Berlin Festival 2012

Taking over Berlin's Tempelhof Airport

Celebrated worldwide as one of the most creative, unique and (not to mention) sleepless cities in the land, Berlin Festival recently saw thousands of music lovers converge to celebrate all that is good in a 1930s airport.

Held in the now-disused Tempelhof Airport, here you’ll find relic aeroplanes scattered randomly around the site, never-ending art instillations, a Poetry Saloon and even a makeshift football pitch. Throw in some of the best bands around and a reasonable ticket price that could make Michel Eavis run to the hills and you’re in for a classic. Here are Clash’s picks from the two-day event.

One of the most anticipated sets of the weekend sees the Zippo Stage swamped with dream-pop disciples for Grimes’ stunning set, and the Canadian doesn’t disappoint. With ‘Visions’ proving to be a slow-burning contender for one of the albums of the year, Claire Boucher seems more at ease now than on previous occasions too. Plastering the disused aeroplane hangar with her melting pot of synth magic, at points you feel you could be in a Bristol trip hop basement circa ’91, at others witnessing the rise of a true individual whose music is so unique it’s hard to describe. The ghostly echo of ‘Genesis’ sees the crowd erupt, before a still silence sets in, all present mesmerised by her otherworldly sound. For a city renowned for its dance culture and individualism, it seems Grimes may have found her second home.

Friendly Fires
With the sun beaming down and the good vibes in full swing, it can only mean it’s time for the electro-pop carnival that is a Friendly Fires set. Sadly they’ve left the Rio dancers and cannonballs at home this evening, but what they do play is a hits-heavy, high-octane rush that could make even a sloth awaken from its slumber and whip out the maracas and Malibus. From the g-funk Princeisms of ‘Hurting’ to the ever-euphoric ‘Paris’, they never let the energy drop. Though the band have recently spoken of their desire not to make a record like ‘Pala’ again, you can’t deny it sounded fun to make, and looks even more fun to play judging by Ed Macfarlane’s ricocheting limbs. Let’s see where they go from here, but let’s hope it stays this much fun.

Was there ever a duo you can rely on as staunchly to bring the bass more than the mighty Hartnoll brothers? The rave renegades know all there is to know about tearing up festivals, and tonight it’s business as usual. Unleashing a set spanning what seems like almost every genre of electronic music, from the timeless ‘Chime’ (which is, unbelievably, over twenty years old now) to ‘Halcyon’, it’s a fan-favourite celebration of one of the best dance acts to ever hit the stage. Crouching over their Tron-like stage apparatus and sporting their trademark torch goggles, Orbital work the crowd into a pit of chaos with ease. Couple the endless classics with their sublime stage show and it’s easy to see why Orbital leave Berlin as kings tonight.

First Aid Kit
Sweden’s First Aid Kit prove to be a welcome tonic to the vast array of electro on offer, and Jack White’s favourite twosome bring their woodsy Americana to a packed-out Zippo Stage. With this year’s ‘The Lion’s Roar’ now embedded firmly in the brain, the duo play a varied set, even whipping out a lush version of ‘Hard Believer’ from 2009 that brings to mind the great Mazzy Star. Their voices are flawless as ever, cracking only occasionally when singing songs of such emotive power.

The Killers
Hitting a wildly vibrant stage that looks custom-built for the Las Vegas foursome, tonight The Killers are here to remind us just how many radio-ravaging pop bangers they’ve amassed in their time. And boy do they. Along with a peppering of new material, the likes of ‘Human’ and ‘Read My Mind’ are undeniable in their Main Stage power. Recent single ‘Runaways’ sees them go foot-to-the-floor; mammoth Springsteen licks are unearthed as Brandon croons about a dustbowl romance gone awry. It sounds huge, and this time round it seems The Killers are taking the earthier, synth-lite leanings of ‘Day & Age’ and blasting them into new territory. Newie ‘Miss Atomic Bomb’ is also aired, all spacey guitar lines around Brandon’s refrain of “I never was a quitter”. And with that they’re off into the night, having proved to be anything but quitters. Until next year, Berlin Fest, it’s been a blast.

Words by Clarke Geddes
Photo by Stephan Flad

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