Reeperbahn Festival day 2: Someone needs to rebuild Häkken

J.N. October 18, 2018

Going to bed at 06.15 and wake up four hours later may not be the optimal start of the second festival day and both I and the photographer were quite happy that one of our interviews was cancelled because the band was late and didn’t found time for it. Instead we could concentrate all our efforts to finish the series of interviews we’ve done about Audiolith Records, by interviewing the “Berlin section” of Audiolith meaning Artur Schock who takes care of Audiolith Booking.

This was also that kind of day where we ended up in the situation when all photographers were busy working, and although those situations rarely occur we needed to face the fact today that we didn’t have a photographer to snap some photos at the interview with feminist post-hardcore act Petrol Girls. The solution? The editor himself had to grab the camera and he crossed his fingers that something useful would come out of it (it wasn’t too bad).


The second day starts off where yesterday ended, at the photographer’s apartment picking up our gear for the day and setting off towards the pub Jolly Roger just around the corner of FC St. Pauli’s Millerntor Arena, Hamburg’s best football club (I’m prepared to take a few punches for it from some misanthropic HSV fans, it’s worth it).

At Jolly Roger Audiolith have gathered the local music forces and we met up with Artur Schock for an interview about the Audiolith history – but we won’t say more than that at the moment. Well, maybe just one thing. I realized I had lost my mic windshield, the Dead Kitten (yes, that’s the name of it, and its parents are called the Dead Cats), a surprise I didn’t need on top of being too tired from last night. Of course the photographer came to my help with her phone. Thanks Sis!

Those few hours of sleep didn’t allow for a breakfast and just when you thought there was time to have a falafel, before the Petrol Girls intervention, our punk journalist, calls me and say “Let’s meet at Grüner Jäger (the venue) in 15 minutes”. Two Mars bars and a Fritz Cola later (yeah, we’re not sponsored but if you work for these brands and want to give us a million Euros, PM us) I was on a ten-minute run to the venue and met up with the punk dude just a few minutes before two of the Petrol Girls members arrived.

And this is one of the reason we do this; of course our punk dude Mr. Schmitz knows quite much about Petrol Girls, he even recommended them in our “Staff pick their weekly’s”, but for someone not into post-hardcore music you don’t know what to expect. But whoever you interview in whatever genre it may be we’re always stunned about how sweet, smart, awesome and lovely people we are fortunate to meet. Petrol Girls was really nice to listen to and had put a lot of thought into the messages they put into their lyrics, and I just hope that some of the interview photos are of a reasonable good quality. Then we finally had something to eat – after eight hours of no food at all (I had to eat two more times this day).

After the interview we embarked on a “invitation only” journey and headed towards the CEEntralparty at headCRASH, showcasing bands from Eastern Europe, and we arrived in the middle of Dope Calypso’s set in a sauna-like headCRASH. So far at the festival we’ve had two great summer days but the venues are not really adapted to summer weather at all; they never were probably never built with air condition in mind at all. Every move caused excessive sweating. I was quite happy that we arrived late in their set although we missed an amazing show, but I even had to get out before it was over anyway.

A band I have followed a few years entered the stage thirty minutes later. Moscow based Pompeya have gained an impressive following during the years with their unabashed indie pop drawing inspiration from seventies disco and eighties new wave. For some reason it wasn’t crowded at all, not even close to how many attended Dope Calypso’s show but that’s how Reeperbahn Festival is; there might just be another gig around the corner which outcompete Pompeya’s. I couldn’t stay long enough this time either, I needed fresh air, but wasn’t really up for indie disco either. Yesterday’s fun was today’s pain.

Fortunately the next invitation thingee was the neighboring club Pooca Bar where Westside Music Sweden from my hometown of Gothenburg had their showcase with four Swedish bands this night. Easy October, the first band on stage this night, are from Gothenburg and since I’ve seen them in Gothenburg four previous times I thought “Why not again?”. That’s when you do one of those mistakes that Reeperbahn Festival won’t allow you to do.

While waiting for the concert to start in a nearly empty Pooca Bar we decided to meet upfront with our two photographers. Upfront also means that you meet a lot of interesting people and get stuck in conversations, possibly with a few beers to keep it alive. When the first bass drum sounded I thought “Let’s get in there just to show the guys that at least I’m here to support them” when the bouncer told me “I know I have to allow you to go in there since it’s not filled up yet but it’s impossible to open the doors”. And that was a fact, the salon doors to Pooca Bar couldn’t be opened because people couldn’t go any further into the venue. If this wasn’t “ausverkauft” I don’t know what that means. What to do? Eat of course.

There was a gap in the schedule before Stereo Honey would start their gig at Kaiserkeller and I used it for my third meal of the day with both our photographers and their entourage. Then all of us split up for the rest of the night to cover different shows. With more than forty clubs and sixty scenes it would be impossible to hang out the whole festival. I ended up at Stereo Honey, a young falsetto crooning indie rock act that have caused some kind of a stir in the UK already, and one of our co-workers, Ms Anonymous, can’t get their song “Angel” out of her head.

As usual when you arrive thirty minutes before the show, it’s no one there – completely empty! However, one of our photographers joined me after a few minutes since her venue had a full house already – why not have a few shots at another band?

I’ve listened to Stereo Honey since they released their “Monuments” EP last year with the two brilliant songs “Angel” and “Through the Dark”, and they have a kind of unique indie rock sound because of frontman Pete Restrick’s falsetto singing. You wouldn’t even imagine that he could pull it off live, too many musicians can do it on record but live is a completely different setting with too many things that may affect you, but I was proved wrong.

Restrick is an amazing personality on stage and the rest of the band is just like extras you don’t recognize; it’s a Restrick show from the first to the last song. It’s not all songs that have the kind of quality you find in, for instance, “Angel” (which they didn’t play by the way) but their lowest level is fairly high compared to many new bands at the festival.

With the indie rock tradition in their blood – UK must be the strongest indie rock nation there is – I’m quite sure that we will see a fairly good debut album from these boys in the future. It’s not until the second album you actually need to deliver something really special to stay in the biz, but let’s not go too far ahead already. A good show and a good end of the evening – I thought.

What I completely had missed was that Danish alternative rock act Kellermensch had been booked in the very last minute and were to play at Häkken just after 11PM, and while photographer Ms. Sis headed off to the Petrol Girls show to secure at least some good photos of the band, I wandered away to the tiny club scene of Häkken and wondered “How can they fit in ten band members on that stage”. They didn’t.

I’ve been quite a fan of Kellermensch already from their start when they released their self-titled debut album 2006 and a few years later attended an amazing – AMAZING – live show at the Roskilde Festival. However, it took almost eight years before they released their second album “Goliath” in 2017, one of my favorite albums that year.

It’s difficult to describe Kellermensch because you really have to experience them live with all your senses. Singer Sebastian Wolff is always completely immersed into the music and seems to be possessed; guitars are thrown across the stage, mic stands are demolished and most of the time he sits on the floor or, as tonight, stands on the bar counter. But there are more extraordinary personalities; bassist Claudio walks back and forth across the stage during the full concert using his bass as a rifle. This night the stage wasn’t big enough and he took control of the space in front of the stage together with the organist thus making the space for the crowd even smaller. And then we have their second singer, or rather growler because that’s what Christian Sindermann is doing.

It’s impossible to explain all their different characters on stage but compared to many bands where the singer get all attention Kellermensch are different because of all these on stage personalities, it’s like being on a circus and try to catch all the impressions in the room.

It’s an amazing show from the first to the amazing last song,“Moribund Town”, in which Häkken is turned into gravel by the intense action on and off stage (I couldn’t really see where all band members were since they were scattered all around the venue). Just to get an introduction to Kellermensch, listen to “Moribund Town”, “Atheist in a Foxhole”, “The Day You Walked By” and “Bad Sign” to get a feeling for their sound – and never ever miss a show!

The second day was over and there wasn’t any energy left for an afterparty this night. Ms. Sis picked me up at Spielbudenplatz and then it was straight home and into bed for a long night of sleep, and it was certainly needed.

Concert photo on Pompeya by ©Mandy Privenau  (the rest by sloppy non photographer staff members)


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.