Reeperbahn Festival International
Mittwoch, June 19, 2019, Rockwood Music Hall
→ With DJ Clint Choi (Guess Twice)
Yes We Mystic (CA)
An abundant and highly emotional sound was already the signature of their debut, when Winnipeg-based quintet Yes We Mystic appeared on the indie rock radar with “Forgiver” in 2016. Although no label to support them, they reached a level of quality early on that many others must work and write for entire careers to get even close to. One only has to listen to songs like the densely layered “No Harm” or “Odessa Steps” with its vital strings to prove that. Three years down the line, the Canadian five-piece group signed to DevilDuck Records to release their second album “Ten Seated Figures” which comes with an unconventional clue. The concept of the album revolves around personal mythologies, distorted perspectives and the daily self-delusions we all fall victim to. To underline this, the band created a clone of itself with five other members who make up that alternate version of Yes We Mystic and who will perform, give interviews and shoot photos for the media. It's an experiment that perfectly fits the unpredictable nature of the project, with musical nods as diverse as J Cole, Katy Perry and The Weakerthans.
An instinct for delicate mixtures of different styles has always been part of Ori Alboher's music, whether it be futuristic R&B, ambient with a certain pop-appeal or tenderly chiseled neo soul. The Jerusalem-born multi-instrumentalist lives in Berlin, the city which ignited his creative fire and led to this gracefully reduced style, seemingly flowing out of him like a completely natural gesture of the mind. It can be heard in the breathing and twittering of birds, the xylophone and sensual guitars in “There's No One Else”, the washed-out downtempo of “Half Human” or the fragile falsetto in “Parachute”, schmoozed by piano and canny electronica. Ori's songwriting is as creative as it is thoughtful, in a deeply relaxing manner, thanks to his aspirated singing and melodic sensibility. In march he demonstrated his art at SXSW in Austin, Texas and at the MusExpo in L.A., reaping exhilarated responses from the audience. After finishing material for his coming third album, he is up for some serious goose-bump action in New York.
From Kiel via Germany's biggest festival stages out into the world: The comet-like ascent of Leoniden couldn't be missed by anybody, who cared for the country's indie rock and pop scene. It just wasn't possible: Late Night Berlin, Bongo Boulevard, ARD Startrampe and ZDF Aspekte – there was hardly any German news outlet or music medium that didn't celebrate the bands euphoric up-beat rock songs. And rightly so, considering the sweeping energy this music infects the listener with, like a storm of tummy butterflies you thought wasn't even possible anymore, not in this day and age. And yet it's there. What started two years ago on the self titled debut, found its continuation in 2018s “Again”, followed by two sold out tours. The band itself isn't keen on picturing where all of this may lead. They prefer living in the moment, which is why they are capable of creating a fitting soundtrack for a generation in an optimistic mood of departure towards the future – artistically, culturally, politically. With their final part of the “Kids Will Unite” tour already waiting, it seems like the perfect timing for taking a bite of the Big Apple.
Mira Lu Kovacs (AT)
For years now, Mira Lu Kovacs releases brilliant works between chamber folk, songwriter indie and introspective avant-pop with lyrical momentum under her alias Schmieds Puls. Her multi-faceted, deeply passionate tone language is no product for a fast-moving viral marketing campaign, songs like “Play Dead” or “Run” make that pretty clear. One wants to get lost in the sound of Kovacs, understand and relish her dynamic timbre in every nuance. Anybody who thought that there's no more room for singer-songwriters with guitars in this life will think again after listening to the compositional originality in her music. Her qualities as a crossover artist between various styles and genres, but also as a poet immune to the pretentious have brought the artist to the opening ceremony of the Wiener Festwochen in 2018, performing in front of 60.000 people. No doubt her performance at the New York Edition of Reeperbahn Festival will leave the audience equally stunned.
Supported by Austrian Cultural Forum New York
While being in search of the perfect mixture between retro-style and modernity, the duo of Andreya Casablanca and Laura Lee never got on the wrong track. Not on their much praised debut "In My Head" from 2016 and not on their EP "She Says", released this year via Awal. But while the two Berlin singers like it straight and simple, they create infectious hooks and vocals with their jangly Garage style, taking what's best from Indie, Pop and Punk alike. It's a curious form of understatement, audible in songs like the beautifully melancholic "Fake News" or "She Says" with its wistful but down to earth chorus and that's responsible for the duo's success in Germany. Still, how they managed to engage Bela B., drummer of the infamous German punk band Die Ärzte, as an actor for their video of "Zu spät" is up for speculation. But then again, Gurr already worked with Dave Grohl and Eddie Argos while Boy George outed himself as a fan years ago. In march of this year, Casablanca and Lee performed at SXSW in Texas followed by a club tour through Germany. So with the advent of the 2019 summer season, the next stop naturally has to be: Reeperbahn Festival, New York Edition.
Renata Zeiguer (US)
Brought up on a steady diet of classical composers like Prokofiev and Debussy, but also mingling with influences of jazz and tango played by her Argentinian grandmother on the piano, Renata Zeiguer already began writing transboundary music as a kid. Sometimes well thought-out, sometimes wildly improvised her works were instrumental at first, but eventually expanded into lyrical songwriting, always defined by her love for the keyboard. Yet it's far from any notion of trivial piano monotony. Her debut “Old Ghost” already defied prevalent expectations as to what indie rock can or should sound like nowadays. Catchy and somewhat dreamlike yet melodically complex without intellectualizing everything, Renata's style is inspired by 20th century American jazz standards, as well as Brazilian tropicália, the Beatles and the Brooklyn independent rock scene. Her sweeping energy turns out to be at least as fascinating as her unadulterated sense of experimentation within the framework of a 3-minute-song, whether she's on stage solo or supporting several like-minded bands with her voice, violin and keys.
Sick of all those opportunists who cynically gloat over the disintegration of society? Surfbort are with you on that one and came up with an antidote for the frustration. It sounds simple: a glorious garage punk revival with fuzzy guitars and a powerfully angry singer not amused about the current state of affairs, combined with screams of desperation as much as with bare calls for disobedience. Dani Miller is the voice of Surfbort, who is able to intone ecstatically and aggressively at the same time, always ready to set fire to the stage she's performing on. Manic, sometimes acting like a clever caricature, her presence is awe-inspiring and fits the uninhibited energy of her band colleagues perfectly. Drummer Sean Powell and guitarists David Head and Alex Kilgore are some of the last survivors of the 90s Texas punk scene, ready to take their sound to a whole new unapologetic level. After all, it's a dark time and high noon for profound changes that won't be achieved the easy way. Realizing that is also part of the musical experience of Surfbort, who are not praised for nothing by Beyoncé, Blondie and The Strokes alike. Untamed punk that's still too rare these days.