… come storm or high tide: Power Pop sets sail (Sixteen) Again!

Now that shows are less constrained once a venue has decided for what is in Germany called 2G (attendees and participants on the band and venue side need to be either be proven recovered from Covid or vaccinated ) also the smaller venues come back: Be it Hafenklang or MS Hedi.

What under normal circumstances would have been a nice boat ride into the sunset turned out in late October as a battle vs. storm Ignatz, who provided both wind, waves and a high tide leading to some flooding in the harbor area.

Some 60something folks set foot on the MS Hedi and where greeted by some groovy Brit Pop singles put on by DJ Helge.

Whilst his choice of music was good i have to admit his handling of precious singles was less: Don’t touch the vinyl is a ground rule that we #recordcollectorsrepretentiousassholes should always maintain!

Everybody on board was quite happy (and chatty) that live-mu-sick now comes back also beyond local bands, everybody starts to buy tickets again, all the way up to March next year.

Eventually DJing stopped and Sixteen Again took the floor (due to lack off a stage on the MS Hedi). As the stormy weather was still difficult it was decided to have the first set moored at dock.

Sixteen Again – Setlist (MS Hedi, Hamburg, 21.10.2021 (c) gehkacken.de)

The first set was solely dedicated to the Œuvre of Esquires Shelly and Diggle, all those juvenile love or teenage angst songs we all can sing-a-long, day or night. And singing-a-long and dancing (as much as possible) did the connoisseurs whilst the band tried to keep their posture … even moored there was enough movement of the floor.

Sixteen Again (MS Hedi, Hamburg, 21.10.2021 (c) gehkacken.de 2021)

Sixteen Again plowed through the set with both energy and fun and you could sense that they have managed to to fully get themselves into these songs. What sure also helps is that singing duties are split, giving the songs the different variations that are needed.

For the 2nd set the Captain of the MS Hedi decided to set sail, the low frequency feel of the engine did climb up our feet. It was to be a cautions route though, no too much into the open waters of the river Elbe, where wind and waves still rules the water.

Sixteen Again (MS Hedi, Hamburg, 21.10.2021 (c) gehkacken.de 2021)

The 2nd set was dedicated to other British Power Pop, some of these songs worked surprisingly good, others where impacted by the much more wobbly waters. Unfortunately my own favorite one (Ghosts Of Princess In Towers) was totally slaughtered – both their redemption did not work and the waves did impact the play.

In the end two and a half hours of good entertainment with friends on the road back to normal. Given the Covid numbers still a long road, but i guess we are getting there.

What still frustrates the hell out of me though are people that moan about venues that for themselves (and their staff) decide for 2G, i really do not see how can ask for everything from anybody but yourself puts noting in for somebody.

Whatever, lets crack on: Next stop Hafenklang. Looking forward.

… the return of boozing and dancing in front of the stage – don’t let it stop here!

It has been a while (since i attended a show standing) and it took a while until our local government set the new rules under a higher (but not high enough) vaccination quota. And then it took a while for clubs, regulars and bands to get their head around it and come to a conclusion.

The Molotow decided for 2G, specifically as their backyards counts as “outdoor” and thus allowed for standing, drinking and … no masks. The only funny (or odd, if you will) item was that i could stand unconstrained with the lot in front of the stage but should we be in need of a pee we had to wear a mask, as the loo is indoors. But an easy price to pay for that time travel back almost two years!

First on THIAVV, who are not really from my circuit but in their little corner of the mu-sick-al universe are treated as hot shit. I have seen all bands they originate from (Plastic Propaganda, Cavity/Search, Violent Instinct) and was surprised that THIAVV is not just a blend of everything but something unique (though like fallen out of time, eg. straight from 1985).

What did i get? Pounding drums managed by the Animal. A driving bass with almost feminine vocals exercised by the towering Pablo Boredom. And across all of that an overtone of high pitched flirting guitar, i guess full of effects, delivered by Julian Human Capital.

See for yerself how it looked and sounded:

They came together in 2017, took stage in early 2020 with the intend to go strong … and got cut short by Covid. As they did not give in, they seem to be earnest with what they are doing and continued to practice and get new songs under their belt.

It is not exactly what i look for in mu-sick but as ever i do recognize effort and determination and for that they got my applause. Their little niche is a niche that i avoided post punk, whilst others took that path i took on H/C rather.

THIAVV (Molotow, Hamburg, 21.09.2021 (c) gehkacken.de 2021)

They played a crisp set, did not wander off into endless soundscapes and by the looks of it they had fun. I guess as much fun as the audience in front of the stage, where everyone enjoyed live mu-sick with maskless walking around, direct social interaction and drinking – be it booze or not.

On came the headliners and local heroes Spitfire Stevens. They still are at odds with a single mu-sick-al cupboard, the best i ever heard is that Luke and his vocals stretch them between Ian Curtis dark room and GG Allins hate chamber. Indeed – he is a kind of a personality. By the way one of the most charming and positive persons around and the only one i know that can do the gum-knee-dance.

Spitfire Stevens (Molotow, Hamburg, 21.09.2021 (c) gehkacken.de 2021)

They delivered all of their spread: From slow, post-punk and Joy Division like all they way to short crisp snotty punk smashers. Here is a rather mellow song from their 2017 10″ (and you got to love them for their preferred vinyl format choice):

They played much longer than i thought, though both myself and other noted a little bit of stretching within it. Where other bands go bang-bang-bang, they take their time and enjoy their breaks.

Spitfire Stevens (Molotow, Hamburg, 21.09.2021 (c) gehkacken.de 2021)

They had the audience anyway but given the circumstances the audience had an almost normal setting back and was thus super-duper happy. That said i would guess that for quite a while we will continue to enjoy local heroes rather than traveling bands, as touring across all the various patches of rules is almost impracticable.

At the end both band and fans where happy and the net result could be seen scattered around the Molotw backyard tables …

And whilst the first young folks entered the place for a Friday night out dancing to indie mu-sick the Oldpunk lot kept bragging, drinking and largely enjoying the evening.

Many of the lot got ready to see Sixteen Again, Kücken, Sheep On A Tree and Razors the day after outdoor in the Harburg Harbor, i had to turn to a family thingy and had to let that opportunity go by. My hangover on Saturday anyway asked for a break though that little sun that started growing again on Friday did warm my day.

Now i want more of these G2 gigs, it is the right way forward as far as i am concerned. Next Stop: Jam Today / Sixteen Again on the MS Hedi, who luckily also starts to set sail again. And, double lucky, the Hafenklang also is open again.


… Heidi ain’t no headcase, Heidi loves them horses!

Alex Wonk loves them firsts … last year he was just about the first visiting foreign musician with an acoustic set for the Solidary Punk Rock Days at the Knust. This time round Wonk Unit must have been just about the first touring band from the UK hitting Hamburg under the revised post-Brexit scheme recently published.

So Alex and his revised band hit the road, the ferry … and had their first breakdown in Belgium. One Van down, and barely making it to Cologne for the first show. Next day they set sail to Hamburg, only to break down again around Osnabrück. Two vans down they left two Wonkies back there and Alex and the Bass Player took the train to Hamburg … arriving just in time for this rather intimate show at the Monkeys in Exile, aka the beer garden of the Indra Club.

They where quite done after too much travel and way too much hassle and for a start they took it mellow, soft and with not too much stretch on Alex vocal chords.

That’s “Horses“, sure an all time favorite and a specific favorite of Heidi. You don’t know Heidi? Spare that question for later.

The longer it got, the better the two grooved in, the more chatty Alex got and the more he started to actually stress his vocals chords. And from then on it was a perfect set: The rather low-fi acoustic (though electrified through a small P.A.) music was paired with harsh, angry and sometime screaming vocals. A near perfect clash, a near perfect contrast.

The about 50 good folks where happy, enjoyed the banter and hopefully took note when Alex did divert the story line to rather serious items: Be it his deep dive into drugs or be it his recent struggles around is small daughter. That part was actual really hard and chatting to him after the show i realized how hard the ordeal around it has hit and continues to hit him.

Wonk Unit Acoustic (Monkeys in Exile, Hamburg, 19.08.2021 (c) gehkacken.de 2021)

As ever, they have friends in Hamburg and these friends gave them and Alex specifically an uplift. It felt just like a bit of a living room show with friends all around. I was actually happy that i did let go Arrested Denial and Berlin Blackouts a couple of 100 meters down the road at the Molotow for this lovely evening the intimate setting was much better.

After the show Riebe revealed to Alex that his daughter Heidi actually wanted to sing “Horses” with him but being too young she was not allowed out and into the club. Hearing this and having a big heart for little girls Alex immediately did a special redemption for Heidi:

I bet you Heidi was the happiest girl in Eidelstedt next morning!

Looking at Alex you can actually see that they where done, so quickly they hit off into the Monkeys band apartment to hit a long sleep and to prepare for next day travel, via Osnabrück to pick up the rest of the troupe and  all the way to Karlsruhe. Erratic tour planning anyone? At least i could see from the internet (damn internet, never forgets) that they arrived in full and took the stage as 4 piece. Perfect.

And, if not mistaken, the show was recorded in quality and Alex was also quite happy with how it went – so it may be put to Vinyl as a Wonk Unit Acoustic Album. 

Let’s see and let’s pray that soon we get a conscious decision from our local government about revised Covid rules for Clubs and indoor shows and we can enjoy such fun more packed, much closer and without masks. I am all in for 2G to make that happen and i am all in for Wonk Unit as a full band to come back to Hamburg for a big raunchy party.

Hit the road Alex, hit the road!

PS; You don’t know Heidi the headcase? Listen up youth…

Heidi is a headcase, a rebel and a rouser
Cranks up her Rickenbacker
Blasts away for hours
What’s she doin’ now on the escalator
Snorting up some speed on the picture of or Stiv Bators
What ‘cha doin’?
When I look into her big brown eyes
I’m so glad to know she’s mine
My little headcase, yeah
Ooh, ooh, yeah, my little headcase, yeah
Ooh, ooh, yeah