Monday, July 31, 2006

Berlin Festival

This Saturday I went to Berlin Festival, set a good 20 miles out of the city's limits in a place called Paaren im Glien. It was a festival like no other, just as Berlin is a city like no other. When we arrived at 2pm there were only about 50 people there. And when we went in search of the second stage, due to open at 6.30pm, we instead found a variety of farm animals; pigs, deer, goats, guinea pigs, pigeons with feathered feet, peacocks...strange. The beer and food were also very reasonably priced, we could take bottled water into the arena, cigarettes were given away free (!?) and there weren't any hippies or stupid hats...an altogether different experience to the overly commercial, over-priced British festivals. Of course, the line-up wasn't nearly as grabbing as the likes of Reading, V, or T, but it was a good chance for music fans in Germany to see smaller bands all in one relaxed weekend auf dem Land.

It all kicked off with Humanzi, a scruffy Dublin five-piece. Respect to them for playing with as much gusto as they would for a packed-out club, but their music, bar a few songs, left me cold. It all seemed a bit meat-and-two-veg down-the-line rock to leave any real impression. Kubicheck were up next and sported a good-looking bassist and some good, danceable indie. Amusement Parks On Fire did certainly not set the festival on fire, rather sent the forming crowd back to the bars and the animals in search of something better to do than listening to this boring boring boring dirge whiny rock. It was so bad that my blogging cohort and visiting friend both said it reminded them of the now-deceased JJ72. A bad thing.

Luckily Berlin's own Powers brightened up the day, the first band on the second stage, which was essentially an abattoir with a bar, stage and lighting in it. Powers are Paul Fielding, Jessica Normann and Joe Dilworth, an amazing photographer and established drummer. They played atmospheric indie-rock, with synth driven melodies, scratchy guitar and powerhouse rhythms. Jessica sung on some of the songs, which made the songs sound fuller. They are still early in their career and I hope that there will be more singing to come! Check out the songs on their MySpace, they are very nice.

Hot Club de Paris were a surprise gem on the line-up, and the first band to really get the crowd going. They entered Stage 2 and beckoned the scenestershy crowd forward with an acapella song, before charming the crowd through a set of bouncing summery tunes, which were both witty and touching. The boys entertained with very impressive German and down-to-earth Liverpudlian humour. They were so fresh-faced, they were the kind of boys that grandparents love, but not if they heard some of those cheeky lyrics!

The Raveonettes were the band of the day for me, I've loved them for three year and was so happy to get another chance to see them live. Everything about them fits what I like from a band - darkness - check! Pop perfection? check! Thorough aesthetic image? Check! Beautiful and well dressed? Check check! They make me weak at the knees with their surfy guitars and cool vocals, sunglasses and black clothes. I've come across a lot of bands who make music because they like making music - which is fine - but the Raveonettes seem to be the kind of band that make music because they have a love affair with music, other people's music, other era's music. I listen to Chain Gang of Love and I think it could have easily been recorded in the fifties or the sixties, such is the depth of their for this era in music. Their cool is so effortless and classic, they don't need to do or say anything, they just are. Sadly they didn't play any new songs, but they did play lots of old ones. I'm still smiling from their performance.

The Klaxons had the crowd of mainly ex-pats dancing like crazy to their energetic performance. The bigger stage and me not bring drunk made it seem less frantic, exciting and original, but the songs were still good fun, and Atlantis to Interzone is an undeniable anthem.

Stereo Total were the last band I saw before I ran out of energy and took the shuttle-bus back to Spandau. They were brilliant - a multi-lingual, multi-national, multi-sexual carnival of good times. They were clearly a crowd-favourite, now almost at 50% capacity and smiling as Fran├žoise Cactus pulled over-the-top facial expressions and they bantered away in French, German and English.

It was an altogether enjoyable festival, mostly due to the aspects which others might describe as shortfallings - having space to dance, the lack of bands and therefore lack of clashes, the funny location and animals. It felt fresh and those organising it seemed to be having a good time. I hope it runs again next year - there's a lot of potential and if they get more "crowd-drawing" acts, then they should hopefully meet the balance between a nice, relaxed atmosphere and getting more paying punters out to Paaren im Glien!

posted by Robbie de Santos at 7/31/2006 03:09:00 pm


Anonymous ssp said...

Uh, I would've loved to go there.

Didn't the Sultans of Ping play as well? Would've quite liked to see them... and the Shout Out Louds and Stereo Total and ....


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