- Words Andre Mcleod
Thousands of music lovers descended upon Hamburg for the annual rip-roaring musical showcase that is Reeperbahn festival.
Reeperbahn Festival is a celebration of new artist from around the globe. Not relying on the normal business model of headline acts to attract crowds it showcases up and coming musical talent, well established local artists and a host of guest speakers in a variety of incredible venues across the city.
Hamburg is the perfect city to host this festival. Frantic, fun and fast-paced its energy is palpable and translates on and off stage. For visitors, there are many things to do like sailing around the city in a tour boat, flea markets, record shops and even a singing Beatles tour.
With around 600 concerts spread across 90 venues in Hamburg there were many highlights over the weekend but here are a few.
At the incredible Elbphilharmonie, a newly built monument to live music that recently hosted acts like Solange Knowles, we settled in for a piano master class from Igor Levit. The hall is modern and magnificent and was only matched by the musical maestro who captivated the audience for the evening and had multiple encores.
Molotow is the opposite of Elbphilharmonie. Dark and dingy, it’s the perfect yin and yang. Most great bands have played here and those looking to make a name know it’s a great place to been seen. Split across many rooms you have the Backyard garden, club, sky bar and Karatekeller. Canadian duo Partner took to the stage and performed the last set of their European tour with pace and precision and dazzled especially on the guitar, wielding the instrument like vintage Hendrix.
There was a surprise gig at St Pauli football stadium by very popular German rap group from Hamburg, Deichkind. The hip hop collective all dressed in white onesies with white hats filled out the temporary concert in moments and had everyone singing along. Later they sailed through the crowd on a boat on wheels and waved flags above the stage as LED lights flashed.
Mojo is a purpose-built underground club that plays host to a range of bands and DJs. There’s even a DJ in the toilet on some nights which can become the place to party. Veteran Ghanaian rapper Ata Kak had the crowds clapping along and dancing as he charmed and delighted with his unique style and infectious dance moves.
The Anchor awards celebrated new musical acts from the Ukraine and China to UK acts like Celeste and Drahla. Judges Kate Nash and Peaches performed to the packed out theatre, sliding downstairs and going into the crowd, before Ukrainian rapper Alyona Alyona scooped the award.
Walking down the neon-lit Reeperbahn strip is very wild and intense. Bright lights, sex shops and strips clubs luring men and women in like modern sirens. Nestled amongst the temptation are more musical venues like Grosse Freiheit 36 and Kaiserkeller that played host to high octane acts like Frittenbude and Black Bones. From the balcony in Grosse Freiheit 36, Frittenbude lit up the venue and even had dinosaurs on stage for the finale. Only at Reeperbahn!