Pop Kultur: what it should mean, what it does mean

pop kultur 2018 indieberlin review

Pop-Kultur rolled around again.

Having become the de facto music industry meetup in Berlin, as well as one of the core music festivals in Germany taking steps towards defining what pop culture should mean, what it wants to mean and what it ends up meaning, Pop-Kultur seems to be achieving many of its aims.

Not without a bit of controversy: as in the previous year, there has been a well-publicised attempt to boycott the festival due to its tenuous link to Israel (the three or four artists from Israel performing were given a sum total of 1200€ to help them get to the festival); and not without some questioning the tastes of the team who are commissioned with choosing just which acts best represent the future of pop culture.

But otherwise it’d be boring, right? Which Pop-Kultur has never been.

The launch party was a banger of a get-together, industry joes rubbing shoulders with cultural insiders in a space not quite big enough for the gathering, which after all is the perfect size for that kind of thing, with the drinks being provided by a range of sponsors so that everything could be kept above board.

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The acts later that night as well as over the next days were indeed, along with the talks, panels, chats and “commissioned works”, a long way from boring. While I wouldn’t necessarily agree with every selection, there was nothing that you could walk away from without either questioning your earlier conclusions or concluding that you should at least attempt to ask more questions, if not of yourself then of whoever else might be willing to work towards a mutual apprehension.

All for the good

Katja Lucker, managing director of the Musicboard Berlin and chief instigator and organiser of the festival, is happy to out herself as determinedly feminist, and perhaps this is why there was something of a female slant at the festival – all for the good, naturally: with female hip-hopper Flohio doing her thing, Ava Bonham, Ace Tee, Carmen Villain, the back-from-the-dead Neneh Cherry and more.

Brilliantly named acts include Gaddafi Gals, Islamiq Grrrls, and of course …And You Will Know Them By The Trail of The Dead.

Other highlights were Ghostpoet, the always reliable Kat Frankie, the above-mentioned Ace Tee and Dives, the “jovial indie trio” from Vienna who sing, suitably enough, about the Californian slacker surfer lifestyle.

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Fits, I guess.

With its scandals, its highlights, its sense of fun, its occasionally overthought intellectualism, its truly eclectic variety of acts, its bunch of interesting panels, its politically polarising character (for those into political polarisation) and its happy if occasionally slightly messy conception of what pop kultur is and might be, if it wasn’t there in the year’s calendar then things would be a whole lot more boring.

Shine on you crazy diamond!

Noel Maurice is one of the founders of indieberlin. Originally from the UK via a childhood in Johannesburg, he has been resident in Berlin since 1991. Describing himself as a ‘recovering musician’, he is the author of The Berlin Diaires, a trilogy detailing the East Berlin art and squat scene of the early 90s, available on Amazon and through this site.

Noel Maurice is one of the founders of indieberlin. Originally from the UK via a childhood in Johannesburg, he has been resident in Berlin since 1991. Describing himself as a 'recovering musician', he is the author of The Berlin Diaires, a trilogy detailing the East Berlin art and squat scene of the early 90s, available on Amazon and through this site.

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