Live Review: Berlin Festival Day Two

is tropical’s Jemma Cole managed to battle through her raging hangover in order to review the closing day of the Berlin Festival:

Right on schedule I rolled out of bed at my usual post-Friday night’s failed attempt at taking it easy around 4pm. Which meant getting to Tempelhof feeling like a little green man just in time to see London’s regurgitation of typical boy-indie-electro-rock, Is Tropical (pictured above).

Needless to say Is Tropical are nothing to get overly excited over about, as we have seen and heard it before. More specifically like 12 years ago when this type of music held some ground in novelty. But I concede it seems that they do serve a purpose. Particularly in this sort of festival setting; as their music is generically danceable enough and sports enough hummable hooks to enable the slightly beer buzzed demographic to mumble along and pretend they know every second song and let the good times roll on….

Quite fittingly next I stumbled across White Lies which took me back to probably one of the last times I fell for a ‘new’ UK indie guitar outfit. I only had a short window before the next more contemporously buzzed out band was to start. Thankfully the slight nostalgic sentiment I had for 2009’s Lose My Life met a comfy quota as they still seem to be cashing in on the dark-edged post-punk gold 4 years later.

Intrigue and butterflies in the face of something a little more fresh was restored post punk goth girl band Savages. Their 45 minutes of blistering sound and noisy guitars was absolutely bewitching. In particular frontwoman Jehnny Beth commands the attention of her startled audience as she stalks up and down and beautifully bellows her ferrous yet tuneful lyrical curses. I admit their sound is derivative of their genre’s masters such as Birthday Party, Bauhaus and Joy Division, but as you witness them in the flesh you realise this quartet of scary looking chicks have enough conviction and talent to make it their own. No Face ripped in turbulently as it should as well as Shut up. But it was the end of the set when Jehnny Beth announced her scornful ode to all those Fuckers out there who ever got you down that stayed with me the most. The closer being the perfectly satanic vocalised spiral around the sturdy bass and drum roll to unleash Gemma Thompson’s exquisite guitar vortexs, making your head spin for the closing moments just once more.

Turning down an even darker and crushingly loud corner was My Bloody Valentine. They delivered what they have scored their legendary accolade for as a bridging between noise and pop songwriting and incarnated most of it to a bone crushingly immense wall of sound. I don’t know whether it was my aggressive hangover or if this wall was just so fucking intense but after 25 minutes of this I felt the colossal wall was seemingly unchanging and I couldn’t discern song changes. Due to this confronting perpetuation of distortion I began to feel a little light headed and bowed out early, sort of knowing – perhaps despite some visualisation changes – I had kind of seen it all.

At this point I realised it would be a good time to refuel as, after four days straight of minimal sleep and maximum YOLO, I began feeling like I was walking on a boat until I walked past and discovered Dillion. Catching a part of her set was a pleasant surprise as her sound was soothing sort of like Berlin’s version of early and lovely Lykee Li.

Fellow Something You Said reviewer Carol and I gathered ourselves calmly and pieced together all our remaining morsels of strength as we knew we were about to1236980_10151824527891460_408020310_n witness most certainly the highlight of all the acts during Berlin Music Week. Yes, it was the Icelandic sub-human of creativity Bjork (pictured right). As the pint-sized artist casually strolled on stage everyone gasped instantaneously as herself and her fellow Islandic onstage dancing spirits trumped any costume statements that were previously made by the Pet Shop Boys. The set started eerily with Cosmongogy and from there progressed perfectly through levels extremity building up to the final third of the set that ignited vicious proportions of mindblowingness. Everything from the visuals of nature and its gory decay, to lighting conductor cage which hung three metres above the 5’4 neon yellow performing centre piece, her naturalistic dancers and the pyrotechnics was all out of this world and I can honest say one of the most holistically artistic performances I’ve ever witnessed. And all this time she managed to not seem one iota contrived. Crystalline as well as Army of Me, Hyperballad and her explosive encore Declare Independence were highlights amongst the magnum opus.

Needless to say after that Carol and I were literally screaming at each other incomprehensible sentences of awe and anything after seemed like a cruel downer of musical performance. What was worse was that the next act was actually legitimately tragic. Klaxons. Yes it’s true they are still around, and shamelessly clutching on to their five minutes of fame when they were the ‘pioneers of nu-rave’. They played all the same songs they played back in 2007 like it was still 2006 and anyone really gave a fuck.

It appeared to be the perfect shock to let me see beyond the climax of the weekend and the last act of the festival Patha Du Prince turned out to be the optimal comedown to the night on the Pitchfork Stage. The hour-long set reinvigorated our last mustering of boogie and we walked home being like, ‘Fuck…. Why can’t we do that all over again?’

jemma cole
Words by Jemma Cole. Photos by Carol Bowditch, apart from the Bjork image, which was taken from here. Read Carol’s review of Day One here.