Berlin three-piece PABST made a musical mark in my life already with their neo-grungy debut album Chlorine in 2018, and we even had the band for an interview at Hamburg’s best indie club, Molotow, (almost) on this day five years ago a few hours ahead of a rowdy show at the Skybar. Unfortunately, their second album Deus Ex Machina disappeared in the general depression during 2020 – people were just too occupied hoarding toilet paper and pasta due to the raging pandemic just when PABST released their sophomore album. It’s just not possible to beat the toilet paper-hoarding pandemic-scared average human dude, ey? For a while, I actually thought they’d died the ‘pandemic band death’ as many other smaller bands did, but instead, they returned with immense power last year, and the Crushed By The Weight Of The World album
Ever since their debut album, the band have built a reputation for being a wild and intense live act, and rowdiness was in the air as soon as the band entered the stage. My feeling was: they’re gonna smash things up.
The first chord of ‘Commitment Issues’ filled the air and drum beats reverberated through Knust as the rest of the band walked on stage, and from that point on it was a full steam rage machine for the next sixty minutes. The first half of the show was epic and when they pulled off ‘Shake the Disease’, ‘Ibuprofen’, ‘Mercy Stroke’, ‘Crushed’ and my favorite from the latest album, ‘Locker Room’, the roof lifted a bit and people started to move in circles on the floor. I need to remind you that PABST is a band with a razor-sharp ear for a hook and at their best, they’re irresistible. It quickly became obvious from mid-set when Knust’s famously spongy dancefloor was put under dramatic strain, the whole crowd bouncing in tandem.
After non-stop expulsion of energy, bass man Tilman Kettner left the stage, did a few bass moves on the floor, and everyone in the crowd knelt on the floor and hushed. But it wasn’t much of a break before the madness restarted with a massive mosh pit and continued to the encore (that wasn’t really an encore, just a chat between band members). The newest songs are all screaming rock and roll anthems. The old songs are jump around, raw garage throwdowns. There’s very little in between even considerable for complaint. Erik Heise is a very classic garage rock frontman. Not much is said where doesn’t need to be under that mop of perfectly tousled hair.
Sometimes it seems like garage rock bands have it easy, live. There are just so many things going for them before they even hit the stage. The music is fit for a head-banging party, it makes the people want to mosh and dance around and throw sweat everywhere (and, for one couple near the front, grind like there is no tomorrow). And the energy is all set with the impact of a strum – the hand drops and fuzzy power chords explode from the amps and it begins anew. As long as the guitars and screeching and the drums are pounding, all is good in the minds of the audience.
PABST definitely matched the excitement of their audience and performed with the vigor and energy of high school boys hopped up on Monster Energy drinks, but their melodies weren’t lost in the noisy hype. They extended some of their songs and performed a hilarious final song, a cover of Sixpence None the Richer’s ‘Kiss Me’. A worthy high school ending.
All in all, a truly great performance from one of the rock scene’s most consistent acts.
Photos: Kevin Winiker