Popkomm week for most of us was, to be honest, a bit of a chore. A seemingly never-ending 6 days of networking, dishing out business cards, label showcases and shameless self-promotion. By the end of the week I was a shell of a man having existed purely on energy drinks, nicotine and around 3 hours of broken sleep. The last hurdle to get over was the Pale Music/Bomb Boutique label night at White Trash and to be honest, the way I was feeling, I wouldn’t have minded if Popkomm week had quietly fizzled out as though it had never happened.
First up on the bill in Diamond Lounge was a 3-piece from Düsseldorf called Punk’d Royal. Who were these guys and what were they doing here? Well in all honesty I shouldn’t really be writing about them as they had nothing whatever to do with either of the labels running the show. Turns out they were booked to play WT long before Pale and BB had waded in and taken over the place but White Trash very kindly honoured the booking and let them play. This was their first Berlin show having exhausted all the (limited) possibilities of Ruhrgebiet and they were rather nifty, playing a confident, likeable mixture of punk, bluesy California rock with the odd Police-style reggae-tinged riff thrown in for good measure. Add to that a dinky bass player whose instrument was bigger than he was striking some military style robot poses and Punk’d Royal were a welcome, if unofficial, addition to the line-up. Bravo boys!
Next up were Berlin-based Goldfish. This four-piece have a very unique sound and were the first band of the night to really pull in a crowd and kick off the party atmosphere that would continue long after they had finished. The band are clearly competent live performers and breezed through their set with confidence and attitude. Many of the tracks from soon-to-be-released album, Comin’ Home, were showcased from the crashing rock noise of Rock the Floor and Watch Out for the Birdsongs to slower numbers like Tracy and Snow. The band also presented some new tracks too including a delicious pop-rock track called Greenandorange. Front-woman Danuta Gramse is a magical combination of freak-out rocker and pop princess combining heavy guitar licks with her powerful, sultry and occasionally childlike vocals and she is well backed-up by her Goldfish boys who all know how to knock out a tune or two from their respective instruments. By the time they finished their last track of the Zugabe, the hypnotic Carry Your Name, the crowd were revved up and howling like banshees for more. I think the Fishes had given everything they could.
After a brief pause which enabled the swelling crowd to turn the dancefloor into a mosh pit thanks to one of the BB DJs thoughtfully spinning some Arcade Fire, Anglo-Deutsch duo Noblesse Oblige were last to take to the stage. This was their first gig in the city since recently re-locating to Berlin and it seemed like most of Prenzlauer Berg had turned up to see them again. They immediately launched into a none-stop, frantic set full of their own brand of banging electro-beats, insane drum abuse and spiky guitar hooks. The crowd was up on its hind legs completely spazzing out which at one point caused me to tumble over a stage monitor and practically bring the whole Noblesse kit crashing to the floor. Speaking of monitors, the guy next to me was so into the music he was practically on top of the stage monitor; he clearly couldn’t get enough of the Noblesse Noise and listening to it wasn’t enough, he had to try and fuck it as well.
High spot of the Noblesse show was new single Quel Genre de Garcon, but with their inventive mix of techno, punk and Brazillian guitar licks the whole damn thing was pretty fucking good. Sebastian and Valerie departed the stage leaving a teasing electro pulse playing from their sampler which had the crowd going ape for a Zugabe…after about 10 minutes Sebastian re-appeared, switched off the sampler and said “Thank You” only to vanish again. Even after the DJs started spinning again and the stage lights died the crowd were still begging Noblesse for more. Their new album is out now and it would be insanity not to get it.
After the obligatory backstage beers and graffiti it was clocking on for 5am and about time I dragged my exhausted bones home. Weaving through the White Trash crowd was a mission in itself as the Berlin home of rock had transformed itself into Berghain as the Bomb Boutique DJs were wowing the crowds with a heavy mix of electro and techno…not that I could see all that much of the crowd as the smoke machine seemed to be having epilepsy. This was a perfect end to the hustle and bustle and occasional boredom (if you were at the Messehalle you’d know what I mean) that was Popkomm and the first label night that managed to create a genuine party atmosphere and wasn’t just another networking/music industry blow job opportunity with some background music thrown in. Pale Music and Bomb Boutique were my heroes of the week.
See you next year…