I’ve been to Berlin before, but at the time I wasn’t so into art and music so I didn’t really get to experience the city for it’s full potential and yes, I feel like an idiot for that now. Having recently graduated, I decided to join the bands of other jobless grads in doing nothing with their lives and made the decision to move out here for a couple of months. Don’t be too jealous.
During my first week here I went on an adventure in the heart of Neukölln to find a restaurant come art space called Agora that was taking part in the cities Project Space Festival this month, a festival that takes in a different independent artist led space each day all the way through August. After arriving at what was supposed to be the destination, all I was confronted with was a pretty normal looking block of flats. Not being the best German speaker, I wasn’t really too comfortable about just walking into someone’s home, but I took the plunge and ended up stumbling into a cosy looking courtyard that opened up into an orchard, with a once abandoned warehouse sat in the middle of it – that housed Agora.
An afternoon of locally brewed beer and performance art in the sun ensued, but only after I was encouraged to explore the warehouse whilst making a racket with a thin piece of aluminium as if I was Rolf Harris (although I’m not because he’s a terrible person).
Party wise, I think I might have taken the safe route without really realizing it this week. On both Thursday and Saturday I headed over to Gretchen for two completely different parties. The Thursday night saw XXYYXX and Dream Koala heading the bill. I must admit I wasn’t quite sure what to expect- both artists are better known for their ambient and experimental work, but I was hoping that with a dance floor in front of them they might step it up a notch. Unfortunately I was wrong, not that this was necessarily a bad thing. Despite the dance floor being packed from front to the back, the beautifully ambient self-produced pop of Dream Koala and his new album ‘Earth. Home. Destroyed.’ was barely getting a leg jigging in the too-hip-to-dance crowd.
This problem was soon forgotten however, once I’d found the pocket of real people swaying away to the melodic vocals and subdued hip-hop beats by the stacks, and even more so upon the arrival of XXYYXX to the decks and German vodka to my system. XXYYXX (I’ll never really understand the reason for such a name but whatever…) managed to bring a bit of energy to the seemingly lackluster crowd and soon enough the cavernous arches of Gretchen were rumbling with bass and everyone finally threw their hipster inhibitions out the window.
After some recovery time and street market goodness I jumped on the U-Bahn to Gretchen once again on Saturday night (for a mere pittance compared to the overpriced joke that is London Underground). One of the first things I noticed when I got here was how cheap everything was in comparison to back home. I could afford to bathe in Ice Tea if I wanted too. And I’m not even rich. Anyway, Saturday night held a completely different vibe, mainly due to the almost polar opposites in genre. Critical Records head-honcho Kasra and his worthy steeds Mefjus and Phace provided everyone with their fill of hyped-up d'n'b all night long. Unusually, Kasra seemed to hold back his usual style of dark, rolling basslines and opted for a more lively and uplifting set, readying us for what Mefjus had to offer once he stepped up to the plate. I think it’s been a while since I’ve spent a full hour and a half listening to a set without a fresh air/leg rest break somewhere in the middle. Mefjus’ set was pure, 3 deck energy from start to finish. Mefjus was kind enough to give me a couple of names of tracks by himself and Icicle, however neither of them have been released yet so I can’t really tell you much more other than you should look out for them in the future. I remember this being played though, I think. It could have been something else that sounded similar but you get the idea.
The hour and a half sets meant Phace didn't come on until sometime around 4.30 (which is late by us petty Englishman standards) and I was absolutely shattered. I'm obviously yet to get used to the different best-time-to-go-out over here. I hung around jigging my legs to the bouncy Neurofunk, trying to stay awake until I heard something I recognised that I could tell you guys about, which turned out to be his banging latest release, produced alongside Misanthrop:
Hold tight 'til next week for more art ramblings and club action…
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