Live Report: Pop-Kultur 2019

Live Report: Pop-Kultur 2019

A fascinating journey through music's left field...

“Truly excellent!” Words spurted to festival co-curator Christian as I passed him straight after Molchat Doma’s (молчат дома) opening night performance at this years edition of Pop-Kultur.

Hosted once again at the Kulturbrauerei in Berlin’s Prenzlauer Berg district, this was the first of many stand out performances at a festival that continues to intrigue.

Now in its fifth year the festival is a showcase for domestic and international artists through concerts, DJ sets, commissioned exhibitions, talks and film. Diversity and accessibility are front and centre here. More than half the line-up is female and all venues have wheelchair access with many performances accompanied by sign language interpreters.

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In keeping with Berlin’s famed affordability a full access three day ticket is priced at €60 (approx. £54!). Production values remain high however with impressive sound quality across all stages. This year the line-up included a large contingent of bands from the Balkans and the eastern fringes of Europe.

The aforementioned Molchat Doma (which translates as ‘Houses are Silent’) and their brand of dark new-wave had a packed room shuffling to an effortlessly cool drum-machined beat. Clearly well known in these parts, they're from Belarus and sing in Russian.

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Just as impressive were Serbian based ‘garage-postpunk-noise-rock trio’ Repetitor, who delivered possibly the most awesomely visceral show I’ve ever witnessed. The eclectic programming at one point took me from Belarussian pagan infused electronica duo Shuma to Mykki Blanco, performing in the concrete clad ‘Kesselhaus' (boiler house).

A hypnotic, cold wave infused set by Tel-Aviv based Xen was swiftly followed with Rosemary Loves A Blackberry aka Russian artist and musician Diana Burkot. It’s a heady mix and there’s bound to be casualties along the way.

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I had to cut short Bolton-born Berlin-based Planningtorock’s excellent ‘Beulah Loves Dancing', dashing upstairs to Maschinenhaus to catch German producer and singer Perel. As stated this is a showcase and there’s bucketloads of commissioned work you won’t find anywhere else.

One such event led myself and ninety-nine other people down into the ‘Gewölbekeller’ deep underneath the brewery. Dancers weaved through the crowd as we progressed through the vault (hell). Accompanied by haunting synth and free Reisling we arrived into a backlit room (heaven) complete with cello, violin and Magic Island performing ‘Warm Heaven’. To believe it is to see it.

Next year why not get off the commercial merry-go-round and see Pop-Kultur for yourself. 

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Words: Nicolas Graves

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