Once again in 2017, NOTHING BUT HOPE AND PASSION is teaming up with Hamburg’s acclaimed Reeperbahn Festival for a media partnership. Our ongoing article series Road To Reeperbahn will report about specific highlights in the program of the 2017 edition. Find all articles of the story right here.
New York has always been a magnet for musicians, writers and art lovers alike. The city’s charm, everlasting buzz and creative vibes are written all over it until today. It’s the perfect place for the A2IM (American Association of Independent Music) to come together, intensify its relations and establish new contacts during Indie Week. But there’s more to it than just the business side. A lot more to be precise.
For a second time, the Reeperbahn Festival, one of Germany’s finest festivals, returned to the Big Apple. This year the „NYC Edition“ showcase was held at the infamous Pianos venue in the Lower East Side of Manhattan. Both, fans and Indie Week delegates were given a very warm welcome right in the middle of the A2IM’s Indie Week events that consisted of various panels, one-on-one meetings with representatives of the music industry and a whole of music related topics that were discussed to a great extent.
Before it was time for Reeperbahn Festival to showcase their seven carefully selected artists, the evening was kicked off with tasty food and drinks. Only to be followed by a mouth-watering line-up that demonstrated the event’s good reputation for being supportive of emerging talents and celebrating creative diversity.
This year’s fine NYC Edition line-up included acts like last year’s ANCHOR Award winner ALBIN LEE MELDAU (Sweden), CARNIVAL YOUTH (Latvia), LEYYA (Austria), OLIVIER ST LOUIS (USA), LYDMOR (Denmark), WE BLESS THIS MESS (Portugal) and MEGAN BONNELL (Canada) who turned the Pianos venue into a colourful celebration of singer-songwriter art, an electro-pop party with grooves being sent into every corner as well as a mix of tunes rooted in funk and folk music.
With two floors inside Pianos, there was always live entertainment guaranteed for the crowd that turned up in large numbers to get a glimpse of all the emerging and talented artists that Reeperbahn Festival put into the limelight for a special evening.
Opening the showcase, the four young gentlemen CARNIVAL YOUTH from Latvia made sure that it was absolutely alright to move again and to shuffle one’s feet after having tried the various snacks offered at the buffet. The playfulness of their indie-pop songs and their boyish charm made it difficult to resist that temptation anyway. Their good spirit and uplifting songs were so contagious, their set turned into a joyous performance on all terms.
WE BLESS THIS MESS, who was up next, had a similar effect, although with a more politically charged and more serious set that saw Nelson Graf Reis passionately deliver his songs about the big questions in life. It was quite obvious that the man from Portugal enjoyed interacting with the crowd to get across his messages in between the songs. Only playing with an acoustic guitar that night, his voice became the key element of his performance. It tested the almost fragile soundscape and easily added a more explosive character to it.
Coming all the way from Austria, the duo LEYYA successfully got the crowd’s attention early on with their laid-back electronic grooves and dense atmosphere. Originally consisting of Sophie Lindinger and Marco Kleebauer, the project turns into a four-piece band onstage to add some more depth to the songs. Their debut album may be called Spanish Disco, but don’t be afraid, the band doesn’t drag you to the dance floor with a drink in your hand while the alcohol and loud volume numbs whatever creative spark might be there. In fact, Leyya are part of the Austra-Pop movement that offers the audience a listening experience with intelligent twists and turns.
Expect the unexpected from Danish singer and producer LYDMOR. At least that seemed to be the case during her show at Reeperbahn Festival’s New York Edition. Having played the actual festival before, Lydmor seemed to feel very comfortable with her pulsating and energetic songs that she presented to the audience. It all started with a mellow vibe that soon spiraled upwards into a more eccentric and challenging sound. With the track’s level of intensity steadily growing, Lydmor made her way into the audience several times and encouraged everyone to use the body paint she had placed all over the room.
2016 ANCHOR Award winner ALBIN LEE MELDAU from Sweden won the crowd’s hearts at Reeperbahn Festival last year as well as the ANCHOR jury’s praise with his songwriting and skills onstage. Having him on the New York Edition line-up seemed like the obvious choice and Albin made sure it was a rememberable return. He and his band of ‘beautiful Swedes’ as he called his fellow musicians, played a mix of known and brand new songs. The compelling and passionate storytelling hovering over the whole performance while Albin’s qualities as an entertainer were on full display.
With the evening coming almost to an end in Manhattan’s Lower East Side, the singer-songwriter MEGAN BONNELL from Toronto added a pleasant folk touch to the showcase. Having released two albums to date, Hunt And Chase (2013) and Magnolia (2016), the Canadian artist delivered a sensitive, sweet and down to earth set in which she switched from keyboard to guitar. Her songs about love and happiness, but also painful moments all reflect what has been going on in her own life. And that is probably why she was able to build up an immediate connection with her audience at Pianos.
The first thing you notice about OLIVER ST LOUIS is his remarkable beard, but thankfully that is not the only impressive feature about him. Despite his previous success as a guest singer for artists like Hudson Mohawke, he is now putting the focus back on his solo career with his first EP release Ever Since The Fall, but clearly he does not focus on just one style of music. The song’s nature is as wide as the smile on his face once he is up there onstage playing his music that is influenced by soul, R’n’B, blues as well as pop-rock. With a kick-ass band around him, the American-born musician got the crowd at Pianos dancing in no time. He is definitely one to look out for in the future.
Reeperbahn Festival’s well-curated and organized New York Editon at A2IM’s Indie Week proved that there is a whole lot of new and international talent out there that is waiting to be discovered by a broader audience. By successfully pulling off that showcase as part of the yearly get-together of the American Association of Independent Music, the Reeperbahn Festival emphasizes once more how important it is to support emerging artists and give them a stage.