Being new to Berlin, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect when I saw the venue Prince Rama and Evvol were playing had “Berghain” in its name. You hear all kinds of discussions about the place. “Man, did we party hard at Berghain”, “You’re a member of an elite club if you get in to Berghain”, “Keep a low profile when waiting in line before the Berghain”. Once you get there, you see the massive concrete building and you realise the Kantine is actually this neat cafeteria to the left of it.
Tables, lying chairs, bars, hamburgers, not quite the partier’s den I was expecting. The medium-sized venue plays some punk when I arrive and the ceiling is covered in torn wallpaper. I sit down, start writing down everything I’m now spilling on my keyboard. The setup on and off stage is impressive, tall drums, projection screen, disco balls and red lights. The sound is quite incredible inside this armoured concrete bunker.
The voices of both singers intertwine gracefully
Once Berlin-based Evvol appear, they start out playing some obscure pop. The voices of both singers intertwine very gracefully over the layers of bass, guitar and synths. The drummer, Alex, has to play over pre-recorded tracks which add to the complex textures of the show. The last songs could very well have prepared audience members to go to some techno club afterwards. Their performance lasted 40 minutes, it was a pleasant warm-up.
When Prince Rama finally take to the stage, it’s past 10pm. Ryan Sciaino, the most recent addition to the band, comes up first and presses a few buttons in the dark. The speakers start blasting this Irish folk song, with fiddles and tin whistles, not the first thing to come to mind when you think of Prince Rama. A surprising intro song during which the Larson sisters appear. Center stage, lead singer Taraka shows us a can of energy drink, supposedly laced with cocaine the band found in Prague the previous day.
Prince Rama have the biggest hairdo out there
The concert starts in the best of ways: smoke, rough guitars and powerful drums. Sciaino is in charge of making sure the video montage projected behind them is in sync with what’s being played. One is first lead into a virtual Louvre where every painting is the Mona Lisa. The animation then goes to something more traditional. A wheel of superposed elements – pyramids, unicorns, Napoleon, the Atlas mountains, etc. – spinning on itself.
Larson offers a hint of why the act is a tad eccentric. They’re from Texas. You know, the place where everything’s bigger. Well, Prince Rama have the biggest hairdo out there. Besides that, all three band members are covered in glitter and dressed in bright colours.
A hippie sit-in at the Berghain
The band comes back up for an encore dressed in white bathrobes (“We wanted to get more comfortable”), and invite everyone to sit down around them on stage or on the venue floor. It’s a hippie sit-in at the Berghain. Fine, it may not be the “real” Berghain, but it’s still a sit-in. They launch into acoustic three-chord-anthem “Shitopia”, the last track off their new album, and people start clapping to the rhythm. Once it’s over, they disappear as quickly as they appeared.
The overall atmosphere is best described as festive. You can’t go the length of a song without head banging or hopping around. They have fantastic momentum on stage and their compositions are catchy. Having written the concert announcement, I was wrong when saying Xtreme Now was a dance pop album. This concert proved Prince Rama are very much in touch with their folksy rock roots.
Concert review by Patrick Bird Photo by Shawn La Chapelle