Køpi-Hausfest: Ruidosa Inmundicia
at Køpi, Berlin on Friday, February 21st
Køpi-Hausfest is a yearly week-long celebration of the existence of the oldest house project in Berlin, and a major den of all things punk and DIY. On this particular date I recall seeing some German hardcore and punk bands play on all three stages, but the only band I went to see on purpose was Ruidosa Inmundicia. They rocked in a regular fuzzed-out no-nonsense fashion, as expected. After the concerts there was also a minimal-electro party in true Berlin style, with a dance floor crowded with cross-dressers and wild Polish punks.
Satanic Assault Division, Galadriel, Grimegod and Negură Bunget
at Blackland, Berlin on Wednesday, March 26th
First time for a concert in the infamous Blackland in Prenzlauer Berg. The place was a bit more put-up than the regular places I go to, and actually doesn't differ much from many metal bars in the Nordic countries. Run-of-the-mill extreme metal blasting from the sound system, and moderately expensive beer with a deposit that one seldom remembers to cash in by the end of the evening.
I don't have concrete recollections of the opening bands, apparently they were not worth of any redeeming nerve connections. Grimegod were supposedly a long-running band from Romania and they did indeed have a sound that reeked of the glorious nineties.
The renowned Carpathian fiddlers of Negură Bunget were, simply put, excellent. Proper black metal fused with dark folk atmosphere and traditional instrumentation – and without even a hint of the redundant "battle metal" that many Finnish folk metal bands end up sounding of. The crowd that was present was rather modest, but apparently the band has gained more popularity during the last year, and in Spring 2015 they will play in the more mainstream locale of K17 with a lot higher entrance fee.
Gomora, Grime and 16
at Køpi, Berlin on Friday, April 11th
This event was a full-blown sludge night at the AGH stage of Køpi. Gomora opened the evening with their occasionally slowed-down brand of crust punk. Grime from France continued with a sound that went very much according to their name. By the point 16 hit the stage I was mentally and physically ready to receive the live sound of probably my favourite sludgy hardcore band. 16's music is slowed-down dirty hardcore, relentless pummeling without much of the long dragging dirges that most bands of this style tend to do. Slow enough to follow, fast enough to not get carried away – perfect for a stoned-out drunken Friday evening. In a hindsight, easily one of the best concerts I witnessed during the year.
Graves at Sea and Sourvein
at Lovelite, Berlin on Saturday, April 12th
After still being stoked by the 16 concert the night before, another evening of sludge ensued. The venue was Lovelite, a locale I seldom hear any good bands playing at. It's a regular rock-oriented club in a more hip part of F-hain. Both bands sounded great, while you could still hear and see the mileage on these weathered touring artists, for better and worse. Graves at Sea offered the doomier side of the craft that Sourvein gave a more southern rock groove.
Dark Easter Metal Meeting 2014:
Wraithcult, Fäulnis, Eïs, Sear Bliss, Thulcandra, Agrypnie, Negator,
Root, The Ruins of Beverast and Triptykon
at Backstage, München on Sunday, April 20th
This really interesting mini-fest was part of my spring backpacking journey through München, Switzerland and lake Konstanz. Root, The Ruins of Beverast and Triptykon shared my main interest, and shook my bones as vigorously as expected. The rest of the bands were quality too, but a bit too generic to get me excited. Mad props for cheap vegan burgers sold at the venue and the renowned Bavarian beer culture. München is also one of the few cities I know where one can enjoy quality Vöner, right next to the main train station.
at Bi Nuu, Berlin on Saturday, April 26th
I went to see this cult dadaist goa-trash group sober, down and with mixed feelings of fear and anticipation. The mascot, the diaper punk, had some baboon-shouting meditation rite before the show, and the "songs" played were brought forth in a way that reminded more of shouted drunken karaoke most often witnessed on a ferry ride in the Baltic Sea. Quite an experience on its own right, but with the salty price of the ticket I'd rather put my money elsewhere.
Cro-Mags and Terror
at outside of Core-Tex and Trinkteufel, Berlin on Thursday, May 1st
Cro-Mags and Terror playing on a street fest for free, quite a treat! The concerts, especially the latter, were riotous and violent. Actually the situation in the neighbourhood eventually progressed into an actual riot, and after checking the situation I stumbled to the shadow fest nearby, that stands as a protest to the main street fest. I recall the protest was about the commercial, tame and un-anarchistic nature of the main one, but there might've been more to that too. A really wicked Russian slam hardcore band played there.
at Postbahnhof, Berlin on Thursday, May 22nd
Motorpsycho was a sort of boring and clean modern rock band from Norway, but since this was my first flyer-tossing stint I was glad to attend.
Merrimack and Mayhem
at C-Club, Berlin on Wednesday, May 28th
This gig was a follow-up to the previous flyer duty. Merrimack didn't move me much, but they were not wholly crap either. Mayhem was the reason I was here anyways. Their sound was fuzzy, loud and relentless, as it should be. Csihar Attila's stage antics were deadly serious and kitsch at the same time. Good times were had with music that encompasses very essence of the bad times.
Carneval of Subculture 2014
at Strassenfest Köpenicker Straße/Schillingbrücke on Saturday, June 7th
I was here, but I can't recall seeing any bands play. I was too busy with downing red wine, smoking the good stuff and meeting people. The weather was nice and sunny. Totenwald apparently played in the evening, but luckily I ended up seeing them on two occasions in the following autumn.
Goatblood, Horrid, Satanize and Mystifier
at Blackland, Berlin on Friday, June 13th
Mystifier is a cult band for real cultists, a macabre Brazilian cousin of Beherit. I'm talking about high-pitched synth-laden bestial black metal of death here. Excellent show and cool, down to earth lads, none of that rock star cockiness.
Mülltüte, Piss and Tragedy
SO36, Berlin Wednesday, June 18th
Tragedy were, once again, great. The location was the famous SO36, actually a very regular small rock club that has a long history in the underground rock music.
Under the Black Sun Festival – Part XVII:
Friday: The Committee, Voidhanger, Plaga and Mgła
Saturday: Countess, Corpus Christii, Inquisition and Belphegor
at Reiterhof Helenenau, Börnicke on July 3th-5th
I plodded our way with Scottish comrades to the camping grounds in the darkness of the night, after a variety of events that can only be filed under Murphy's Law. After putting our tents up and doing the necessary rites to elevate the festive mood we headed to see if we're still able to hear some of the bands. The ticket booth was closed, but eventually we got in without tickets because the bouncer was a fan of Finland and Moomins in particular. Nunslaughter was the last in line with their brand of horror-movie death metal. Topped with the hilarious stage patter and vigorous moshing of the mascot guy, this was definitely the most fun show of the festival.
Friday, just like rest of the weekend, was sunny and scorching hot. Most of the day was spent at the camp, which we relocated to the shade of the trees, nearby a colony of Polish maniacs and a couple of Dutch die-hards. Concert-wise Plaga and Mgła were definitely the highlights of the day.
The next day I looked forward most for the cult act Countess, since Inquisition I had already seen once before. Countess pounded their barbarian tunes of Hell's rock and roll to a scarce yet devoted crowd under the midsummer sun. Inquisition had a neat light show projected to the spruce forest behind the stage that complimented the solemn mood of the music.
All in all, UTBS was an excellent small festival in the woods, devoted to the black arts.
/ / /
Church of Misery played in Cassiopeia, Berlin on July 21st. I was handing out flyers outside the venue as usual, downing a couple beers and maybe smoking a small one, amped up to see these Japanese hessians again. At the door, however, I was treated really snobbily by a young blonde to whom speaking English was apparently such a straining effort. The doorman basically forced me out and I was denied entry and any possibility to explain myself. At the Conan concert later that year, a friendlier member of the staff came to apologise about this incident (and to toss me some more flyers).
Slave Hands, Kaleidobolt and woodrue
at Vapaan Taiteen Tila, Helsinki on Saturday, July 26th
First (and eventually, only) time visiting Finland in 2014. I flew to Tampere from Bremen on Saturday morning, strolled around in the sunshine and reminisced on the time I lived in this fine town. Most of the people I am in still in touch with were spending this weekend in the legendary punk festival, Puntala Rock, and hence I decided to take a bus to Hel-sink-i. I met up with an old friend from the infamous Northern-Northlands where both of us grew up, and headed for an outdoor punk happening by the seaside at Konttipiha, but eventually we only ended up seeing one complete show of hardcore and part of another, more garage rock-oriented band.
But the main treat I was looking forward to followed after this outdoors side-route. An evening of sludge in a bomb shelter. While this country is constantly narrowing its citizens' freedoms, it is curious how such an "important" government location can be used for "free arts" as the name of the locale says.
Slave Hands and Kaleidobolt were mid-paced 101-sludge. The sound in the venue was not the optimal, but improved by the point woodrue hit the floor. I recall this was a record-release party for a split with SemTex, and a track by them was performed by Woodrue. I think it still sounded pretty much of a Woodrue song. After the show I met up with a bald-headed gent of the local stock who kindly offered me his home-grown and told me of the times he spent in the French Foreign Legion. Good times in the summer of nightless nights.
Friday: Speedtrap, High on Fire, Dark Angel, Loudness and King Diamond
Saturday: Ranger, Behexen, Uncle Acid & the Deadbeats, Samael, Triptykon and Testament
at Ouluhalli, Oulu on August 8th-9th
After being some summers away and unable to enjoy the previous yearly tradition of attending Jalometalli, I was really looking forward to this weekend, and High on Fire and King Diamond shows in particular. High on Fire was the epitome of post-Motörheadian stoner metal, basking in the summer heat. King Diamond had the classic stage antics and props, and also an actual magic trick with a furnace in a coffin. Was it real or just a dream? It was magic, i know!
impivaara, Tungsten Tungsten, Sottaaja and Laitos
Oulun Taidemuseo and Kulttuuribingo, Oulu on Thursday, August 21st
These shows were part of the annual "Oulu Night of the Arts" happening. impivaara had in the backyard of the art museum their dadaist performance that celebrated femininity and freedom of expression. I appreciate the Pussy Riot-esque attitude they had going on, but musically they left a lot to hope for. Afterwards we visited a Viking camp and historical museum, and finally ended up to Kulttuuribingo for the closing party of my friend's art exhibition Uutisista hyvää iltaa and the accompanying noise and power electronics artists.
Unclean, Pain Nail, Fleshpress and Pyhä Kuolema
at Veljesiltamat, Oulu on Saturday, August 23rd
Veljesiltamat has been a special almost-annual event since its foundation, and as I recall I've had the fortune to attend all of them. A stellar evening of power electronics, sludge doom metal, and neofolk played in an old mansion with a sauna and a small river to plunge into. If pre-natal soundscape has an effect on an unborn child, for better or worse, mine had a strong dose of harsh electronic noise before his birth.
This was the second time seeing Pyhä Kuolema play. The first time was a hazy noon in an Estonian countryside church the winter before. On this occasion the man behind the sanctified name had company, and the resulting sound waves were more atmospheric and full, beautifully complimenting the noble mood of the locale. Stoned-out midnight sauna rituals followed. Eventually the attendees slowly retired to the night that hinted of end of summer in these northern latitudes, and for this migratory bird to return to more hospitable climates.
Rainmaker, øjne and Glances
at Ligera, Milan on Thursday, September 4th
Because I anyways had to do one or more detours to reach Berlin, I decided to have a quick trip to Italy. While there, I checked the local underground shows and ended up to Ligera in eastern part of Milano, in the same neighbourhood where also my hostel was located. The bands I saw play, øjne and either of the other two, played screamo hardcore with youthful enthusiasm.
At some point around the turn of September and October I attended a tattoo fest at New Yorck in Bethanien, Berlin where I witnessed Totenwald first time. Cold, old-school, anarcho-punk-fused post-punk with intriguing stage attire (or lack of it). Needless to say, I really liked them. After the show my Aussie bud finally surfaced from his lair nearby and we decided to escape the chilly autumn drizzle to Køpi, where an unknown female-fronted occult rock-tinged band, much in the vein of Blood Ceremony, played to an almost empty AGH hall (the bigger stage in the Køpi complex). They had their moments, but apparently not enough to make me look them up in the interweb afterwards.
Mantar and Conan
at Cassiopeia, Berlin on Tuesday, October 14th
As a devoted fan of boring drone, I can safely say Conan is boring drone done wrong. It's not complete crap, it's just redundant and dull. Luckily I didn't need to pay for this trifle. Regardless, I had fun times with an old Lithuanian bro who was visiting the town.
Nawaharjan, Temple Desecration, i i and Darkmoon Warrior
at Blackland, Berlin on Thursday, November 6th
Nuclear War Now Festival's warm-up gig. Fun and hectic evening, even if the bands were forgettable norsecore. II, i i or whatever you call it created the thickest atmosphere in the crowded bar.
at Tempodrom, Berlin on Tuesday, November 11th
I know Einstürzende Neubauten has a special place in the hearts of many. Therefore I am sorry to admit that the concert left a lot to hope for. Considering that people (except me, since I was handing out flyers) paid over forty euros for the ticket, the lack of dynamics and sound that would fill the stadium was unforgivable sin.
Goatwhore and Dying Fetus
at Lido, Berlin on Friday, November 14th
Another flyer stint, and once again I had problems getting into the venue, but eventually iron will triumphed and I got through. I also managed to get in with me an American music biz veteran who's ego seemed to take a slight blow when he wasn't let in on guest list – supposedly he was old friends with Goatwhore guys.
]Goatwhore played energetic death thrash metal with a contagious groove. Dying Fetus played a steady set of hit songs of their brand of brutal death metal that slams like a rhino in heat.
Ast, Ancst and Thränenkind
at X-B-Liebig, Berlin on Thursday, November 20th
First bands to see in this house project in Friedrichshain. The bar side there consisted of two small rooms and no actual stage, so during this sort of hip show the place was packed full. I don't have much of story about these bands, shoegazey flannel shirt black metal all the way. Ast, the starter duo, were cool with their stripped-down approach. Ancst were more crusty and forgettable, albeit I only listened to them from the back of the crowded room. Thränenkind were once again one of those bands that worked really well live, vivid and rocking, but for some odd reason their records didn't make any lasting impression on me, before or after the concert.
Totenwald and Dividing Lines
at Køpi, Berlin on Friday, December 12th
Both played neat old-school post-punk, Totenwald from Berlin and Dividing Lines from Leipzig. A basic damp cellar show with an audience of introverted blazed-out crusties.
Morbus Chron, Triptykon and At the Gates
at Postbahnhof, Berlin on Saturday, December 20th
This was another concert I got in in exchange of my time handing out flyers to other concert-goers. I took the aforementioned Aussie bud to be my aide and companion in this task. We were treated politely by the staff at the door (for once!) and listened a bit of Morbus Chron's sound check with the singer of At the Gates. We didn't see the actual show, because we had to go to the door to toss our junk (the flyers, duh), down a couple beers and to call those who didn't accept the flyers posers.
By the point we were about finished, we popped some acid and went in to witness the mighty Triptykon. Their sound was huge and clear, and I could imagine a cool Alpine wind sweeping over me. After seeing them the fourth time, I have spent about same time listening to them live as I have by listening their records. We were also catered some slowed-down Hellhammer and Celtic Frost gems too as usual.
I lost the Aussie culprit and socialised with the local German stock before heading back to the show room for At the Gates. I haven't been much into them before, but they really sold their craft to me that night. Some of their more preppy songs were a bit too much, but the overall atmosphere was grand. There was even a wedding couple doing some spins along a more up-beat instrumental moment. My heart melted a bit at the sight of their overwhelming joy.
After the show the DJ, a middle-age forever-teenager, started playing some of the worst dance floor pop imaginable. I went to the set to talk to him but he responded coldly and called security to drive me off. The place emptied double-fast but we stayed for a beer and a joint. Soon the 50's dad hair jocks with glossy puffy vests poured in. Apart from some odd smirks and ironic Dio horn signs, the air, especially outside, started to reek of hostility. I can't recall how many times we were called Assi (basically a fuck-up, drop-out) and other things, but eventually we shouldered ourselves out before anything worse happened, and shouted some offensive nonsense to the huge queue outside the venue. All in all, a great success.