Let’s face it, showcase festivals are a double-edged sword. On one hand you can several new artists on the verge of breakthrough (or sometimes even beyond that). On the other hands it’s also the right time for the music industry to meet up and exchange everything from knowledge to business cards to self-righteous opinions. This is partly good, and partly annoying. Normally only a small percentage of the audience are familiar with the bands that are playing. This results in heavy chatting and even heavier tweeting/constant status updates. We wouldn’t mind that in small doses but on this year’s BERLIN MUSIC WEEK we just noticed it in epidemic proportions. This needed to be said – stop talking, start listening, people! These bands deserve it.
Besides hating on loudmouths, NOTHING BUT HOPE AND PASSION did our best to see as many new bands as possible. This year most of the single showcases were united under the name First We Take Berlin – a two-day-long showcase event featuring new acts in a selection of Berlin’s clubs and concert venues. It was impossible to see everything and of course we may have overlooked a few of these talented young musicians – but to avoid this we split up and started discovering. These are nine musical discoveries you should definitely a have closer listen to. Remember: you read it here first.
Okay, okay – fair enough. Beloved Danish pop singer ASBJØRN is not entirely new to the NBHAP readers. His record Sunken Ships was one of our favourites of 2012 and we also met him for a lovely chat. But this young fellow deserves more attention and he’s clearly working for it, playing four shows in the course of the BERLIN MUSIC WEEK. We enjoyed the one at the Our/Berlin Music Week festival the most where he seduced the crowd with his electro pop crooning and dance moves. Keep an eye out for this Danish stunner.
British band BIG SIXES might be the musical proof that simplicity is still a quite effective way if it’s done properly. The group from Buckinghamshire doesn’t have a rhythm section, only vocals and guitars. They play gentle singer/songwriter folk in the tradition of SIMON & GARFUNKEL. While they sometimes use drums and keyboards, the band around lead singer Charlie Costello prefered a stripped down version for their performance in Berlin. Not the worst choice as this broke down the songs to it’s core. No gimmicks: just music and great voices.
Glasgow-based band HOLY ESQUE likes their guitars loud and their amps turned all the way up. During their showcase at Privatclub it was almost a bit too loud, as the heavy shoegazing guitars detracted from the unique voice of singer Pat Hynes. The ‘unique’ aspect of it comes from his quite specific vibrato that gives the quite intense even more dynamic. Pure emotion and intensity. Might not have been their best show ever but it was more than enough to make us hungry for more from these Scottish lads.
BIG BLACK DELTA
BIG BLACK DELTA visited Berlin to play two official gigs and one unofficial during Berlin Music Week and Berlin Festival. Lucky us: we were invited to the exclusive concert and got the chance to see him in the smallest venue he (American producer Jonathan Bates) ever played in. The gig was held in a small office with room that fit around 40 people. Bates was a little bit nervous about how the concert would be in such small surroundings. With hard drums, Michael Jackson moves and the blinking launchpad with his soft voice, we are not complaining. He and his drummer had a great show and obviously he delivers with passion no matter where he plays.
The swedish musician Tobias Isaksson (who is AZURE BLUE) played a small concert at the Our/Berlin Music Week showcase. The day was unseasonably hot and you could feel the sun beating down on you. Also a perfect day for AZURE BLUE to share his dreamy electro-pop with soft synthesizers. The only minus was that he didn’t manage to capture everyones attention and ended up as background music for most of the people in attendance. That wasn’t his fault, it’s more due to the effect of sun on Northern Europeans and the whole “lounge” vibe of the Our/Berlin Vodka event. He is now touring in Europa and the album release is right around the corner. Absolutely worth waiting for.
Okay, it’s the return of baggy rave. You know, that kind of music bands like HAPPY MONDAYS and others did at the end of the 80s. Of course, that’s oversimplifying: JAGWAR MA‘s debut Howlin is full of more musical surprises. But when these Australians rocked the Astra, you can almost forgot comparison. During the epic finale of The Throw it almost felt like the legendary Manchester nightclub Hacienda was never closed. Quite hypnotic.
This band combines some words we love: garage, DIY and Brooklyn. PARQUET COURTS played an intimate set at Lido Club Thursday and an afternoon set at the BERLIN FESTIVAL on Friday. These Pitchfork darlings won us over when the frontman came out in a ROXY MUSIC t-shirt and proceed to blow us away with heavy guitars and a punk-influenced sound that is what the THE JAM would sound like if they got a modern makeover. Plus, it was from the East Coast! The best part was a crashing intro into Light Up Gold: all the amps on high and that full body rush you get when guitar sounds go full wall.
Yes, yes, much ink and html code has been spilled here at NOTHING BUT HOPE AND PASSION about this talented Dane, but when someone sounds like Ian Curtis blended with synths and electronic tracks, you can’t say enough good things. DINNER always puts on a fantastic live show, crawling out the crowd, pulling a hood up over his head, and generally mesmerizing the audience with a singing style that is both accusatory and confessional. Also, so many of his songs are about women. This set was also part of the Our/Berlin venue, an off-music week spot that ended up being one of the most atmospheric and truly Berlin locations of the whole week.
Canadian electronic trio was a bit of deja vu for us: we saw them at Lido back in June as part of the Introducing series. Thankfully this time around, there were less drunk people talking (although we were shushed!) and BRAIDS was able to play their version of organic electronica, which complements singer Raphaelle’s ethereal and dreamy voice. This band was influenced on their tour for Native Speaker by discovering the entire late nineties Warp Records catalog, they owe a lot to APHEX TWIN. The techno edge is softened by the vocals, and the solid, serious performance the three members gave us. It’s well and truly something different and indescribable.
Article by Kika Jonsson, Ida Marie Tangerås, Norman Fleischer