What a year it has been. Dinosaurs stalked the earth once more as Led Zep reformed for a one-off gig, generating shock and awe, despite a rider which apparently demanded an ironing board and a pot of tea.
The Pistols demonstrated once and for all that they were only in it for the money and The Spice Girls, Snorty, Tosh and Minger, to no-ones surprise but with a little more conviction, did the same. Prince was back as well as the Police. Lee Hazlewood, Tony Wilson, Ike Turner and Stockhausen were all cruelly stolen from us and the jury failed to decide on Phil Spector. Radiohead gave the finger to EMI with an internet only release which made the accountants scratch their heads and Trent Reznor declared his independence, rumours circulated about his uranium enrichment programme. Amy Winehouse and Pete Doherty have been in and out of rehab so frequently that everybody (except the British tabloids) has long since ceased to care. Morrissey put his foot in it yet again, Madonna is to be inducted into the Rock & Roll hall of fame and Foxy Brown is apparently wearing Louis Vuiton trainers with her jumpsuit in Rikers Island.
In January I was busy burning my papers. In February a medical trial, a one way plane ticket and the final transactions. Hot on the heels of love and headed for Berlin in time for spring.
In April the Melvins at SO36, Porn and Big Business disappointed but King Buzzo did the business, the Sideshow Bob of stoner rock proved metal could be progressive as well as neandertal at the same time. Later that month, in a not entirely dissimilar veign, Part Chimp unleashed a vehement avalanche of decibels which threatened to strip the paint from the ceiling in the Kreuzberg Keller – a Punishment Ride indeed. Swearing at Motorists outclassed the Devastations at West Germany and, at 103, Bobby Conn brought minituarised irony in a tight and funky package, the crowd singing along and dancing like loons.
At White Trash in May, Miss Ebony Bones turned carnival into riot with a masked trumpeter. MIT and Shitdisco performed a similar feet, with a three pronged bass attack and lasers, at Magnet.
In June I missed the curmudgeonly Lou Reed recreating Berlin with a choir, by all accounts another grudging performance which served only to further tarnish the legend. At the Columbia Halle, Sonic Youth served up Daydream Nation as a coffee table treat but came alive for the encore with material from their latest, Rather Ripped – Do you believe in Rapture? – well for a moment we did. Battles at Maria had a surfeit of technique but, despite the hype, little interesting to say. At West Germany, Metal Urbain’s sweaty set culminated with dramatic flashes of lightning ripping the sky above Kottbuser Tor in two. Guitar Wolf, at the Knaack, built an unstable human pyramid on a foundation of garage rock & roll, its inevitable collapse was a sight to behold. I had a swell time with James Chapman, cartographer in chief of The Maps, but rain stopped play at the Fête de la musique, though Nachlader’s waterlogged set at Lausitzer Platz proved somewhat diverting.
At a sultry evening at Bar 25 in July, Dorit Chrysler stroked her theremin and fireflies danced above the spree at a mellow and low key gig. I interviewed You Say Party, We Say Die! at the Lido, but when I got home the tape was blank, a pity because the former bicycle gang had a lot to say and the gig was great. Support, Humanzi, deserve a mention too, a performance of absolute conviction. The Gossip rocked Fritz Columbia but Dinosaur Jr at Postbahnhoff were dreary, despite Masic’s custom trainers.
In August Six Organs of Admittance, at West Germany, refused to let heat exhaustion compromise their soaring psych folk drone, the balcony threatening to collapse under the weight of the crowd. At Raum 16 Cock ESP/Sudden Infant were a memorably bizarre experience, reports of the death of Dada proving greatly exaggerated. The Berlin Festival, at the Altes Poststadion, belonged to Peaches but The Presets were also impressive. Kitty Yo gave us Mitte Kill at Eschloraque Rumschlump and Moritz Wolpert demonstrated his strange instrument. Later that evening music biz impresario, Mark Reeder fed us cookies at Yaam, but Alec Empire’s set started so late that we missed it.
In September Chrome Hoof out battled the Battles with their smurf metal madness at the Bang Bang Club, featuring both a tuba and a gladiator helmet. Billy Childish mixed spoken word and lo-fi blues at the Monarch and I regretted missing him with the Musicians of the British Empire the night before. The Fall appeared at Maria, with grumpy uncle Mark in fine form, though once again Alec Empire hit the decks way past my bedtime.
October found me owing an apology to Twisted Robot, the Magic Markers, at West Germany, deserved a review but missed out. Their set, which culminated with a phased cover of Crimson and Clover and a vitriolic version of There is no Afterlife, had to be amongst the highlights of the year. The same month, The Animal Collective managed to synthesise the Beach Boys and acid house in front of a packed house at Festaal. So So Modern, at NBI, had a fresh and contemporary electrovibe, so cool, in fact, that we hired them for the Dorfdisco party in November. At Lovelite, Ives #1 produced a deafening Tsunami of plunderphonics that would have scared John Zorn. Neale Lytollis, managed to stay up late enough to finally catch Mr Empire and his Hellish Vortex at Maria, as well as Kap Bambino at White Trash.
November found a re-energised and focused Liars at Festaal, with the crowd in the palm of their hands. Support, courtesy of HTRK, was impressive too. Grand Island at Tacheles charmed the room but left me indifferent. Dr. Norton, Robotron and So So Modern killed at the Dorfdisco Party at Lovelite and The Baby Cheeses molested a cello and a 20 watt heater in the backroom of East of Eden.