Summertime! Leagues of smiling Berliners nursing Aperol spritz while children skip through joyfully sputtering fountains. The pick! puck! of outdoor table tennis, and the lolling of a dog trying to cool itself in the shaded grass.
That’s the dream, at least. This year, it’s more likely to be a pack-a-mack hastily shoved into a rucksack just in case and those new white sandals ruined by inclement weather and Berlin’s propensity to flood in a matter of minutes. So, we didn’t get the summer we wanted, but we probably got the summer we deserved: we the wretched indie-goers, the shadow-dwelling shoe-gazers. With that, check out our run-down of some of our favourite gigs this month.
Kantine am Berghain
July 12th 19:30
There’s no better way to kick off our gigs this month than an act that allows you to get your fist-pumping, Bez-dancing action on with full abandon. Peaking Lights are the husband and wife duo that you need in your life. Think Hot Chip with more rave whistles and the laidback vocal stylings of Indra Dunis; Peaking Lights exist in the nexus of pop and psychedelia, dub-inspired beats and no small amount of humour. Prepare your friends for inevitably embarrassing hip shimmies when the bongos kick in with full force.
Vague + Highest Sea
July 13th 20:00
We’ve been big fans of Highest Sea since her album release party back in March. She joins Vague – Vienna’s rocketing indie powerhouse of tightly harmonising guitars and open, splashy overtones – at the intimate and deeply Kreuzberg-esque venue, Monarch. There are colours of The Smiths and and their quietest, Felt, that should have any softly-sweatered indie darlings clutching their book of poems to their chest. Their sound is full, tender and well-crafted: a guaranteed belter show for any indie purists.
After salivating for several minutes over the Melt! Festival lineup, we’ve managed to get ourselves together enough to articulate what has us so excited. Though outside Berlin, we consider the outdoor museum setting near the pretty town of Gräfenhainichen to be well worth the journey. Now in its 20th year, Melt! have put together a stellar host of acts from Die Antwoord and Soulwax to Kate Tempest who recently had crowds in tears at Glastonbury with her scorching take-down of Tory Britain. We’re truly into festival season now, and there’s little sense in punishing yourself by missing out on this German institution. Maybe pack a poncho together with the swimsuit for a dip in the lake though.
July 16th 20:00
Ryan Adams’s Heartbreaker remains a cornerstone of popular Americana. Raw, lyrically astounding and with guest vocals from the likes of Emmylou Harris, Heartbreaker kicked off the world’s love affair with Jacksonville, North Carolina’s most famous son. Adams has an eternally warm stage presence that verges on surprise that he is so deeply and personally adored, and touring this year’s Prisoner – a gloriously abundant album full of rusty guitars and whirling organs – he’s not likely to stop his charm offensive any time soon.
Twin Peaks + Strand Child
Urban Spree (Sommerloft)
July 19th 21:00
Playing Twin Peaks as you totter about the house doing chores, you may be forgiven for thinking that your playlist has accidentally switched over to a Rolling Stones record. Chicago has been churning out burning hot garage-rock bands with stunning regularity in the last few years, and Twin Peaks are no exception. Swelling choruses, dirty but playful guitar, and vocals that are ‘smoking behind the bike shed’ bad-boy cool, Twin Peaks deliver the kind of foot-stompin’, messily chanting rock we love. Support comes from LOLA favourites Strand Child.
July 24th 19:30
Canada, let nobody besmirch your cultural contribution to the world while Broken Social Scene and Feist walk the Earth. Like St. Vincent and Neko Case, Feist has inspired a multitude of women to pick up a guitar and shake up the beard-heavy world of Pitchfork favourites. Uncompromising in her compositions and straying towards the weird and often theatrical, Feist’s sound is constantly moving forward; the throughline her vulnerable yet tough-as-nails voice. If her cool hasn’t been proven enough already, you need only check out her stint on Sesame Street.
YO! SISSY Music Festival 2017
You’ll be hard pushed to find a more vibrant or vital festival than Yo! Sissy. Firework-bright and just as explosive, the festival imports international names like Vitalic while also giving space to local acts like LOLA muso crushes Gurr; all with a focus on female and trans-identified artists. Panels, discussions and even a marketplace with loads of queer businesses round out the two day festival and drive home its unquestionable importance.
The Maggie’s Marchmellows + Voodoo Beach
July 31st 21:00
Finish off the month with some Prague-rock, which – disappointingly – is far more difficult to pun with Prog-rock than you’d imagine. The Maggie’s Marchmellows hit one of Berlin’s sweetest indie venues, Schokoladen, together with luscious dream-poppers, Voodoo Beach. The Czech three-piece’s retro American vibe is simple but compellingly punk, while Voodoo Beach hypnotise with their verbed-out, slow-burning wall of sound.
Check in with the full LOLA Guide for more gigs, events and fun shit to do in Berlin.