Fuck the Pullis! 15 Jahre Audiolith Blockparty (Hamburg): Review

J.N. June 19, 2018

For a music brand that is all about innovative sounds, Hamburg based record label Audiolith deservedly celebrated 15 years as one of the major influential German labels on the electronic scenes, in particular the electro-punk scene – and they love to celebrate their birthdays big!

In a summer hot afternoon in Hamburg Messed!Up’s editor and magazine photographer Teresa strolled down the street from Sternschanze u-bahn station to start the Blockparty day with a few sessions of bingo (can anyone explain to me why Germans love bingo? Third time in a month) and some free Mexicaner – cheers mate – while label boss Lars was spinning the tombola.

At Schanzenzelt the Audiolith celebration unfolded as a blockparty entailing four German hip top acts; a few hours before the festival Messed!Up also interviewed album debuting artist DiscoCtrl (see interview). Added to DiscoCtrl in the lineup were also Haszcara, collaborating MC’s Pöbel MC and Milli Dance WTG, and local (well, nationally reputed) hip hop act Neonschwarz.

However, the day started off in furiously speeded-up bingo sessions mixed with free Mexicaner shots to get the crowd in party mode. It’s a perfect start in the tropical climate that has plagued Hamburg for days. In fact, the temperature in the festival tent during daytime when we visited DiscoCtrl reminded me of the sauna days I had in Helsinki a few years ago, and label boss Lars even had to drench his t-shirt in water just to stand the heat (do I even need to explain my stupid choice of wearing stretchjeans?). Therefore, starting off in the amphitheater-like area in front of the tent two hours before DiscoCtrl made the first show of the night was a good choice, especially to cool down with a few beers and just look at the hysteric bingo much to the amusement of two non-German speaking dudes – hilarious!

The fear of ending up in a sauna at the first gig was uncalled for. DiscoCtrl sneaked onstage but with few people in the tent. Most of those arriving early to Schanzenzelt preferred to stay a few more minutes in the park to cool down with a beer (and the main share of the crowd actually didn’t turn up until much later). Their loss I would say because DiscoCtrl isn’t “typical” German hip hop. The influences of the American hip hop scene in general and the “Dirty South” in particular because of his years roots in Austin, have made its imprint on his productions and remind me of Houston rapper DJ Screw with bits and pieces of early S.L.A.B. rather than hip hop on the German scene.

It is also clear that his attitude together with the simple fact that his productions is built on English lyrics makes the future more promising. However, the scene is too big to fill up for a solo artist and I would love to see Disco in a small club with a DJ behind the decks just like during the days in ImageCtrl (yeah, laptops are boring and not so hip hoppy). I’m quite sure that something bigger will happen after the release of his debut album “Midnight” in mid-June, something that might take him out of Germany and back to Austin?  

After a short break, a Fritz Cola (no, we are not sponsored) and a long explanation about the best German football players since the eighties (apparently Rummenigge is king) by a friendly but quite beer drunk German dude already at seven p.m., it was time for Haszcara. This is also the start of the German-rapping hip hop meaning it lose some value to me since my German is quite poor, and instead of finding a message I had to focus on harmonies and performance.

Haszcara on stage brings back memories of Swedish female hip hop artists as Lilla Namo and, in particular, Linda Pira, thus bringing forward that sort of attitude that makes most female rappers today to outcompete their male compadres by far. At least we’ve seen that among Swedish female rappers taking over the scene the recent years in some sort of female music revolution – and I love it! Haszcara goes down well and after half her set the crowd start to get bigger and literally contribute to raise the temperature in the tent.

We left before the show was over though since the local cuisine drew our attention and set off for something to eat and to plan for the rest of the night. However, once again I was very fortunate to hear more about the best German football players and this time with two beer drunk German guys – the first dude brought in a friend. It was just bad luck that Pöbel MC and Milli Dance WTG interrupted the lecture and we hastily had to return to the stage – just to discover a full house!

Pöbel MC and Milli Dance WTG sped up the tempo on stage a few levels. Not that DiscoCtrl and Haszcara were boring – not at all – but the Pöbel/Milli beats brought back memories of my hip hop heroes of the eighties/early nineties as Cypress Hill, in particular in beats-driven tracks like “Pöbel & Dance” – would’ve been a massive hit back in the days!

The sad thing is that I couldn’t stand the heat in the crowd and had to leave for a few songs, get back in there but had to leave once more (yeah, let’s get back to the stupidity of wearing tight stretchjeans in tropical temperatures and high humidity – just like getting circumcised by the drunken football dude. Kids, don’t wear ‘em, they’re lethal!). In fact, in this very moment I’m looking for a club show to join later this year because it was way past an average gig in terms of music and performance; we might meet at Spectrum guys.

Somewhere around the end of their show God’s only gift to humanity were released – rain. A massive thunderstorm struck Hamburg and Schanzenzelt and for a while I feared that they had to cancel Neonschwarz. It also meant that everybody in the park ran into the tent making the already full house a super full house thus contributing to increasing the sauna to somewhere around the boiling point.

I found a solution however meaning that Teresa had to confront the heat on her own during Neonschwarz while I hanged out in the grandstand in the back of the tent, using some sort of argument that “I’ll get a better overview for the Insta shots”. Teresa made it five songs and is the Messed!Up hero of the night (I promise you, it’s not heroic to wear stretchjeans in tropical weather, it’s stupid).

What about Neonschwarz, the local hip hop heroes with a nationwide reputation? Although their major hit “On a Journey” was released already at their debut EP “Unter’m Asphalt Der Strand” in 2012, it was their latest album “Metropolis” that caught my interest when I first heard “Atmen” at a club in Cologne. It’s also another level of professional performance on stage. Three MC’s backed up by a DJ create massive movements in the crowd, like a rolling sea made up of people. Marie Curry, Captain Gips, Johnny Mauser and Spion Y delivers bass energy equaling a 9.8 on the Richter scale with an edgy beat to it.

Somewhere around halfway through the set we had enough of the heat though and spent the rest of the set in the bar talking to strangers that just happen to pass by and needed shelter from the heavy rainfall, a perfect end of the night.

To sum up; a great night in the Schanzenzelt festival tent, in particular a great set of bands and artists. I don’t pick winners, it’s a bad strategy when all artists and bands on stage make better than average performances. Let’s just say it was great night.

Audiolith certainly sit on a treasure concerning their artist roster and could easily arrange a full festival without involving other labels. So Lars, why not make this an annual event, just a recurring birthday celebration of Audiolith?

Photographer: ©Teresa Enhiak Nanni
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About The Author

Music researcher with an unhealthy passion for music and music festivals. Former studio owner, semi-functional drummer and with a fairly good collection of old analogue synthesizers from the 70's. Indie rock, post rock, electronic/industrial and drum & bass (kind of a mix, yeah?) are usual stuff in my playlists but everything that sounds good will fit in.