Hundreds of bands, 45.000 visitors, 5.000 professionals, countless showcases, receptions and panels, often combined with free beer and food – yeah, the Reeperbahn Festival can indeed be a stressful experience. But that’s what also marks its fascination, right? The constant sleep deprivation and overstimulation that sees music professionals clash with St Pauli’s usual party tourists remains a truly unique event experience we’ve been digging for a few years now. And although the festival hangover makes you regret the whole thing on the Monday afterwards we can’t help but returning again and again.
Once again, Reeperbahn Festival 2018 was packed with a looooot of things. We were hosting our own stage at the beloved St. Pauli church once again, brought our ‘Palms & Circumstances’ show live to the stage (more on that later), Muse made a surprise appearance (but we skipped that), drinks have been spilled and the streets were flooded with all kinds of different people. However, to make a critical note right here as well: We think that Reeperbahn Festival has now officially reached its peak in terms of capacity and programme. There’s simply too much going on simultaneously. Award ceremonies, panels, workshops, business meetings and of course all the concerts. It’s getting harder and harder to follow all the offerings and partly also to get into the shows (what’s the point in appearing 40 minutes prior to the Metronomy show and still not getting into the event’s biggest indoor venue?). The whole ‘more and more’ spirit that wants the festival to follow the capitalistic order of endless growth isn’t a healthy one.
To cut a long story short: Dear, Reeperbahn Festival, we really love you but please hit the brakes for a bit and invest in quality instead of quantity.
That might be even wiser for the audience experience. Despite that we really saw mesmerizing new musical talents that give us hope for the future of the scene. These have been our ten favourites this year.
One band we’ve already had on our radar is the Cardiff four piece Boy Azooga, fronted by Davey Newington. They play one of the final sets at Molotow on Thursday evening with a compact set of only half-an-hour, packed only with guitar and drum-heavy jams. With tracks such as Loner Boogie, Jerry or Face Behind Her Cigarette they confirm that their in June released debut 1,2, Kung Fu is THE best newcomer album of the year. Be ready to see them playing the big festivals next year. (Louisa Zimmer)
Amyl And The Sniffers
There’s been a label fight on who’s about to sign Amyl And The Sniffers, probably the most hyped punk band in the world right now. One day before their set it was confirmed that Rough Trade eventually closed the deal. And it was a wise decision for the mighty London label: Front girl Amy bends and throws down on the stage and goes into the moshpit during the first two songs. Their live set is even more energetic than on record and draws everyone in the audience in. This must’ve been the most energetic and eccentric performance of Reeperbahn this year and we’re sure that we’ll hear even more from Amy and her gang’s country rock when they’ll release their debut album in early 2019. (Louisa Zimmer)
Rosemary & Garlic
2018 has been a crucial year for Dutch folk band Rosemary & Garlic. Dolf Smolenaers, 50 percent of the former duo left the project leaving singer Anne van den Hoogen with an uncertain future. Well, that might have been just a temporary problem as the distinctive singer and her fellow musicians are destined to keep the show on the road. And judging from their performance at the St. Pauli church this road will be a long and successful one. In a fairy-like performance van den Hoogen and her band turn these tender songs into mind-blowing cinematic experiences that silenced an entire audience right befure bursting out into a frenetic applause. That was goosebump material I surely didn’t expect. What a pleasant surprise that will hopefull cross your way soon as well. (Norman Fleischer)
Needless to say that a small club like Grünspan is not nearly spacious enough for the appeal of this great Swedish duo. So when we arrived, we ended up waiting outside for people to get out, resulting in a little shortened concert experience. But it was worth it. Nelly Daltrey und Tuva Lodmark brought the flawless sound of their second album Devotion on the small stage like it was the easiest thing to do. Which it was definitely not: A sold out show, too much heat, too little air but these two still juiced up their Warpaint-sound with a little more fuzz and speed. Keep an eye out for Pale Honey! (Henning Grabow)
There’s been quite some hype surrounding the London venue and pub Brixton Windmill recently, being the orbit of bands such as Fat White Family and new darlings such as Shame, Goat Girl or Sorry. Another addition to the society are Black Midi, who have been crowned ‘the best band life band in London’ by their friends Shame. And there’s not much information only about the four-piece, with only one track online on Soundcloud. At Reeperbahn, they play the opening day at the crowded Molotow SkyBar. It’s a sweaty set full of crafted noiserock songs. It’s hard to believe that the band just hit the legal age. Their set showed that Black Midi might not just be the best live band in London, but also the youngest and most crafted rock band around. (Louisa Zimmer)
The Welsh band seemed like they wanted to hide from curious looks, as the Molotow was completely covered in thick smoke during one of our last shows at this year’s Reeperbahn Festival. It kind of fitted the mood: An energetic show, a very tight sound and the haziness of the smokey scene all resulted in a blurry but memorable performance. Estrons were able to revive the last few energy resources in everyone and judging from how professional they did that, it’s easy to assume that we will see and hear from them again pretty soon. (Henning Grabow)
Releases back in April, Beacon by Montreal-based artist Tess Roby has been a real hidden musical treasure Floating on dreamy and minimalistic electronica this mesmerizing tribute to her late father which passed away in 2015 surely deserves a bit more attention. Reeperbahn Festival hopefully helped with that as it showed this wonderful artist and her simplistic yet very captivating little song gems in all of their glory. Supported by her brother Eliot on guitar the ethereal electro pop of Roby hypnotized a small but dedicated following. Lovers of Kate Bush, Glasser and Poliça should have this young lady on their radar by now. Everyone else is obviously invtited to join them as well, of course. (Norman Fleischer)
The Netherland reception at Reeperbahn Festival proved how many great bands from the Netherlands are out there. One band that particularly catched our attention was the young four-piece Pip Blom from Amsterdam, fronted by singer Pip. At their early set at Molotow club they deliver catchy sing-a-long indie anthems. Their live appearance is both feisty and charming, something they’ll probably also deliver on their debut (released next year). (Louisa Zimmer)
Get Well Soon
Every festival has its one big moment in which you’re just too tired to resist its greatness and critizice it. German art pop darlings Get Well Soon delivered one of those moments in the festival’s most impressive venue: The St. Michaelis church, the biggest one in Hamburg. The band brought their new record The Horror to stage with a big band set-up including a horn section and every guest vocalist of the record: Sam Vance-Law, Kat Frankie, Ghalia Benali; all of them made this kind of megalomaniac performance still feel like a family get-together. A notion to which the father of singer Konstantin Gropper added another layer when he started playing the huge main organ by himself. It was a mixture of intimacy and grandeur, perfectly balanced out in sound that proved: Few German artists are at a level to put up a show like that. Hats off. (Henning Grabow)
During these days of Reeperbahn Festival in which you witness so many bands that might have made their first bigger steps in the business but still come off as pretty young/ruffian/rookie/excited, you come to love performances like the one of S. Carey in the fancy Mojo Club on late Thursday. The minute you entered the room you were wallowed in a gentle, calming, perfect sound, created by some extremely skilled musicians. And we don’t have to tell you that we’re big fans of Mr. Carey’s current record Hundred Acres. He presented its delicate tunes effortless, managing to come off as a laid-back, focused but also humorous guy. It was a joy to witness.(Henning Grabow)