Beer and Waterproof Clothing at the Berlin Festival
Yes, the pun in the title has been done in one way or another a thousand times before, but then again I am not sure how often I will write about a music festival on these (virtual) pages so I will do it now. And it is somehow kind of apt. After all, it was my cagoule that kept me warm and dry whilst the kids got soggy as the sun went down behind the rain clouds, even if as an item of clothing it is about as cool as its 1930s fascist-leaning namesakes.
We arrived at Tempelhof early enough to wander around the half-empty Berlin Festival site and marvel at the fact that it was being hosted in and alongside one of the most iconic buildings in Berlin. Tempelhof stopped receiving flights in 2008, and it is one of my lasting Berlin regrets that I never took a flight to or from there, but it remains a symbolic location for – amongst other things – its role in the Berlin Airlift following Stalin’s blockade of the western sectors of the city.
Since it closed the airport has become host to numerous events and fairs, of which the Berlin Festival is just one, and I think all of them take the opportunity to make a play of the old terminal building, having guests queue up at the old check-in counters and follow the signage towards the “gates”. We did all this and strolled amongst the food stalls and old aeroplanes in front of what is still one of the largest buildings on earth.
And so to the music. I very much enjoyed the breathless vocals, catchy folk-pop and fine Icelandic knitwear worn by the drummer and trumpeter from Of Monsters and Men, the filled-out sound of Michael Kiwanuka and band (last time I saw him he was on his own with his guitar), as well as the toe-tapping electronic ditties from Little Dragon. Sigur Rós came on stage as the rain began to fall (and I had the last laugh as I zipped up my cagoule) and although it all seemed nicely apocalyptically epic, given the weather, the sound and the surroundings, it eventually left me a little cold.
The Killers, on the other hand, might be somewhat uncool – I had to laugh when a magazine described them as “aiming for Bruce Springsteen but only hitting Bon Jovi” – but there was something joyous about their ninety minutes of hits and the reaction of the by-now-soggy crowd. It was a set that was at times both anthemic and preposterous, and I revelled in the memory of their songs soundtracking Lotte’s first summer on this earth and so, having held my plastic cup of beer aloft as I sang along, I left the old airport for the long journey home with something of a smile on my face.
Words & Pictures: Paul Scraton