Sunday, September 23, 2007

Peaches in the house!!

Last night I went to the Tape Club, a place I had not previously attended, to hear a DJ set by Peaches. Yes, that Peaches!!! I was very happy to learn that she lives in Berlin. No wonder I love this city!

As Ms. Peaches was hanging out with the audience throughout the evening, I can describe her outfit, which featured one of those odd 80s shirts with gold chains printed on it, quite precisely. But here are pics anyway.

Her set was quite eclectic. She played her new remix of Ton Loc's "Wild Thing":

She also played 2 bhangra numbers (which were synced to video mixes also) and assorted electro tracks as expected. She played her hit "Two Guys for Every Girl" and rapped nasty lyrics above it. Here, have a listen! (Sorry, you are going to have to turn either your computer or your head sideways.)

In this part she does some math pertaining to the lyrics:

It should be noted that she did not "DJ" that much in a technical sense. She played CDs, and for the most part did not beat-match. The whole thing was carried with the force of her personality.

The club itself was interesting: one entered through an upstairs loungey area, down steps to the dance floor, which had large industrial lights above it.

There was a tiny 2nd dancefloor, about the size of a New York bedroom, off to the side, where they were playing 80s music such as "It Takes Two." (The German DJ mixed in the "whoo!" "yeah!" parts on beats 1 and 3 of the previous track. Not so funky fresh.)

I liked the crowd in this place: they were rather hip, with some nods to classic club-kid looks, such as boys wearing giant sequined scarves, or tiny hats on the side of their heads, and women wearing vintage formal dresses with sneakers.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Schönes Wetter

The weather has been very nice for most of this week (a lot of sunshine and highs around 70), as if to make up for the cold rainy cloudiness that greeted me upon arrival (and no doubt awaits in perpetuum). Thus I have posted some more pictures of the Wannsee and the swanky houses surrounding it.

I also learned this week that the weather, auf Deutsch, can be "schön," but one does not say "Das Wetter ist nett." People can be "nett," or art, but not the weather.

Also I had two hour-long conversations in German this weekend!

Ein "Event," das ich gesehen habe

Yes, "Event" is now a German word. Also "Performance" and "Club" (pronounced like "kloob").

Last Saturday I attended an Event/Performance by Robert Henke and a visual artist named Christopher Bauder. Robert Henke is a musician I've interviewed; he performs under the name Monolake and developed an important software program called Ableton Live.

The Performance consisted of about an hour of electronic music improvised in real time on a laptop. The music was coordinated with 64 balloons, which were lit individually with LEDs. They were raised and lowered individually in various patterns that coordinated with the music. (Anyone familiar with techno will realize that 64 is a perfect number, because the music is most often structured in exponents of 4.) The audience members were seated on the floor of the gallery, in the dark, looking up at all this.

It was very cool! Here's a link to the gallery homepage and to the Monolake homepage, which has some really cool pics.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Maria am Ostbahnhof

My apologies for getting behind in the blogging. Fill in the blanks as you wish :-) but I had a nasty cold last week, which didn't help. In this post I will write about my outing last weekend on September 7.

I went to Maria am Ostbahnhof, a place I've been to many times, for their 9th anniversary party. Barbara Preisinger, from Scape Records, kindly put me on the guest list. She DJed in the "Josef" room, while Phon.o & Chris DeLuca (formerly of Funkstörung) did a live set in the Maria room.

I am embarrassed to admit that I only recently realized that "Funkstörung" means "radio interference" in German, rather than "Destruction of funk" as I had previously assumed. Perhaps I could be forgiven since the word for destruction is Zerstörung. I am not sure if German has a word for funk, let alone its destruction.

Anyway, Phon.o & Chris played an excellent set. It was, in fact, quite funky, in a sort of electro style with lots of hip-hop samples. Afterward, Thomas Fehlmann played, an artier, somewhat mellower set.

One of the other Fellows accompanied me to the club. This was very pleasant. It turns out she is from Birmingham also. More notably, this is the first time I have ever gone to a club with someone who has won the Pulitzer Prize!

Here are some more pics and a little video:

Monday, September 10, 2007

Life on the Wannsee

Well, I'm starting my 2nd full week here at the Academy, and I'm enjoying it very much. We were very busy last week. On Wednesday night we were "presented" to the public: basically, this was an event at the Academy which was attended by various media types, journalists, arts people, and members of the board. We all gave short speeches about our work and then schmoozed at the reception. It was fairly stressful!

The previous evening, Michael Tilson Thomas gave a lecture recital. And during the week there were various orientation activities. It's a bit like academic summer camp. The other Fellows are a very diverse and interesting group: art historians, a classicist, historians, a journalist, a novelist, a philosopher... Everyone has been very open-minded about my project and lots of people want to go to clubs with me. I did this on Friday, in fact, with the journalist, a Pulitzer Prize-winner, who is also from Birmingham! It was fun (more on this in a later post).

We also have a chef, who fixes incredible dinners 3 or 4 times per week!!

Thanks for the comments and emails--keep 'em coming! Apologies for getting behind on my posting--I will be catching up a bit shortly I hope.


Sunday, September 2, 2007

I'm getting reacquainted...

With the nightlife, that is. Last went to two clubs, and got to bed at 8 a.m.

First, I checked out the new Tresor. For those who aren't techno-heads, Tresor was one of the most famous Berlin clubs, but the location was sold and it had to shut down. Now it has reopened in a new location.

The venue is really cool. It's in a ginormous former factory. When you see it it's hard to believe the whole thing houses a club.

I've always thought (Fred M agrees) that one should not be able to apprehend the layout of a club at once. A good club requires exploration, and is often disorienting at first. Well, Tresor definitely has that going on. One of the more unique things they've done is to put the different spaces (there are 2 main ones) behind big industrial doors that are completely closed. So you have to walk up to this door that looks like you shouldn't open it and go in. The downstairs was also very cool this way: after opening the door, there is a very long hallway, lit only with little red lights, that one walks through to get to the bunker-like dance space.

Unfortunately the crowd was not as cool as the club, at least on this night. There was a rather large number of Eurojocks and their girlfriends. And of course I arrived too early ... at 1. (Why is it always so hard for me to figure this out at first??) I had come particularly to hear Octave One, who started at 3. Fortunately, they rocked it. Here's a pic.

At 4, I left and went to Berghain. This is rather early to get there (the German daughter of one of the employees here told me she usually goes there about 9), but it was beginning to fill up. I had thought it might be particularly interesting on this evening because this weekend was Folsom Street Europe, a big leather/fetish festival. So maybe there would be even more bears than usual, in even more outlandish costumes. In general tho it seemed like the usual set--maybe I just didn't stay long enough ;) But it was fun and crazy as always. I stayed until 6:30, long enough to see the special blinds lowered against the sun...