… only if you are open for something new you’ll be surprised!

Following the raunchy party of the Bar Stool Preachers the day prior i felt drawn to the Hafenklang again, this time by word of mouth only: It’ll be great a trusted source within the business told me. Also references to Dead Moon were made but that band never got my ass of the sofa (for all sorts of reasons including „always the wrong date“ and „too hairy„). But trusted sources are trusted sources and thus i took the short stroll down to the Hafenklang on rather lonely Friday evening.

Always my view when approaching the Hafenklang ( (c) gehkacken.de)
Always my view when approaching the Hafenklang ( (c) gehkacken.de)

The same would be awaiting me upstairs at the Hafenklang: Two bands, one bar hand, one sound man and one trusted source. With pride i was paying customer number one and my guess „… not more than 25 people will show up“ turned out to be the euphemism i feared it to be.

First on H¥ena from Bremen, never heard of and to my surprise it was two guys only (with some big amps). And by the looks it was a Biker (that had better days) and grandma’s loved one – strange looks, strange setup. And once they plugged in and stumbled into the first song i was „uuummmmhhhhhh„. Whilst the first say 10 chords made all fear come true the initial song turned into the most heavy and massive wall of sound i have heard in a while.

H¥ena (Hafenklang, Hamburg, 14.09.2018 (c) gehkacken.de)

I have no clue what the guy on the guitar does with his 6 string, a massive pedal board and two amps (and his guitar wired into both through some effects) technically but the outcome was sheer great for my ears. Wow – that got me. Big time. On top of that it turned out that the biker actually is a Professor for German Literature (and comes with the ability to not only produce a perfect drumming but also incredible command of the German language and it’s finer details).

It has been a while that a support band did strike me this way, what a massive sound. Stunning! And the songs where also not that bad – some just power blasts, some with neat stop/start and complex details. The set their turf as „two man- bluespunk / dirty rock for fans of turbonegro, the bronx, rory gallagher, beasty boys, queens of the stone age, motörhead and justin bieber“ and i guess the only truth in there is good old Rory (though i believe that the guy from Bremen is not on a liver destruction path).

Well done boys, you surprised me! They claim to have a record out in weeks and it did strike me if this type of mu-sick actually works on vinyl. I will check it out but i can’t promise that it’ll work in the same way as live.

My advice: Go and feel H¥ena!

Next on Top Down and they started a bit holperig (i guess the 6 hours on the motorway from Berlin to Hamburg plus the empty space in front of the stage did not help to set the mood) but with a different setup and style: Sturdy drumming, and bass/guitar sharing singing duties on a single centered mike.

Top Down (Hafenklang, Hamburg, 14.09.2018 (c) gehkacken.de)

At times they were not my thing at all, at times there sounded almost perfect. For me almost every song sounded somehow sad but i could not make our the lyrics at all. They are a true international bands: Bass from Portland, Guitar from Berlin and Drums from Transylvania. Some of the few folks attending did nod on some songs and did smile on other – for me only those songs with some speed and in power pop territory made sense.

Would i go the extra mile for them? Nope. Where they bad? Nope. Would they deserve a different setting? Yes indeed. Playing a lonely club definitely is on of the challenges you have to face as a musician so it’ll be ok for them.

With that i took off back home, no hanging around just „time for bed“. But not without enjoying the empty harbor area just again.

My favorite view on the way home ( (c) gehkacken.de)
My favorite view on the way home ( (c) gehkacken.de)

That view is just a stone throw away from one of the old spots in Hamburg Punk History: The Krawall 2000 was located on this block to the right. And the area has changed big time from the run down area that was left to rot back in the 1970s to a lot of newer houses and better restaurants, bars and clubs. But that harbor is still there in always in view.

... on me way home ( (c) gehkacken.de)
… on me way home ( (c) gehkacken.de)

And that harbor never stops (remember, it’s a tide harbor) and as much as the harbor never stops you should never stop going and daring to take surprises on the live mu-sick circuit: It is worth it and much better than the telly (and at par with a good read) and you get complete surprises like H¥ena (from Bremen, of all places).

Good night and thank you for the fish universal scholar Dr. Axel Stoll!

… if there is a god in the mu-sick bizz he will make them big: The Bar Stool Preachers, back home!

Zoom back to April 14th, 2015 – them Bar Stool Preachers made their first ever European appearance over at the Monkeys, pretty much in a perfect amateur way. And since then they have kept course and played a lot: small places, even smaller places and big places (and even biggest places opening for the likes of DTH). They have two long players, a couple of singles and another US support tour ahead of them. Stunning.

This time round they graced the Hafenklang (just to collect another local club on their jolly around Hamburg) and they even had a support act – making them the main act!

Support was Chester Park from Hannover by virtue of volunteering i take. As ever, i was keen to see the support too and this is what is saw:

Chester Park (Hafenklang, Hamburg, 13.09.2018 (c) gehkacken.de)
Chester Park (Hafenklang, Hamburg, 13.09.2018 (c) gehkacken.de)

And for the first time for some time i gotta admit that in the moment the singer opened his mouth it became unbearable for me. Check them out yourself, in hindsight it sounds a wee bit nicer but it ain’t my (and many others that night) thingy.  Not a centimeter. Not an inch. Not a chord. And so i left for chats outside.

Next on the friendly and well behaved boys from sunny Bristelmestune (as their home town was called in the Doomsday Book). And they are drawing a slightly changed audience now: Was their first show almost exclusive to the (ageing) Hamburg Blackpool Pilgrims and Cock Sparrer connoisseurs that contingent now is a mere 1/3rd – they managed to get themselves a much wider and younger audience, even over here.

And by now they are indeed a well oiled and hard working machine that knows both to handle being on stage but also how to handle, encourage and command the audience. And it sounded like this:

The commandeering for large parts is done by TJ, a seasoned frontman with all the smiles, gestures and moves that are real and not just a show, and Bungle, the towering and ever smiling bass player. As regular on the live mu-sick circuit i have to admit though that some of the schemes were on the cheap side (seen too often) but when they come with this amount of credibility they become a bit more acceptable.

The Bar Stool Preachers (Hafenklang, Hamburg, 13.09.2018 (c) gehkacken.de)

What they did not have to command though was „get moving„, that part the eager and willing audience did themselves just following the beat. What was also a slight and encouraging difference was the number of the (younger) female contingent that was dancing in the front (whilst the old lads smiled on the side or in the back).

And they finished off with their own little story about touring and getting stuck on the motorway – here is their little ode to that motorway that heads north-west out of London:

Great band, great show and a lot of smiling faces. And sweaty dancers. And almost everyone was of the same opinion: They are so kind, so nice, so good – they deserve something bigger: They deserve commercial success.

Even at the expense that we may not see them anymore – but that would be ok. Give them a gifted producer and goddamnit someone should expense a recording budget with a good studio (as their 2nd LP in my ears could do with some better recording/production).

They deserve radio play, they deserve prime TV time and they deserve the bigger places. And once they are there they will still hold the credibility of a humble band following the right leavers. I’ll trust them.

Fun fact for all #recordcollectorsarepretentiousarseholes: They handed these funny flexi discs to the audience for free – you will pay a lot for them soon!

… long hair and sweaty bodies: Them Clowns from down under in a sauna session!

With more than a week rest another sweaty show down at the Hafenklang. Hamburg is still suffering from 30something degrees of heat, for those visitors from down under it must feel like home. For most of us north Europeans it is just painful and our clubs are not made for it. But that did not fend of people, the Hafenklang was well packed (though not sold out).

First on Bench Press, also from Melbourne, with a slightly different twang than the headliner. They are rated top talent down under and they are what some people dub as „critically acclaimed“ despite being together only since March 2016.

Bench Press (Hafenklang, Hamburg, 01.08.2018 (c) gehkacken.de)

I guess they are on the happy side of Indie and Post-Punk, not so much as in happy mu-sick but as in to the more enjoyable side of that label. A good rhythm section with a nice vibrant bass is topped with an excellent guitar: A scent of surf, some clean bright chords, a wee bit of power and distortion when needed and all performed very well – impressive axe work!

If you like your songs complex, back and forth play between the guitars and if you like your singer somewhere between caged animal, spoken words and sheer anger then they are for you to check out. If you are like me an dirty old and stubborn sod than you take positive note of them but you need to admit that it ain’t your thing for a full set/show. As much as i like the one or the other eg. Gang of Four song it is hard for me to listen to a full LP.

What they do, they do well – so give them a choice if you dare.

Next on the Clowns, around a bit longer (8 years by now if i get the math right) and with much longer hair. And hair metal it was through out the set, sweaty long hair being thrown around on stage. Some like it, some not. I am slightly offended by that but if it is delivered unpretentious and as a matter of fact i can accept the challenge.

And this is how they kicked off:

Oh boy, that got everything in the mix – literally. And that is why i got a ticket for them in the first place: They throw hardcore, trash, metal, psychedelic guitars and some scent of pop into a happy sunny mix and push it down from the stage with relentless energy.

And they got some stage personas too: Commanding singer, smiling blond girl on bass providing backup vocal and two great guitars (that you hardly make out as hidden … under hair). And a sturdy drummer there in the back sporting a nice Wipers shirt.

Clowns (Hafenklang, Hamburg, 01.08.2018 (c) gehkacken.de)

When it come to fusion i would think they are the ultimate example. And they had one thing instantaneously: They got the damn audience flying around and moving like there ain’t no tomorrow (and there needs to be full workout at 45° heat). More than one male member of the audience did throw his wet shirt onto the stage and went on to bounce into other members of the audience shirtless (thank goodness these exhibits did not sport long wet hair or, worse, long wet chest hair).

Clowns (Hafenklang, Hamburg, 01.08.2018 (c) gehkacken.de)

I thoroughly enjoyed them, others in the audience enjoyed them even more up to and including some being able to literally sing every fucking song. Fans i’d say. Some actually sounded Australian, i guess the local expat community was around to support a band from home. A band they could have seen in their backyard back home, as the singer duly noted.

Here is everything together: An Aussie saying hello (and being thrown back into the pit) and a song with that special scent of psychedelic and pop as an undercurrent that makes them so … special? Unique? Nevermind – just great:

They played for an hour or so, came back for an encore and then had to head off towards Wacken: They are to play the Beer Garden Stage on 02.08. at 20:00. That’s hopefully mainlining and hopefully they get some of that beer to replenish the lost minerals and water on the damn hot stage of the Hafenklang. Go and see them, it is worthy! And for a start listen here:

Another sweaty night, another worthy cause. And with me a lot of sweaty and thirsty customers enjoyed the warm night before heading home with a big smile (and a wet shirt).

... a happy sweaty audience yearning for fresh air (outside the Hafenklang, 01.08.2018 (c) gehkacken.de)
… a happy sweaty audience yearning for fresh air (outside the Hafenklang, 01.08.2018 (c) gehkacken.de)