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Things Learned At: Reeperbahn Festival
Yousif Nur , October 5th, 2015 15:35

Yousif Nur reports from Hamburg

Photo by Nina Zimmermann

Germans are modest and understated

If the logo on the tote bag I'm given at the accreditation tent didn't have a number 10 on the front of it, you'd never guess it was Reeperbahn's tenth anniversary. But according to our tour guide, Germans and in particular those from the Hamburg region, don't like too much bravado and making a big deal out of anniversaries. Rather, they'd like the main event and the music to be the stars of the show, and why not? There's plenty of music that Reeperbahn has to offer over the next four days.

What's going on in the Finland music scene?

Finland has a lot to offer at Reeperbahn. Maybe it's more prominent because of its huge showcase this year, but there's a rich conveyor belt of talent that's manages to reach German shores and possibly British ones in the not too distant future. But gone are the days where Finns just had heavy music to offer – LCMDF, Noah Kin, Eva & Manu, K-X-P amongst others is testament to this. There's even a food truck that serves – weirdly enough – burritos, but for the Finnish experience, a wild moose option - should chicken and pork not quite do it for you.

K-X-P should be huge

Are K-X-P the best band in Finland? I've known about them on record for a number of years but didn't quite get the opportunity to see the band play in London, until tonight. Fronted by Finnish underground legend Timo Kaulampi, K-X-P have a knack of fusing together drone, pop, techno and metal to result in an almighty, sonic noise. I'm not quite sure what's going on right now. Is it a gig? A rave? Either way, our tour guide is down in front with a jumper around her waist and dancing as though she's at a late early 90s rave in a disused bunker. Speaking of which...

There should be more shows inside German bunkers

On the outskirts of St. Pauli next to the Millentor Stadium (home of FC St. Pauli), there's a fortified bunker held as a venue to put shows on. The walls are as much as five meters thick and allied forces had failed to destroy it during World War II. So it's a wonder to see whether it was any good withstanding sound waves from within. Inside, the acoustics are pretty great, but as for the German band performing at the time of when we arrive, not so much. A rave in here though would be phenomenal.

The only good thing about Mac DeMarco is his guitar sound

In a venue that looks like it has frozen in time circa 1987, Mac DeMarco plays to one of the biggest crowds at the festival. I'm wondering if everyone else is in on something that I'm not, because I find Mac to be a little boring and slightly tedious, save for the jangly guitar sound that the guitarist stage left is generating. While he and the band won't stop cracking jokes about anal sex, there's crowdsurfing that lasts the duration of an entire song, with a steward even throwing a band member back in the crowd for seconds. Now there's a first.

New Order need to improve their conversation skills

A word to the wise, Arthur Baker: if you are to hold a Q&A with one of the most iconic bands of the last 30 years, please ask better questions. A fine producer as you are, this isn't an altruistic opportunity to show off that you're friends with the band or you're an uber fan. Thankfully, the questions that come in from social media fare a lot better and actually gives us some insight into the band over several decades. We learn that the new album is "geared towards playing live', their motto is "creativity starts with a deadline" and that they're fans of Factory Floor, Hot Chip, Chemical Brothers, East India Youth and Future Islands. They never ever listen to their own work and the reason they're so good after all this time is because they didn't ever have a plan B.

No one crosses at zebra crossings when the light is red. Ever

A running joke a friend and I have is to cross the streets at a red signal on a zebra crossing, even if there are no cars or bikes immediately present. Germans are extremely well behaved when it comes to road safety. Allegedly, people caught crossing the road when there's no green light, are penalised €15. Needless to say, we still behave like impatient Londoners despite some dirty looks from Hamburgers. But with traffic from cars and bikes onrushing from wide German roads, I suppose it makes some sort of sense.