After many years of festival going, Reeperbahn Festival is perhaps the one that really got me thinking about its relationship to the city. Cities obviously afford the chance for shoulders to be rubbed, faces to be ignored, and ships passing in the night to exist. Tourists, festival punters, locals, immigrants, refugees, business people, prostitutes, and the homeless; all visible to their own but invisible to each other. The disparities are perhaps more apparent considering the heart of St Pauli is where the red-light district resides.
The poverty, grimness and homelessness during the day gives way at night when it transitions towards the blinding neon lights. Illuminating the milieu of strip clubs with their promises of voluptuous women to whet your sexual appetite, the festival venues are strewn around and in between. Oh, and let’s not forget the old concrete WWII Nazi bunker a few minutes away thrown in for good measure, repurposed for the likes of you and I to muse at audio visual delights. Now I can wax lyrical about this and go off on several different tangents, but instead let’s do what I came here to do – music. Sometimes the beauty of little prep is being open to where others take you. Employing this method heralded a diverse bevy of delights. Attaching myself to various trusted music friends old and new was most definitely the way forward.
I often found myself in the quirky dive venue Molotow. Here, the lack of finesse of Australians Gold Class actually contributed to their energised post-punk set. Electro duo First Hate from Copenhagen similarly delighted the crowd with their brand of 80s-inspired synth. The sweaty and stifling basement saw punters crammed in to see Londoner PIXX bring a British 90s dream pop vibe. The bizarre meanderings of Superorganism were worth a gander – a band with multiple female members from all over and said to be fronted by a 17-year-old. Novo Amor in a church was an unexpected suggestion and I certainly delighted at the rare opportunity to take a seat, resting to their dulcet sounds of acoustic ‘anti-folk’ and nursing the effects of excess. Finally, the smoky funk soul coming from another Londoner Nilüfer Yanya, an indie Sade effortlessly jamming on her guitar, and the electro/jazz drone of Swiss duo Egopusher – both showcasing an awe-inducing competence in the finer points of a musician’s craft.
I could have taken some blurry, nondescript pictures of artists on my phone which would not have enhanced this piece in any way. However, here is a picture that has nothing to do with Reeperbahn Festival, yet everything to do with Reeperbahn itself.