That was Reeperbahnfestival 2018 like – to me

No excuses, I told you about Hamburg’s Reeperbahnfestival last year and let you know that and when it is happening again. Hope you were there and enjoyed it as much as I did this year. It is been and gone and it was superbe. That was Reeperbahnfestival 2018 like – to me:

For a dedicated follower of music, the Reeperbahnfestival on St. Pauli (yep, ON is correct), Hamburg’s famous harbour quarter, is heaven – and hell at the same time, especially when you can throw in a good dose of OCD like myself. It has clearly become what the festival has been modelled on: Germany’s, if not Europe’s answer to the US’ SXSW festival. This is where music’s movers and shakers, fans and makers meet up. I said it before but like to drop it in again, just for good measure: Face the impossible with nonchalance, you will and cannot do everything at the festival even if you only concentrate on the music side of it.

For me, additional torment was in store this year, as I could only make it to the Reeperbahn by Friday afternoon. By then, the festival had been in full swing for two and a half days already. Plus I had work commitments and quite frankly: Yes, I did get sidetracked in parties and chats, in drifting and laughter, in soaking in the atmosphere in general. But that is as good a feature of the Reeperbahnfestival as any. And then the storm hit: On Friday afternoon the festival organisers decided to close down the open air venues such as Heiligengeistfeld and the Spielbudenplatz. It was just too risky. The weather did peak up again in intervals but generally myself as loads of other people seemed not so inclined to walk a lot between the venues and stayed put. And yet, it was fabulous. Thank you Reeperbahnfestival!

That was Reeperbahnfestival 2018 like - to me
Views of St. Pauli

Meeting up with my friend and colleague Sandra Zettpunkt at the well-trodden and established music venue Molotow, slapbang on the Reeperbahn, and missing each other because we used different entrances, we both enjoyed The Babe Rainbow’s set on Friday late afternoon immensely. The venue was packed, the audience was jumping, beer was consumed in large quantities already and was it any wonder, when an Australian band gave a tremendous and exhilarating and sunny and completely “down under” performance? Theirs is an amazing mix of funk and pop and psych and och, anything, melted into their version of Australian laid-back good feel. That was a brilliant start.

Time to eat, to snatch a drink and to wander around a bit and make our way to St. Michaelis, Hamburg’s landmark church, locally referred to as Michel. To be on time for Okkervil River‘s performance seemed crucial, as there was already a long queue. Stunned by the interior of this huge and impossibly imposing church, I almost missed the band turning up. Will Sheff did not look out of place under a painting of Jesus, albeit his brown suit and the glasses and greeted the audience warmly. Also clearly impressed by the church, he mentioned however, that on arrival, Okkervil River were dumbfounded because, hey, the acoustics are mighty and their set was not suitable at all for a big echoing space like this. Experienced musicians they are, though, they quickly adapted their set and everyone was treated too some classic early material, quite a few songs – to my delight – from their album “Away” – and then a few from the latest “In The Rainbow Rain”. The opulence of the latest album maybe did not allow for more songs in this environment. There was funny banter, a solo and acoustic excursion of Will Sheff through the pews of the church (even asking a dedicated fan for some lyrics he had forgotten) and some fantastic cover versions. A fairly long set for a festival and the pews became ever so hard to sit on and quite frankly I would have preferred a more intimate, more interactive environment for Okkervil River. But they left happy and so did the audience. The moment, a full moon was casting its light through one of the church windows to the sound of Okkervil River, is something I will never forget.

That was Reeperbahnfestival 2018 like - to me
Okkervil River at St. Michaelis

We got sidetracked to a party which was very enjoyable and pitied the people queuing up for Muse – the surprise act – for hours and missing out on so much. After all, not everyone got in, the venue was quickly full. Now, it is not that I have something against Muse (cough), but I was not too heartbroken to have to give their gig a miss. In all fairness, they were introducing the first songs of their new album and their live performance is said to be great.

Indeed we went for the packed and swaying and hopping Mojo Jazz Cafe to give Uns, a Berlin band, a listen. Fashion sense of the eighties combined with the Neue Deutsche Welle Sound of the same decade, huge dance and magic potential and a good laugh or two shared between the band and the audience inbetween made this very worthwhile.

The evening ended for us in the gorgeous Prinzenbar where Liza Anne and a very tight backing band (unnervingly all dressed a bit like little Playmobil builder figures) played her new sounds. I remember Liza Anne as a folksy, indie singer not unlike Sharon van Etten and was meeting the change in her music – now fast, loud, trashy, rocking – with quite some hesitance. Was there a commercial reason for this change? I would not approve at all, at all. But I had read beforehand that Liza Anne just wanted to get it out of her system, the anxieties, the depressions and clearly, the new songs were just doing that. Tremendously enjoyable.

That was Reeperbahnfestival 2018 like - to me
Liza Anne at Prinzenbar

Next day, more bands (don’t tell me what I missed out on, I cannot be everywhere at the same time because work was calling on top).  Yes, I had a super time meeting everyone from work too, so happy as Larry, we were moving on much later than anticipated, to maybe see Metronomy. Fat chance, should have queued up for that some time ago. A great stint of Field Division, a band on of my favourite labels Bella Union, had been on my radar for quite some time and they delivered their Americana tinted cloud with silver lining songs with heart and soul. Check. Wonderful.

Something completely different now at Angie’s Nightclub, a venue of some disreputable distinction (no shit, Sherlock, on the Reeperbahn? You don’t say.) and quite the suitable backdrop for the seventies’ to eighties’  or rather plasticky clad Lomboy from Brussels. The front woman clearly has been all over the world and brought bits into her music from everywhere as well. The languid, francophile music kept everyone nicely on their feet and dreaming away. Oh yes, did I mention that? France was the country represented on this year’s Reeperbahnfestival. Yes, and I did miss Halo Maude who performed astoundingly according to Sandra. But here’s the plan: Forget the plan. After a short visit to the famous Golden Poodle Club, we galloped to Nochtwache, the cellar club of Nochtspeicher and were expecting a late night treat like last year, something wild and quiet and jazzy and trippy and got Chris Garneau. Now, I would have been happy with the announced Canadian singer-songwriter, indie folk to tone down after a long day and make me weep a little bit. But no.

Great guitar, great drums, but the somewhat whiney, keyboard accompanied songs of Chris Garneau did not do it for me (think Marc Almond, kind of). But that’s just me. The numerous visitors seemed to enjoy it whole-heartedly.

And shock and horror, that was it in terms of gigs. Plenty of parties going on still but the instrument cases were being packed. There is always a next year. I have told you so!

 

 

Coming soon…Reeperbahnfestival

While Offbeat finds that the summer slump in the music industry does not really exist anymore, it has to be said that individual gigs are giving way to festivals during the summer and releases take place in September – we are getting fed album teasers until then.

Coming soon...Reeperbahnfestival

And yes, Offbeat was having a wee summer slumber as well…time flew by. But soon the posts will be flying out the window again. Before that I would like to draw your attention, if you would be so kind, to one the finest festivals ever: Reeperbahnfestival on Hamburg’s St. Pauli is coming up again, from the 19th till the 22nd of September. It is Germany’s answer to SXSW and just like its counterpart has a two-sided nature: It is a meeting point for the music industry with all that entails – label introductions, new artists being introduced, conferences, workshops and seminars. On the other hand we have the festival side with performances from the arts, movies, theatre and music of course.

Forget about trying to see everything, you can not. Especially since you will not be dragging yourself through a muddy, separate festival ground but will be visiting endless individual venues, differing in size and character. But that of course, is also the beauty of the Reeperbahnfestival. Hope to see you there! Keep your eyes peeled for news on the blog…coming soon.

Autumn is upon us…with music

Autumn is upon us…with music. Thankfully. Yes, us poor souls in the northern hemisphere have autumn descending upon us again and for most parts it has not been an Indian summer variety of autumn. Autumn, however, does coincide with an abundance of releases of musical artists, so that makes it more bearable to stay inside, hear the storm howl and the rain bashing against the windows.

The War on Drugs versus Kurt Vile

Oh my, was I anticipating that new The War On Drugs album. Yes, it is here and I am mildly unimpressed. That notion I would share with only a few fans and only a few critics. I cannot quite put my finger on it. There is so much on that album and then maybe of something too little. I am not given up on it, maybe it will still grow on me. That one song “Over Everything” by Courtney Barnett and Kurt Vile has it all though in comparison. There is a freshness and lyricism about it as well as a really hooky melody that is so far missing for me in The War on Drugs latest offering. Courtney and Kurt by the way, a match made in heaven. I am really looking forward to the forthcoming album of this collaboration: “Lotta Sea Lice” (Matador).

The Wedding Present

David Gedge is on tour with The Wedding Present! Besides introducing the brilliant “Going, going…” to both the UK and continental Europe and more dates following worldwide, there will also be tour dates wedged in-between taking cult album “George Best” to the stage – for the very last time! So don’t miss neither opportunity, see here for tour dates. Also looking forward very much to meet David Gedge and bring you back an interview!

The Blog That Celebrates Itself

A special mention in this blog post of Brazilian super blog The Blog That Celebrates Itself. Not only blogging away but releasing an abundance of samplers devoted to new music and new bands covering the finest of bands’ oeuvres. Should you not be acquainted with their brilliant output yet, have a look here.

Lord Youth

Micah Blaichman alias Lord Youth from Queens, NY follows up his self-titled vinyl 10″ EP and a 2 track single with his debut album “Gray Gardens” on BB*Island. A master of his craft, Lord Youth, presents all the colours of modern music on his album and yet, the blue hour is the one that would this album best. Dark and dreamy despite some forays into the uptempo, this is a perfect companion for the coming season and beyond. Much to discover, go ahead.

By the way, Lord Youth will also perform at the Reeperbahnfestival in Hamburg, Germany, a massive musical feast with conferences, art, films and lots of music, very much Germany’s SXSW, if I may so, from the 20th of September till the 23rd of September 2017. Featured country this year: Canada. Bliss!

The Jazz Butcher

Having had the fortune to see Pat Fish (with various members as The Jazz Butcher) repeatedly live, indulging in buying his albums and singles on vinyl and  coveting two interviews in cassette tape (yep!) from that time and heeding the maestro’s recommendations on literature and music (thank you so much for recommending The Blue Aeroplanes and Flann O’Brien – could not do without them), I am very happy to announce that Fire Records will re-release the first four albums  ‘Bath Of Bacon’, ‘A Scandal In Bohemia’, ‘Sex And Travel’ and ‘Distressed Gentlefolk’ in a four CD box labelled “Wasted Years”. No, they were not and will not ever be. Hoping that The Jazz Butcher will grace us with a tour and also perform his latest music.

Martin Carr

Martin Carr is probably know to most as heading The Boo Radleys until 1999 has been doing solo work since then. Three albums he had made so far and the third one (“New Shapes Of Life”) is going to be released by the end of September 2017. Very much looking forward to Martin’s release – the first single “Future Reflections” is already a wonderful indication of what is going to come.

Autumn is upon us...with music

The last album “The Breaks”, also out on Tapete Records, was a fine album but Martin Carr sees it still as part of a life where he was battling depression and far from this world. “New Shapes Of Life” is to reflect the end of that phase and he regards it as the album that truly sounds like himself.

“Future Reflections” is both musically and lyrically upsetting and touching and consoling – all at the same time.

Darto

Gordon De Los Santos, Gregory Flores, Candace Harter and Nicholas Merz are Darto from Seattle and they have been really busy: They released a 7″ with Wand called “Follow Up / Hush” which miraculously manages to incorporate both bands’ sounds convincingly.

Autumn is upon us...with music

Darto are also proud to present their full length album “Human Giving” and the pride of this album is totally justified. Floating would be a suitable word to describe Darto’s music which is hard to label (a good thing!). There is ambient, there is psych, there are glimpse of Americana.

Let members of Darto speak about their album “Human Giving” themselves:

“We didn’t play shows or hardly go to shows for a year and a half so we could write and record the album,” says Darto’s Gordon De Los Santos. “The album comes from the places within us where hope and love exist. Where the focus is not on the self, and where everything is possible. Humans giving themselves to other humans. The power of listening on all fronts. The desired effect is and was to bring hope in some capacity.”

“We are extremely proud of this record. Writing, recording, mixing and mastering was the most intentional musical experience we have had to date. We took a lot of chances on it, and grew exponentially in the process,” says Gregory Flores. “It felt, and feels like we walked through many doors while working on it, and the place we ended up is very similar to the place where we were as young people first deciding to create. A vulnerable first step towards something larger.”

“Human Giving” is out on Aagoo Records.