What’s that sound? The hiss of thousands of beers being opened in parks across Berlin? March is here and with it comes the lightness of being one can only achieve by wearing less than five layers of clothing.
A few optimistic wildflowers are pushing their heads out of the ground, and if the racket outside my window is anything to go by, randy crows are fully aware spring has sprung (if you know what I mean). Winter was relatively kind to us, and with the turn in the weather the revellers of Berlin are stepping sleepy-eyed into the sun. Now, we invite them to about-face, step back out of the sun and into one of Berlin’s finest live music establishments. Here’s our round-up of some of our favourite gigs this month.
Plattenbau / Mother of the Unicorn / Uma’s Only Friend + DJs
March 1st, 20:00
We’ve been circling Plattenbau for a while for our gig guide and this month we finally have the chance to push their brooding, sullen-voiced sound as they play IPA Bar. The Berlin based three-piece’s dark, droning tones may have you reaching for the nearest The Cure album to warm up before their set. They are joined by Mother of the Unicorn, who made our top ten indie releases of 2016 and whose live set is sublime, not least because you get to see a stoic-faced Frenchman go mental on a snare drum. Uma’s Only Friend and DJs round out the set.
Comprised of members from the UK, Ireland and Berlin, HAWK bring drama in no short order to Mitte with choppy, alt-rock guitars and heavenly vocals that warble and cut in equal measure, recalling nineties Irish rockers, Sheer. Support comes from berlin band, Bikini Jesus whose heavily chorused guitars and earnest vocals provide a more than fitting opener.
Schrippe Hawaii became one of our favourite party spots after February’s Highest Sea album launch. Those hula-ing reprobates are at it again with a loft party that promises a night of throwback house music and techno from Berlin label, Smile For A While. Russian duo, Quadrakey’s slinky, stylish mixes are the perfect way to kick off your Saturday night, while Jana Falcon & Mr Fonk’s poppier set will have you shuffling through the venue’s two shebeen-like rooms.
Here’s a lifetime LOLA guarantee from us to you: You will not see another artist like Mary Ocher in this city or any other. Brave, bare, and deeply compelling, Ocher takes her extraordinary mix of folk and psychedelia to another level with her new album The West Against the People. Drums spill over each other, organs drone eerily, and Mary’s voice howls, chirps and croons with near spiritual zeal. If her recently released live videos are any indication, you’re in for a performance that transcends the ordinary on every imaginable spectrum.
The Sonnenbergs Record Release Extravaganza with Mincer Ray
March 11th, 21:00
The Sonnenbergs missed their February release party due to illness sadly, but like a daffodil pushing its head through the frigid Berlin soil they are here again to celebrate their new record. Rockabilly overtones with song titles that read like possible Tarantino movie titles, The Sonnenbergs play Kreuzberg’s Cortina Bob. Support comes from Mincer Ray who lay on one of the most expressive sets you’re likely to find in this town: buckets of charm, Pavement-like vibes, and impressive falsettos from their their twinkly-eyed frontman. What more could you want?
Pop rock from the sunshine state pays us a visit in the form of Surfer Blood. Formed in 2009 the band made waves (we’re sorry) with their debut single ‘Swim’; featured in Pitchfork’s best 100 songs of the year. Now touring their new album Snowdonia, Surfer Blood’s simple, kitschy pop should have you bopping along like an extra from Happy Days. Support comes from Dutch garage rock outfit, Pip Blom.
Wife / Wreck & Reference / Some Ember / Sid & Eddy
March 12th, 21:00
Bei Ruth abandoned us this winter but the venue returns March 12th with a suitably lo-fi lineup to ease us back in. Irishman, James Kelly masterminds Wife; a laidback fare of gently ebbing beats and soft guitar tones while Wreck and Reference’s wintry art-rock establishes a darker mood. Somber Ember round out the set with tunes that could easily have been lifted straight off a James Carpenter soundtrack, while DJs Sid & Eddy close out the night.
They broke our hearts with ‘For the Damaged Coda’ at the end of Rick and Morty, Season One, and now they’re here to do it in person. Producing some of the darkest, sexiest indie since their self-titled debut in the mid-nineties, 2014’s Barragán showcases Kazu Makino’s hypnotic vocals and all the requisite bleeps and bloops we’ve grown to expect from the New York-based three-piece. Blonde Redhead play Columbia Theatre on St Patrick’s Day, providing a safe-haven from marauding wannabe Irish celebrants across the city.
‘Cause I’ve been waiting on you,’ croons burly Baltimore frontman, Samuel T Herring on 2014’s massively popular ‘Seasons (Waiting On You)’ thus providing an apt soundtrack for our March gig guide. If you haven’t seen Herring’s live theatrics, which range from impassioned chest-thumping to shimmying across the stage like an enraged crab, then where have you been for three years? Far from a one-trick pony, Future Islands’s catalogue is so gloriously danceable you may find yourself an unwilling imitator of Herring’s signature moves.
Not convinced you cheeky scamps journeyed to Wedding to see the last Nunofyrbeeswax show we featured, we’ve kindly highlighted them again as an absolute must-see Berlin indie band. Dirty guitars, wailing vocals and catchy tunes are second nature to this duo, who will soon set off on a tour of the UK. Plying synthy, lo-fi pop in the line of Beach House and Blonde Redhead, Nearest Gas Station also join the bill at IPA Bar’s recurring live night, Bands and Brews.