Berlin Festival Day 2

Jemma concludes her Berlin Festival experience by discovering her new favourite band:

As day two rolled in, I had the customary brain mush functionality and was preoccupied with trying to remember how and when I got home last night. So, as I shuffled around aimlessly, I decided to settle for the closest stage upon my arrival, which turned out to be one of the most confusing sets I’ve witnessed in my entire life. Basically Cro is this sort of bad-ass juvenile delinquent kid who wears a panda mask, raps poorly over either his band’s disjointed ear trash beats or somebody else’s entire – completely un-remixed – raw songs, using anything from Iggy Pop’s The Passenger to Aloe Blacc’s I Need A Dollar. I don’t know… in my mind that pretty much equates him to the musical talent of a bratty newt. But the crowd fucking loved it? And maybe it was just my hungover delirium but for moments there I noticed myself bopping along too. I think it was just so awful that it was entertaining. You are going to have to check it out to believe it.

Django Django (pictured, top) have a pretty good rep in my world back home as being those radical psychedelic indie nerds from Great Britain who you can’t help but love and adore. Today’s almost hour-long set enhanced that reputation twofold. They presented themselves on stage with all matching maroon and purple tie-die shirts and relentless smiles, looking like a pack of sci-fi geeks on the way to a comic book convention. Immediately they got their audience twisting and jiving along with them to Hail Bob, Storm and Firewater. The instrumental Skies Over Cairo also proved a slow-burning hit, exhibiting the band’s weird and technically magnificent musicianship.

Bonaparte are my new favourite band and have cemented my reasoning for moving to Berlin, because if there are artists this fucking awesome coming out of this city I can’t imagine ever going home. We were introduced to them with a churning Kasabian-ish riff of their latest single Quarantine as Tobias Jundt sings “I’ve made one mistake in my life/I should have burned Berlin down.” Witnessing these guys is like being on the best acid trip of your life whilst at the circus but minus the need for any substance. In amongst the hundred costume changes and more than 20 onstage performance artists, there was a creepy-as-hell oversized baby, computers going down on each other and naked chicks and dudes wresting, but that’s only a quarter of the madness that ensued! The best thing about this set is the fact is that the visual spectacular – even though it was probably the best I’ve ever seen – did not outweigh the quality of the music. This is largely because of Jundt’s ingenious lyrics, which translate like hilarious graphic novels. Anti Anti, the brilliantly satirical Computer in Love and everyone’s favourite that will stay in your head forever, Too Much, were just a few of the constant number of musical gems that blasted out. In a way I wish more bands were like Bonaparte, because they are clearly one band who aren’t too lazy or arrogant to understand the multifaceted dynamics that go into an unbeatable live show. Your new bucket list… see Bonaparte live!

As the sun went down, out came Friendly Fires to exert their own brand of flamboyant indie-electro bliss through the course of our Bonaparte comedown. The lead singer’s dance moves were enough of a spectacle as he wiggled like a deranged Danny Zuko on heat in between delivering their euphoric electro-pop tunes, lifting the hearts of the extremely dense crowd to the sky (or at least the ones whose drugs hadn’t already done that for them already). On a different note, Pala from their most recent release was my favourite, exhibiting a contrast to the Englishmen’s slower and cooler RnB edge.

SBTRKT was the closing act at the Templehof for me and what a perfect way seal my born-again status in terms of music sensibility. SBTRKT’s almost full-time live collaborator, Sampah, fronted the stage as usual for his more modest and private collaborator, providing his soothing vocal loops and keyboards. But it’s the way SBTRKT himself orchestrates these incredible stomach-dropping beats that really drew the audience in and left me in a complete state of awe once again. The set finished with the spine tinglingly good Right Thing To Do, where we all pretty much lost our minds and limbs in the eruption.

Overall, Berlin Festival, you did a mighty fine job. My only leftover feeling was that I wish it didn’t have to end.


Words and pictures by Jemma Cole. See more photos from The Berlin Festival at our Facebook page and check Jemma’s review of Day One here to see which female artist she loved and which she really, really didn’t.