 rows without having camped out for 10 hours before doors, apparently.

Supporting Kasabian on the European leg of their tour were Pulled Apart By Horses from Leeds, whom I’d seen earlier this year and who did not disappoint. Musicially, they were not exactly the best fit to warm up Kasabian fans, but they still managed their best and were quite entertaining. Looking around, as someone in their early 20s, I did feel quite young. The audience consisted of people of literally every age from about 15 to 65. I’m not saying a lot of people dragged their parents along, maybe some, but there were lots of 40-somethings having the time of their lives, apparently. And isn’t that a lot more relaxing than having a bunch of 14-year-olds screaming into your ear? Indeed. Pier 2 has a balcony available for sold-out concerts, which was, surprisingly, not even opened that night. Looking at it this way, I kept telling myself I wouldn’t see Kasabian again on a stage as small as this, with so little people watching – we were maybe 2,000. It did feel incredibly intimate, and the band didn’t seem to care too much. Maybe it’s a welcoming change to all the huge shows they’d played in the months before – an outdoor gig in their hometown Leicester, headlining Glastonbury… you name it.

There's two kinds of lightshows: the usual…
There’s two kinds of lightshows: the usual…
…and the special treat!
…and the special treat!

And just like us, for their English fans it wasn’t enough seeing Kasabian in their home country – no, at least one group of excited English lads had travelled to Bremen with flags and chants… cheap Ryanair flights go from London-Stansted directly to Bremen – it’s a no-brainer for ultra-fans.

Kasabian kicked off their set with their single ‘Stevie’ from their 5th studio album 48:13, only to directly go into on of their older hits, ‘Shoot The Runner’.

Hello there, Tom.
Hello there, Tom.

Guitarist Serge Pizzorno, trendsetting as ever, walked out sporting a (hopefully fake-fur) fox tail that he apparently hasn’t taken off since, singer Tom Meighan decided not to take off his entirely unnecessary sunglasses for at least a quarter of the set. Later, he disappeared during ‘Treat’, leaving Serge singing basically everything by himself as the lights of a crazy laser show washed over him. The light show in general was pretty cool, but nothing in comparison to what we’d see on the UK tour. The encore left us with a nice cover of Fatboy Slim’s ‘Praise You’, but a kind of anti-climatic ending of ‘L.S.F.’ after the absolute smasher ‘Vlad The Impaler’ that had everyone on their feet in no time, for the whole song straight. Still, we’ve had the time of our lives, and we owe in all to them.

9.5/10, would recommend.

The setlists of both shows differed massively: Not only did Kasabian play two more songs in Birmingham, they also took their hit single ‘Bumblebeee’ from its position as first song after the encore and put it in the very beginning, making ‘Stevie’ the first song of the encore instead. The Bremen audience did not get to hear ‘Clouds’, ‘Cutt Off’, ‘Thick As Thieves’, ‘S.P.S’, ‘Switchblade Smiles’ or ‘Bow’, instead Kasabian played oldies like ‘Processed Beats’, ‘The Doberman’ and ‘Take Aim’. I’d hoped for ‘Doomsday’ or a revival of ‘Velociraptor’, which they’ve apparently banned from their setlist, but that’s just wishful thinking, really. So spending about 200 bucks on a weekend trip to Birmingham was definitely worth it.

The LG Arena in Birmingham is maybe the most comfortable venue I’ve visited in the UK. Located on the premises of Birmingham Airport and a part of the National Exhibition Center, the arena decided to offer a nice and warm waiting hall complete with food stalls, merchandise booths and even a little stage to watch local bands before the actual concert. The Forum, as it’s called, opened its doors at 5 p.m., an hour before fans would be let into the actual venue. The staff is super friendly and apparently rewarded the first 50 or so fans to get to the venue with an early entry and a separate waiting area. How nice of them! Arriving at 4:30, if you’re fast, will allow you to still be in the second row. Not much difference to our Bremen show, then – except we arrived about three hours earlier.

It's the final countdown!
It’s the final countdown!

For their UK tour, Kasabian decided to have The Maccabees support them. One and a half year after announcing that they might be playing new songs at upcoming festivals, the London quintet finally managed to present three new songs to us. And it was worth the wait. All fingers are crossed for an April release of their fourth studio album, successor to their 2012 album ‘Given To The Wild’. They were great, affectionate and happy to be there, and that’s all that counts. We were presented with a new keyboardist and a foretaste of what direction their new record might be going in. Maybe an epilepsy warning would have been appropriate, dear arena, since literally everyone had to close their eyes during ‘Pelican’ to not directly look into the flashing lights from the stage. Too bad, really. Generally, if the headliner takes their band of choice on tour with them, it’s rude of the audience to not appreciate them enough. Barely anyone sang along or cheered, and The Maccabees really aren’t unpopular in the UK.

During the interval, we were greeted with big pink numbers on the LED screen at the back of the stage, a 30-minute-countdown to make the waiting time less boring. This time, surrounded not by 40-somethings but more people their children’s age, groups of teenagers and maybe even a football team, I felt less young, but the general audience – thanks to seating tickets – was still not much different from the Bremen show. I might have spotted some families with little children.

Opening with ‘Bumblebeee’, it took me some time to realize that not only Serge was standing on one side of the stage with an acoustic guitar, illuminated by one single spot, but as soon as Tom started singing, he also got his very own spotlight on the other side of the stage. Once again, they went directly into ‘Shoot The Runner’. And the crowd went absolutely crazy. They didn’t stop being crazy for the next two hours, either. At this point, I want to thank the guy in front of me, whose body was incredibly soft to be pushed against. Cheers for that!

Before going into their hit from 2011, ‘Re-Wired’, Serge started to sing Cameo’s ‘Word Up’ that made an odd, but cool interlude for what followed.

Love in Technicolor… and so on
Love in Technicolor… and so on

Both Tom and Serge apparently had a whole cartload of tambourines and maracas backstage, since they didn’t think twice about throwing them into the crowd after use. No biggie. I was especially amazed by the light show, that was not only extremely photo-friendly, but also sent live-recordings from the stage through a filter onto the LED screens. Sometimes, we got to see random words like ‘trackie’ or ‘treasure’ or – not so random – ‘bumblebeee’, and during the absolutely crazy ‘Vlad The Impaler’ experience, there was a countdown to the first ‘get loose’ part of the track, which was maybe the most intense concert moment I’ve experienced this year.

If you ever get exhausted and are just before giving up and letting yourself be pulled out during a Kasabian concert, here’s a tip for you: just take a look at Ian Matthews. He does not stop smiling once. This guy is having the time of his life behind his drum kit. He’s so happy to be there, and so should you!

It's like someone reenacted the 'Empire' music video, but with plastic cups.
It’s like someone reenacted the ‘Empire’ music video, but with plastic cups. (© S. Prahl)

Thinking about it now, the atmosphere was maybe especially great because Birmingham is only an hour away from Leicester, and it’s safe to say that a lot of people from there decided to go to this show. Everyone was having a great night, tourist guitarist Tim Carter was happy as ever, Chris Edwards face planted from excitement at the end of the gig after throwing something at the crowd and Serge and Tom… well, were being Serge and Tom and practically jumped each other from overwhelming affection every now and then. Nothing we haven’t seen before, really. Serge even took the time to jump into the photo pit and touch hands with some fans. I haven’t seen ecstasy like this since I’ve stopped going to pop-punk shows.

All in all, the Birmingham gig was stressful, but overwhelming and endorphine-rich and the arena was left looking like a battlefield made of plastic cups. And everyone was left with their tune of choice stuck in their heads. 11/10, would recommend!

We conclude with Belle’s video of the the opening track “Bumblebeee” … to give you just a hint of the madness we witnessed:

Live: Foxygen + Alvvays @ Frannz, Berlin (DE), 05/11/14

Psych kids gone wild: Foxygen performing as their new punk alter egos Star Power (© G. Koynov)
Psych kids gone wild: Foxygen performing as their punk alter egos Star Power (© G. Koynov)

With their second album We Are The 21st Century Ambassadors Of Peace And Magic, Sam France and Jonathan Rado alias Foxygen became last year’s fuzzy-haired psych darlings. This year, though, they are determined to part with that image. With the release of new album … And Star Power, the Californian duo announced having joined a punk band, which however cannot really be heard on the record itself. Instead they carry their sound deeper into the abyss of their own strange minds, take time for jamming around (and when I say time I mean timeStar Power is 1 hour 21 minutes long), take breaks for radio announcements, and generally wave goodbye to well-known song structures. So what one could expect from their live show is a bunch of kids on drugs jamming around endlessly … which, almost, is exactly what happened. Well, I forgot to mention that half of those kids have glamrock eye make-up on (if male) or are glitter-glad, synchronised dancing background singers (if female), and that frontman Sam France has apparently reincarnated as Iggy Pop, taking the stage shirtless with a soon-gone blazer on, shaking his hips and jumping into the crowd or joining the synced dancing of the female vocal trio. As on the album, the set can hardly be divided into single songs, apart from stand-out tracks such as the opener and current hit single How Can You Really, last album favourite Shuggie, and not to forget the finale with San Francisco. The tiny stage, meanwhile, is in a state of mayhem while the ca. 8 musicians somehow manage to run from one end to the other all the time, switching instruments as they go – the crowd at the sold out Frannz is completely losing it, accordingly. Their only German gig this tour at a much too small venue is truly a case of “be there or be square”. And I haven’t even mentioned that with Alvvays, they even had a more than decent opener. In fact I believe it was the Canadians’ first German show, and how I love bands that bring a new and hot support band that one has not just heard of but is even excited to see. With their laid back indie-pop with a scruffy 90s vibe and singer Molly Rankin’s sweet voice they really hit a nerve, but maybe thanks to the impressive show of the main act, their performance seems a little bland in retrospect.

There clearly was no shortage of dramatic poses at Foxygen's gig (© G. Koynov)
There clearly was no shortage of dramatic poses at Foxygen’s gig (© G. Koynov)

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.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
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)

Live + Q&A: The Preatures in Hamburg (DE), 24.04.2014

Dancefloor preachings from Australia's latest must-hear (© D. Prahl)
Dancefloor preachings from Australia’s latest must-hear (© D. Prahl)

If you’ve been reading this blog attentively, you will already have heard of The Preatures, the latest hype coming from Australia. Well, I guess “hype” is not exaggerated if you consider they’ve sold out Hamburg’s Prinzenbar with just an EP up their sleeve. Looks like their grooving 70s sound, strong basslines and male/female lead vocal duo have made a lot of friends, not just among people who like the similar-sounding Haim.

This time around, however, we didn’t just do another plain gig review. The Preatures’ drummer, Luke Davison, was so kind to answer a couple of questions for us, compiled by myself and the wonderful Mme Blanchard. This is our first Q&A, but it surely won’t be the last!

ipd What are the preachings of the Preatures – if you were an influential political or spiritual leader, what message would you send your followers?
LD That it’s probably not the best idea to follow Preature preachings and to think for themselves. That or Star Wars.

ipd Which album or song do you listen to on repeat at the moment?
LD Undun – The Roots

ipd What effect would you like your music to have on your listeners?
LD Whatever they like – I feel if you impose an intended effect it’s not going to reach or relate to a broad audience. We just do what the song needs.

ipd Can you imagine your sound in ten years? Electronic robots, Magical Mystery Tour or a complete novelty?
LD Whatever the sound, hopefully hologram concerts are in effect.

ipd If you could decide freely, which musician, whether alive or dead, would you like to work with on a song and why?
LD Questlove – ’cause he’s badass and thorough. Or Nile Rodgers because he makes hits. Or Nigel Godrich cause every album he’s done I love. Oh boy this could go on but I need to soundcheck.

The many faces of powerwoman Isabella Manfredi (© D. Prahl)
The many faces of powerwoman Isabella Manfredi (© D. Prahl)
Gideon Bensen added some vocal and hairdo variety. (© D. Prahl)
Gideon Bensen added some vocal and hairdo variety. (© D. Prahl)

After successful soundcheck, The Preatures take the stage at the Prinzenbar, which I can’t get tired of repeating, is possibly Hamburg’s most beautiful live venue. (So beautiful you almost don’t wince at the price of €3.40 for a bottle of Becks – yet proceed to drink Staropramen for ‘only’ €3.) Frontwoman Isabella Manfredi looks like a 90’s teen idol with her fringe, pronounced eyebrows and tight sleeveless top, her four boys tend to sport the long-haired classic rock look with the exception of co-vocalist Gideon Bensen with his trendy undercut.

Some intra-band loving goin' on. (© D. Prahl)
Some intra-band loving goin’ on. (© D. Prahl)

Without doubt, Manfredi is the eyecatcher, bouncing up and down, flirting with her supposed boyfriend on guitar, and virtually bursting with positive energy. The audience shuffles around a bit shyly, as we Germans tend to do, but in comparison nearly flip out when finally their hit single ‘Is this how you feel?’ is played to end the set. After what feels like half an hour tops – not even two beers’ length – the gig is already over as the band have run out of songs. Maybe had there been a supporting act, it wouldn’t have felt as short. When it becomes clear there is not going to be an encore, the confused audience clear the room at only 10 pm – elsewhere usually the time the headliner takes the stage. However, I have no doubt Hamburg will welcome them back with open arms once the album is out – next time hopefully at the then newly opened Molotow, the original location set for the show.

Live: Arctic Monkeys + The Strypes in Berlin (DE), 05.11.2013

© D. Prahl
© D. Prahl
“Middle of adventure, such a perfect place to start…”

Although they did not play “505” in Berlin, let me use this line from said song to jump right into the experience that was the Arctic Monkeys concert at the Columbiahalle, my third time seeing them live and second full concert since 2007’s performance at the Stadtpark in Hamburg (their last time in my hometown). Because as I was squeezed in between 3,000 sweating, jumping, air-punching bodies when they played the first song I ever heard by them, I was thrown right back to that moment when it all began, my introduction to a band that has always been one of my favourites since that day in 2005. I was in my parents’ kitchen –I still lived at home, obviously, at 16– and the crappy white radio that stopped working after a few years but I guess is still there because no one bothered to take it down was tuned to Delta Radio. I suppose as it was evening and I was in the kitchen alone I was either setting the table for dinner (or “Abendbrot”, evening bread, as we say in Germany) or clearing it, and this song came on. I had never heard it before, or heard of the band for that matter, but it was one of those songs that from the first second on you can jump around to like crazy, even if it’s the very first time you’re listening to it. It was the music version of love at first sight, so to speak. Not much later, their album was on my Christmas wishlist, regardless that it was only going to be released in January. I got the single instead, possibly the last single I ever got that wasn’t a promo. Fast forward eight years and five albums, and this song, “I Bet You Look Good On The Dancefloor”, is still an integral part of their live setlist. Many bands get tired of their big hit after a few years, especially if they’ve evolved musically in the way the Monkeys have. But this kind of fanservice proves that even though they are gel-haired, sharp-suited men who occassionally perform with a string section on stage now, the Arctic Monkeys are still fucking devoted to their fans as their fans are to them, and even though I’ve been waiting in vain for another Hamburg show for six years now, they do return to Germany regularly and have played Hurricane Festival in 2011 and 2013, at least.

Their first album is a classic of my generation, and I’m not sure if I had realised, up to this day in Berlin, just how beloved it is, not only in the UK but also here in Germany. Still, a big part of the people who embraced “Whatever People Say I Am…” turned their backs on the band by the time “Humbug” was released – a development that’s epitomized by German band Kraftklub’s use of the line “…und Josh Homme hätte nie die Arctic Monkeys produziert”, explicitly stating the wish that “Josh Homme had never produced the Arctic Monkeys”. I don’t think anyone understands my agony about one of the worst and most undeservedly successful bands of my embarrassing country getting away with singing about how they wish one of my favourite albums had never been made – I mean really, make your sucky music all you want, but leave my favourite records alone! Personal resentments aside, I believe many Monkeys listeners are with Kraftklub on this one, wishing AM would just continue to blast out dancefloor stompers like the seminal “I Bet You Look Good …”, “Dancing Shoes” or “Brianstorm” instead of tender, lyrically exquisite works like “Cornerstone”, “She’s Thunderstorms” or “Fire And The Thud”. Everyone who is genuinely interested in and open-minded towards music, however, will at least appreciate that AM continue to develop their sound on every album. Because putting out variations of “Whatever People Say I Am…” would have ensured they had been forgotten by 2008, like the majority of their peers.

Instead, the Monkeys’ return to Germany causes quite a buzz: When we arrive, the short areal in front of the sold out Columbiahalle is filling up rapidly with people blocking the entire sidewalk. A couple of boys sing along to the latest album playing on their mobile phone with such flawlessness one hopes that an A&R is nearby, signing them on the spot. Later, I discover several faces from the Hamburg scene in the crowd; now tell me again how no one would come to a Hamburg show if they’ve “already played Hurricane”. Finally in front of the stage, the situation immediately gets uncomfortable. The drunken concert tourists from Scandinavia making out next to me are only half as bad as the constant squeezing and pushing, people trying to get to the front even though there is not half an inch of space left between anyone and their neighbours. Once the show has started and I spend the first six songs trying to stay on my feet and maybe snap a photo or two for the blog as well without losing my whole possessions, I get gradually pushed back until I’m somewhere in the middle of the concert hall, where finally I can breathe and not have to have constant body contact. Also staying on my feet gets a lot easier; still I get away with a twenty-centimetre bruise on my upper arm that I can’t recall getting. It reminds me of the days when moshing was part of my usual concert experience, when I always carried a change of shirt for after the show, and bruises at least weren’t as bad as coming out bleeding.

The Strypes' Ross Farrelly: with the sunglasses at least no one asks for ID (© D. Prahl)
The Strypes’ Ross Farrelly: with the sunglasses at least no one asks for ID (© D. Prahl)

But now to the actual show. The opener is, finally, someone not entirely unknown (I’m extremely unlucky when it comes to decent support acts): Irish baby Beatles The Strypes take the stage by storm, but the crowd is hard to impress; after all they are here for one of the biggest rock bands of their time. Plus, the average age of the crowd is way past twenty, which cannot be said of the teenage quartet on stage. However, The Strypes are incredibly advanced for their tender age; the only thing one could blame them for is playing the same song over and over again. Other than that, they are brilliant fun, have sing-along choruses en masse, and if you could only move, then yes, you would dance.

I should perhaps mention that whether this concert would even take place or not had been unclear until the day of the show; several concerts in the UK and the Offenbach gig a day earlier had to be cancelled due to Alex Turner’s infection with laryingitis, the Offenbach date even without rescheduling. Logically, we were nervous wrecks just until the point the Monkeys actually entered the stage. Surprisingly though, Turner’s voice was as smooth as ever, he even talked between songs, which we hadn’t expected as he should probably save his voice for singing. If you didn’t know, you wouldn’t have noticed he had been sick.

Alex Turner (right) with live guitarist Bill Ryder-Jones (© D. Prahl)
Alex Turner (right), Matt Helders and live guitarist Bill Ryder-Jones (© D. Prahl)

They opened with “Do I Wanna Know” followed by a bunch of earlier smash hits including “Dancing Shoes”, “Teddy Picker” and “Brianstorm”. By now they have such a mass of material that they can fill a whole setlist only with singles, plus of course there were several tracks from current album “AM”: all the singles (“R U Mine?” being the final highlight) plus what I bet will be the next, “Arabella”, including Alex’s very particular choreography (look it up on YouTube if you want to have a laugh) as well as “Fireside”, “No. 1 Party Anthem” and my personal favourite “Snap Out Of It”. To my delight, “Pretty Visitors” was on the setlist as well (I’m past the point where I expect them to play certain favourites of mine, I know I’ll never get to hear “This House Is A Circus” live again). Another highlight was a slow, acoustic version of “Mardy Bum”, which perfectly fit the more grown-up image the band now have, even though they wrote it as teenagers.

The stage decoration was also one size up from the last time (© D. Prahl)
The stage decoration was also one size up from the last time (© D. Prahl)

At their last headline show I went to, the Arctic Monkeys were a bunch of shy, pimply boys who didn’t know how to act when a barricade crashed and the concert had to be interrupted, and just stood around on stage awkwardly until told to resume. Back then they weren’t really known for being a great live band, and there still is very little action on stage (and zero interaction between band members, apart from Alex introducing his fellow musicians to the crowd) – it’s very much a one-man show, now that Turner has mastered his frontman job in his very own way. Even extroverted drummer and co-vocalist Matt Helders up on his pedestal remains in the background behind Turner’s clumsy dance moves and exquisite quiff, while guitarist Jamie Cook and bassist Nick O’Malley prefer hiding in the shadows and their glorious beards. However, no one would dare to claim that they’re not a good live act these days, the glitz and glamour of the giant, illuminated letters “AM” at the back of the stage doing their part along with an elaborate light show.

Painful facial expressions like these were, luckily, the exception (© D. Prahl)
Pained facial expressions like this were, luckily, the exception (© D. Prahl)

Alex Turner still has something of that Sheffield schoolboy behind the glamorous façade; even though these days you won’t catch him singing “he’s pinched me bird” (from 2005 b-side “Bigger Boys And Stolen Sweethearts”), his Northern accent as well as his dry sense of humour and slurring shyness ensure that authenticity which makes it just impossible to not like him. He’s a global superstar but one who you can bet has both his feet on the ground, and I’m saying this even though I once waited two hours in the cold for him to come out after another Berlin show, this time with The Last Shadow Puppets, and he and Miles Kane just disappeared into a taxi without signing a single autograph. I’ve never waited for Alex again but I did bully Miles twice into signing autographs and taking pictures with me after that, hehe.

I admit I’m not the kind of fan I once was; I don’t learn lyrics with the same dedication (I still don’t think I’ve mastered an entire Monkeys album, to be honest) and I didn’t even know who stood where on stage, but I do have a deep love for this band, both because they have the best lyrics I know and because they’ve never truly disappointed, musically. Almost every band has at least one lazy album up their sleeve but not these guys. Each of their songs has elegance, charm and truth to it, and I have never once thought “but I hate it that they only play huge arena shows for €40 and never come on tour elsewhere than Berlin and only play festivals and gahgahgah”, all I’ve ever thought is that the world can’t have such a sucky taste in music after all if the Arctic Monkeys get this big.

Live: King Krule + Filthy Boy in Hamburg (DE), 16.10.2013

October the 16th was a date we had marked in our calendars for a long time as it was the

day the highly praised King Krule would play a small gig in Hamburg in support of his recently released debut album ‘Six Feet Beneath The Moon’, an album that stands out in the way it combines clean guitars with Hip-Hop elements, topped off with emotional vocals. If you have been reading music magazines of any genre lately you couldn’t escape him. Literally every magazine from Indie to Hip-Hop based wanted a piece of the 19-year old with the promininent, deep voice who has already released music under the name of Zoo Kid a few years ago. Now Archy Marshall, that’s his real name, is back with a brilliantly produced debut album that takes him and his live band all around the world. For the

European part of the tour he had chosen to bring his friends in Filthy Boy on tour with him. Archy Marshall has shown his trust in them before when he let Filthy Boy’s Paraic and Michael Morrissey direct two music videos for him. In return Archy’s brother Jack designed a T-Shirt for Filthy Boy.

 We were clever enough to buy our tickets early because despite the venue being changed to a slightly bigger one (from Turmzimmer at Übel und Gefährlich to Hafenklang), the gig had sold out in no time. So it came as kind of a surprise that when we arrived at the venue there was almost no one waiting.

A fact that barely changed until the venue opened its door. So we spent the time listening to the support band Filthy Boy sound checking. While the venue slowly filled, with an easy atmosphere that was rather uncommon for a sold out gig of a hyped newcomer, we found ourselves nice spots directly in front of the stage to catch Filthy Boy, whose debut album I had bought a month ago and couldn’t believe my luck when they were announced as support for King Krule’s European tour.

Top lads who will wait on the doorstep when you're busy hosting an orgy (© S.Prahl)
Top lads who will wait on the doorstep when you are busy hosting an orgy (© S. Prahl)

The fourpiece from South London opened their set with an oldie that I didn’t know but it was followed by nearly all my favourite songs. Personal highlights were ‘Biggest Fan Ever’, ‘Waiting on the doorstep’ and ‘Mental Conditions’. What makes Filthy Boy such a great band is the perfect mix of singer Paraic Morrissey’s deep baritone voice, which gets under your skin immediately, their sleazy but witty lyrics and the clean guitar melodies of lead guitarist Harry Weskin. They act a little bit distant on stage but maybe that’s what it takes to pull off lyrics about role play, being a witness of your partner’s sex orgies or having mental conditions.

The majority of the crowd probably hadn’t heard of them before but Filthy Boy definitely have a bright future ahead and already some big fans: Archy Marshall himself and his band mates were spotted singing along in the crowd.

The Londoners finished their set with the slowly building up and then crashing down ‘Oh Dear’, which is also the final track of the album, and left the stage to make place for their mates in King Krule.

The mastermind King Krule aka. Zoo Kid aka. Archy Marshall (© D.Prahl)
The mastermind King Krule aka. Zoo Kid aka. Archy Marshall (© D. Prahl)

When the 19-year old redhead and his band of equally young-looking fellas finally took the small stage, the venue was packed. I felt bad for the unfortunate people who arrived too late because they couldn’t see a thing from the bar due to the rather unpractical construction of the place.

King Krule then proceeded to play a flawless and eccentric set that consisted of almost every song from ‘Six Feet Under The Moon’ and climaxed with a performance of hit single ‘Easy Easy’ that got everyone dancing along. After that they came back to play an encore which I hadn’t expected. Maybe it was an extra treat as the show was the last one of the tour.

On stage Archy Marshall is not as much of an introvert as his songs would lead you to expect. He puts the guitar down for some songs, smiles at his band mates and introduces them to the crowd. Although the names were hard to understand, the fact that the guitarist wore a Filthy Boy t-shirt wasn’t to overlook.

Filthy Boy's 'Biggest Fan Ever' (© S.Prahl)
Filthy Boy’s ‘Biggest Fan Ever’ (© S. Prahl)

I was positively surprised at how good King Krule’s songs came across live, not forfeiting what makes them so outstanding on record. The aim to transfer their unique sound into a good live performance was probably the reason why they didn’t play my personal favourite ‘Neptune Estate’ as it would be quite difficult to transfer this song into a live version. The band made up for it by playing ‘Rock Bottom’, my other favourite and the song that Paraic and Michael Morrissey of Filthy Boy directed the video for.

So while King Krule can definitely live off their current hype and probably will be back for a bigger tour in Germany soon, I hope that Filthy Boy make use of it too and get the attention they clearly deserve.