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80 artists. 30 locations. 5 days of music. Or, in other words, this week from Wednesday to Sunday the c/o pop Festival once again takes over the city of Cologne in order to bring us spectacular performances all part of a varied and international line-up. Since its foundation in 2004, c/o pop has been constantly and successfully proving that it’s more than a simple replacement of a trade show elder music addicts might remember as Popkomm. Being more than a relic of glory days long gone when Cologne was Germany’s head quarter of the music industry, c/o pop again offers a platform to professionals, international acts, and passionate lovers of indie music. Find the full line-up right here.

What’s so lovely about the event is the line-up incorporating a strong mixture of classic acts and a vast number of young bands relatively new to the music business. All performances take place in beautiful and relevant places such as Gloria Theater, Kölner Philharmonie, and Klaus-von-Bismarck-Saal. Although everybody’s indie darlings The Shins and rave royals Underworld had to cancel their gigs, c/o pop continues to traditionally shine bright in yellow colours – here is why.

1. AaRon

Simon Buret and Oliver Coursier who form the French duo AaRON, meaning Artificial Animals Riding On Neverland, are anything but new to the business. Au contraire, they released their self-titled debut album almost ten years ago. AaRON’s first record and its follow-up Birds in the Storm proved to be hugely successful in France, Belgium, and Switzerland. Right from the start, Buret and Coursiert decided to predominantly sing in English. What’s particularly interesting about the band is their credo to change. In the course of a decade, AaRON have altered and developed their style not only in terms of instrumentation but also when it comes to intonation. On their latest output We Cut the Night, Buret’s voice sounds much more mysterious and dark. This, however, matches the sound of the record whose references to 80s wave pop are undeniably given. Blouson noir, one of their latest singles and to a great extent testament to the change of direction on their third long-player, even features John Malkovich in its accompanying video clip. Still, AaRON have yet remained somewhat unknown in Germany. A few months back, the Institute français Düsseldorf brought the band to Germany for an exclusive show at ZAKK. Now, c/o pop offers you the chance to experience the French duo in an even more familiar and intimate atmosphere at Artheater.

Who: Aaron (France)
Where: Artheater
When: August 24, 9PM
Tickets: 17 EUR

2. SPOT On Denmark with Liss, Wangel, CHINAH, and Lowly

One great thing about c/o pop Festival is that although you might be a passionate indie listener digging deep in the field of unknown or yet to be hyped bands you might discover some really good stuff that’s not been on your cards so far. Chances are that LISS, WANGEL, CHINAH and LOWLY all belong to that category. All artists mentioned above originate from Denmark and reside at Artheater in Ehrenfeld to play sets of exact 30 minutes. SPOT On Denmark does not care about genres, it’s about good music and so you get plenty of styles you’d like to listen to within two hours at a small, intimate location that allows you to feel closely connected to the artists on stage. LISS is a young boy band who released their latest and first EP entitled First in May this year. First includes strong electronic beats and summer vibes as in the EP’s most immediate song, Miles Apart. Second of the line-up, WANGEL, is a songwriter with an impressive voice who is best known for his track Seoul. We strongly recommend you to listen to the latest addition to WANGEL‘s discography, that is a Mouthe remix of said single Seoul, only released last week via Spotify. CHINAH, number three in the line-up, does electronic music with sweet female vocals. CHINAH have been caught some attention with their atmospheric single Colder and the Jarami Remix of We Go Back. LOWLY, being the last of the four bands to show up that night, released a series of experimental pop singles that latest of which is Deer Eyes. Deer Eyes shows a band that is not afraid to combine complex harmonies with a catchy chorus, held together by the ever so lovely and crystal clear voice of the band’s talented singer.

What: SPOT On Denmark
Who: Liss, Wangel, CHINAH, Lowly
Where: Artheater
When: August 25, 7PM
Tickets: Free entry

3. Dutch Impact Party with Bombay, Pauw, and Rats On Rafts

 The Friday of c/o pop Festival starts early at 6PM if you’d like to attend the Dutch Impact Party at, once again, the lovely Artheater. Being conceptually equal to SPOT On Denmark, Dutch Impact present you with the best new and emerging Dutch acts from The Netherlands. The event basically includes three bands the first of which, BOMBAY, sounds like the next big thing promoted by the NME. 2016 indie rock singles Bleach and Gold Rush are reminiscent of THE RAVEONETTES and include distorted guitars, a catchy melody as well as an effective chorus. PAUW, on the other hand, are a bit more psychedelic and not afraid to release singles lasting longer than six minutes (Shambhala). Friends and listeners of THE DANDY WARHOL or, to mention something more up to date, ORACLES will surely like their stuff. Last but not least, RATS ON RAFTS play an impressive mixture of new wave, pop, and funk and have just released their new single Sleep Little Links 2 3 4. On this particular single, the band decidedly intonates the song in their mother tongue. If you like it loud and are into post punk, RATS ON RAFTS might be your kind of choice on that early Friday night

What: Dutch Impact Party
Who: Bombay, Pauw, Rats On Rafts
Where: Artheater
When: August 26, 6PM
Tickets: Free entry

‘Super Samstag’ with Der Ringer and plenty of other acts

 Good news is that c/o pop offers you plenty of free gigs at various locations such as Artheater. However, c/o pop Saturday turns out to be somewhat special as there are free concerts from 4PM up to 10PM all around Belgisches Viertel, Stadtgarten and Hans-Böckler-Platz. It’s called ‘Super Samstag’ and, to cut things short, some of the most promising bands of North Rhine-Westphalia will be playing that day, two of which are electronic duo VIMES and THE NOTWIST’s brother-in-law WYOMING. Also, Berlin-based dream funk boys STILL PARADE will pay the festival a visit. Headlining the event, however, will some familiar faces of NBHAP: Making their way down south from Hamburg, soft punk boys DER RINGER will perform live at Radfieber from 7:15PM up to 8PM. During the course of several years, the band has been constantly working on and developing their sound and released two Eps, Das Königreich liegt unter uns and Glücklich, to date. Back in June we wrote about DER RINGER:

“Whereas the debut EP featured guitar-led indie pop songs with metaphoric lyrics keeping an eye on social processes, their second collection of tracks shows a grown band with a focussed and progressed sound that effectively oscillates between fast and slow sound patterns, combining soft electronic elements with rough drums and supporting guitar play. Thematically, the songs deal with how the digital age influences the perception of ourselves and how we interact with our fellow beings. Rather exceptional is Schneider’s vocal performance: slightly alienated and dark in character, his voice lies like a gloomy shadow over the band’s atmospheric play“.

 So, watch out for these guys. It’s gonna be intense.

What: Super Samstag
Who: Der Ringer and plenty of other acts
Where: Belgisches Viertel/ Stadtgarten/ Hans-Böckler-Platz
When: August 27, from 4PM-10PM
Tickets: Free entry to all gigs

POP-NRW-Abend with Giant Rooks, I Am Jerry, Vimes + special guest

Saturday of c/o pop Festival ends with the so-called POP-NRW-Abend. As opposed to the program spread over the day, the bands playing that night all originate from North Rhine Westphalia. Besides I AM JERRY and electronic darlings VIMES showing up, talented art pop gang GIANT ROOKS from Hamm will come over in order to play one of their numerous summer shows. I recently saw the band playing in Düsseldorf a few weeks ago, what we might expect here is plenty of new songs among fan favourites and soon-to-be classics such as Småland and Chapels. On top of that, a secret and therefore yet unknown act will perform right after GIANT ROOKS. Who is it gonna be? Meet us at POP-NRW-Abend and let’s find out together.

What: POP-NRW-Abend
Who: Giant Rooks, I Am Jerry, Vimes, special guest
Where: Stadtgarten
When: August 27, 8PM
Tickets: Free entry

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