What can you expect, when it comes to a kind of label night of the Nein, Gelassenheit label at Leipzig’s most magnificent location the venerable Centraltheater? Firstly a lot of high quality music, a cross section of the actual situation in German Pop Music, and of course a vivid definition of discourse structures in music. Furthermore a slightly modified concert situation, emerging from the location facilities, such as red velvet seats, which are not everybody’s taste, but an absolutely agreeable setting for an evening like this, with a perfect view on a beautiful illuminated theatre stage and just a nice sound.
Nein, Gelassenheit (which basicly means “No, calmness”) was founded in 2010 as a sub label of the German indie institution Staatsakt as the own label of the original Austrian, and meanwhile Berlin residing band JA, PANIK. With its first release, the highly recommended debut of HANS UNSTERN, the label already proved its stylish assurance and a very own taste of music. Since then also the band DIE HEITERKEIT signed and released their first album on the label. JA, PANIK have also released two split EPs with DIE HEITERKEIT and UNSTERN which included cover songs from each other. So the Nein, Gelassenheit Gala on the 23th of January was the perfect occasion to get an idea of the lables own view on German pop music in 2013. Pop music that is risky, edgy, that shook itself free from conventions. While other countries have already embraced their vertile subcultural indie scene, Germany might be still on the way to accept and discover this different side – but they’ve surely come far. So, thank god, there are bands and labels like this one. NOTHING BUT HOPE AND PASSION invites you – with all of your calmness – to explore these idea by revisiting this night in Leipzig.
The curtain rose for HANS UNSTERN and its four-headed band. The show started with a piece of clear verses known from his new LP The Great Hans Unstern Swindle while the background gently built a fine-grained framework for the magic microcosm of the singers stories. Following this kind of introduction the band moved into the next song Bea Criminal without a break. The way in which they acted in such a giant, self builded repertoire of tones, words and song structures were pretty close to the sound concept of bands like EINSTÜRZENDE-NEUBAUTEN.
Inside this pumping and screaming steam engine-like apparatus HANS UNSTERN pasted himself not as the traditional front man, he just led a chapel that is building up an equal unit next to the force and effect of his words. Always right in time this whole pile of fragments fuses into warm and harmonic pop melodies, which show an entirely different and partly romantic aspect of UNSTERN‘s songs. One of the last songs, the Band played was the dashing Ich schäme mich (“I’m ashamed of myself”) that came up as a stomping rock and roll song with background choirs leaded into a storm of digital vocal samples and fragments. This first concert on the evening was mesmerizing, a gripping work, compelling like a good book but beautiful like a piece of poetry.
DIE HEITERKEIT, the second band to perform, released their first record Herz aus Gold (“Heart Of Gold”) in August 2012, via Nein, Gelassenheit. This enchanting Trio, based in Hamburg, performed a sophisticated blend of susurrant and yet highly reserved Indie rock. Quite aesthetically all dressed up in a black wardrobe they presented their songs with a total lack of emotions. Nevertheless, this is of course all part of their appearance. Bassist Rabea Erradi sung along to Stella Sommers deep and wavering voice and managed to turn the whole performance into heartening and bold moments on stage. After the deconstructed pop songs from UNSTERN and his abstruse music circus on stage you could spot some heads in the audience dozing off on each others shoulders while singer Stella Sommers never took her eyes off of her guitar – singing ”Alles ist so neu und aufregend- ach, ich hätte eigentlich nichts dagegen” (“everything here is new and exciting- oh well, I wouldn’t mind that”) – narcissistic lyrics mixed with monotonous bass and drums. DIE HEITERKEIT are virtuous, stark and distant but a truly cool girl group.
The tail of this showcase was formed by the young and well dressed Austrian gentlemen of JA, PANIK. By this time, already late on the evening, the label founders himself were blessedly able to refresh the audience with tight and frenetic rock songs straight to the point, accompanied by well educated lyrics with a nice touch of Viennese snide humor. Singer Andreas Spechtl switched regardlessly between German and English lyrics and spits phrases that let’s you laugh, that let’s you mediate and from which you just can’t unsnap. This is just how good indie pop has to be, danceable, smart and honest. JA, PANIK show their live band qualities with a sound composed of a tight groovin bass, solid drums, the razor-sharp lead guitar and on top an eclectic piano play. Also if the whole audience stays well-behaved sitting in the overly comfortable theatre chairs, the ambiance is electrified and the applause is overwhelming. This evening ends with JA, PANIK‘s beautiful hymn An Evening Sun and therefore a mutual satisfaction for both artists and audience.
Article by Melissa Lampe & Stefan Kutschera
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