Monday, September 20, 2010

Berlin Festival - Day Two Review

Arriving at the festival in the early afternoon, I had a chance explore a bit more of the venue. Although small, only 3 main stages, yesterday I had neglected to even step foot in hanger 5. After looking around I headed to main stage assuming (a festival like this, a 4ish time slot and being ON said stage) whoever is up next would be a sure bet.

Far from it!

Gang of Four are an old school, post punk band from Leeds, England. While the actual sound of their politically motivated songs was something I can see people getting into, there performance was not. This set was up there with the worst I have ever seen. Lead singer Jon King roamed across the stage like a cocky wanker, shirt open and acting as if he was 30 years younger and actually attractive. Trying to ramp up the audience the man stumbled about as if he was off chops (but perhaps this was his style), either way it was a non-event. Guitarist Andy Gill was no better. His dance moves and playing style looked staged; overly thought out; unnatural and made him awkward watch. Gang Of Four were ill suited to the festival line up and clearly unappreciated by the majority of the audience.

Finally exploring the smaller of the three mains, Hanger 5, I accidentally stumbled across The Morning Benders - a band who’s album I will be sinking my teeth into. 

Fresh from the sunny shores of California, TMB made waves on Saturday at Berlin Festival with their dreamy indie pop tunes. Having supported acts like Broken Bells, The Kooks and Grizzly Bear, the quartet have released two albums and are soon working on a third. Taking a nod to Death Cab for Cutie, The Morning Benders seem to draw much inspiration from the alluring, soft charm of singer Ben Gibbard.

With a strong stage presence, frontman Chris Chu was thoroughly enjoyable to watch, expressing to the crowd their love of Berlin and promising to be back soon. Doesn’t help us though, right? Well, happy to say the guys will playing Falls Festival, Southbound and Sunset Sounds over new years, so if you have a chance check em’ out.

Back to the main stage for festival legends and remix veterans – Soulwax! Entering the stage dressed as if about to take their high school sweethearts to a 70’s prom, the electro-rock quartet were amazing.

(Photo by StereoDan)

With over a decade of music up their sleeves, Soulwax’s set was thick with hits, although many remixed to such an extent that it hardly sounded like the original. The live versions showcased less of the vocal hooks but more the epic festival breakdowns and a much heavier electro beat. E Talking and Miserable Girl were crowd favourites, dropping just as the sun was setting over Tempelhof airport.

Up next Alex Ridha a.k.a. Boys Noize, who played an impossibly heavy and long set. Half way though, all though out the main hanger, people began dropping to their knees. Apparently it’s common across European festivals but I had never it before, never the less I go down too. People remained on their knees (with the odd person standing to film it) for a few minutes. And as the cheers built, so did the music until people were on their feet and the track finally dropped. The response was monstrous. 

(Photo by Stereodan)
Having pulled out some massive tracks early on, by the time Boys Noize drew to a finish the dancing had eased up. Didn’t expect to see this from the Germans. Despite being famous for, among other things, partying for days on end, the crowd actually seemed over this set by the end.

Following a flooring performance at Parklife a few years back, I was compelled to check out Peaches, and with a line that read “Peaches Lazer Show” on the timetable, I needed to witness this. Don’t get me wrong, the lazers were wicked to watch, but having such an elaborate visual masterpiece apparently gave Peaches licence bring nothing to the table herself. The electronic artist, known for her sexually overt lyrics and dominating “pussy power” persona, stood almost deadly still against a wall of coloured lazers. To top it off the sound in hanger 4 was not doing the Canadian performer justice, so I left after 2 tracks in search of something more satisfying.

(Photo by Stereodan)

This hunt ended with a beer, dinner and Hot Chip. Despite having seen them countless times before, they were, as always, infectiously danceable.

(Photo by Stereodan)

Berlin Festival day two was pretty average, although seeing some stellar performances, the early close made a huge difference on the vibe and at 11.30 people were dribbling out of the venue clearly disappointed.

Post by Bec Clark 

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